Sunday, March 27, 2011

Various Artists: Untitled LP

Courtesy of Riegler, the beautiful and discerning San Francisco minimal synth/post punk/darkwave DJ-at-large, comes this virtually unknown compilation that she was kind enough to mail to me to rip and play at a party or two. I've shared a couple of Club de Rome records, and here is a compilation that has an exclusive song from them, during their formative coldwave years.
This compilation was released in 1986 on the tiny Post Tenebras label out of Switzerland. Aside from probably being pressed in a small run of a few hundred copies or so, this record is completely untitled, making searching for it (or even referring to it by name) a futile exercise. The record features eight tracks from four Swiss bands. Club de Rome have two songs here, one of which was the B-side to the Hypnotised 7" I shared a couple weeks ago, the other of which is exclusive. The exclusive song, Murder, finds the band veering close to deathrock territory, with sheets of metallic guitars, a solid bassline backbone, and lyrics at the end that, oddly enough, they would rerecord later ("Why don't you recognize/That my life/is not a dream" would later become the refrain of A L'Est & A L'Ouest Du Crépuscule).
Smirnov, whose EP was shared a while ago on the Capa Nostra Syndicate blog was a coldwave band in the tradition of Norma Loy, Charles de Goal, Asylum Party, and others; both their songs are extremely solid and may be my two favorites on this album.
Smog (not to be confused with the current indie band) was a female-fronted deathrock/dark punk band in the vein of early Christian Death, The Sears, and Blitz. Their song Dream of sand is a particularly excellent track, with aggressive vocals and guitars tuned to attack.
Nova Express are the synth band on this record - both their songs make heavy use of programmed drums, electronics, and cold vocals. Their song on the A side, La Fille Aux Yeux Telescopiques, may be one of the weaker songs on the album, but they more than make up for it on the second side with A 2000 a l'Heure, a definite coldwave gem.
Overall, this comp is quite excellent, and really is more than deserving of a name. Perhaps not giving the record a title helps the record label remain neutral in true Swiss tradition.

Various Artists: Untitled LP
1986, Post Tenebras Records
A1 Club De Rome: Occhio Blu
A2 Smirnov: Cliches
A3 Smog: Dream of Sand
A4 Nova Express: La Fille Aux Yeux Telescopiques
B1 Nova Express: A 2000 a l'Heure
B2 Smog: Better Than I Do
B3 Smirnov: Save
B4 Club De Rome: Murder

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mock: Skyryder EP

With all the recent synth and post punk and new wave records I have been posting as of late, I thought that maybe it would be a nice idea to completely digress musically for a day. The above-mentioned genres are just some of my favorite; but sometimes I just love to put on a shoegaze album and bliss out to a warm blanket of hazy sound. I know there are a lot of others who love post punk and shoegaze with equal fervor - maybe it's because of the atmosphere and mood that the two genres create, maybe it's because both genres are the perfect blend of rebellion against the greater music world and embracing of fringe elements of pop sensibility.
This record - a completely unknown gem from a UK band called Mock - is one of my current favorites. In only four (long) songs, they pack an entire album's worth of reverbed beauty. They take their cues from the best of the shoegaze set - especially Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. In fact, the song Diving sounds so much like it's off of Souvlaki that I sometimes have to take a look at what record I have on just to verify. The song is an epic of sloooow, deliberate percussion, dense washes of guitar noise and bass fuzz and vocals that are reverbed to the point of abstraction. The title track features stabs and plucks of warm guitars on top of a thick wall of sound, with dual vocals that simultaneously sound male, female, and androgenous. The first song, Poppy, and the final song, the wonderfully titled Vertigo Melt, are the real rock songs on the album; Vertigo Melt in particular sounds like it could have come from pre-Loveless MBV.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. If you have a passing interest in shoegaze, you'd do well to take a listen to this. What it may lack in originality, it more than makes up for in ear-piercing euphony.

Mock: Skyryder EP
1994, Bites Back! Records
A1 Poppy
A2 Diving
B1 Skyryder
B2 Vertigo Melt

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Club De Rome: Hypnotised 7"

By now, most of you have probably heard the excellent Club De Rome mini LP I uploaded some time back. The Swiss band's mix of coldwave, synthpop, and industrial was perfect, and gems like The Painting on Her Skin never seem to get old. The band actually had a few releases before that Lively Art Records mini LP, though, including this privatelyreleased 7". Songs from this record were reissued on the Club De Rome CD on Lively Art, but I don't believe they have been widely shared. I recently picked up a copy of the 7" and figured I would rectify that.
There are two songs on the 7". The B side, Occhio Blu, kind of meanders and does not really go anywhere, but the A side, Hypnotised, finds the band in solid coldwave territory, sounding more like their future Lively Art labelmates (Little Nemo, Babel 17, Asylum party, etc) than they themselves would sound when they finally put out their record on the label. With warm synthesizers, tinny guitar riffs hidden beneath pounding drums and melancholy vocals, this song is a must-have for coldwave and post-punk fanatics.

Club De Rome: Hypnotised 7"
1987, CPA Disques
A1 Hypnotised
B1 Occhio Blu

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Real Camouflage: Look Close EP

It's very, very rare that one gets to compare a darkwave album to The Ghostbusters, but I have the opportunity to do just that with this post here, so I will take advantage of it. Those of us who grew up in the 80s will remember that the Ghostbusters cartoon based on the films we all knew and loved was actually called The Real Ghostbusters. This was because there was already a cartoon called Ghost Busters that was around years before the film-to-cartoon was extant. So it was not just a superfluous qualifier in the title; the "Real" indicated that THIS was the Ghostbusters you actually cared about (at least until the show became overly Slimer-centric and started being called Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters).
This ties in to the Kozmonaut LP I posted a while ago. Christian, who provided that LP, also provided this excellent record, as well as the majority of the info for the writeup below. Peter Ziegelmeier, who formed the industrial band Kode IV with Hans Schiller of Kozmonaut, was in a band called Camouflage years before his well-known industrial project existed. Camouflage was a darkwave band with quite a few similarities to the Italian and Greek darkwave bands of the mid-80s - groups like Magic De Spell, South of No North, and Diaframma. The band was formed in 1982 in Switzerland, which is where Peter was originally from. Back then, they recorded 3 songs (the ones on the A-side) before they relocated to Berlin in 1984. That's when they recorded the two songs found on the B-side. They made a video clip for both songs, which one of the band members uploaded two years ago but have received little play, what with all the competition from kitten videos:

(Peter is the one on the right)

Canmouflage was the name they went under for several years, until they finally decided to commit to pressing all five songs on vinyl in 1987. As luck would have it, a new Camouflage band had surfaced and became huge Depeche Mode clones overnight. Peter said that he was in shock when he saw a big banner advertising the other Camouflage's first album. The earlier Camouflage had no money or resources to go after the new Camouflage. Hence, they ended up changing their band name to "The Real Camouflage". Did they knowingly take a cue from the cartoon Ghostbusters naming war? Probably not... The record was pressed up in very small quantities and is virtually unknown to this day. They were completely underground.

The story of The Real Camouflage ends in 1987 when the band split up. One former member is still making music, another started working for a TV station, and Peter was looking for a new band. Peter said that he was really good friends with Carlos Peron , a former band member of Yello. Hans Schiller of Kozmonaut was also friends with Peron. When Hans recorded a Kozmonaut demo cassette called Hyko, he sent a copy of the tape to Carlos. At the time, Hans was trying to form a real band that was more than just a solo project. Hyko was the name of a girl he wanted to have a band with, but for some reason it didn't work out. Carlos played that cassette to Peter. Peter loved the music so much he decided to fly to San Francisco to meet up with Hans, literally just showing up at his front door one day. Just a few months later they had their first record deal as Kode IV. Kode IV was supposed to be named Code 4 but Peter, still traumatized from having one band name stolen from him, decided to mix things up and spell the band name with a 'K' and change the number to Roman numerals.
In one more highly amusing bit of Kozmonaut trivia, it turns out that Hans's identity is completely questionable - first of all, was not German at all. He was from a small province in Canada. He moved to San Francisco due to his sexual orientation, in hopes that he would find acceptance in the tolerant City By the Bay. He was fascinated by German culture, German music (big Kraftwerk fan), and Germany in general. Hence, he made these pseudo German records under the Kozmonaut alias. It also turns out that Hans Schiller was a made up name as well. He admired a musician called "Hans" and was a big fan of Friedrich Schiller, the German poet. So he mixed the two names together to make the pseudonym Hans Schiller. He also used a different name in the gay community - his identities were so different and separate from each other that he had three different phone lines set up at home and called himself different names depending on which phone rang.
He ran his "Vier Productions, Inc." label right out of a house that he rented near Ocean Beach, San Francisco. It has nothing to do with Hamburg, Germany. They recorded all of their Kode IV stuff in that same garage as well. That's where Hans stored all his records and cassettes as well. And, unless there are any more new discoveries, that concludes the story about The Real Camouflage, Kozmonaut and the beginnings of Kode IV all in one nice nutshell.

The Real Camouflage: Look Closely EP
1987, Z Records
A1 Walk With Me
A2 Il Tempio
A3 Get Away
B1 Out of This Time
B2 Victims

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Less Funny Beduins: Im Sommer Im Keller EP

This was the very first record that I purchased after I moved to New York. I had never seen it before and did not even know who the band was. The weird handwritten quasi-Arabic font on the cover was completely indecipherable, and could have said anything from Bass Fuming Berserk to Legs Falling Backwards. And since the cover was the ONLY place where the band name was written, the band's identity remained a complete mystery to me when I bought it. In fact, I did not even find out who this band was until a couple days after I purchased it, after a little bit of internet sleuthing.
The band, as it turns out, is actually called Less Funny Beduins, which I can now kind of see written on the cover, although other times I can also see it saying Lose Fucking Bedbugs, so I suppose it's a Roscharch test of sorts.
The band was from Germany and released this record on Arab Productions, a subdivision of the tiny Independance label, which released records and tapes from sought-after bands like Parchment Prayer and Modern Art.
Boss Tummy Bunnies played a dark, experimental sort of gothic post-punk. The record is full of percussion and chugging guitars similar to post punk bands like Artery or Red Zebra, atmospheric synths and strings and pianos and gloomy vocals similar to Christian Death, and weird time changes and spastic experimentation similar to NDW bands like Sprung Aus den Volken and Leben Und Arbeiten. While Leggy Funky Bearclaws may never become a household name, they definitely deserve some recognition, as this record is quite a gem. And now at least you know who they are (kind of)!

Less Funny Beduins: Im Sommer Im Keller EP
1986, Arab Prod.
A1 Mary Bell
A2 Tout Normal
A3 Arjan/Eifersucht
B1 Es Konnte Viel Bedeunten...
B2 Busho - Busho

Link removed, as the artist has the album available as mp3 downloads - and to listen to - here

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Trax: Home EP

The UK during the late 70s and early 80s may have been the epicenter of the single greatest era of music - if not of all time, then at least of our generation (although I suppose it also depends on the type of music you're interested in). The sheer amount of records released at the time - from the private pressings recorded in ramshackle studios at 3 AM for the price of a case of Top Ramen, to the commercially risky records that even the major labels were putting out - means that there will always be another classic unearthed on pretty much a weekly basis. Consider this the classic of this week!
This band, called Trax, hailed from the town of Dunfermline, Scotland, and released this single on their Lonely Records label in 1979. It's not the greatest-quality recording, remaining a tad murky, especially on the second side on which the band bravely attempts to cram nearly eight minutes of music. It combines the energetic energy and guitars of garage punk with the atmospherics and synths of the post punk and burgeoning goth scene, sounding like a mix of The Stranglers, The Skids, and Joy Division. The closing track, Late Nite call Out, is my favorite, where garage and darkwave elements collide in a glorious lo-fi mess.
The band did not release any other records, although they did write almost 40 different songs and may have recorded a few demo tapes before disbanding in 1980. This record shows quite a bit of potential, and if their budget for this recording was only slightly more than the cost of a single meal of fish and chips, it would probably sound quite excellent.

Trax: Home EP
1979, Lonely Records
A1: Home
B1: Losing Out
B2: Late Nite Call-Out