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The Flying Lizards – The Secret Dub Life of The Flying Lizards

Staubgold

As the slipstream of punk washed its way through the record industry in the late 70s and early 80s it seemed to many of us that commercial music might be changed forever to become permanently open to imaginative, offbeat constructions and general weirdness. That was, of course, the kind of naïve illusion that makes youth bearable. What really happened was that the genuine musical revolution happening at the grass roots was simply mined by the industry for product, picking up aspects of the new music and isolating them as gimmicks that could be marketed as novelties of various kinds. So it was that the early 80s created a slew of novelty records and, in this case in particular, the ‘messthetics’ of The Desperate Bicycles and The Door and The Window – avowedly amateur music that disdained commercial polish and sniffed at

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Eyeless in Gaza (live at The Vortex)

The Vortex, London 3 December 2010

It’s thirty years now since Eyeless in Gaza released their debut single, “Kodak Ghosts Run Amok” (1980), and in all that time there’s never been a moment when they could be made to fit in with whatever else was happening around them. In the early days they were seen perhaps as part of DIY post-punk; once signed to Cherry Red they were treated as yet another of that label’s line in wistful, weedy acoustic singer-songwriter combos; more recently The Wire has tried to palm them off merely as presursors of the tedious Wyrd Folk trend/marketing opportunity.

Eyeless in Gaza at The Vortex

Their gig at London’s Vortex brought all of this to mind and gave me a chance to think about how they fit into my own private scheme of things. I’ve been listening to Eyeless in

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K-Space – Infinity

Ad Hoc

K-Space – InfinityEvery now and then you come across a product born of such radically alternative starting assumptions that it gets treated with near indifference by its potential audience, as though to even entertain the possibility of its existence could cause the tapestries of multiple musicotheologies to unravel. Infinity by K-Space is one such product: a CD that never plays the same music twice, intertwining ideas from disciplines such as improvisation, indeterminate composition, generative music and new media with anthropology, magic and non-musical sonic expression. While informed readers could be forgiven for commenting that it came out two years ago, at the time of writing no one seems to have been able to do justice to this remarkable record. That’s a shame, because it raises important questions about received wisdom in many of the key strata within

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Parking Non-Stop/Temple Of The Beeheads – Split LP

Pure Pop For Now People

Along comes the latest release from PPFN, the label run by Joachim Gaertner of German psyche/kraut powerhouse group S/T, and it’s another that explores the territory somewhere on the borders of electronica and a peculiar concept of pop music. As with most of PPFNs releases, the album is a heavyweight vinyl LP with equally characteristic high-quality hand-made covers.

In this case its a split release in a limited pressing of 100 copies. On one side is “Amiga Mandala” by Cologne group Temple of the Beeheads. Not having heard them before I can’t say where this track sits in terms of their other work. Enough to say that it slowly builds up into a wall of keyboard/synthesiser phrases in the loping, ponderous major key style of, perhaps, early post-Syd Pink Floyd, circa Ummagumma. The recording/compositional approach reminds me

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Pere Ubu – Datapanik in the Year Zero/London * Texas

Cooking Vinyl / Recommended Records

Pere Ubu evolved in a different universe to the rest of 70s rock. In mainstream history as we know and remember it, The Sex Pistols single-handedly swept aside years of proggishness, clearing a completely new path and establishing the new year-zero (OK, that’s a parodic exaggeration, but it isn’t far from what it felt like at the time). But in Ubu world, then centred entirely on the flatlining industrial town of Cleveland, Ohio, long before the Bill Grundy affair and God Save the Queen, the riddle had already been solved and the code already broken. Their early, self-released run of singles on the Hearpen label (30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Final Solution, Street Waves and The Modern Dance) admittedly owe debts to The Stooges and Velvet

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Partisans – By Proxy

(Babel)

The sleeve notes to By Proxy quote Aldous Huxley: “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” But what Partisans express is not the arcane or ineffable but rather a straightforward affection for a rather uncontroversial jazz, probably circa whenever it was that Eric Dolphy was playing with Coltrane. The Partisans know what they are doing too, with guitarist Phil Robson and sax and clarinet player Julian Siegel both playing exceptional roles. As with Dolphy the feel is often toward a sort of brawny sophistication, but while Dolphy could drive that feeling somewhere into the outer-realms of hovering-at-the-edge-of meaning, brain-bending alarm, Partisans mostly keep their feet attached firmly to the ground.

The difference leads out of considerations of style

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Leverton Fox – Country Dances

(Gravid Hands)

Leverton Fox have somehow largely cut themselves loose from contemporary cliches. Coming in a gorgeous Crayola-spattered cover, Country Dances is made of equal parts jazzy articulation and jagged electronic invention. Not that there’s anything obviously ‘jazz’ here, just heavily treated percussion and brass being moulded and distressed along with location recordings and plenty of abstract electronic tics and tears. Maybe the spirit of Han Bennink is at work, but in what feels like a thoroughly electronic sensibility. Another parallel might be with Supersilent, though Leverton Fox play punk spit to Supersilent’s New Wave polish. Certainly they come across a lot more gritty and demented than Polar Bear and there are even shades of 23 Skidoo and, more substantially, Nurse With Wound and very early Cabaret Voltaire.

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Teleseen – Fear of the Forest

(Percepts)

Apparently, Teleseen is the ‘primary alias’ of producer Gabriel Cyr, who claims to be “on the vanguard of combining dub and reggae with experimental electronic music” – a claim that’s true only in the sense that Daz really is a ‘revolutionary new product’, ie., not true at all. Such resort to unmediated hype is to be expected from someone who makes such a clunky show of his commitment to affectless tossers, Deleuze and Guattari. All in all then, we’re heading for the world of rhizomatic flim-flam where ideas easily crystalise out into brands.

Almost every sound here sounds like a default setting of some kind while the production smears everything into an indiscriminate mulch of sub-dub head-nodding. Strangely for someone who

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Stretch Out Time – Faust 1970-1975

Andy Wilson Faust Pages, paperback 208pp

Stretch Out Time – Faust 1970-1975A labour of love from start to finish, this book is both a personal and theoretical analysis of Faust‘s music in their classic era. Andy Wilson‘s detailed track-by-track commentary for each album and assorted other releases are insightful and rarely dry. Instead, he riffs on the music as much in an emotional and political context while clearly outlining the group’s sometimes larger than life history, peppering the text with anecdotes from surviving members and rare photos.

With a couple of chapters which compare Faust’s contribution to both the avantgarde and rock music alongside that of Sun Ra and Frank Zappa (from the appreciation of whom Faust’s man-mountain drummer Werner “Zappi” Diermaier got his nickname), as well as a brief section covering developments in the band’s long strange trip after their disappearance

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