|In the wake
of reading England's Hidden Reverse I have been listening to Current
93 and Nurse With Wound again. There is something admirable in their intensity
and seriousness that never [like some of the associated noise/industrial bands]
falls into pomposity or bombast. I say 'never' but of course I mean 'most of
the time these days', as Current 93's early output was a cacophony of loops,
dirges and noise with Crowleyesque and sub-Crowleyesque ranting and chanting
over the top. All the same there is, when I'm in the mood, something intriguing
about the likes of tracks like ´Maldoror est Mort' and the live CD Dogs Blood
Order. Just as there is, when one is in a [William] Blake, albionesque mood,
something in the apocalyptic folk of the later CDs like Thunder
Perfect Mind and Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre, where it sounds like a meeting
of Van Morrison, The Incredible String Band and your local amateur drama society
acting out the Old Testament in a pub back room. [This is a good
But there is often something intriguing about ideas that don't quite work. I feel it about several recent CDs.
The first, is oneI really want to like more than I do. I'm quite a fan of David Sylvian's solo work, as well as his collaborations with Holger Czukay and Robert Fripp, so the news that 1. he was setting up his own record label and 2. working with guitar improviser Derek Bailey was exciting stuff. But after living with Blemish for a few weeks, I simply don't think it works. Most of the tracks are Sylvian absolutely solo: that is he's put the music together and sung over/through it. Three tracks are him navigating his way through Derek Bailey's spikey off-kilter guitar, the final track features Christian Fennesz. All, for me, despite glorious moments, have slowly become one mass of tone & attitude, with droned, rather earnest and dull, vocals woven through the music. There are no tunes, no excitement, no David Sylvian songs; I hear a singer lost in music looking for a way out. Perhaps it will be step toward something, a moment on his journey? Certainly, some of the short squibs of tracks aren't the way forward, though Fennesz is a wonderful collaborator - the closing track is probably the best on the CD.
The second is a box of three CDs by Cabaret Voltaire, featuring their early home made music. Methodology ´74/'78. Attic Tapes; is of course the type of thing only sad completists or fans would buy [or blag] so I only have myself to blame, but despite knowing what they are, it doesn't stop the disappointment as a result of how noisy, amateur and, frankly, boring this music is. There were a hundred bands in every town doing this kind of stuff - thankfully they don't get to relase their stuff. What is amazing is that Cabaret Voltaire went on to make the great music they did and leave this kind of amateur noise & rhythm, this playground collage behind. What's also disappointing is the fact that the design of the box is so bloody artyfarty you can't read most of the text! [as the Cabs would say: ´nag, nag, nag'] These tapes should, I feel, have been left in the attic they came from.
And finally, Essential Logic, one of the most intriguing post-punk bands. Live, a whirlwind of aggressive guitar, screeched vocals and demented saxophone; a punk Van de Graaf Generator. Fanfare In the Garden: an Essential Logic Collection, does what it says on the cover, collects up tracks and selects from their output. What's actually missing is their finest moment, a Virgin Records 12' that captured the whirlwind in full flight; hearing the selections from the Rough Trade LP reminded me just how disappointing that recording was, and why I got rid of it. Somehow the passion and energy just isn't there on record. What I did enjoy is some unreleased work from the late 90s on the second CD in this anthology. Here, gentle reggae-tinged rhythms underpin a relaxed and sensitive Lora Logic, whose mellow singing is a joy. So, not quite the best of I'd expected; and not quite the tour de force of late 70s post-punk either. But a genuine scrapbook that represents most of their recording career, however disappointing that may have been. Keep an eye out for the 12' EP though with the definitive version of ´Wake Up' on though: if my memory serves me right, its vivid bluet and has a cheesy photo of a lifesize rabbit on.
© 2003 Rupert Loydell