Category Archives: Experimental

Free Agent : Eric Random

Eric Ramsden from Manchester was one of a handful of early electronic post punk pioneers, unique and uncompromising not completely unlike Robert Rental, Fad Gadget, . He was involved with early Factory acts, the New Hormones label, Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley as The Tiller Boys and maybe best documented with Cabaret Voltaire (as guest musician on record, as opening act on tour and fully absorbed on the Pressure Company live LP). From solo output up to putting a band together (The Bedlamites) and getting recruited for the then Manchester based femme fatale junkie legend Nico as tourband member – with additional stints in the Suns Of Arqua, Psychic TV and the Durutti Column.
This short bio shows a lot unknown facts, thankfully supported by the man himself about his whereabouts and his surprising return to electronic music starting with ‘Man Dog’ in 2014 on Klanggalerie after a 18 years hiatus and continuing until the present day. Find his latest Album ‘No-Gohere as CD and DL and a live recording from 2019 promoting the ‘Wire Me Up‘ 2*12″ on soundcloud.

An incredible find, many, many thanks to Hugo Ball.

SP 029 rasal.asad : asuna.lahva

Another lost album rediscovery thanks to mobile working lead to this release. Partially it has still a 90’s optimistic Ambient flair with a touch dreamaway but paired with selected speech samples. Soundwise it prequels Fernando Cerqueira’s earlier vaporwave works as Walt Thisney with it’s distinguished slightly unreal appeal up to the final track which dives into drone territory and was published separate in 2004 as EP. This one connects more to his recent works with it’s timeless approach.

The general unreal futuristic feel no matter if generated through different voices or noises, synth or piano sounds is what always caught my attention so this is paired with altered images of Tokyo, Japan, 〒101 0021 tōkyō to, chiyoda city, sotokanda, 1 chōme−15−1 半田ビル (Original Photo by Gwen King on Unsplash) to reflect this.

rasal.asad

‘Asuna’ was his second solo release after Ras.Al.Ghul splitted for good. The first one, ‘Space.Scape’ had been reissued before remixed and remastered by his alter ego Walt Thisney in digital format. Originally issued by Thisco in 2003 as Thisk 12 on CD (and Thisk 19 in 2004) who rececently celebrated their 20th Anniversary with a highly recommended compilation (ltd. LP / DL) 7300 Earth Spins featuring new and old allies of the label he founded together with Luis Van Seixas aka Sci Fi Industries when he too still lived in Portugal back in 2001.

20 Years Thisco!

If you order the LP you’ll even get a Compilation CD from 20 Years ago free with it to linder the hurting if you see the postage costs.

Listen and get this insubstantial artificial artefact here >

Adventures In Failure – MC 900 Ft. Jesus aka Mark Griffin

Mark Griffin was born in 1957 in Kentucky but based in Dallas, Texas since 1979 as far as known. Actually a classical trained and studied musician and trumpet player, he joined a local New Wave Band, The Telefones and played with Jazz musicians, worked for a local indie record store during the 80’s and became MC 900 Ft. Jesus ca. 1988, named after an Televengalists vision of 900 Ft. high Jesus statue he promoted heavily at that time. Together with DJ Zero (Patrick Rollins) they self relased a first 12″ which caught interest of Nettwerk – then looking for quite progressive acts fitting in the late EBM / Synth Wave / Alternative Electronic corner like Consolidated, Meat Beat Manifesto, Severed Heads, Skinny Puppy and more.

“Hell With The Lid Off” (Nettwerk, 1989) with DJ Zero was themed arround the questionable TV & Radio preachers and their agenda not unlike the middle ages indulgence tradings which caused the first great crisis of the catholic church, the schism and splitting into evangelic and catholics in Europe. Paired with a good sense of irony and sarcasm.

The irresistible groovy electro tracks ‘I’m Going Straight To Heaven’ and ‘Truth Is Out Of Style’ made their way into my favourites back then, despite the unavoidable Stephen R. Gilmore Design which ruined so many records for me and the obvious hip hop scratching. I nearly sorted this LP out after reviewing it then but for a late 80’s record it beared many good ideas and did not hesitate to jump over the boarder to the plain absurd. A special humour which was seldom in my usual listening then. The album title was of course another direct quote – John Peel even offered a session as I recently discovered feat. ‘Truth Is Out Of Style’, ‘Real Black Angel’ and ‘Revolution 10’ (from the ‘UFO’s Are Real’ 12″).

Peel Session, February 1990


“Welcome To My Dream” (Nettwerk, 1991) expanded the spectrum Mark Griffin worked in favourable. Less synthesizer and hip hop orientated it started with a bang – ‘Falling Elevators’ which was an surprise success 5 years later after Levis used it in a campaign and got subsequently issued as a single in 1996 (!).
The more in sync with the earlier tracks ‘Killer Inside Me’ and the futuristic lounge jazz track ‘The City Sleeps’ where then as singles issued with lesser success. The bizarre ‘Dalis Handgun’, nearly an acapella track also showed Griffin’s main interest in leftfield themes and storytelling as did ‘Adventures In Failure’ and ‘Hearing Voices In One’s Head’. It is a great album and much more serious than the first but as the song titles give away it’s no surprise the mass appeal needed for commercial success was vanishing. Slightly jazzy downtempo tracks where not really en vogue while half America started stage-diving to Grunge and Europe was raving on with sidesteps into Warp, IDM and Ambient. The lyrics, missing an overall album concept kept the intelligent observations, the sarcasm but with self-critic present also which was not going down to well with most of the hip hop influenced audience.

Mark Giffin writes on his channel: “About 47 minutes of a live show we did in Moers, Germany on June 7, 1992. I don’t think it was broadcast, but rather was shown on closed circuit TVs scattered around the festival. Someone recorded it and gave me a copy, but unfortunately they stopped the tape before the end of the set. Still, it’s some of the best footage I have of the band from those days. Features Chris McGuire on reeds, Baby G on turntables, and Mitch Marine on drums.”


“One Step Ahead Of The Spider” (American Recordings, 1994) appeared on a new label, three years on. Already involved in “Welcome To My Dream” where Mike Dillon (Percussion etc.) and Chris McGuire (Saxophones), but now he went full way into jazz band realms, adding Drew Phelps (Bass), Dave Palmer (Piano), Earl Harvin (Drums, nowadays playing with Tindersticks), Nikhil Pandya (Tabla) and Rajiv Chakravarti (Tambura).
Starting the album with an 11m43s track – ‘New Moon’ – showed how ignorant / arrogant / free of commercial orientation Mark Griffin operated back then. If you made this and managed to follow the storytelling you where ready for the album. If not, then not. Many of his old listeners might have skipped it then, I know I did. I missed any sense of dynamic groove and was so disappointed I gave it away after listening half hearted ca. twice…
The artwork did not help either.

I think this is one of the quite spectacular cases where the grown public was scared away in large parts without gaining a new.
Anyway – this year I finally felt curious enough to give it a go again (…..).
Lyrically Mark Giffin took this to the top, the dark sarcasm he showed on “Welcome To My Dream” turned into blank Cynicism besides his observational storytelling. A Curtis Mayfield cover with Living Color’s Vernon Reid guesting on Guitar did not save this from being a step ahead into uncharted territory. ‘Tiptoe Through The Inferno’ is one of the greatest song titles ever used imho but it describes pretty well where he was heading to.
Find a comic adaption with full lyrics on instagram courtesy of Simon Paul.

If I Only Had A Brain‘ was the lead single, and became one of his best known songs, especially after it was used in MTV’s Cartoon Beavis & Butthead.


‘But If You Go’ was the second and final single, the video was never properly finished nor aired and is from his personal archive.

Afterwards – he disappeared. A fourth album was planned but didn’t work out; “I had sort of lost my sense of humor about it,” he says. “The big thing about MC 900 is we’re a pretty dark thing, but it was like I used to at least try to be kind of funny and I got to the point where I didn’t think anything was funny anymore and I still kind of am that way.” (Dallas Observer Interview, January 2017),

He finally opened up a little about his whereabouts, frustration leading to more alcohol and a complete reinvention as Pilot and Flight Instructor to build up enough praxis to apply for a commercial Pilot license but after 9/11 demand vanished and he found himself living of his savings until he asked for a job in a bookstore. Years later he slowly started DJ’ing in a small bar, started a MC 900 Ft. Jesus facebook page in 2012, took on a second Job to survive.


A full professional recording “Live In Vienna — A.D. MCMXCII” (2013, self released), a Radio Broadcast from 1992 was published via MC 900 Ft.’s Facebook page as free download in December 2013.
I discovered this thanks to discogs when I was startled whatever happened to him after listening to ‘Welcome To My Dream’ once again to start my day working from home.

In 2016 he finally made a full live appeareance which can be found on youtube.

So, at last he found the attitude to go out and play again in addition to his daytime jobs after a hiatus of more than 15 years. Perhaps there is more interest in his dark, witty observational style maybe now than in the 90’s and it would be great to have a few songs reflecting the changes of our times from his POV.


Bonus Track: Instore set, Record Store Day 4/22/2017, Dallas Tx
1: Falling Elevators / 2: The Killer Inside Me / 3: If I Only Had A Brain / 4: Tiptoe Through The Inferno / 5: The City Sleeps / 6: U.F.O.’s Are Real

March 21, 1986 – September 21, 2021 – Richard H Kirk

When he released his last ‘solo’ album in 2017 (before returning to use Cabaret Voltaire for new releases) I always felt this would be a great way to end his lifelong career. “Dasein” includes many facettes, uncomprising and still groovy, disturbing but listenable. It sums up so many of his interests and phases masterly and as such could have been the closing point of his musical career, going full circle from electro, industrial, experimental white funk, acidic house and experimental cut up’s.
[Intone CD9 – also the first Vinyl 2LP on his own label]

Mute announced today via Instagram:

It is with great sadness that we confirm our great and dear friend, Richard H. Kirk has passed away.

Richard was a towering creative genius who led a singular and driven path throughout his life and musical career.

We will miss him so much.

I did not yet come to terms with his two latest CV Drone releases yet but loved the beautiful 12″ and liked the “Shadow Of Fear” album even if I had the impression that he’s been playing it safer then necessary. Somehow I doubt it was an attempt in seniority mildness…

Classic later CV in the mix (l.t.r. Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder)

A great deal of his work was curating the Cabaret Voltaire back catalouge, licensed nearly complete to Mute. Partly remastered, remixed and reworked carefully besides many live recordings and some unreleased gems like the complete “Chance Vs. Causality” Soundtrack from 1979.

I’m running out of words for now. Thankyou for all the hours and hours music & inspiration.

Find a great essay by Ken Hollings over at The Wire now for some interesting thoughts, insights and observations.

As there is not much literature on CV available or has been available in the past with the exception of “The Art Of The Sixth Sense” and it’s updated story which was nearly a different book (“Industrial Evolution – Through The 80’s With Cababaret Voltaire“) due the request of CV / RHK by Mick Fish there might be interest in this recently published neat Interview collection by Fabio Méndez which looks a lot like a true labour of love to me which was never ment to be an epitaph to the story.

Don’t Bring A Dog – Bring Your Cat

I’ve read about this documentary when it came out (or at least was shown in some selected places a few times) but could’nt go to watch it. It never appeared on DVD as far as I know but today I stumbled upon it – so yeah – here are just 24 years later some interesting tidbits from the New York scene in glorious youtube quality. Thanks to the uploader.

DONT BRING A DOG, 1997
Hi8/75 min

“It´s not like writing a popsong and have it played on the fucking radio!”
Aurelio Valle / Factory Press

“A lot of these alternative rockbands seem to be more into Kiss than into Duchamp!”
Kid Congo Powers / Ex-Cramps, Ex-Gun Club, Ex-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

“Suddenly we became part of the mainstream and that´s still disconcerting!”
Thurston Moore / Sonic Youth

CREDITS:
Regie/Buch/Kamera: Oliver Schwabe
Kamera(Interviews): Dirk Lindner
Schnittregie: Rita Schwarze
Schnitt: Oliver Schwabe
Ton Remix: Thomas Arntz
Produktion: Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln

And a little Kid Congo bonus from 2016… He just turned 62 and lives happily with his man & cat!

Seasonal Highlights :The Legendary Pink Dots

Another dear tradition of the ever generous Pink Dots is the festive closure of the year with a special EP, sometimes more reminiscent of an audio play (Well actually two as there is a Halloween Special, too).

Enjoy…. and ‘Sing While You May’

“The journey’s tough but the destination is divine.”
Edward Ka-Spel, A Red Winter Night’s Dream, November 2020.

Severed Heads Finally Escaped From Further Zombification

In Autumn last year Tom Ellard finally succeeded to get rid of the name “Severed Heads” which stuck to the group from 1979 onwards and even with him when the group started to evolve into a one man project beginning in the late 80’s.
He stated fair enough it was not his choice (Australian for Talking Heads?) but even with side projects and solo efforts he had just put to much energy into it to drop it like that. After all Severed Heads where rooted in the same Australian diy scene as S.P.K. and a well-known name (brand?) in early electronic experiments with tape, loops, found noises which continued with their constant use of available technology including video productions and screening containing defamiliarized images and a mixture of psychedelic mutations of electronics starting as early as 1982.

The audiovisual band featured Stephen Jones on Video Synthesizers and headed into their strongest phase starting with “City Slab Horror”. When they toured “The Big Bigot” in 1986 I had the luck to see them in Munich (together with Indie Rockers Inca Babies, Gaye Bikers On Acid and the then recently reformed Wire) and was heavily impressed of the futuristic sounds and graphics they produced. Distribution and licensing deals with Ink Records (UK), Nettwerk (USA) and Volition (AUS) where in place and all looked very promising until their gear was stolen. Slightly demoralised and back in Australia they started working on what became the ill fated breakthrough album “Bad Mood Guy” featuring the heavily promoted single ‘Hot With Fleas’.

This was the first of many attempts to create a hit single and please the labels.

“Rotound For Success” followed in 1989, aiming even more directly into the area of electronic dance music with pop appeal leading to a mediocre album where electro, ebm/industrial and experimental roots shone through only in the technical craftsmanship. The pointless Pumpkin on the cover nearly said all, I actually waited years until I got a cheap and perfect copy just for completion. No less than three 12″ singles had been issued surrounding this one to feed the happy dancing crowd – ‘Big Car’, ‘All Saints Day’ and ‘Greater Reward’ the best of the lot.
Further attempts to popularize the band – meanwhile Ellard and Jones – where made in 1988 with the “Bulkhead” Compilation which lead to a first revival of ‘Dead Eyes Opened’ and in 1991 with the newer Remix collection “Retread”. The last proper Album for Nettwerk followed with “Cuisine (with Piscatorial)”. While it started great with ‘Pilot In Hell’ everything that followed went downhill with only a few exceptions. The balance between commercial appeal, wierdo Pop and interesting electronica of the times was just too much too handle. Ellard later said in interviews we tried to make club music for drugged party people while we never went to clubs or took drugs – so it basically could’nt work. Nettwerk dropped them afterwards (I guess the extra experimental section Piscatorial at the end of the CD did not help) in favour of female singers and rappers while distancing from the whole ebm/electronica acts which made them big. The European distribution via PIAS got lost along the way.

1994 saw Severed Heads (now Tom Ellard solo) return with “Gigapus” on Volition in Australia, with ‘Heart Of The Party’ issued as single on the heels of the ‘Dead Eyes Opened’ Remixes by long term collaborator Robert Racic. 1995 a Carlos Perón remastered version in Europe and 1996 an USA version. Several versions include VHS, CDRom content etc. Again a hell for collectors but nothing helped to increase the fading popularity and the crash of Volution Records ended basically their career with the music industry for good.

Back to basics Tom Ellard as always interested in technical progress was one of the first musicians to embrace the DIY of home-burned CD-R’s and perhaps the first to offer downloadable music from his SevCom pages. The new found freedom had it’s price, loads of equipment was sold, full time jobs etc. The Music Server series was started (Muzak to create working atmospheres 1998 – 2002) followed by the idea of an ever evolving Magazine like release (OP 2002 – 2007) and more. The first of these was licensed as soundtrack for the Australian movie “The Illustrated Family Doctor” and Parts used as Soundtrack won the ARIA, the Australian Music Industry Award in 2005.

‘Haul Ass’ in 1998 and ‘Under Gail Succubus’ (2006) where the only regular Studio Albums issued and they showed a return to form.
The later, coupled with the first of the Barbara Series led to another series of (including this) 4 releases up to 2018, the other volumes credited to Tom Ellard. A highly welcome work crossing all borders.

Besides LTM issued a Heads Live CD, a double Best Of called “Commmerz” and the collectors label Vinyl On Demand a Box with old and oldest recordings, revised and supervised back in 2008. So the first Ending hat not really a chance to stand. Severed Heads stepped out of the grave once more….

These activities lead to a revival in reissues, performing and reworking releases and videos. Also some solo stuff. Also free stuff. Side Projects and remasters. Installing an ever-changing bandcamp site and facsimile reproductions on Vinyl. Besides the usual strange stuff, Tom Ellard Solo & a dive into new and unusual concepts and formats whenever possible.

As a final goodbye there was a limited CD available (now digitally available) to elaborate on what he felt like performing the ‘greatest Hits’ over and over again:

‘The Living Museum’ features the tracks in their final updated versions as performed on the last live Shows in Europe, US and Australia during 2019. This is the 2nd serious and most likely final attempt of Ellard severing ties with Severed Heads and progress actively forward.
The new banner which greated visitors of the SEVCOM home over a period of months announcing his new organisation :

[click it’s online now]

Secret Mix : Mark Stewart flips the script

Mark Stewart on the mix:

‘Pull up! This is the new style.
Flip the script.
This one’s for the inmates.
The process, the process, the process church of the final judgement.
Like my life these tunes are crunked, chopped & screwed.
A deep listening reflection on this processed world we live in.
No sleep till Bristol.
As Prince Jazzbo said ‘one step forward, two step backward.’
Let the drums of defiance ring across this land.’

Not brand new but nonetheless worth listening. For tracklist and dl see secret thirteen, always worth a visit.

A Prison Of Measured Time (Isolation in Italy and beyond)

As my thoughts go to the catastrophe in progress which hardly leaves anyone unaffected now I like many others found more time than usual to takea look how some of the musicians I follow react to it and deal with the situation of quarantine and isolation.

Not sure if this ambient experimental work by DsorDNE with Onda Lunga was recorded in hindsight of the current overall mood but it’s quite impressive transmitting a special mood;

Due the unforeseen time he had on his hands Maurizio Pustianaz aka Gerstein remastered some of his elder recordings and reissued them via his bandcamp. Two fine examples are shown below.

Also the gorgeous “Colonna D’Aria” Compilation from Snowdonia (Reissued as SP 002 several years ago) is now professionally remastered online @ Klappstuhl Records – featuring exclusive Gerstein and DsorDNE tracks hidden in one long flow of early late 80’s Italian eclectic underground music.

Ex-Italian ‘Superstars’ PANKOW are giving away their latest re(re-)leases on the Canadian Artoffact label as “pay what you want” for the time being, as do most of this label’s artists currently, among them the incredible and unforgotten Nash The Slash (R.I.P.).

Directly responding to the current pandemic is Amplify 2020 -an online action initiated by Jon Abbey of Erstwhile Records – free downloads of musical pieces created especially during this time as direct reaction. Submissions are still open for those interested to participate.

Enjoy “Time” by and with the amazing Mr. Concept! (SP 026)

40 Year after ‘The Amazing World Of Mr. Concept‘ burst onto the tape scene here is the conclusion… “a continued rapid stream of delight”……………… true to the spirit of his early Cassette only albums this release is made and mixed for listening in one go.
Includes extensive liner notes by Mr C! as PDF booklet and of course printable artwork to make your own CD (Sorry, blank tapes are expensive nowadays).

But this is by far not the only project he was working on in the time since ‘XXXVII‘ was released, discover more Concept City productions at the new bandcamp site and enjoy the reissue as digital version or facsimile copy of the legendary ltd. Cordelia Records 1985 Album ‘November’ on LP. Currently available via Platform 23 from Nepal.

There is also a limited amount of original Klappstuhl CDr’s for those who prefer a physical product, including a free dl of the digital booklet. Rumours state it will be only 22 copies of this one which was already issued on February 20th. In any case – Mr. Concept wishes you a good time

concept city