Because the New Year finds me light-hearted and clearing out a ton of sentimental &/or forgotten crap, to dance laughing round a giant freedom pyre, I thought it’d be nice to share something with you. Going through the accumulated debris, I found this thing written years ago for a compilation album called The Return of Generation Toyracer (TOY004), featuring a track by my then-band Empty Vessels.
And what better way to celebrate the future than by wanking over the past?
The idea was to do a short piece for the inlay booklet, describing my best-loved record. So I made one up:
‘My favourite album is by 80’s combo Joie Extreme. The Sound of Whipped Dogs Miaowing has a literally unbearable atmosphere of foreboding and dread, with great hooks and singalong choruses. This voluptuous fog is testament to the genius of Des Essence and Vyv Feast. Whereas Essence was a protest singer distinctive for high-pitched shouting over primitive piano chords (ultra-rare early single “Dead Hill-Farmers Long Ago”), Feast wasn’t. So each song on their classic LP was recorded twice – once at half-speed, then with frequencies added that Feast claimed caused “spiritual violation”. Drummer Stifford was forced to hold his breath for each take; listen carefully and hear him sobbing on track three.
Recording took place in a haunted factory in front of a crowd of wax dummy children in Victorian clothes, and Feast deprived the band of sleep by flashing a blue light in their eyes (while showing, says bassist Miranda Poe, “a full stem”). The song “Eyeflaps Turgid” – possibly the only ever to feature an acoustic guitar filled with shit – reflects this. It was all downhill from there. The band scattered into obscurity to become music journalists, but their album lives on and I’ve got all the copies.’
…The work of a cocky, sleep-deprived and possibly quite drunk young man, but damn it was fun.
As mentioned before, in a previous life I had a band called Empty Vessels. It started off as a duo with – hard as it seems to believe now – a heavy but mildewed drum n bass influence. What can I say… we were young, we were foolish, and guitar-based music seemed even deader than it does at present.
Anyway, it was a short-lived but intense period which we moved away from – inevitably, with hindsight – to become a very guitar-chord-based, oafish art rock trio; and even to make a tiny commercial dent. But at the time I speak of, we met a… polarized response. Some people loved us, some absolutely hated us; I just got off on the ructions, being a kid at the time. Very rarely, we’d get an insightful review from someone who might not’ve gone for the music, but appreciated what we were trying to do.
Such a review appeared on a literate and thoughtful site called Misfit City, which has been inactive for quite a while but recently started up again. Here’s the re-issued and updated article on EVs circa 2000…
It’s true what they say: be it ever so obscure, you never can escape your own past. But in this case, there’s nothing to run away from, and maybe something to be proud of. See if you agree.
the past: cobwebs or stardust? discuss
- A Certain Ratio – Do The Du
- Joy Division – Warsaw
- Hawkwind – Death Trap
- Adrian Sherwood – Boogaloo
- The Lovely Eggs – Watermelons
- Monkeys In Love – I’m Alan
- Can – And More
- Sky Architects – Cave In
- Gespenst – The Bloodline
- The Fall – R.O.D.
- Althea and Donna – Uptown Top Ranking
- Power Switchblade – Keep it Light
- Jake Bugg – Taste It
- Empty Vessels – Monkey
- Stanley – Obstacles
- There Will Be Fireworks – Harmonium Song
- New Order – Vanishing Point
- X – Johnny Hit and Run Pauline
- Kingsley and Perrey – Unidentified Flying Object
- Bauhaus – Spy in the Cab
- Human Don’t be Angry – Asklippio
- Porcelain Raft – Put Me To Sleep
- Mugstar – Serra
- Ennio Morricone – L Estasi Dell Oro
- Signalsundertests – Kapelle
Thanks, as always, are in order. The song was recorded live at Rooz Studios, nr Old St in London, as part of an EP/album thing (it’s complicated). I’m told it was available in shops, back when that sort of thing mattered. Anyway, it’s a blast from the recent-ish past; my principles are unswerved, my delusions intact. If nothing else, it’s a nice fit with Hawkwind and The Fall.
old news and new news…
New: looks like I’ve finally got a band together, at least the strong framework of one. All we lack – perhaps – is a keyboard or synth (or even laptop) player. It’s sounding great so far… Exciting stuff.
Also, been getting some more airplay on Brighton’s Burst Radio – check em out.
Old: my former band Empty Vessels now has a Youtube channel here. There’s live footage in 3 parts, and also loads of free audio on Bandcamp. While I don’t want to make the mistake of raking around in the past too much, it captures the chaos and focused energy of those days – just as well I’ve got a new band, really.