Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Warboys / The Afternoon Gentlement split cdr 2007

Nothing is quite as unfashionable in the DIY punk scene today as a cdr. While in the 2000's, bands were perfectly happy doing demo cdr's, recent years have seen a shift in terms of medium: back to tapes. Now, I don't dislike tapes (quite the contrary), I enjoy playing tapes, old or new and my intent is not to point fingers at modern tape-releasing bands . However, this return to the tape format raises a few issues.

The punk scene is sadly very nostalgic of something that never really was (Sore Throat quote for ya!): the golden era of the 80's. Paradoxically, the older punks I know who have actually experienced that decade are much more enthusiastic about new bands and much more critical of that "golden age" than the younger generations who, deprived of the first-hand 80's punk experience, tend to idealize that period and everything that pertains to it (something I am very much guilty of myself). As a result, original records from the 80's are highly sought after and the vinyl format acts like an hyphen between the supposedly glorious past and a present that sometimes only offers backward-looking re-creations of the past (as accurate and musically potent as these re-creations might be). The consequence of such obsessions is that we no longer buy music. We only buy records. The medium, the form has effectively replaced the content - the music - in terms of importance. This largely accounts for the unpopularity of cd's, one that is inversely proportional to the popularity of vinyls, a medium that, sound quality notwithstanding, offers us a piece of "authenticity". Of course, this phenomenon only affects the punk scene, a microcosm and I love vinyls as much as the next punk nerd.

The glorious come-back of the tape is a bit more problematic to me. It is still relatively easy to find a turntable in order to play vinyls and the format certainly stands for the love of music. But what about tapes? They used to be a convenient means of music reproduction before computers. They were cheap, could be recorded on again and again and a mere tape-recorder placed at the centre of the rehearsal room was a first step toward eternity (and utter chaos). Tapes once had a significance and they played a key role in spreading punk music throughout the world, of sharing and spreading the DIY spirit. However, this role was circumscribed to a time, to a context and with file-sharing and the close disappearance of tape players, tapes have lost their role. Choosing to do tapes today can be seen as a tribute to the format, another heavy nod to the golden era, the DIY punk scene's own shibboleth, a chunk of the 80's experience by proxy. But it is also a very exclusive, if not snobbish, gesture. Indeed, the only people likely to buy punk tapes today are the ones who are already into buying punk tapes out of nostalgia and fetichism. And this is extremely problematic. Originally, tapes were meant to be easily spread and shared, that was the whole point. But now, they are the exact opposite. How many teenagers in 2013 own tapes? Just imagine a 16 year-old kid going to a punk show and really enjoying a band. He/she is going to try to get some music from the band we all did that at some point, didn't we?). And then he/she is faced with a tape which implies that he/she is going to have to find a way to play it, that he/she won't probably be able to lend it to a mate, to share it with his/her friends. In 1983, anyone had access to a tape-player. In 2013, in Western countries anyway, it is becoming more and more unusual. Before tapes were trendy again (two, three years ago?), in the late 90's and early 00's, in my area tapes were mostly seen in distros from Poland or Czech Republic (which made sense since a lot of people there didn't own a cd player at the time) and local bands did their demo on cdr's, a format that is less glamorous than the tape but that has the same DIY quality.

My point being: why not do tapes AND cdr's (or at least give a download link) of the recording? That way you can have both: music fetichism (because tapes are great objects indeed) AND you can spread your music to everyone (because that is also supposed to be the point of punk-rock). And everyone is happy!

Now that my rant is over, let's get to the record, a split cdr demo between two Leeds bands: Warboys and The Afternoon Gentlemen. Both bands recorded their songs in 2007 and have since released other things (one Ep for the Boys and a myriad of split Ep's for the Gents). Even though you will easily distinguish one band from another, the Boys and the Gents play in the same league: the Fast, Furious, Snotty and Blasting Bollocks Championship. The Boys describe their ferocious music as "Leeds ghetto powerviolence". Now, I must confess I have never really understood what power-violence actually is other than superfast hardcore with many breaks and heavier parts. The Boys sound like Siege doing a powerslam on Hellnation and the name Warboys is actually a reference to a character from a British sitcom called "One foot in the grave".

I must admit that the Gents have my preference on this split. They lie more on the grindcore side of things with a dash of aforementioned powerviolence and are absolutely manic. The vocals are completely over-the-top and mean-sounding. In spite of the metal breaks, the songs have a real punk feel to them. Think Looking For An Answer, Violent Headache, more modern-sounding bands like Nasum, more metal-oriented grinding affairs and a spinkle of cavemen blasting crustcore (also known as Massgrave).

Both bands have six songs and no lyrics are included and, let's face it, one is unlikely to understand what they are yelling about. Judging from the song titles, the Gents have a couple of songs about booze and booze-induced mayhem. I don't think "Have you got 20p?" is actually a cover of The Ejected, more like a re-writing perhaps (after all 10p in 1982 has to be at least 20p today). The titles of the Boys' songs tend to suggest a sarcastic approach to the world (they do have two songs called "Get a job").

If you are not into grindcore or powerviolence, this demo could turn into the 14 longest minutes of your life.

Boys versus Gents                

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Iconoclast "1983" Ep 2001

Last year, I got to enjoy a very fine demo from a band called Vivisect. Interestingly enough, their second demo was entitled "Anarcho, not peace punk", which made me think about the term "peacepunk". What the hell IS peacepunk? I remember a couple of years ago, people asking me about "UK peacepunk", a phrase that seemed to refer to the moodier, tuneful side of the British anarchopunk spectrum from the early 80's (think The Mob, Zounds or Alternative). Conversely, I have already seen the very same term been applied to the heavier, faster brand of punk music that emerged from the same scene as the aforementioned bands. In some fanzines, it is not unusual to see Antisect, Anti-System, AOA or Icons of Filth being qualified as "peacepunk" too.

After hours of intense meditation (and some reading as well), I realized that "peacepunk" was coined in the US in the early 80's, a term used to talk about American bands who were influenced by the British anarchopunk wave as well as Discharge and Varukers. Bands like Crucifix, Final Conflict, Diatribe. Or indeed like Iconoclast. As you will see from the booklet of this Ep that includes early 80's interviews of the band in Flipside and MRR, the word "peace" is often used to talk about UK-influenced American bands that had anti-war songs reminiscent of Discharge. I suppose the purpose of such a phrase was to distinguish "traditional" US hardcore bands from the anarcho-oriented ones. Coincidentally, Ian Glasper's "The day the country died" and Overground's "Anti" compilations renewed the interest in the early UK anarcho bands and MRR had a section about such bands, that, from an American perspective, could be called "peacepunk bands" although calling them that anywhere else is probably a bit odd and exemplifies the "Maximum Rock'n' Rollization of the minds" (don't be scared, it sounds much worse than it is).

The point being that, if we actually settle on an accurate use of the term "peacepunk" as refering to the early wave of US anarchopunk, then I bloody love peacepunk! Crucifix, Body Count, Final Conflict, Iconoclast, Another Destructive System, Media Children, A State of Mind, Autonomy (without mentioning the early Californian crust scene that rose from the peacepunk scene) are all old favourites. For some reason, most of the anarcho scene seemed to have happened in California, possibly because there were already hundreds of bands there, lively punk scenes and a lot of political activism. The fact that Crucifix released their album on Corpus Christi might also have helped, but I would be curious to know more about the specifics of that particular scene.

Iconoclast epitomize everything that is good about the peacepunk scene. Fast, snotty and youthful hardcore-punk songs with a raw sound that bring to mind Varukers, Discharge, early Antisect and Anti-System, Chaos UK, Death Sentence, Instant Agony but also Wretched or Mob 47 and there is even a slight but distinct US hardcore influence (after all, Minor Threat was an important influence at the beginning of the band). This Ep is a bootleg that has the first demo of Iconoclast, recorded in 1983, hence the title of the record. It is certainly one of the best-looking boots I have ever seen: beside the two, interesting interviews, it also includes an autobiography of the band that underlines Iconoclast's political and personnal motivations and their evolution, some pictures and some old gig posters. Definitely an interesting read that provides some crucial context.

If you have never listened to this recording, be warned that the sound is quite rough (it is first and foremost a demo after all). There are seven songs, four of them with the lyrics included. The name of the first song of the B side is not indicated on the backcover but it is actually called "Bodies, bones & skulls". This boot was done by a label called "Peace or annihilation" and it was their only release, a benefit for the Anarchist Prisoners Legal Aid Network. There is also a short note from the label explaining that the music is precisely more than just music, more than a mere addition to one's record collection as it has the potential to make you think, question and act. And really, isn't it what punk is all about?    


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Finally done!

All the files are now in FLAC (for tapes and vinyls) or WAV (for cd's and cdr's) format.

- Blyth Power "Out from under the king" cd 1996 (here)
- The Sect "Voice of reason" Lp 1987 (here)
- Upheaval / Yan Tree split Ep 1989 (here)
- Revolt "Human abattoir" Ep 1996 (here)
- Wartorn "Banzai" Ep 1994 (here)
- "Mizaru Kikazaru Iwazaru" compilation cd 2005 (here)
- Debris "Attrition" Ep 1999 (here)
- "A Vile Peace" compilation Lp 1987 (here)
- "Punktured: a Rape Crisis benefit" compilation cdr 2003 (here)
- "Punx Riot" compilation Lp 2000 (here)

Monday, 11 February 2013

To be continued...

New, enhanced versions of the following have been posted:

- Namland "The shame" Ep 1990 (here)
- Screaming Holocaust "Cancer up your bum" Ep 1989 (here)
- Sarcasm "Brave new world" Ep 1998 (here)
- Sanctus Iuda / Regeneracion split Ep 1997 (here)
- Earth Movement "W sprawie ocalenia" Ep 1998 (here)
- Muerte En La Industria "No dejes que te exploten, sin ti no son nada!" cd 2006 (here)
- Death Sentence "Death and pure distruction" Ep 1982 (here)
- Bad Influence "Wake up" Ep 1992 (here)
- Hybernoid "Technology/Regression" Ep 1993 (here)
- Mortal Terror / Aural Corpse split Lp 1990 (here)
- State of Filth / Anarchy Spanky split cd 2003 (here)
- Blyth Power "Pont au-dessus de la Brue" Lp 1989 (here)
- Blyth Power "Better to bat" 12" 1989 (here)
- Decadent Few "They shoot children" Ep 199? (here)
- Designer Fear "Survivor" Ep 1990 (here)

Friday, 1 February 2013

FuckHatePropaganda "S/t" demo cdr 2003

This demo always puts a smile on my face. I got it in 2003, back when I was living in Manchester. Those were pre-internet days for me as I didn't have the internet at home in France and I actually discovered the unbelievable truth at uni in Manch: you could order records on the internet. This revelation would greatly affect my sanity and my wallet and things were never quite the same afterwards. I didn't however get this cdr through the internet. I got it the old-fashioned way which was still very much the rule back then. I read a great review of the demo in a fanzine called Headwound (it was done by the same people who did the Punktured collective), then wrote down a letter to the band with a few quids stuck in the envelope, and a week later I received five copies of the demo, four of which I gave away to my mates when I came back to Paris.

Coincidentally, I got to see FuckHatePropaganda on my 20th birthday in Manchester, in December 2003. They were playing with The Ex and External Menace and to celebrate this event, I was high on shrooms that night which seemed fitting indeed since The Ex were on the bill. The gig was brilliant: External Menace were terrific, The Ex were bizarre and FuckHatePropaganda were so intense sonically and visually that they scared me a little bit (but shrooms do tend to do that to you when you witness punk aural savagery).

I don't think FHP were around for very long but they managed to put out quite a few records during their short life. They did a split Ep with Sick Terror from Brazil in 2004, another one with H8 Target the same year, they appeared on two compilations (the "Hardcore vs. hunting" Ep and "Kill your management volume 6" cd) and Speedowax Recors even released this demo on vinyl in 2003. Not bad, is it? The band came from Stoke-on-Trent (yes, same as Discharge... is there something in the water there?) and was made up of members from Egg Raid and personal favourites Kismet HC.

FHP are not your typical hardcore band as this demo shows. Although they remained in the (very) fast and furious thrash attack side of things, they added some twisted, almost dischordant guitar parts to their wall of sound. Think Dropdead, Hellnation, Scalplock or Hard To Swallow with some Civil Disobedience or even Headache demented weirdness. The fact that there are three people sharing the vocals greatly reinforces the intensity of the songs and confers to the demo a definite angry feel. The lyrics are interesting and the writing-style has a lot of urgency, as if the writer was breathless with anger and frustration. "His story in History" deals with sexism in the Bible and the male-centered gender roles it imposes on people; "Draw the lines" is about racism and how it used to keep people divided; "Scraping the barrel" illustrates our alienated behaviours in modern society and how we are led to force ourselves to comply in order to keep appearances; "Graves for the poor" is about the division of the people and the absurdity of being poor in a so-called rich country, and all in the name of economic prosperity; "Dead 49-75" bitterly describes of the ever-present submissiveness in the life of the new modern worker who begs his social superiors for work and shelter; "More ghetto's" is actually about political elitism in the punk scene and how it is satisfied to live in a self-styled ghetto; finally "Product of birth" depicts the sens of schyzophrenia that social conditioning and indoctrination imply. There is also a short, Dystopia-like interlude with spoken bits in the middle of the demo.

Really good shit indeed.

Resist the heavy duck naked coitus of astronaut punx... or something

New batch of FLAC or WAV versions. It is a tedious but, I feel, a worthy process.

- Resist "United States of Apathy" demo 1989 (here)
- Heavy Discipline "Extreme Mutilation Increases" tape 1986 (here)
- The Astronauts "Restricted hours" tape 1979 (here)
- Depressor "Burn the illusion" demo 1996 (here)
- "Decade of dissidence" worst of the 1in12 Club Vol 14/15 compilation cd 1999 (here)
- Substandard / Nerves split Ep 1994 (here)
- Coitus / The Losers split Ep 1993 (here)
- Lardarse "Armchair apathy" Ep 1997 (here)
- Urko / Chineapple Punx split Ep 1997 (here)
- Naked "Go for what" live tape 1983 (here)
- Life Cycle / Shrapnel live in Leeds 1988 tape (here)
- Metal Duck "Quackcore" demo 1987 (here)