Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Polish Tapes Not Police States (kurwa 4): Stupor "Prawdziwe oblicze..." demo tape 1997



I have to admit that I had never listened to, nor even heard of, Stupor before I lifted Prawdziwe oblicze... from the box that lied solitarily on the distro stall. This box only contained tapes from the 90's, mainly from Polish bands, and you could tell that they had not been looked at for a long time. In fact, they looked like they had not seen the light of day at all for a good few years and I felt like a fearless archaeologist carefully and lovingly excavating some rare artifacts in a distant land, while still remaining on the lookout for wild animals that might attack from behind. The only realistic risk was that a drunk punk would spill his beer on my classy jacket while I was browsing through the tapes, or, worse, try to engage a conversation, but I have to say that I handled the situation particularly well, the local fauna was mostly peaceful and I was unharmed. As I mentioned, I did not know Stupor but the fact that they had a good name for a punk band (not to mention one that I could understand) combined with the grim postindustrial artwork sealed the deal and I ended up with the demo tape in my bag, which I was carrying around lovingly, like a punker, but much less manly and adventurous, Indiana Jones (I always bring an umbrella at punk festivals because I don't like getting wet, which is kinda unpunk I suppose but then I get very grumpy when my socks are soaked so it is really for the best).



The thing is that I should at least have been aware of Stupor since they did a split Ep with Portland's Harum-Scarum in 2000 and I do like Harum-Scarum (especially Suppose we try actually) so I was a little upset about my own ignorance when I got back home and checked the band's discography. But you cannot know everything, even in our era of mass information, and, if anything, it demonstrated once again the vastness of the 90's Polish punk scene as well as some possible lacks about US anarchopunk on my part. But anyway, it always feels exciting to discover an old band that has flown under your radar for no apparent reason, so my enthusiasm certainly prevailed over my narcissistic injury. Judging from the cover, I was expecting some heavy metallic crust with nasty blast beats (I mean, Stupor did have a hairy logo so it made sense) but I was wrong - again - and probably for the best. Hailing from Oleśnica (not so far from Wrocław), the band formed in 1996 with two former member of Sonderkommando in its ranks and Prawdziwe oblicze... was their first recording, a demo tape recorded in May, 1997. Stupor would subsequently appear on a split Ep in 1999 with Verrecke (from Poland too I think?), a split tape with Slaughterhouse in 2000 from Spain and, of course, that same year, on the split Ep with Harum-Scarum released on Malarie. 



As for the music, you can tell in a heartbeat that, stylistically, Stupor were a 90's band since they adopted a punk cultural practice that this decade consecrated: fast anarchopunk with dual male and female vocals. The sound of my copy of the tape is trebly and unstable in places but that is what you get. And after all, the blog is also about sharing experiences and making you feel as if you were right here, with me, listening to the same tape while enjoying tremendously my witty insights, being inspired by my unrivalled analysis not to mention awed by my charisma. But then, if you have a better rip of the tape, I'm not against it. The production is pretty raw and a bit thin but the energy certainly makes up for the lack of heaviness. There is a strong thrash influence in the songwriting, especially in the guitar parts, but the raw and angry vibe of the music makes it sound really punky, upbeat and passionate. I am reminded of early Disaffect, Jobbykrust, Mushroom Attack, or even Fleas and Lice, or indeed of a thrashy blend of Harum-Scarum and 105 Lux (a fantastic early 90's female-fronted Polish band). While the songs are mostly fast and direct, there are also some metallic mid-paced moments to give some variety and on the whole the eleven songs make for a great listen if you are into that kind of sound (and if you have read that far, I suppose you are). The two vocalist complement one another very well, the female singer sounding more tuneful with a warmer, but still aggressive, tone while the bloke goes for the gritty, throaty shouts. I cannot really tell you anything about the lyrics but I am sure that they were of a serious political nature (it is pretty much a prerequisite of the genre, right?). The tape could be described as a promising and great-looking demo with a lovely foldout insert - as Polish tapes often had - and the split Ep with Harum-Scarum (I haven't been able to find the other recordings) confirmed Stupor's potential thanks to a better production that highlighted their proper 90's anarchopunk sound.




Prawdziwe oblicze... was released on N.I.C., a label and distro operated by singer Kudłaty (who now plays in a band called The Axe) that is still very much active to this day (even more so maybe) and has been running since 1994 with releases from bands like Aferra, Evil and Amen.




Now, for real, does anyone has a spare copy of the Stupor/Harum-Scarum split Ep?   






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