Monday 28 June 2021

Ace Compilations for Less than a Fiver on Bloody Discogs (part 4): "Bare Faced Hypocrisy Sells Records" compilation Ep,

Punk can be a Daedelian microcosm. Its fauna and flora is immensely complex when looked at through untrained eye and even world renowned ethnologists humbly state that ancient punk societies are still very much shrouded in mystery. The most optimistic scholars think that normies may, one day in the future, come to grasp some of the inner workings of these fascinating civilizations, rich with dozens of vaguely drawn generic genres, extravagant dubious subgenres and absolutely anecdotal subsubgenres that have made punk a crucial part of Unesco's intangible cultural heritage list. Tragically punk was still below metal on that list which resulted in the particularly bloody Extreme Music Wars ending with metal's crushing victory thanks to the not insubstantial supply of swords, axes and nondescript spiky shits of the black metal community. Researchers have been working on many facets of punk societies around the world and notably their deity called Way of Life. Punks' reverence toward Way of Life has few equivalents on the planet even if scholars are still struggling to accurately understand the powers that Way of Life is supposed to confer to its believers in spite of the vast number of traditional punk songs dealing with the cult of Way of Life. 

Punk's immemorial traditions emerged in the late 70's, as soon as the first wave either vanished or started to make money. One of the most crucial of such unwritten traditions lies in the passing of the Timeless Punk Values, a sort of compulsory rite of passage, a coming of age. It consists in a usually highly intoxicated punk Elder teaching, often through a lengthy rant about the True Meaning of Punk, a younger punk the ways of the tribe after he or she has been deemed worthy of inclusion in the cult. It has to be said that brevity in the pulpit is not what characterized Venerable Punk Elders, those who once got to see real punk in action like Discharge or Crass in '81 (substitute those bands with your own national punk myths), so that it is also an important test of stamina and resilience for the younger punk candidates. When the Sacred Knowledge about the True Meaning of Punk is finally passed the newly educated younger punk is requested to present a gift to the Punk Elder, generally a cheap bottle or a fiver for a pint. Fundamental Punk Values include - but are not restricted to - a hatred for authorities, the pigs and fascists; the ability to make the distinction between the Real Punks and their natural enemies, the Posers; a dislike for basic hygiene; poverty as a virtue and so on. The list is pretty much endless and evolves through time, making Tribe Membership a lifelong process. A profound disdain for punk sellouts and the bitterness of being stabbed in the back - especially among the Straight Edge Division - are some of the strongest values and must be taught with utmost serious. That takes us to today's bargain compilation Ep, Bare Faced Hypocrisy Sells Records, a record that was dedicated to the critique and to the ban of anarchopunk-heroes-who-sold-out Chumbawamba.


I have already dealt with Chumba in the past with their excellent split Ep with A State of Mind which is a genuine anarchopunk classic, so that I am not going to assail my dear readers with the story of my encounter with the band again. The story of their selling out was still hot on the lips of older punks when I realized that, before they contributed a song to a football video game in 1998, they used to be one of Britain's smartest, most articulate, radical and inventive anarchopunk bands. To be honest, it was the early 00's and that came as a bit of shock and the massive stretch was hard to believe, but not to swallow, as I was completely unaware of the band's past status. Their ruinous decision did not seem to be primarily prompted by greed (though it must have mattered) but by the belief that going mainstream would help spread their anarchist message to the masses. Of course, it was nothing new and it sounds somewhat naive. After all, the DIY medium can be said to be the message itself, which I utterly agree with, but in the context of a stagnant and even conservative punk scene, compromising with the enemy might have looked like a way out of the inertia. Still, to this day, Chumba have remained the only anarchopunk band, or perhaps it would be more accurate the only band that had emerged from the anarchopunk scene, to sign on a major label, EMI. Devil's advocates would point out that Chumba's commercial success had already started with their collaborations with One Little Indian and they were no longer playing punk music anyway. They had incorporated folk and pop elements to their music, in a great fashion it has to be said, which resonated with the general public and it was probably not that surprising that a major label would one day knock on the door. Realistically, no other punk bands at the time would have been offered the same opportunity as Chumba and the idea of acts like Coitus or Wat Tyler signing to Warner sounds about as plausible as England winning the World Cup, although it would have been highly comical in some bizarre way. 


So in 1997, Chumba signed to EMI, 8 years after taking part to the Fuck EMI compilation Lp alongside Generic, Sore Throat or Thatcher on Acid. The fact that the band had always been quite critical of punk's apathy and rules and would spread radical anarcho-situationist politics made what was qualified as an unacceptable betrayal an even bitterer pill to swallow. The band has also repeatedly spat on money-grabbing multinational companies and pointed out their hypocrisy and responsibility in the harshest forms of capitalistic exploitation. They sang about taking back control of our lives and abolishing capitalism. That a band like The Exploited would sign to EMI would be bad enough but nowhere near as shocking, which accounted for the general uproar then. Chumbawamba had committed two unforgivable crimes that were explicitly depicted in the Gospel of Real Punk: they sold out and stabbed the backs of the scene that made them who they were. To add insult to injury, the band had stated on several occasion that they would never ever sign to a major record company, but on the other hand they had not yet been handed the cash. A lot of the money the band made was given to worthy political causes, campaigns and struggling social centers and at least they never gave up their agitprop approach and their lyrics remained smart and political although the music became a bit shite to be honest. It is in the context of this betrayal and the outrage it caused that Bare Faced Hypocrisy Sells Records was released. That a major label would even seriously consider signing an anarchopunk or DIY hardcore band nowadays sounds like a divagation of a stark raving mad punk and the closest situation we encountered was Epitaph offering GLOSS a deal a few years ago which the band eventually turned way. They split not long after. In our current era of shorter and shorter attention span and global equalizing culture, I am not even sure people would really be shocked by "one of us" selling out. I suppose the fake display of outrage would only get only approval for a couple of weeks so it might not be worthwhile to think too hard about it, right?

The Ep is a bit of a strange one. First the lineup indicated on the backcover is totally wrong as The Chineapple Punx, Love Chips & Peace or Wat Tyler do not appear on the Ep. Riot/Clone, Bus Station Loonies and Oi Polloi are actually included and a fourth band, Anxiety Society, completes it. The reason for this discrepancy has to do with copyright issues, since the three missing bands were not given the permission by Chumba to do the covers (which made sense with the EMI contract, although it made the situation even sadder) although Danbert Nobacon had apparently allowed it. The three missing songs could be obtained directly from the label if you sent a coupon to the address, which was only fair after all. As expected, the lyrics on the compilation deal with the hypocrisy and treachery inherent to the band's signing and use or parody lyrics from Chumba, stressing in the process that the band was taking part exactly in what they so radically criticized before. Satire is a punk tradition after all. Oi Polloi reworked the classic "Rotten to the core" song by Rudimentary Peni" using the Chumba situation) while Riot/Clone were even more direct with "Chumbawanka". There is an interesting column about Chumba's move on the backcover written by Chris from Bus Station Loonies and Ruptured Ambitions Records that sums up the feelings and the mood of the anarcho scene pretty nicely.


So what do we actually get on the Ep then? The first song is "Chumbawanka" by Riot/Clone, possibly one of the band's strongest numbers. The band was going strong in the mid/late 90's and, with Paco from Conflict behind the kit, it could be said that it was the band's finest hour which is not something that can be said about many reformed 80's anarchopunk band. On this song, R/C unleash a direct and mean punk-rock attack with great riffs and a raw sound and Dave Floyd's sounds extremely pissed, even for him. The man's vocals were always a major asset of R/C - not to mention an influence on Bathory - and as a younger punk myself, I was always very impressed with the spitting snotty anger infusing the band's words. The title of the song "Chumbawanka" is pretty self-explanatory and listening to it, one could have the impression that the members of Chumba all took a shit in Dave Floyd's shoes while he was sleeping and that he wrote the song in the morning upon the discovery. 90's UK anarchopunk at its very best. Mean furious shit. The 1997 Lp To Find a Little Bluebird comes highly recommended and I suspect the song was recorded during the same session. 

Next you have "Always tell the punters" by Anxiety Society, a band I found little information about but that must have been connected to Ruptured Ambitions as three of the compilations they contributed a song to - the band never had a record of their own - were released on said label. The present song is something on an electro-pop pisstake of Chumbawamba which is rather pleasant and tuneful to the ear and a fitting parody. I probably count not take a whole of Anxiety Society but it works here. There are other songs on the Crass tribute You've Heard it all Before or the Fish Out of the Water tape if you are interested.


On side B, Oi Polloi offer the song "Shhh-it", a reference to Chumba's Shhh Lp. As previously mentioned, the lyrics to the song are a reworking of the words of Rudi Peni's "Rotten to the core": "Have you noticed that rockstars always seem to lie so much / Chumbawamba once said they cared - but they never really gave a fuck". At that time Chris from BSL/Ruptured Ambitions was drumming for Oi Polloi which made their inclusion logical. The infamous Scots have a long discography under their belt so that it sometimes feels a little difficult to sort out the very good stuff from the more average materials. This 1995 number belongs to the great ones, without a doubt. The band released some very solid records in the 90's, most notably the Guilty Ep in 1994 on Ruptured Ambitions (obviously) and "Shhh-it" definitely sounds like this period. Heavy and metallic dirty anarcho-hardcore with an old-school UKcrust influence, the usual singalong chrous and straight-forward lyrics. Classic stuff from an eternal band. 

Finally, Bus Station Loonies deliver the song "Charlie Harper" and, well, a non-participation of the band to Bare Faced Hypocrisy Sells Records would have been rather odd indeed. BSL were always full of vim and they described themselves as a cross between Crass and Splodgenessabounds which, as strange as it may sound, makes sense when you give them a listen. I must confess that I don't like everything from their repertoire but they do have a solid sense of tunes and a contagious energy. The song is about staying true to the punk ideals and yet another blow to Chumba's falseness, as opposed to UK Subs' legendary frontman. Snotty energetic punk-rock with a humourous almost absurd touch, as the song ends with the sound of a man taking a massive shit during what sounds like a BSL gig. Pretty well done and a fine instance of punk's cider-loving silliness that still pales compared to the BSL's greatest achivement: their inclusion in the Guiness Book of Records after they played 25 gigs in 25 venues in 12 hours. In the end, that's what punk is also really about, innit?

The three songs that could not make it to the record are equally worthy if you yearn for more Chumbawamba-bashing and you can find them pretty easily on the web. As for Ruptured Ambitions, it released two excellent Ep's that you should really (re)visit after this compilation Ep, Policebastard's Gulf War Syndrome and Sensa Yuma's Everyday's your Last Day. As for Chumbawamba, they got poppier and poppier, left EMI in 2002 and eventually stopped completely in 2012. A documentary about this fascinating, controversial and in spite of everything still highly inspiring band entitled I Get Knocked Down will be released soon and I am extremely curious. 25 years after Chumba's betrayal and 10 years after they split, the affair feels rather distant and I have little doubt that the younger generations of punks know or even care to know about an important event in the history and mythology of anarchopunk. Would it even be relevant to get angry and criticize the wrong - according to me - choice made by a now inactive band in a completely different context? I'd rather enjoy and find motivation in Revolution, Anarchy, Picture of Starving Children and English Rebel Songs. I suppose time healed some wounds as Sean, who played in Wat Tyler and wrote an anti-Chumba song for the Ep, reissued the excellent first demo of Passion Killers - a band that had three future members of Chumba - on his label Demo Tapes. Darren and Mavis from Chumba and Passion Killers now play in Interrobang‽, an interesting postpunk band with anarchist tendencies that I find very convincing and the Lp on All the Madmen records contains some proper punk tunes with clever lyrics. 


Rest assured that Terminal Sound Nuisance shall never sell out and that your backs will be safe with me. Punk belongs to the punx, you've heard it all before.

                                     Bare Faced Hypocrisy Sells Records for a Fiver                                            

Friday 18 June 2021

Ace Compilations for Less Than a Fiver on Bloody Discogs (part 3): "1997 - Damn the Contorol" compilation Ep, 1997

Here we go again, this is the third part of Ace Compilations for Less Than a Fiver on Bloody Discogs and yet another lovely compilation Ep that you should be able to grab for the price of a döner kebab, a suspicious pint of lager in Paris or a single ticket in the London subway (for real, I almost lost it the last time I went there and I demanded to see the manager immediately, I mean, £5!!!). I have to admit that I had absolutely never heard of, never mind seen, this Ep until quite recently when fate graced me with the opportunity to own it for a particularly inexpensive sum. Hail old-school distros and their sleeping stock from the 1990's. It felt a little odd that no one ever mentioned 1997 - Damn the Contorol to me and that even the nerdiest corners of the internet appeared to be devoid of references to it. A mate of mine told me that there were rumours on the dark web that the Ep was haunted and that every owner suffered particularly violent death, their bodies dislocated, pure expressions of horror upon their faces, shoegazed to death. It does make one shiver and there's little wonder that, faced by an awful doom, people kept silent about this Ep. 


However, I am not one to be afraid of any record and I once again proved that my fearlessness and proverbial placidity before danger were real and not the stuff of old wives' tales (in fact, only ponies, geese and Dire Straits can scare yours truly, the combination of the three, say a couple of geese riding a pony while playing Dire Straits on their phone, would certainly cause sudden death). So I picked the Ep and, after playing the geezer, thought out loud - and I am quoting with utmost exactitude here - "Fuck me, that is an exquisitely lovely piece of punk art that I shall proudly dress with the gleaming escutcheons of Terminal Sound Nuisance". I still keep being astonished in no small degree at the relative obscurity and unpopularity of the compilation especially since it does not appear to have been hard to find at all. Did any of you, my dear readers, know of it? Maybe I just don't hang out with the cool used-to-be-kids anymore. Sob, fucking sob.


From what my ready mind can infer, and rather predictably, 1997 - Damn the Contorol (yes, actual spelling and a top example of Japanese-English) has something to do with the year 1997. The Ep was released on Vomiting Label, a short-lived (it was actually the label's sole release) entity based in Finland (EDIT: well-informed elders told me that behind Vomiting was actually Otto from Força Macabra who liked to change label names so that people would be very confused. Good one!), which possibly accounts for the presence of two Suomi bands (there's the quick-wittedness at it again). Did some sociopolitical unrest occur in Finland in 1997? I found no information supporting this claim. Since the blurry and highly contrasted picture on the cover depicts some sort of riot or urban unrest and that the subtext reads "That's the information they don't tell you... That's the information that exists... That's the information we never get...", one may deduce that the title refers to a political event that took place in 1997. I did not find much about this particular year in terms of eruptions of anger and violence promptly cured with state-sponsored truncheons, water cannons, teargas, good old beatings and even, if you're very lucky, non-lethal crowd control weapons. 1997 saw intense rioting in Northern Ireland on the part of Irish nationalists and bloody state repression against the Uhygur populations in China known as the Ghulja incident. Some things sadly never change. There was also the unexpected retirement of Eric Cantona but that's a French-only trauma that I'd rather not get into. It still hurts.


Another political element to Damn the Contorol lies in its open antinazi stance with a picture of local boneheads with targets on their faces and a "Break Neck Action" caption. I doubt any nazi actually saw this compilation Ep but regardless giving the finger to the scum is always a noble intention. If the purpose and binding theme of the compilation in relation to the context of 1997 is never properly expressed but there is however an inflated dithyramb from the producer/label guy on the eternal glory of hardcore punk, stating at some point that: "The dance floor leaves and breathes, and the dancers are one with each other in a huge machine gun panorama of noise and light and movement. When music is good for today's dancing, it's HARDCOREPUNK". Now that's a moving declaration of love and, even if many of us have a bad back these days, I suggest we all joyously dance together like the man said. 


Although Vomiting was a Finnish label (the name would have been rather fitting for a goregrind endeavour but whatever) there are no less than four Japanese bands out of the nine acts making up the thing. The first band is Chaos Channel from Osaka with the song "Don't kill future" which, whoever it was aimed at, was not an unreasonable demand after all. Modern streaming platforms such as youtube (I don't know if you are familiar with it but it's apparently pretty big and millennials really dig it) have made the noizy punk style of bands like Chaos Channel readily accessible and nowhere as obscure and confidential as they still were not so long ago. I am sure it was different in Japan because they have always had this tradition of highly distorted fast and binary Bristol punk-rock initiated by Confuse so that the genre must have been pretty normal to Japanese punks (like käng in Sweden or shite oi music in France). However, outside of the country, only the nerdiest punks were conversant with top secret bands like State Children or Gess so that it is hard to gauze the popularity of heirs like Chaos Channel. Even if the phrase "noisepunk" was only coined in the mid 00's by the Wankys, I feel it is the perfect description for Chaos Channel's music. Absolute pogo-compatible Swankys worship with the same assumed silliness and hyperbolic punkiness musically and aesthetically. The singer sounds like an absolute pisshead raised on early Disorder and Chaotic Dischord, the guitar's piercing distortion is reminiscent of the national classics, the bass is driving on a Confuse team dragster and the drummer has fun being as primitively ciderpunk as possible. If you enjoy the style, Chaos Channel, along with neighbours like Order and Dust Noise, were the real noisepunk deal in the mid 90's. Absolute swankers, "Chaotic punk is forever" as they proudly stated. The song was recorded in 1995, a busy period for the band since they released two Ep's on Overthrow in 1994 and 1995. And did I mention guitar player Yamakawa also played in Gloom?


Next up are Leben, a band from Graz, Austria, I know nothing about. Very rough and fast hardcore punk with a cavemen grindcore vibe. They only ever appeared on one other compilation Ep entitled More Noise by Nice Boys released on Insane Society in 1997 alongside Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Mrtva Budoucnost. Besthöven follow and it was Fofao's progeny's first inclusion on a vinyl but certainly not the last. The song "Sacrificio grotesco" was recorded in 1996 and Besthöven was a three-piece at the time. When Damn the Contorol came out, people who had actually heard of Besthöven, outside of Brazil, and even there they were probably quite obscure, must have been very, very rare indeed. In the Latino America's punk scene of the mid-90's, Besthöven were assuredly something of an oddity. Of course, there were legions of hardcore punk in Brazil, but their open 80's Scandinavian hardcore studded worship set them apart (they covered Shitlickers and Fear of War at that time). As they proudly claim on the cover "Our sound is influeced by hardcore punk bands that making punk a threat ever''' Swedish bands and other crustraw punk core band like Japanese and more...". Since they wholeheartedly thanked Força Macabra, I suppose that was how they ended up on this Finnish compilation. The song is exactly as you would expect early Besthöven to sound like, a blend of raw and primitive käng hardcore with Silencio Funebre-era Armagedom. Not for posers.


The last band on the first side is Kirous from Finland with a short and sweet antifascist song "Kasvava uhka". The sound is quite raw, a defining uniting feature of the compilation, and there is a mean chaotic vibe running through the song. Somewhere between Kuolema and their contemporary Uutuus and Katastrofialue maybe. If you had no idea, you could think that Kirous song were recorded in 1985. The band went on to release an Ep for No Fashion Hardcore Records and two split Ep's with the very good Sharpeville and Silna Wola. If you are into raw hardcore, you are in for one minute of classic Finnish hardcore delight. If you are not, I strongly suggest you leave the room immediately. 


The following band is Guernica y Luno from Słupsk, Poland. GyL are not widely known outside of their home country but they were undeniably one of the more crucial bands of the 90's along with Włochaty, Homomilitia and of course Post-Regiment. Their lyrics, judging from the translations, were highly political and quite deep and beautiful at the same time which accounted for their undying popularity as the 2017 Nigdy Nie Będziesz Szedł tribute Lp can attest. Heartfelt, intense even emotional at times anarchopunk with male and female vocals and a raw, old-school Polish punk vibe that combined perfectly with their distinct 90's anarcho sound. Tuneful with memorable chorus and a genuine inventiveness in the songwriting for what was one of the most relevant anarchopunk bands of the 90's. The song "La programo" is actually in Esperanto which might come as a surprise to some but makes sense in the context of the band and of the 90's, the Esperanto language standing for unity between people and a common linguistic ground for peace and freedom. If you look close enough you can find quite a few European bands who had or have songs in this Language and obviously Voĉo Protesta, being Japanese, took the concept of Esperanto hardcore to its logical conclusion by singing in this language only. The GyL song is an anthemic anarcho crust punk song with a singalong chorus and something of an 80's Finnish hardcore touch like Melakka when they shout "Kontravaj al kurwa sistema". Ace.


Next up are Conclude from Japan with their song "No need flesh". If you close your eyes and play the song, you can spot easily that they were a Japanese going in the direction quite similar to Chaos Channel or Order. The song is a sloppy but fun, drunken, punky and bouncy number with snotty vocals that will please lovers of noizy obnoxious punk-rock and the use of the Iconoclast font is not fooling anyone here. More surprising perhaps is that most of Conclude's subsequent recordings were sung in Finnish and sounded much closer to classic 80's Finnish hardcore like Bastards or Destrucktions although the vocals were still reminiscent of swanking. They even had an Ep called Made in Finland and apparently toured Finland in the 90's. By no means was their choice to shift language unique in Japan as Frigöra sang in Swedish (or in Mob 47 depending on how accurate you want to be) and Corrupted in Spanish. A decent song about animal liberation, a topic Conclude tackled heavily.


Totuus are the following contestant with their short sharp shock of a song "Kirkot Hyötykäyttöön". Pretty classic Fight Records-era Finnish hardcore, direct, fast and fierce hardcore with an added 90's touch to the old recipe. Very effective and rather well recorded compared to Kirous but I prefer my hardcore simpler and punkier.


Disclose are next with the song "Right of liberty and equality", recorded during the same session as the three songs on the split Ep with Homomilitia from 1995 (you can read a full review here). I recommend you read Pawel Scream's comment at the bottom of the review so that you understand why the Disclose song sounds so bad. The DAT (Digital Audio Tape) containing the Disclose recording got fucked at some point and as a result the noise-not-music creative stance of Kawakami became a little too literal. Anyway, you all know Disclose, we have already been talking about Disclose on Terminal Sound Nuisance so there is not much point rehashing. Typical mid-90's, Great Swedish Feast-era Disclose, distortion-drenched shitlicking Discharge mythology. Funnily enough, some of the noiziest d-beat crasher bands went for a distorted guitar sound rather similar to the one Kawakami had on this song although it resulted from a technical mistake he had nothing to do with. Such is the magic of the Dis.


Finally, you've got Blaze, a traditional "burning spirit" kind of hardcore punk band from Machida, Japan. As I have often pointed out, I am not a fanatic of the late 80's/early-mid 90's Japanese hardcore wave. I love the crust of that period but the whole Death Side/Bastard sound, if thoroughly enjoyable and regularly enjoyed at the Terminal Sound Nuisance castle, does not totally speak to the old heart. I was not familiar with Blaze until someone recently pointed out that a much-expected Blaze reissue was going to be released on the hard-working noize-loving General Speech. The book Flex - 1987-1992 tells me that Blaze were "totally in line with the Burning Spirits scene and a classic of that era. Demand for this EP (the 1992 But Nothing Ever Changes Ep) has shot up during the past years" so needless to tell you we are dealing with the cream of the crop here, such bands that generally cause the nerd elite to ruthlessly compete with one another for the throne, a bit like at a Royal Rumble but with much less atheleticism. The song "Heavy conufsion" has super epic riffs and a triumphant thrashing hardcore vibe combined with gruff vocals and beefy singalong hardcore chorus. Pretty flawless for the genre and easily the tightest band on Damn the Contorol. Makes one want to ride a massive wave while wearing shades.


The foldout cover turns into a poster when you flip it which displays an anti-technology bordered with a message that is a little hard to read. "A dream of a technophile... The beginning of the end of the world...". Not such an insightful statement considering that 25 years late people can actually pay with their watch. Well only twats do, but still. Each band included a small visual with the lyrics giving Damn the Contorol a real sense of punk collaboration and togetherness which has always been the very point of such endeavours.  

That's the real question

Damn the Contorol!         


Sunday 13 June 2021

Ace Compilations for Less than a Fiver on Bloody Discogs (part 2): "Walk Across America - for Mother Earth" compilation Ep, 1992

Walk across America for Mother Earth. 

Walk across America for Mother Earth?

Walk across America for Mother Earth...

Almost 30 years after its release, the title of this compilation Ep - Walk Across America - for Mother Earth in case you are a bit slow - remains one of the hippiest of the whole punk history. Despite its unquestionably good intentions, if the Ep is unbeknown to the punk on the street, the title will conjure up horrifying images, visions that few men and women can claim to have survived without going insane. Many could never get over the blinding nightmarishness of the patchoulied worldview. Some became like possessed, converted, swallowed whole into the hippie ideology, never to return. Fucking sandals. Fucking magic crystals. Fucking white middle-class people reconnecting to "Nature" through dancing, playing fucking bongos and doing loads of drugs. Dodgy, fake fucking shamans blagging their way into a cult leadership, leaving you bollock-naked in a field making out with a bong. Ten-minute long fucking solos, Doors' cover and Manu Chao cosplay. I could go on. Abominations that are generally admitted to be the curse of the human race. These are the kind of thoughts that the title of the Ep would evoke out of context. A quick look at the cover of the Ep may also send shivers down the barmy army's spine. Some misdirected souls claimed that on full moons, one could sometimes hear cheesy folk music coming out of the record and that if it did happen, it was strongly recommend to immediately store the Ep next to Sore Throat or Gloom records, reputable talismans against the hippie eye. Of course, the quick-witted punk would not fall so quickly into the abyss, ignore the flying feather and actually read what accompanies the Walk Across America - for Mother Earth title: a well class lineup made up of Hiatus, Political Asylum, Mushroom Attack, Indian Dream, Silent Water and the rather enigmatic Teenage Kicks. And I personally have nothing against hippies, I mean I had a hippie friend back in the day and my cousin even dated one. I am not prejudiced.   

Before dealing with the cracking lineup of this compilation, let me reiterate that the idea behind it was very honourable indeed since, all joking and hippie-basing aside and in spite of confirmed sightings of crystal-worship during the walk, For Mother Earth was an organization responsible for the Walk Across America 1992 initiative in solidarity with the struggles of Native American people across the Americas. All the profits went to the organization and although they cannot have been incredible - it's a DIY punk compilation, not a U2 benefit gig - it is always encouraging to see punks actually giving a fuck. There were a lot of protest, notably from Indian activist groups in 1992 because many American states celebrated the 500th anniversary of the "discovery" of the continent by Columbus. Celebrating the start of an ongoing genocide against Native populations is about the most outrageously insulting they could have thought of, even for soulless politicians. The genocidal policies against Native Americans certainly kept going throughout the twentieth century and still do. A basic summary of the many facets of the oppression and genocide faced by Natives is included on the back of the foldout cover. It is, because of issues of space and clarity, short but it was meant to lead people to get interested and involved in the struggles and dig deeper into those issues. The same year, Profane Existence released the In Spirit of Total Resistance double Ep compilation coinciding with 500th anniversary and the Mohawk uprising in Oka. There were of course more compilations and cooperations between bands to protest against the disgusting, shamelessly revolting celebration, notably from Latino punx. Let's mention the Medellin Contra el Quinto Centenario 1991 tape (with Imagen and GP among others) and the Rock Subterraneo Contra el V° Centenario international tape (with Los Violadores, IRA or Atoxxxico). More recently, in 2005, the 512 Años Despues el Saqueo Continua digital compilation is equally worth investigating with a solid lineup including Doña Maldad, Dios Hastio, Apatia-No or Los Dolares. 

After a whole paragraph of talking about serious stuff, let's solemnly shift focus on the six bands invited to support the worthy cause. First are the mighty Hiatus from Liège. I once professed with authority that Hiatus were probably the best band to have ever walked the Earth and that was not an empty, alcohol-induced claim. There are days when I have the conviction that Hiatus were the missing link between the Neanderthals and modern human beings. Think about it. The Belgian heroes have been regularly included on Terminal Sound Nuisance so this one will be a sitter. The song "Confusion inside my head" was recorded in August, 1990, during the same recording session as the first Ep I don't Scare Easily But... and the split Ep with Reach a Mental Road. At that time Hiatus still had Raf on vocals while Wills was playing the bass (he famously went on to crust things up behind the mike after Raf's departure). This was Hiatus at their most primitive before they became the hugely influential eurocrust powerhouse they are known for. In 1990, Hiatus were rawer, simpler and not quite as impactful as they would become from 1992 on though they still packed a serious punch. Still, the band can be said to have been, maybe not the first - Extreme Noise Error were actually first with their 1988 demo - but certainly the most significant late 80's Doom/ENT/Sore Throat filthy cavemen crust worshipers on the continent so that we should be eternally grateful for that. Absolutely classic crust.

Next up are another former Terminal Sound Nuisance candidate with Indian Dream, whose first 1987 Ep Well Are you Happy Now? was reviewed here almost four years ago (gasp). Again, I am not going to throw myself into an elaborate speech about the merits of Indian Dream and rather, for laziness is also a virtue, encourage you to take a look at the aforementioned older review. With a name like Indian Dream, the inclusion of the late 80's Scarborough lot on benefit compilation in solidarity with Native Americans feels almost too obvious. It is widely known that British anarchopunks in the 80's were fascinated with American Indian cultures and the harmonious lifestyle they stood for in the psyche of young, idealist, pacifist punks. It does sound quite cheesy from the all-knowing arrogance of our 2020's selves and you would probably have punks accusing Indian Dream of naive cultural appropriation, and I suppose it is not an unintelligible argument, but at least the band gave an actual shit about the oppression of Native people and their lyrics reflected their outrage and their support to the struggle. I am not sure when "Discarded" was recorded, possibly during the same session as the second Ep, but it is probably my favourite song from them. Melancholy, moody but uplifting anarchopunk with superb poignant female vocals, this song has everything, from the disarming catchiness of classic anarchopunk to the charmingly cheesy 80's-inspired "tribal" chants that could be awkward but kinda work well with the pagan atmosphere, lyrics and imagery of the band (I may not be impartial here, truth be told). If you enjoy Lost Cherrees, Rubella Ballet or A-Heads, Indian Dream might become your favourite band soon. The two Ep's are brilliant examples of third wave UK anarchopunk and the Orca Lp is a genuine classic with a cover that is the visual equivalent of Oi Polloi's "Whale song". You were warned.

Next up are not Teenage Kicks at all but Pink Turds In Space covering "Teenage kicks" from The Undertones, one of the most famous punk songs ever written and certainly the catchiest chorus of rock'n'roll history - right next to The Exploited's "Alternative" and Doom's "Police bastard" - which the band took a manifest pleasure destroying. This cover actually already appeared on the Wild and Crazy Noise Merchants double Lp compilation (reviewed here) so I will not stun you with endless ravings this time round. PTIS were one of the best bands of the late 80's/early 90's Belfast scene with their fast, mean, magnetic thrashing hardcore punk with some of the raspiest female vocals I have ever heard. Everything they did was top but the split Lp with Sedition was particularly ferocious. Antisociety reissued the full discography of the band on vinyl so don't be a poser and support the scene.

On the B side, guests are welcome with the Scottish anarcho-progpunk champions Political Asylum which, once again, already made a memorable appearance on the blog with their Winter Ep. "Symptom" was taken from their Someday Lp from 1987 and at that point the band was becoming more and more proficient musically, more technical, with more rock and less punk, so to speak, but still deep into anarchism. I like the album and its energy and the tuneful distinctive vocals, almost folkish here, work well but I somehow miss the brooding melancholy of the 1985 Ep and the demos a little - but then "I prefer the early demo to their late material" as the famous ancient punk saying goes. This said, "Symptom" is a solid tuneful song with neat arrangements and a prime example of Political Asylum at the peak of their prowess. Still to be consumed with some moderation because of the unreasonable amount of solos. One is never too careful when punks actually learn how to play their instruments.

The next stop sees us stepping into a much dirtier territory, a dangerous place where toxic armpits rule and toothbrushes are banned: Mushroom Attack's squatters kingdom. This Groningen classic band briefly popped up on the blog through the benefit compilation Ep They ain't Seen Nothing Yet (here) that included a song of theirs. MA are often considered as a pre-Fleas & Lice band and the comparison is not irrelevant although they had no inclination toward crust music. Expect fast and raw anarcho-thrash with dual male/female vocals. I did not remember them to be that fast but the song "Squat and live" certainly delivers with a sound that epitomizes the essence of the typical sound of many European DIY political hardcore punk bands. Dynamic early 90's squat punk at its best that I often to associate with cities like Groningen or Liège that still cradle that sort of noise unit to this day. Early Disaffect definitely comes to mind (not by design but because the musical context led to the formation of bands with a sound like theirs) and other Flat Earth Records bands like Sedition, One By One or Health Hazard and even Jesus Chrust and (German) Enola Gay. You know the deal. "Squat or die" is a song about squatting and fighting gentrification, a battle that was sadly but logically lost. The two classic split Lp's with Ξεχασμένη Προφητεία and Disorder (the brilliantly named Masters of the Glueniverse) have a better, more powerful sound and also comes highly recommended if you are into raw dual vocal hardcore punk with honest political lyrics and into records worth a fiver since their 2001 cd discography pretty much goes for that little. Not the most crucial band of the decade but still thoroughly enjoyable for old-school types. 

The last song is "Your shark" by Silent Water, a band I did not know at all before grabbing the Ep. They were from Belgium, were active from the late 80's to the early 90's and released two tapes and a full album in 1991 with the rather depressing title A Joyride on Waves of Solitude. Hand me the fucking rope. Judging from the titles of the songs, Silent Water had strong anarchist leanings and them participating in compilations alongside Jesus Chrust and Earth Citizens beside the spiky lineup making up Walk Across America. I have no idea what the band sounded like in general - it is actually a one-man man so I probably should have used "he" instead of "they" - but "Your shark" is an acoustic folk song. Not bad at all and it reminds me of Chumbawamba but that is certainly due to the fact that I don't listen to folk music at all, unless I am forced to like that time I had to witness an Against Me gig. Long story. The one SW song I could find had a punky noise-rock touch but I am clueless if it is representative of the style either.

The compilation Ep was released on Be Yourself Records and Bonds of Friendship, the latter being run by the bloke responsible for Conspiracy Records. The Ep has some noticeable surface noise but since we are all half-deaf punks here, I doubt you will be too bothered. Let's call it additional vintageness. I paid about €5 for my copy and if you negotiate cleverly, beg pathetically or blackmail wickedly, you should able to too. 


Walk Across America - for Mother Earth 

Friday 4 June 2021

Ace Compilations For Less Than a Fiver on Bloody Discogs (part 1): "Squat or Rot vol.2" Ep, 1990

The lockdown has been partly lifted and the sun is back. People are allowed by the powers that be to get stupidly hammered in a pub environment and bore their friends to death about their terrific new yoga classes. Middle-class wankers boast about remote working and still being able to travel. Blokish twats are now allowed to walk around barechested and engage in glaring contests. The infamous moped lads of the Test Tube Babies are massively back on the streets while teenage girls listen to outrageously vocodered shite on their phones. Life, as we knew it, is back and one cannot help but notice that the idealistic fantasies of a different, fairer world expressed by the guilt-ridden at the beginning of the Covid pandemic vanished quickly as soon as opportunities to fly to instagrammable destinations rose. I suppose the return of the countdown to Armageddon was inevitable.  
Alright then, here we go again since you do not visit Terminal Sound Nuisance to be assailed by my self-absorbed whining and superficial sociological observations about fellow human beings. After a well-deserved, not to mention particularly unproductive, break from the vicissitudes inherent to punk writing, I was able to hear the call of my punk siblings, dying to read my legendary homemade slices of no-nonsense street wisdom and the remarkable and magnetic biting wit that have been my trademark skills for the past nine years. Endowed with a tremendous sense of loyalty and an overinflated ego, I rolled up my sleeves and started digging. 
The scope of this series will be nowhere near as dense, epic and ambitious as the previous one. Only five records make up Ace Compilations for Less Than a Fiver on Bloody Discogs, a low intensity project for cheap punks on a tight budget or proverbial stingy bastards (we all have a couple of those in our circle of friends) who still crave for quality music combined with interesting bits of punk history which the duly selected five compilation Ep's will, hopefully, provide. I brooded a little over the issue of using the Discogs' scale of measurement in order to evaluate the average price of said compilations (as you can see, I engaged in some serious analytical work of the world of record economics and questioned the validity of existing tools and the speculative dynamics in relation to punk cultural artifacts). Still, Discogs has become this behemoth for record collectors worldwide, the epitome of temptation, not unlike online mermaids with vinyls in their hands trying to seduce music nerds with promises of "go on, it's in near mint condition" or "$30 for the colour version is not a bad deal". Discogs is like free online porn for record freaks. Some argued that it took the pleasure and fun out of record collecting and trading since now almost everything can be easily obtained and is literally a couple of clicks - and a fulltime job with a western wage - away. The five compilations that will be treated in this series are relatively cheap, common and definitely significant ones. Genuine slices of punk history if you will that can be yours for a small sum from a bargain bin.

The first one of these delightful and oft disregarded compilations is the second volume of the Squat or Rot samplers released in 1990 on Squat or Rot Records (I'd like to thank Captain Obvious here for the heads-up). Two of the bands included here were already tackled years ago when I wrote about the BBP tape that included live recording of crucial bands - Jesus Chrust, Apostates and of course the mighty Nausea - belonging to New York's infamous Squat or Rot scene. If Nausea, I should be disposed to imagine, are pretty much known by the punk scene at large, the rest of the SoR roster remains fairly obscure to most although I suppose, and hope, this comment does not apply to old-timers. New York hardcore and punk is strongly associated with the musical prowess of tanktop-wearing, bold by choice thuggish geezers that, in turn, gave rise to many tanktop-wearing, bold by choice thuggish bands all over the world. I must confess that I am fairly ignorant about the hardcore scene that is traditionally understood as quintessential to New York because it absolutely never attracted me when I was just a lad as, when it came to hard men singing about being hard men, I was more inclined to go for Blitz or 4-Skins. And well I think that it is the kind of music you have to get into as a teen in order to relate to it, when you reached 20 it's just too late. Therefore, when I hear "New York punk" I jump to Nausea or Dissassociate. Or indeed to Insurgence, a band I was obsessed with in no small degree.

I first read about Insurgence - the band opening the compilation - in a mid-00's issue of Slug & Lettuce, a well-known (it enjoyed a print of 10.000 at some point which sounds insane from a 2021 perspective) and long-running fanzine done by Chris, a former New York punk that was an active member of the SoR scene which she documented through her ace pictures. I was an avid and loyal reader of her enthusiastic reviews - she had tastes very similar to mine - and never failed to take notes about the records she enjoyed. Memory works in mysterious ways. While I am barely able to remember a discussion I may have had last month, I distinctly recall that I first came across Insurgence in a S&L review about Storm Heaven, the Lp of Requiem, a band with former Catharsis members that seems to have vanished from collective memory. Requiem had three singers, just like Insurgence, Chris said, a band she went on to describe as a "baby Nausea". Now that immediately got my undivided attention. An old-school crust band with three (!) singers that sounded like Nausea. I went on a quest to listen to the band, no small endeavour considering how little-known the band seemed to be. Fortunately, after persistently harrying a local old-timer who used to distribute SoR and Tribal War Records in Paris, he pointed me to this compilation.

My maniacal search for Insurgence proved to be worth it, although I might have been a bit of an annoying chap to be around with when vocalising my frustration. "Hawk and the dove", that's the title of the Insurgence song, can be said to be one of the best crust numbers ever written, and I make this claim with the utmost seriousness. Tasteful and powerful old-school anarchocrust with three vocalists, among whom Alicia who would later on front the amazing 13. The song starts with a soft guitar introduction before exploding into pacifist metallic crust heaven. I love how the vocals work with each other to provide a feeling of (ins)urgency and political anger. Nausea come to mind obviously, although Insurgence were probably more straight-forward. I am also reminded of Anti-System, Antisect, early Sacrilege or a filthy crust version of Civilised Society?. Brilliant, essential stuff. The rumour of the existence of a full Insurgence demo had been circulating for some years and it finally surfaced recently which enchanted me to no end. Top peacecrust as could be expected. I also heard about an Insurgence retrospective record but that was a long time ago so our collective breath should not be held. The following band on the compilation is Malachi Krunch, a Connecticut act that released a full Lp in 1991 as well two split Ep's, one of them with the great The Pist. I am not really familiar with the rest of the band's catalogue but this is a good, raw and direct hardcore song, quite typical of the sound of the time, not far from the aforementioned The Pist and Broken, a later band that had members of Malachi Krunch in its ranks. 

Next up are the very prude Jesus Chrust, who previously appeared on the BBP live tape and thus have already been discussed. The band had Nausea's first singer and Tribal War mastermind Neil and future Dissassociate frontman Ralphy Boy on vocals and, judging from what Discogs tells me, also employed John and Roy from Nausea at some point in their illustrious career too (actually, in spite of their relatively short run, the good-natured JC seemed to have seen a number of musicians coming and going, probably obeying the well-tried principle "if you want in, you're in"). Most of JC's songs could be defined as rather fast and hard-hitting dual vocal crusty anarchopunk, pioneering a cocktail that would be quite popular in the 90's in the $tates, but "Means of destruction" is a simple - if not simplistic - traditional mid-paced plodding gruff stenchcrust number with a raw punk sound, a filthy epic chugging riff, hoarse shouts replying to threatening growls, with implications of dodgy personal hygienes. Just another crust at the office and possibly my favourite song from the band. I love the song for its sheer directness and primitive structure. Early Deviated Instinct and Sore Throat at their Frostiest as well as early 90's bands like Glycine Max, Embittered or Jesusexercise could be relevantly convened. Primal antinuclear crust punk for crust punks. Because we're all worth it. The two split Ep's with Social Outcasts and Würst - also released on SoR - are solid slices too and go for equally cheap so that with some crafty negotiations, you should probably be able to take the lot home for a tenner. Neil would keep Tribal War going until the mid-00's and sing for Warning and Final Warning while Ralphy Boy, as alluded to, would unleash a grinding fury for Dissassociate.

Next is the fourth contestant of the compilation and let's all welcome Yuppicide, a long-running and still active Brooklyn hardcore band that was in its infancy when they recorded the song "Ourselves" for the Ep. In the 90's, agents of gentrification - a urban process against which squatters fought hard in New York's Lower East Side - were called yuppies. Suits and ties type who exhibited their money and symbolized triumphant capitalism. Nowadays they are called hipsters and they are no less damaging to working-class communities all over, except they are wolves in vintage sheep clothing with their pretentious progressive politics, their expensive tattoos and their postmodern pseudo bohemian mindset. At least yuppies hated you in your face. To get back to Yuppicide, they played straight-forward New York hardcore with terrace chorus and a mosh-friendly heavy break toward the end. You know what to expect.

Finally, you have Apostates, one of New York's best kept secrets. Like Jesus Chrust, they also had some live songs on the BBP tape. The band had John John from Nausea on guitar but do not expect anything crust or even hardcore-oriented in Apostates' music. Apostates were to The Mob what Disaster were to Discharge. It's not exactly the same but it's this close. Mid-paced brooding 80's styled anarchopunk with deep vocals and an excellent sense of tunes with a bit of deathrock, a style of UK anarchopunk that, for some reason, did not really take in the US (apart from Trial and maybe Atrocity on the other side of the country). That the band is not reverred by anarchopunk lovers (and there are quite a few of them if Insta accounts, also known as "Making punk a selfie again", are any indication) is akin to an anomaly. In a perfect world where people are just like me, Apostates should be treated with deference, as an obscure, secretive band that one only whispers about when in the company of initiates, a band like Awake Mankind or Two-Fingered Approach. Oh well. The endless rediscovery of humankind's flawed, directionless nature. Lyrics deal with the inheritance of ecological destruction for future generations and they could have been written yesterday. If you are into the moody but beautiful side of dark, melancholy mid-paced anarchopunk, like The Mob, Zounds, Null&Void or early Blyth Power (they are could have called themselves All The Mad Joseph Porters really) then Apostates are for you. The Burning World of Hate Ep also comes highly recommended.

Squat or Rot Vol.2 is a sensible compilation including at least two absolute classic songs in the guise of Insurgence's "Hawk and the Dove" and Apostates' "Grows up in the puff of smoke" and it is the best one of the three. However, music is only one side of the record as it came with a genuine SoR newspaper showcasing what punks would do when they organised a little and put their money when their mouths are. The five bands enjoy striking full-page artworks in the paper and you will also find great punk art, an article about squatting and how it relates to class antagonism, private property, housing rights and autonomy and another one about fascism, racism and white supermacists in the States. Detailed pieces that reflected the activism and idealism of that scene. The paper is not in mint condition (I doubt you'll be able to find a perfect copy of a 30 year old newspaper) and the vinyl is not deprived of surface noise, but it is an interesting and inspiring - as millenials say - piece of our collective history. 
Squat and Rot: the Return