Thursday, 29 August 2019

Wolfpack23 Vol 1

Artist: Various
Label: Wolfpack23
Catalogue no: N/A


     1.      Skulldrum vs. Captain Ergot – MK Ultra
     2.      WHɅLT THISEY – Magnethism
     3.      Bukabog – Maximum Swing
     4.      Third Door from the Left – Transatlantic Flight
     5.      Central Invisible Focus – Tanz Ex-tension
     6.      Amalgamated Wonders of the World – Incredible Cellular String
     7.      Bjørn Hatterud – Für Gen
     8.      Amalgamated Wonders of the World – All the World is Death
     9.      German Autumn – Leningrad
     10.  SHOGGOTH AMENTA – No Self
     11.  Wall Stretcher – Music*Light*Life
     12.  AUTOBONECO – New Mixx 4 Genesis
     13.  Salvador Crowley – Hocus Pocus
     14.  BrandNewBuddhas – This Technology is Quite Remarkable
     15.  iiVLD – The Orchids
     16.  Boreal Taiga – Kobbefjord Greenland
     17.  Joel Gausten – Spiral
     18.  we be echo – Beautiful Lies
     19.  we be echo – Decay of Sleep Bleed
     20.  Caleigh Marshall – IYDMI (If You Don’t Mean It)
     21.  Masha Kr – Flexor (ivanov down)
     22.  HERosion DECAY – The Queers of the Underground
     23.  we be echo – A New Day

It would be fair to say that Genesis P-Orridge has been an enormous influence on many people, myself included, from his days in Coum Transmissions, thence to Throbbing Gristle, and right through to the many incarnations of Psychic TV and then on to his solo and collaborative work. Genesis has, currently, some serious health issues to deal with, and this compilation is one of a series released in order to do two things: one, as a way for various artists and music-lovers to acknowledge their gratitude to this legend, and two, even better, to give back in the form of all proceeds going directly to Genesis to help defray medical costs incurred. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to thank him for introducing me to the underground scene way back in the late eighties, at a time when I felt that ‘mainstream’ music was becoming bland and samey, and that the concept of innovation had been forgotten in the rush to make money. If I hadn’t encountered Psychic TV I wouldn’t have known about Coil, Current 93, Nurse With Wound, Test Dept., In the Nursery, Sol Invictus, Whitehouse, et al., and for that I will forever be grateful.

(Please note: in the interests of brevity and so that I don’t end up writing an epic of a review (which it’ll probably end up being in spite of that, I will describe each contribution here as briefly as possible. However, I do think it more than worthwhile to purchase this item as it’s for a worthy cause.)

Needless to say there’s a broad range of styles, ranging from techno to industrial, experimental to ambient, a reflection of the trajectory of Genesis’ musical career over the decades. Straight from the top we get the extremely danceable Skulldrum vs. Captain Ergot’s ‘MK Ultra’, guaranteed to get those hips wiggling and feet stomping. WHɅLT THISEY’s contribution, apart from giving Word a nervous breakdown when trying to find a suitable backwards N, is a lilting piano-led ambient piece set against soft crackles and noises. Meanwhile, Bukabog get out their tool set for ‘Maximum Swing’, whirring in with what sounds like a drill that’s eventually supplanted by distorted sounds and vocals. ‘Transatlactic Flight’ by Third Door from the Left is another hip wiggler, this time leaning more towards the tribal end of the percussive scale. Central Invisible Focus sounds like classic Throbbing Gristle, improvised staccato guitar rhythm evolving into fuzzed up chordage and a ringing riff overlain by vocals.

The first of Amalgamated Wonders of the World’s entries, ‘Incredible Cellular String’, is a folky/psychedelic jaunt reminiscent of early PTV (as well as the late ‘60s), all weird filters and treated vocals. Between this and their second contribution comes Bjørn Hatterud’s ‘Für Genesis’ (For Genesis): rumbling drones, low whistlings, and swelling chords, a mountainous landscape scarred by erosion. AWotW flows in directly afterwards with a wistful, ghostly, and (dare I say it) slightly creepy and atmospheric piece, distant vocals matched only by equally distant weird noises (including what sounds like a duck and nocturnal swamp insects!). German Autumn brings us ‘Leningrad’ (now St. Petersburg, fact fans!), a laidback jazzy-type number, the one that immediately conjures up visions of smoky nightclubs replete with skimpily-clad dancers and a resident jazz band. SHOGGOTH AMENTA enter from stage left with ‘No Self’, a shimmering keyboard figure supported by a shuffling backbeat, and spoken vocals.

A distorted voice and syncopated beat opens Wall Stretchers’ minimalist ‘Music*Light*Life’, its sparse sequences and vocals lending it a quality of mystery and smokiness. Genesis himself is the star of AUTOBONECO’s little oddity, ‘New Mixx 4 Genesis’, which comes in at under 2 minutes. ‘Hocus Pocus’ from Salvador Crowley is ranting vocals over a swirling electronic backdrop, while the next track, BrandNewBuddhas’ ‘This Technology is Quite Remarkable’ is another techno outing, jumping, burping, and bouncing under a prolonged dialogue from some old science fiction film (complete with some good old clipped British accents). iiVLD gives us some ambient in the form of ‘The Orchids’, some summery, light chords set against a relaxing strolling beat. ‘Kobbefjord Greenland’ actually exists, having a Fieldstation there for ecological monitoring work; no surprises then when I mention that Boreal Taiga’s track is beautiful glacial ambient, reminiscent of some of the material released by Glacial Movements Records. It’s a slow-burn track, quiet and meditative, which slowly, glacially (no pun intended) evolves over the course of its near ten minute running time. (My personal favourite so far)

Now we get some industrial clanging, machine repetitions, and spiralling noise, courtesy of Joel Gausten’s ‘Spiral’. This IS industrial in all senses of the word: this is mass production by machine, hypnotising, rhythmical, and dangerous. In complete contrast we have ‘Beautiful Lies’ by we be echo (and the first of three from them), guitar and drum driven indie pop/rock. They occupy the next slot as well, their ‘Decay of Sleep Bleed’ a much sparser and more experimental affair (with some ambient thrown in), soft percussion and noises that suggest 1950s sci-fi films. Caleigh Marshall’s ‘IYDMI (If You Don’t Mean It)’ is a short sharp growl of acidic bile.

Masha Kr’s ‘Flexor (ivanov down)’ sounds like some early Soviet electronic experimentation, bleepy high-pitched notes sweeping over a wavering undercurrent, soon joined by some automaton-like percussion. HERosion DECAYS comes on like some eighties electronic pop act from Hamburg or Berlin, sleazy Reeperbahnstrasse atmospherics mixed in with futurist aesthetics. And finally, we be echo’s final contribution, ‘A New Day’, a swooping wind, cold and hollow, the prelude to some string-like drone chords that flutter and float with the prevailing currents.

These are only brief tags describing all the tracks here, and as such there are those which will appeal mightily while others not so much. But that’s not the point: $15 for 23 tracks (works out at around 65 per track) is good value however you look at it AND you get to help out an underground legend (ALL the money goes directly to Genesis). And this is only Volume 1 – currently there are three listed altogether, and I’ll get around to reviewing the other two in due course. It’s a wonderful cause, and it’ll be money well-spent.

All volumes currently available from here via Bandcamp:

Psymon Marshall 2019. 

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