Best Of The Represses – July 2016

In which the scribe gets a bit excited over a pair of proto-Drexciyan artefacts, shakes his head sadly at unfortunate coincidence, and ponders whether or not this whole repress thing is beginning to spunk itself out now that you can get Acid Tracks on the NHS, and everyone is pretending they’ve ALWAYS, like, LOVED Arthur Russel, before finally wondering away to gaze wistfully for a while at a pile of broken Direct Beat records and wish that licensing issues weren’t a thing.

LAM – Balance Of Terror (Clone Aqualung)

Although it has been available digitally for quite a while, this is the first vinyl repress of LAM’s Balance Of Terror since 2003 and arrives freshly remastered from those lovely folk at Clone. Originally released on Robert Hood Hardwax label and now mainly famous for being the original partnership of Gerald Donald and James Stinson before they went off and changed the world as Drexciya, Balance Of Terror is a fierce slab of techno which lies closer in spirit to the sort of stuff Hood was doing with Mills as H&M, or what UR was up to in 1992 than what Donald and Stinson would go on to accomplish. That said, and taking into account the fact it’s beginning to sound a tiny, teeny, bit ‘of its era’, there is still a hell of a lot to get your teeth into, not least the embryonic touches of a sound that would later be fully developed and deployed on the front lines of the techno wars. More than just a curiosity, it’s an important document of a sound and genre on its way to greater things.

Glass Domain – Glass Domain (Clone Aqualung)

Wait, what? Two Clone Aqualung represses at the same time? are you crazy? Gerald Donald’s solo flight here from 1991 is a slightly odd blend of old-school electro, synth pop and, err, general weirdness, particularly on the quite frankly bizarre Hiccups where the vocalist, um, hiccups a lot and seems constantly on the verge of breaking into a Spike Milligan impression. Elsewhere the music tends to be a bit more restrained than Donald’s later work generally is, although Shatter Prone remains a thrilling slice of barely controlled, hard-assed Detroit thunder (and one of the records few moments that show where his tastes were going, even back then. A less complete experience than the LAM record perhaps, but without a doubt an important release. Anyone interested in the development of modern electro and techno should probably get a copy sharpish before it vanishes back into the ether.

Suicide – Suicide (Superior Viaduct)

Re-released just a couple of short weeks before Alan Vega’s passing, this is about as timely a reminder of Suicide’s unique and quite frankly sonically terrifying heritage as you’re going to get. For anyone new to the duo’s weird charms it makes sense to start with the very first album. Mixing synth pop, industrial noise, and post-punk with Vega’s loose, languid poetry Suicide were the forerunners of so many bands and genres that they have a shot at being one of the most influential bands in history. Even a brief listen to their drawn out, drum machine punctuated genius should be enough to convince you that, without them, electronic music would surely have sound very different. Aside from anything else, it’s an opportunity for me to post a vid of Frankie Teardrop – a legendary monster of a tune (although, to be honest, I don’t know if ‘tune’ is really the word for it). I’m not sure if this has been remastered but considering the scuzzy beauty of the original recordings I’m not sure it would really be an improvement.