Thursday, January 18, 2018
The Grey Wolves
The Grey Wolves - Exit Strategy
Tesco. Tesco 118. LP/CD
The Grey Wolves - Catholic Priests Fuck Children
Hospital Productions. HOS-499. CD
I don’t quite remember how it happened but some time during the mid 90’s I found myself corresponding with The Grey Wolves and along the way managed to make a complete fool of myself. The Grey Wolves were serious people. Very serious people. On a mission. Intelligent, driven, focused, ready to take the knocks. You kind of got the impression that they didn’t fuck about. And I knew nothing.
As I remember it they were setting up an English Industrial Heritage Museum [or something along those lines, detail is now vague] and they were looking for people to contribute something toward it. Which is where my ignorance showed and where the correspondence ended. Hey ho. Life goes on. It seems odd therefore to be writing on the demise of The Grey Wolves twenty years hence. A final farewell gig in Birmingham a few years back and a more recent one as a nod to Tesco’s 30th Anniversary in Germany and with Exit Strategy that's your lot.
Its not a bad way to say goodbye either. Not that I have everything The Grey Wolves have ever released or have heard it. I can compare though and not everything I’ve heard is someone screaming ‘we hate you’ through a wall of feedback. In fact I doubt there’s much of it that is. The Grey Wolves were far cleverer than that. Some of their artwork, which they were rightly highly regarded for, or their dialogue, may well have got the temples throbbing in certain sections of society but unless you look at it all in a wider context, you’re missing the point.
The Grey Wolves weren’t there to explain though, they were self styled ‘Cultural Terrorists’. Nothing was sacred, nothing was off limits. Everybody was an enemy. Everybody was a target. Which is where ‘Catholic Priests Fuck Children’ comes in. Regarded as their best outing its been given the rerelease treatment courtesy of Hospital Productions who have defended the sensibilities of those of a nervous disposition by covering the CD in an outer sleeve. Originally released 1996 by the German label Praxis Dr Bearmann it carries everything from looped dialogue, swathes of Industrial noise, Industrial ambience, juggernaut PE and in last track ‘Destruction’ a pummeling, forward driven ur-beat thats smothered in all manner of synth wash and dirty electronica. The sleeve contains some of the best of their collage work too with lady boys, priests, Myrah Hindley, Yukio Mishima, and Japanese bondage all juxtaposed in a suitably grainy black and white fold out.
It all boils down to the music in the end of course. So I went trawling around, digging myself deeper into The Grey Wolves internet hole, a deep hole which I’m quite happy to wallow in and then pulling out older releases that haven’t seen the light of day for a while. There’s the collaboration with JFK, ‘Assassin’ a mutant disco slab of propelled Industrial rhythms with Lee Harvey Oswald staring out at you from the cover and which comes on suitably apt transparent red vinyl. Then ‘Blood and Sand’ from 1990, the Gulf War album, an album imbued with gloom, death, murky military radio comm chatter and further back to Red Terror/Black Terror and what seems like pure experimentation. I could mention the live LP Tokyo Suicide Service where they no doubt baffled the local audience by sampling ‘The World is Like a Great Big Onion’ and any number of their collaborations with Con-Dom and Genocide Organ to name but two of the bigger hitters.
Then there’s ‘Exit Strategy’ and nine tracks worth of American cop radio, dead star transmissions, gas mask breaths, malfunctioning androids, dolphin sounds, Arnie and Samuel L Jackson, everything submerged beneath a series of pulsing cardiac beats. The last three tracks are ‘Seizure’, ‘Terminal’ and ‘Flatline’ and there’s the heartbeat cardio read out flat lining on the cover just in case you didn’t get it. On ‘Seizure’ comes the vocal sample, ‘maybe we ought to start thinking about an exit strategy?’ They already did. Their last LP is also notable for having Jérộme Nougaillon produce it, mix it, engineer it, master it and add additional material to it. If that wasn’t enough he even got involved with the artwork. All this makes for a more polished sound. A sound polished to black semi transparent with the aid of the grime as scraped off the sides of thirty Salford corporation buses. The grime of thirty years in a grim business.