Thursday, July 19, 2012
I.B.F. / Zilverhill / Schuster
I.B.F. - Ideas Beyond Filth 1984 - 1985
Blind Shouter Products. CDR
Schuster - The Circle Of Angst
Zilverhill - Laodicean
I wonder how many of you are wetting your knickers awaiting the arrival of the final Throbbing Gristle LP? An interpretation of the Nico album Desertshore if you were unaware. Which had me thinking back [again] to the excellent Simon Reynolds book ‘Retromania’ and the old cover version problem; the last vestige of the creatively bankrupt or a chance to pay homage to your heroes? Once Sid Viscous emerged with his Eddie Cochran covers it was to the last vestiges camp that I fled. If the journalist Nick Kent is to be believed the Sex Pistols covered The Foundations ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ during their formative pre McLaren/Lydon days, but then he’s also maintained that he was actually in the Sex Pistols, something nobody else seems to agree with.
But back to TG. Without them the outer edges of the UK landscape would look very different indeed. There’s every chance that I.B.F. may not have even existed such is TG’s influence. But they did and I.B.F. begat Schuster and then Zilverhill [I may be wrong on the chronology but it makes for easy scanning].
Somewhere down the line the people involved in all of the above releases sat around taking in the view created by the English Industrial Scene of the early to mid 80’s. Out of this fertile loam they carried the flame that TG decided to abandon [until many years later of course when they realised there was a few bob to be made out of it].
Listening to the I.B.F. release first its not that hard to envisage the journey these people have made. By the time we get to Zilverhill and Schuster the harsh corners, pumping cheap Casio rhythms, angular guitars and shouty vocals of I.B.F. have given way to a sound thats still Industrial to the core but of a more, day I say it, classical nature.
Schuster have grown in stature since their last two releases; the last, a cliche ridden but eminently listenable ‘Blac Flies Resplendent On Blak Moon’ and before that a sometimes stunning ‘I Am Living In My Own Corpse’ [both on Adeptsound] the latter of which captured the feeling of being left to die of starvation on a dust scoured plateau beautifully.
Circle of Angst begins with a delightful few seconds of a piano motif that flits in and out of the entirety of the release thus making a light counterpoint to the Stygian pit of miserable and bleak despair that fills the rest of it. A release where barren landscapes are scraped clean by constant icy blasts and where machine-like hums sit cheek by rotten jowl with rolling and churning undertows of deep and dangerous waters. The pretty piano motif that both starts and ends this release gives us a Finnegan’s Wake loop of edification thats available to anyone with a repeat button. All the tracks carry numbers; 1,2,3,4, a minimalist touch that matches the work and doesn’t distract. The less is more strategy is certainly working, as is the gorgeous cyclical thrum of ‘3’ and the looped sound of a lion growling in reverse that accompanies it.
Zilverhill’s Laodicean has ten tracks segued into a 45 minute whole, a bleak whole that sounds like it was recorded in the jettisoned end of a spaceship thats got nowhere to go and an eternity to get there in. There’s little to go on information wise but each track is varied enough to include everything from mangled vocal samples to the slight plucking of a guitar string that finds room amongst a loose volley of held down bass keys and a metronomic metallic knock. Sounds shuffle along like a hobbled tramp in too many layers of out of season clothing. I’m assuming samples and found sounds but my knowledge of such things is scant [and I prefer it that way]. Beginning with a groaning machine that feels like its dying in an empty dripping sci-fi hanger its not long before the damaged vocals appear - all very Andrew Liles and all very good too. The receding in to the distance, falling away chords of what may be track three are almost melodic and then … doom metal, of a kind, and then ghouls and swaying feedback. A constantly evolving 45 minutes that has within its length enough variance and industrial/ambient delight to satisfy anyone with an interest in the genre.
Back in the mid 80’s its still all Keith Levene scratchy guitar, shouty vocals through a megaphone, post punk DIY-ness and lots of sampled TV. I’m not even sure if this is a ‘proper’ release at all but I dare say its available should you enquire. A different track listing from the Harbinger Sound I.B.F. 12” that came out a couple of years ago, this one stretching to nine tracks.
Coming from a time when experimentation within the song structure was the norm we have ‘Guru’, a rapid bass run with trebly guitar riff and a looped sample of someone saying ‘yes’ and ‘satan’ over which you can just hear a telephone conversation, then a couple of odd instrumentals where a bass plods along against scuzzy background noises. Samples abound of course, wonky church bells and a male voice choir singing ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariots’ are but two of many. Last track ‘syncopation’ is a stripped down bass run over a spasmodic drum on which someone sings ‘syncopation’ in a strained voice as if to suggest they found Ian Curtis’s vocals rather endearing but hard to emulate. It all collapses. CD ends. That's it.
Zilverhill and Schuster are improving with every release - to these ears at least. These are works that are carefully crafted and it shows. The future looks encouragingly bleak and the past doesn’t look too bad either.
[As of writing - July 2012 - the above links are dead hence no info regarding number of copies, downloads etc … ]