Monday, February 25, 2013

Striate Cortex 49/54/55

Sapir Whorf - Phase 1: Preliminary Investigation
Striate Cortex SC49. 3” CDR 

Thossian Process - Impurities
Striate Cortex SC54. 5” CDR
Crimson Rainbow Facility - Unknown Strains
Striate Cortex SC55. 3” CDR

It was at a recent WC gig that I availed myself of a number of items from the merchandise stall. Somebody was having a sale and being in the market for a bargain I scooped up a handful of CD’s and paid the princely sum of one pound each for the lot of them. Then, one rainy Saturday afternoon having positioned myself in the Poang, I listened to all of them one after the other, all this whilst sipping numerous cups of tea and having my customary post prandial nod. It then occurred to me that on the night in question, when said items were purchased, I may have had the odd snifter and that my judgement in purchasing said items may have been clouded somewhat by this fact. I may also have been overcome with some sense of bonhomie and dived into said sale items with a oh-what-the-fuck-I’ll-buy-it-anyway attitude. And then I realised it was dark whilst this transaction took place and that I didn’t really know what it was at all I was buying and that I may have even been egged on to fill my pockets with such wares by certain members of the audience, and maybe there was a police raid, or the stripper distracted me, or Filthy Turd was waggling his gut in my general direction, I may have been perfectly sober and dreamt all this. Details are sketchy.

Soon after I hid those releases away from myself. I know that they reside in a cupboard or a box somewhere and that I should really take them to the charity shop so that they can reside cheek by jowl with Robson and Jerome’s Greatest Hits and Five Stars Single Collection and be bought by someone with a flair for adventure in sound who will forever wonder how it was that such a weird and ethereal item ever ended up in Cleck Oxfam.

I have to admit that some of those releases came from Striate Cortex. My memory has wiped the miscreants from my brain so I am unable to bring you exact details but the burning mental image of someone attempting the impossible by channeling Cocteau Twins through Throbbing Gristle via All About Eve has left scars on my cerebellum that will take decades to heal

I’m not about to criticise Striate Cortex though, doing so would be like slicing lumps off a cow in India, but there is now, within me, a sneaky suspicion that Striate Cortex are capable of turning out the odd clunker.

With a back catalogue now running to over 50 I dare say that amongst them there’s the odd release that SC head cheese Andy would rather have stayed in the in pile. But who amongst us isn’t tainted by some passage of our past that we’d rather forget? Maybe I’m wrong and he loves them all? Having listened to only a handful of SC releases though I have to say that my overwhelming feeling is one of absolute positivism. When you take into account the sheer amount of time and effort that goes in to each and every Striate Cortex release you have to tip your hat to the man and say that the effort is well and truly worth it. Take the 50th SC release Victorian Electronics which became an immediate collectors item not just because it highlighted the current resurgence in all things Leeds experimental but for the fact that it came with four 3” CDR’s in a box so cute you wanted to put it next to the cat and take pictures of it and put it on Facebook.

As with all SC releases its the handiwork that greets you first. The above array of imagery is about par for your average SC release in that theres a fold out booklet or some hand painted card or a piece of fibre glass cut into shape or a fold out sleeve, or multi-imaged insert. Its what lifts SC from the norm and makes it instantly recognisable. SC also forgoes the current trend for synching the labels website with downloads and for the most part you have to have the actual disc to hear the music [though in the case of this crop of releases Crimson Rainbow Facility have a Soundcloud page to peruse].

So what to make of this bunch? For the most part we’re in TG tribute territory. With Sapir Whorf its all early TG synth terror, with Crimson Rainbow Facility its their tribute to TG’s track E-Coli whilst Thossian Process do their bit to resurrect early English Industrial-ism by mixing shamanic bone rattling with deep sea diver breaths and sonar soundings.

Of them all I came back to Thossian Process the more often, mainly because there was more for me to get involved with. Coming in at just under the half hour mark these seven tracks capture the ritualistic elements of 23 Skidoo and Cabaret Voltaire whilst bringing in the more sparse elements of Mika Vaino and the Finnish Sähkö team. Bleak offerings with shortwave emissions that wash over you like the flapping last reel of Lynch’s Ersaerhead. Impressive stuff. Crimson Rainbow Facility’s work here is so near to TG’s E-Coli that I can’t believe that CRF made this work without hearing it. During several tracks of a themed pathological nature you can pick out the sampled voice of someone relating the dangers of various germs against a background of lo-fi noise. OK for one track but stretching it over several seems to be overdoing it. Which leaves us with Sapir Whorf whose synth noise blurts perhaps embodies the earliest works of Throbbing Gristle the best. The inner sleeve states ‘speculative electronic elements originating from archival ferric oxide media’ which probably means they made this from old Throbbing Gristle cassettes. If this was some uncovered archival relic from 1976 I know certain bald heads of noise who’d be beating each other senseless to get a listen but in 2013 I found it rather less enlightening.


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