Friday, 15 November 2013

Yesterday's Hauntology or Seminal Compilations Part II, III IV and V.

In a recent previous post I raved about the wonderful Outer Church compilation, and used the rather lazy tag Hauntology to describe the varied but unified, eclectic range of sounds and artists within.

In the post I also mentioned a couple of (for my day, in the circle's I ran with) seminal left field complitions, The Elephant Table Album, and The Afflicted Man's Musica Box. Whilst trawling the intertwat, I also came across a couple of other compilations I'd owned, lost or sold and since forgotten - L.A.Y.L.A.H Antimusic - The Fight Is On , and also the Life At The Top LP.

Inner sleeve for The Fight Is On on L.A.Y.L.A.H. antirecords

So why have I come to consider these artists as befitting a place under the Hauntology banner. Well, let me explain... at the time many of the artists were considered industrial, an easy catch-all for musick listed as difficult in the music press of the time'. With the luxury of hindsight/ re-appraisal many of the bands it seems to me covered similar territory to the current crop of Ghostbox and sundry artists who sedem to fall under the musical hauntology umbrella (you may be familiar with many of them: Mordant Music, Advisory Circle, Belbury Poly, Demdike Stare, Position Normal, Focus Group to name just a few).

Many of the acts on these early compilations were also primarily electronic in nature, occul' fixated and part of a select group who saw themselves as holding a black mirror to the mainstream. Most acts were willfully obscure, difficult and obtuse, and much of the music was challenging and unsettling, and in the odd case, almost unlistenable. Many artists operated on a financial shoestring, having only the most primitive in electronics and tape machines, often sharing equipment between friends and artists. Bands that have now become almost underground legends (COIL, Nurse With Wound, Tuxedomoon, Lustmord, Legendary Pink Dots, Current 93 to name but a handful) were seen as dangerous and subversive in the music world. Indeed the L.A.Y.L.A.H records compilation actually incorporated the 'antimusic' label as a call to arms, a concious pointer that what you were about to hear was not ordinary music.

Jhonn Balance (COIL) 

Much was informed by earlier music, for example you could argue that Lou Reed invented power electronics with his Metal Machine Music suite. Acts such as Whitehouse would use this template to terrorise audiences with viscious sonic assaults at deafening volumes, and with a deliberate antaganistic and confrontatoinal approach to performing. You really could leave a gig with blood on your face as the audience they attracted were as extreme themselves, looking for release in this kind of extreme sonic confrontational 'entertainment'.

Metal Machine Music

Other acts such as Lustmord or Nurse With Wound would look to the Kosmische/ Dada-ist approach, releasing beautiful sub ambient soundscapes, and absurdist tape 'cut ups' as records or cassettes. It was easy to become po-faced and precious about these artists, with many of us failing to see the humour in the musick, even though, as with Nurse With Wound, and with hindsight, it was often blatant and obvious.

NWW Debut LP Cover -  Chance Meeting On The Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and Umbrella

Coil and Current 93 to name but two bands, embraced the dark occult apocalypse. They gave voice to the Manson generations psychotic remeberings Coil released songs such as Sicktone, a series of fast flanged, repetitve drum patterns, the intention implied was to bring about 'heightend' states off conciousness through submission to the musick. The EP, How To Destroy Angels, was a baffling aray of slowly struck gong reverberations, bull roarers and simulated sword fighting, the tag line on the EP's cover described using the record as a meditative tool, a fascilatatetor for the 'Accumalation of Male Sexual Energy'.

Current 93, dabbled initially in crude and dark industrial meanderings, eventially settling into a dark apocalypic style of folk on the 'Swastika's For Noddy' LP. Tibet continued in this vein for quite some time, only later going back to collaborations in drone and ambience with Nurse With Wound and other contributers.

Current 93 / NWW Bright Yellow Moon

Now whilst modern Hauntological musicks don't claim these kind of extreme mission statements, and dabble only in the imagary world of the occult, much of it does take the listener on a disjointed dark journey's. Maybe it's through the collation and replication of half remembered jingles and idents from a lost/forgotten world of childhood of TV, radio or other media, or just through the route of unsettling yet familiar sounds and imagary. A re-imagined structuring of a past that never was, challenging our recollections of how we were and who we've become, and how we recall that perceived and recall that safe former world.


Anyhow, I'm going on a bit, and this is really just an excuse to post several of these 'out there and difficult' compilations from a dark yester year.

Life At The Top

Devestate To Liberate

The Elephant Table Album

An Afflicted Man's Musica Box

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