Thursday, 12 October 2017

Kids of the 90's (part 1): Dischange / Excrement of War split Ep, 1991

Still bollox but still here. 

I have not written anything for the past month because - in all honesty - I was clueless about what to do next. The anarchopunk series had left me drained. I was lost, cold, battered, little more than a pathetic, staggering version of myself, my good looks and proverbial biting wit all but gone. Remember when Austin Powers loses his mojo in one of the movies? Well that was me, only I have got much better clothes and hair (not too sure about the teeth but let's not focus on that). I still had many ideas for Terminal Sound Nuisance but suddenly none of them sounded fun. Sad emoji face indeed. So I took some time off and traveled to South-East Asia in order to find myself and take selfies in front of neat-looking temples. Well, not really actually, I just locally boozed my way through the month, waiting to be struck by inspiration. To no avail. 

Until one day, as I was coming home after a rather enjoyable gig, I just looked through my record collection without anything in mind, or rather, with a completely open one. I realized that a significant portion of it was made up of 90's records, most of which no longer seemed to trigger general punk enthusiasm nowadays (the average Discogs price is usually a good indicator, albeit a fairly depressing one) but were still lovable and even - in some cases - genuinely good, to me anyway. After a good hour of mumbling to myself "Who still gives a shit about this one? And about that one? And what about this little bugger, I don't even recall buying it..." I took a meditative break and tried to remember and reconnect with the core values of the blog (as stated in "The Terminal Sound Nuisance Constitution of 2012"), which can basically be summarized as lengthy talks about bands and records that deserve to be talked about but are only marginally so in our culture of cultural overconsumption, floundering attention span and neglect of punk as a critical discursive art form.  The solution became clear, obvious. Weren't the 90's supposed to be fashionable now? I remembered seeing a lot of lads with typical 90's boy bands haircut recently, which of course I took as a good omen and a sign. I had to respond quickly and accordingly. 

As a result ten loud 90's split records, mostly Ep's but not exclusively, that no one really cares about anymore were carefully selected in order to exemplify the decade's specificities. Expect sloppy, crusty hardcore from the most important common denominator: genuineness. 



And let's start with a dischargy split Ep from 1991 between Dischange and Excrement of War. If you are a consistent TSN reader (and why wouldn't you be? It's an ace blog!), you know that I have always been thoroughly obsessed with British crust and hardcore and punk in general and it would come as no surprise to read that I originally bought the Ep for EOW and not for Dischange. When I got it (in the mid 00's), I don't think I had ever listened to Dischange. I knew Meanwhile through compilation tracks but was unaware that it was the same band under a different name. At that time, with a few exceptions, I was suspicious of the D-beat genre and honestly did not rate it very high. I certainly did not see Discharge as "a D-beat band", that would have been irrelevant and anachronistic, since the genre's essence lies on the repetition and emulation of vintage Discharge (could 2017 Discharge qualify as a D-beat band, like a contextualized recreation of oneself?). I thought that Disclose were too noisy for their own good but at least had that going for them, that Disaster were lovingly goofy because they sounded just like Discharge and that Disfear sounded like a bloody steamroller, but that was that. The Dis is getting pathetic Ep from Active Minds (the first one I bought from them) certainly had a lot to do with my wariness of the D, which was quite ironic since the Ep was very much about the 90's D-beat wave, which I was too young too have known anyway. But still, I must admit that their anti-D-beat rant (which may actually have been written about Dischange if I remember well) did leave a mark on my young mind at the time and definitely made me unimpressively look at Dischange. 



Older and wiser (?) now, I must say that I really enjoy the Dischange songs from this Ep and the band's relevance to the genre cannot be underestimated. They formed in the late 80's (not sure exactly when but their first demo was recorded in 1989) with Jallo, then drummer for the mighty No Security, on the guitar and vocals, and can be considered to be the first proper D-beat band, with the drive to sound and look JUST LIKE Discharge it entails, along with contemporaries Disaster (if Discard did lay the template for the dimension of Discharge worship, they never aimed at sounding just like Discharge, neither did Disattack and they were far more obscure anyway). The three songs included on the split were Dischange's first vinyl appearance and can be thought to be perfectly representative, if not foundational, of what the Swedish D-beat orthodoxy would grow to be in the following decades, with that crushing, pummeling, precise relentlessness, the monstrous riffs and the harsh vocals. The songs "After-war scars" and "Dead end" clearly fall in the Hear nothing category but my favourite is "On knees" whose groovy bass line is gloriously reminiscent of Why (I like my D-beat with some groove). The production is just fine for the genre, powerful but not too heavy as I am one to believe that there has to be an element of urgency and rawness in the D for it to be appealing (I often find Swedish D-beat to be too tight but that's not the case here, probably because it is an early instance of this peculiar variety). Dischange also released a split Ep with CFDL the following year and a full Lp in 1993 that I find a bit hard to sit through to be honest. They then changed their name to Meanwhile (and if you care to look at the label on Dischange's side it actually reads "Dischange - Meanwhile" which could indicate that they intended to call their side of the split Meanwhile... or not, it is a wild guess) which was a good call. Not only did they arguably get better during their Meanwhile era, but if the idea to swap a letter in the word "discharge" in order to obtain a new Dis-name is kinda funny, its realization is more embarrassing. 



On the other side of the split are a band whose name always makes me very self-conscious when I am wearing the shirt (I actually got into a needlessly long and unpleasant discussion with an odoriferous man about the use of the word "excrement" printed on clothes on the metro once... believe me, you do not want to know, but it was a long ride): Excrement of War, from Dudley, not too far from Birmingham if you are asking yourself. This lot were possibly the most intentionally Swedish of all the English hardcore bands of the early 90's with references to Anti-Cimex and Shitlickers even in the participants' nicknames. However, little do people know (and I only do because I am a loyal Glasper reader) that EOW originally started in 1990 as a boisterous, inept-sounding but cider-loving Chaos UK/Disorder band, before Stick (from Doom) joined. EOW was formed by Tom (of Genital Deformities), Rat (ex Indecent Assault and the greatly-named Depth Charge) and one Wonka with the idea of playing noisy Bristol punk, and although it did not work out, they still recorded a demo with that sound, which I would be very curious to hear indeed. Anyway, the proper EOW, the one we all (?) remember really started when Stick joined on drums after Doom went on a hiatus and the band decided to play punchy, punk-as-fuck Swedish hardcore with gruff vocals. This Ep was their first vinyl appearance, although the four EOW songs were originally part of a demo that Stick sent to Finn Records (the recording also included a Doom cover entitled "Relief (part 3)" which did not make it on the Ep but at least answers the fateful question of "but who did the part 3 then?"). 



If Doom initially wanted to be Discard - a noble endeavour in and of itself - you might imagine that EOW wanted to be Protes Bengt, in the sense that in their early days the band shared the same over-the-top urgent enthusiasm, that effective hardcore punk simplicity and straight-forward impactive crudity (yes, you may lol). Basically, you can tell that the trio had fun recording the songs and I would argue that the chaotic vibe that permeates the four songs, one that is also not quite unlike mid-80's Chaos UK if you think about it, makes for a nice and crunchy contrast with Dischange's starkness. And when the two bands on a split complement each other well, which is the whole point of such a format, you know you've got a good one. It could be suggested that the band's great dynamics on this record be somehow linked with Doom's lack thereof at that time. As Stick explains in Armed with anger, by 1990 "it seemed we (Doom) had lost our direction, or directness anyway, so I wanted to re-achieve what I'd already had". Who said that the way of the D couldn't be therapeutical? Of course, Doom would become again a force to be reckoned with a new lineup (and Tom on vocals) from 1993 on, but I definitely hear a manic liberating element to EOW's early years. Although clearly Swedish hardcore-fueled, the vocals also have that delightfully excessive gruff crusty edge that characterized the late 80's UK scene of Extreme Noise Terror, Mortal Terror and Sore Throat. The band went on to record fine records of fast and direct Dis-inspired crusty hardcore, The waste and the greed Ep being a tighter and better-produced take on what was glimpsed on the split with Dischange, but never really found back the snotty vibe of these early recordings afterwards (this is not to say that I don't like Cathode ray coma or the split Deformed Conscience, but they were recorded with a different lineup and I don't approach them in the same way as I do early EOW's output).  

That must have been a cracking night out


This wonderful split Ep was released on Finn Records, a Swedish label - as the name doesn't suggest - that was active from 1989 to 1999 and put out brilliant Swedish hardcore records by the likes of Totalitär, Disfear or G-Anx. There was the label's distro list from November 1991 included with the split Ep which is bound to make you feel nostalgic if you were around at the time (I was not so it just makes me excited).  


The infamous Meanwhile reference




     

Monday, 11 September 2017

The Tumult of a Decad (part 10): Terminus "Fear, despair & hate" Ep, 1989

This is the last stop of The Tumult of a Decad, it has been a pleasure as usual, thank you all for coming and please make sure to sign the guest book on your way out. Ta. I honestly could not think of a better band than Terminus to end the series, first because of the band's name (pretty subtle, right?), second and more importantly because Terminus were one of the most unique bands of their time. Like Indian Dream, Terminus are no newcomers to Terminal Sound Nuisance since I have already raved about them on two occasions, for the Eight Years Too Late article (here) and the Endless Struggle compilation double Lp (here).



I know the term "unique" is being used so often and in such a lazy way when discussing music that it has become almost meaningless and, ironically, a bad sign. When I am being told that a band is "unique", I instantly think that it must sound like all the other ones similarly characterized as being "unique", as if the adjective was purely descriptive and a reference to a preconceived set of specific traits that - for some reason - were deemed reflective of "uniqueness", as if bands could claim to play "unique punk-rock". Know what I mean? It is all very silly and bourgeois in the end since being "unique" is possibly the most pregnant obsession of the middle-class that is always so terrified to be perceived as being "like everybody else". But then, you can be "unique" and terrible at the same time... Anyway, Terminus were genuinely unique and like most unique bands, they were pretty much a Marmite band which you either loved or hated. I remember a particularly nasty review of The Graveyard of Dreams cd in an issue of Gadgie which stated (from memory) that it was "shite on toast". There were also very positive reviews of Terminus' works, of course, but the good as well as the bad ones all had one thing in common in that they struggled to define the band's sound and find relevant points of comparison. Terminus have been compared to The Damned, The Mob, Motörhead, Anti-Nowhere League, Bad Religion, Naked Raygun, The Stranglers, Subhumans, Hawkwind, Bauhaus, Amebix... And as endless as this list might be, I would gladly add Leatherface, Social Distortion, Cult Maniax, The Dark, Ritual and The Misfit to it. 



The trouble to aptly locate the band in a relevant frame of references and influences teaches us three important things. First, that the music of Terminus escapes easy categorization. Second, that we often project our own musical background and reference system onto a band we struggle with. And third, that, in spite of the apparent difficulty to correctly grasp Terminus, the band still reminded all the reviewers of a familiar band (even very unlikely ones sometimes). This last point makes Terminus a band that sounds both familiar to an experienced amateur of punk music and yet remains strangely undefinable and out of reach because it resists easy musical parallels. The best thing about all this was that Terminus did not consciously set out with the idea to sound like no one and everyone at the same time (quite a feat if you think about it), like your run of the mill, ordinarily mediocre, self-absorbed arty indie rock band from a university city would have. They just did their own thing and wrote music while keeping in mind the diverse tastes of the band members (and there have been quite a few of them in the band's history). Another element crucial to the making of Terminus was that the band took its time. Very far from the quick prolificity that was usual in the 80's (with the short-livedness that often came with it), the band waited almost four years after they formed in 1983 before releasing their first Ep, which would be unthinkable for most bands by today's standards. 

Terminus were from Scunthorpe, a steel town in the North-East, a place I know so little about that I cannot think of another punk band from there. They recorded three demos before the first Ep: a self-titled one in 1984, then Catalog of Crimes in '85 and finally Body Count in '86. They are interesting listens, quite low-fi and cover a large musical scope in terms of genres, from '77 punk-rock, to fast and tuneful hardcore, goth-punk, folk music, heavy rock and psychedelic punk, while remaining cohesive works at the same time, without that patchwork feel I always dread, all tied up with great dark tunes, a rocky vibe and a sense of warm melancholy and combative pessimism. I am tempted to bombard you with parallels and comparisons right now but it would be a pointless effort so let's just say it sounds like heartfelt, rocking but dark anarchist punk-rock. 



The Star Born Thing Ep, self-released in 1987, confirmed the band's potential and gift for catchy hooks and cracking tunes. It also epitomized what Terminus did best, writing paradoxical songs that sound dark and rather desperate but still retain some human warmth and organicity. In that sense, they are completely romantic and the lyrics certainly reinforce that feeling with "Star born thing" being about social otherworldliness and "(Waiting for the) purge" telling the story of a revolutionary waiting for his executioners to take him. The evocatively named second Ep that interests us today, Fear, Despair & Hate, was released in 1989 on Terminus' own TPPL Records. It has a rockier production than its earthy-sounding predecessor and is a strong, powerful follow-up. I suppose you could compare it with that strange, loner kid from school, the odd one out that still somehow belongs. When compared to what British punk sounded like in the late 80's, Terminus had no equivalent but still managed to fit in the punk-rock family, albeit on the edge of it (not unlike Crow People perhaps?). 

The Ep starts with a rather macabre metal-tinged ballad (yes, you read that right) called "Dance with the dead". It is a long, heavy and epic number which stands out in the band's discography with over-the-top guitar solos and borderline cheesy riffs. And although I would not listen to a whole album of such songs, it works remarkably here thanks to the intense singing of Mark Richardson, full of passion, melancholy and indignation, and great, moving lyrics about the power of illusion and the doctrine of unavoidable defeat that the powers that be impose on us. It contains some memorable lines like: "Your 'love' is a disease, a symptom of the fear of a lifetime alone. / A glittering chimera that we search for in vain and grinds us down." The second song (my favourite) is "In another time" and is a faster, rocking one, with a depressive, atavistic and eerie The-Mob-meets-Motörhead-and-GBH feel. Despite the dark, hopeless lyrics about the impossible fantasy of a better, more fulfilling world, the song feels warm, uplifting even, like a bizarrely desperate feelgood song. The last one, "Hunt the hunt", is an anti-hunt fast hardcore number that sounds like Bad Religion having a drink with Leatherface (but probably not, they are just so frustratingly impossible to categorize). 



Terminus released two brilliant albums and three more Ep's after Dear, Despair & Hate that are all highly recommended if you need a revolutionary romantic punk band with working-class politics, fantastic tunes, deep moving vocals and - gasp - variety in their songwriting. The review of this Ep that was published in NME in 1989 said this: "Back to basics, dole boy rock, unimpressed, primitive and powerful". Pretty fitting. 

Terminus have a thorough website that I encourage you to visit




Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Tumult of a Decad (part 9): Statement / The Apostles "Reminence of a destructive age / The other operation" split Lp, 1988

This is a bit of an odd one. 

DIY or die


The British DIY punk scene in 1988 usually conjures up images of foul-breathed crusty punx growling into unsuspecting microphones or jumping bandanaed hardcore kids who wished they were born in Boston instead of Burnley. Well, to me anyway. Little do people remember that The Apostles were still around at that time, thus being one of the last anarchopunk bands formed in the early 80's still active seven years later, a survivor status that is highly ironic - and perhaps irrelevant - considering that the band were highly critical of the anarcho scene (Andy Martin even coined the term "Flux of Punk Idiots" which, I must admit, I find very funny). As for Statement, it was a one-man anarcho project that can be justly seen as the originator of militant vegan straight-edge punk in Britain, if not in the world. If you are not familiar with this record, the idea of a "performance art group" - as The Apostles refer to themselves - teaming up with a vegan SxE solo project might sound a little baffling if seen through our pervasively judgmental 2017 lens. But then, for all their often misunderstood political and musical radicalism, The Apostles were also a self-proclaimed open-minded bunch and Rat, the creator behind Statement, was not only mate with them but also drummed on their first album, Punk obituary. And is it just me or are there hypnotic guitar leads on both sides of the Lp?



As usual with works from The Apostles, there is as much to read (if not more) as to listen to so I am not going to retrace the band's history since they provided lengthy texts that did. So let's get to Statement right away.

It is unclear when Statement exactly started, but sometime around '83 or '84 sounds like a fair guess. Prior and simultaneous to Statement, Rat played in Muted Existence (which I have never heard) and in Arrogance, whose '87 demo was reviewed five years ago (times flies...) on Terminal Sound Nuisance (here). The UK punk scene cannot be said to have been a great purveyor of one-man bands. Of course, there were solo projects, usually folk music or poetry reading (or the proverbial drunk geezer shouting at the stage), but apart from the great Man's Hate (Andy Xport's project that can only be defined as anarcho-Beat music), Statement may have been the only one. And without using a drum machine, which is an exploit in itself. Discogs tells me that Rat released nine (!) Statement tapes between 1984 and 1987 on his own Active Sound Records but I am only familiar with the first one, a 16-song effort of mostly sloppy but energetic punk-rock with plenty of different moods, from Zounds-inspired pop-punk, to fast hardcore numbers reminiscent of SAS or vintage Conflict-like anarcho music. It is a bit of a tedious demo if you listen to it in one row, but then it was also a youthful work and there were some good songwriting ideas, especially in the snake-like guitar leads that sometimes pop up in the songs and remind me of Fallout or indeed The Apostles.



In 1987, Statement released a split Ep with - you'll never guess - The Apostles with two brilliant songs, the super catchy and tuneful Bluurg-like punk-rock anthem "Who won the human race" and the epic metal-punk number "A box with no corners" that brought Anihilated or early Deviated Instinct to mind. With two songs as solid as these, you would have thought that the next record was going to confirm all the good things appearing on the Ep. But then, fate struck and while the first split sounded great, the next one was the victim of a horrendous mastering work that made the whole Statement side sound close to the harsh and rough hardcore of Medellin (the infamous punk Medallo of HPHC, Bastardos Sin Nombre or Ataque de Sonido), which was probably not Rat's intention. It sounds bad. I know I am being hyperbolic here and the Statement side is not a complete wall of proto-grind earslaughtering distortion but it is clearly noisy, distorted and pretty cheap-sounding although accidentally and unpurposely. And it is exactly why I love it. Of course, a part of me wishes for a decent sound production (and unsurprisingly Rat dismisses this record, I suppose I would still be pissed as well), but then I think these Statement songs have an unbeatable sloppy charm and end up being unique examples at the time of a blend between vintage UK anarchopunk, harsh noisy hardcore and metal punk, basically tunes, distortion and heaviness. Sometimes, great things happen by accident and I cannot think of anything even remotely similar to these Statement songs in the UK in 1988. 



The side starts off with a dirgeful, noisy introduction before unleashing the first hit, a harsh Icons of Filth-type song with some crunchy metal riffs, hypnotic guitar leads (Rat was definitely very skilled in writing them), angry gruff vocals and an incredible conclusion that can best be described as poppy noisepunk. While you could argue that the horridly thin and saturated production completely spoils any attempt at tunefulness, I would tend to think that it offers something different, dissonant and ultimately interesting, like the meeting of subtle, soft anarcho-pop harmonies and distorted Bristol punk, as if Systematic Annex were jamming with Dirge or Disorder were covering A Touch of Hysteria. You've got all out fast hardcore numbers too, which work particularly well with the wall of distortion, as well as dark punk songs that bring Fallout or even Part 1 to mind with these cracking guitar melodies that remain stuck with you for days. Reminence (I know, I know) of a Destructive Age is a very diverse work since you will also find songs that would not have been out of place on a UK82 compilation and others that fit perfectly with the metal-punk sound that prevailed at the time (there's even a funky rap song!), and all these different vibes and genres are united by the ridiculous production and the entrancing, dark catchy leads that never fail to appear and mesmerize. I ultimately leave this Statement record to your personal appreciation, since the claim that the production makes it unlistenable and denatures the artist's intent. As for me, not being averse to rough sound and sloppiness, I think it is marvelous.




As you can expect, a lot of the songs revolve around animal liberation, veganism and being drug-free and since Rat puts his money where his mouth is (probably one of the weirdest expressions of the English language), there are also a lot of documentation about hunt-sabbing, the ALF and how to support animal rights through direct action. The record itself looks lovely and I really enjoy the anarcho-pagan artwork on Statement's inserts although I have reservations about the wyvern (it is a wyvern, right?) on the cover. Following the split Lp, Statement went on to become a tight metalcore project and got into the hardline movement of the early 90's. I often picture people into the whole hardline vegan SxE thing as wearing baseball caps, ample jerseys and sports shoes, so seeing the distinctively anarchopunk aesthetics of early Statement would probably be a huge shock for the younger generations of Earth Crisis fans, despite the obvious historical ties. 



On the flipside are The Apostles, possibly the most prolific bands of the anarchopunk wave (which they were a part of and will always be remembered as being, although they might have been anti-anarchopunk and defined themselves as revolutionary socialists). To be honest, I do not agree with nor do I condone all of their political views which they stated very clearly through a text provided with the Lp that I encourage you to read. However, I definitely respect their very confrontational, polemical and sincere approach to punk and politics, which set them apart from the hippyish end of the spectrum. Even if you disagree with them, at least The Apostles make you think, react and question. As for the music... Well they certainly lose me when they go too experimental, dissonant, plain weird or avantgarde (there is six-page text about avantgarde rock provided with the Lp if you are interested). However, I love their tuneful punky songs, be they threatening class war anthems like on the Blow it up '82 Ep or '85's Smash the spectacle (who doesn't like a situationist reference in punk-rock?). The other operation, which was recorded two years before the split Lp actually came out, lies heavily on the experimental and dissonant side of things and I much prefer The Apostles when they were more direct and tense. If my rather basic tastes in music are not developed enough for me to really relate to some songs here, I really enjoy the classically catchy punk-rock number "A love that's died" and the more aggressive-sounding, pummeling "Absolution of guilt", the proper gem of the split for me, reminiscent of The Apostles' early years. Generally speaking, I am actually really into Andy Martin's voice, which sounds both determined and vulnerable (like any real revolutionary, they would probably point out). I even kinda liked the 11-long song that makes up half of their side, a quietly epic jazzy, psychedelic, free rock lyrical track with different movements and moods (yes, there is even a punk moment on "A world we never made"). Perhaps I am not that narrow-minded after all.  




As usual with The Apostles the artwork is excellent, from the deliciously sarcastic comic on the cover (I absolutely love those, they are often a bit harsh but clearly truthful), to the vibrant drawings inside, it looks very neat indeed. Lyrically, the standout song is undeniably "A world we never made" (granted there are more than a few instrumentals on the album), which deals with alienation, depression and the inability to relate to a social world that we inherit but do not choose. It resonates perfectly with the artwork. 



Inevitably, the band also wrote texts about their political stance about various issues, ranging from feminism, homosexuality, nationalism and - of course - the irrelevance of punk and ruffle a few feathers.  

The Apostles' views





 A "short" introduction to avantgarde rock







Hunt sabbing in 1987






ALF propaganda





Evil multinationals




A mere punk add!













Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Tumult of a Decad (part 8): Indian Dream "Well! Are you happy now!" Ep, 1987

Native Americans held a strong fascination for British anarchopunks in the 1980's. It was not in terms of cultural identification or appropriation (London is not exactly indigenous land and, to my knowledge, the Zig Zag squat never had the displeasure of having Indian-wannabe punk-rockers performing embarrassing "tribal dances", though I am not sure the same thing could be said with certainty about the Stonehenge festival...) but rather a matter of metaphor. As opposed to the modern Western lifestyle which was felt as disconnected, alienating, violent, exploitative and inherently destructive, the American Indian way of life, as portrayed in its popular (mis)conception, epitomized harmonious living, communalism, balance and respect. Of course, more than thirty years later, it all sounds very naive, idealistic, if not slightly patronizing, and the reality of Indigenous America is complex, polymorphous and impossible to encapsulate in simplistic notions, one that is bound to escape non-Indigenous persons. However, the idea of a communal lifestyle based on sharing, respect for the lives of others and peace obviously strongly resonated with punks who had been raised in the fear of a nuclear holocaust, with mass unemployment as the only perspective and ruthless, capitalistic, warmongering political leaders at the helm who thought nothing of stripping people of their dignity and livelihood, at home and abroad. Hence, an idealized vision of a peaceful but resistant way of life made sense then and great bands such as Flux of Pink Indians, Omega Tribe or The Mob referred openly to that vision, and probably also did so in opposition to the violent, nihilistic definition of punk-rock sponsored by The Exploited or ANL. Context is everything. 



Indian Dream have become regulars at Terminal Sound Nuisance, so much so that they would deserve to have their picture hung in the near legendary TSN Hall of Fame. Along with punk zine die-hard Erik from Negative Insight, we wrote a short write-up about the band two years ago entitled 8 Years Too Late: British anarchopunk with a tune between 1988 and 1992 (you can read the thing here) where you could learn that more than 100 copies of the Orca Lp ended up in the fucking bin because people (including band members) were no longer interested in that sound in the early 90's. And then last year, I raved again about ID when wrestling with the colossal 1in12 Club double Lp compilation Wild and Crazy "Noise Merchants" (here). If you need more background information about ID, I suggest you read the interview that Pablo (Resistance Productions/Earth Citizens) did with them in the late 80's (?) for his fanzine Alternative (here). 

I suppose it would make sense to see ID in the same light as the bands tackled in 8 Years Too Late, acts that had kept this tuneful anarchopunk edge that characterized the early 80's but still added "modern" influences to their sound, bands like The Next World, Dan or The Instigators. Indian Dream started in the mid-80's and their very first vinyl appearance occurred in 1985, with the inclusion of the song "Insult to injury" on Mortarhate's We won't be your fucking poor double Lp compilation that saw ID rub shoulders with some of the best anarcho bands that the pivotal time of the middle of the 1980's had to offer, such as Political Asylum, AOA or Shrapnel. To be perfectly honest (which I am usually not), this song is a not-so-convincing punk-rock number with a '77 vibe that, oddly enough, is just not melodic enough to really work and clearly shows that the band was still in its infancy at the time and had not found their own footing yet. ID's second vinyl installment was on the Splitting headache on a sunday afternoon compilation Ep released on Looney Tunes in 1986 (it was the label's very first record) which included four Scarborough bands: Active Minds, Satanic Malfunctions, Radio Freedom and of course Indian Dream. Unfortunately, I do not own this Ep (what a sad poseur, I know) so I cannot tell you much about it other that the idea of four local bands recording in the same studio on the same day is a brilliant idea and the ideal way to capture the feel of a specific time and place. 

DIY or die: correcting a wrong address


And now let's get to the record that interests us today, Indian Dream's first Ep, Well! Are you happy now! released in 1987 on Looney Tunes. By that time, the anarchopunk wave had mostly folded and although the article 8 Years Too Late might give the impression that there were quite a few bands pursuing in that direction albeit with different tools, the fact is that, on the whole, in terms of general cultural and social dynamics, the second part of the 80's marked the rise of hardcore and crust in Britain, extreme new sounds and bands like Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror or Doom that would change the face of punk-rock forever. This is not to say that the tuneful brand of punk-rock had vanished from the DIY punk spectrum and locally, bands like ID were certainly as relevant as Active Minds. However, a close look at Looney Tunes' early discography illustrates the change that was taking place with ID's Ep being released between Satanic Malfunctions and Generic. And in fact, if you only looked at Are you happy now!'s cover, would you be able to say it is a delightfully tuneful punk record? No, you would not. On a strictly visual level, the Ep is much closer to the aesthetics of a hardcore or a crusty record like Screaming Holocaust's (though one might say that the name "Indian Dream" gives the game away). Tuneful, punky anarcho band like ID were exceptions and the renewed interest in mid/late 80's melodic anarchopunk bands is very recent and owes a lot to the internet culture and the endless circulation of cultural texts, though they are often deprived of context (but let's not talk about that today, the sun is shining and birds are singing and all that).     



The progress between ID's earliest incarnation and that of 1987 is breathtaking. Gone is the plodding, disparate feel of "Insult to injury", and in its place lies an overwhelming, formidably upbeat punk-rock energy that builds on early anarchopunk but freshens up the recipe with the balanced inclusion of melodic US hardcore and epic postpunk (the kind that makes one's arse move awkwardly). The use of arrangements typically found in US hardcore to dynamise the old-school poppier anarcho sound was not exclusive to ID and bands like The Instigators, Dan or Joyce McKinney Experience also did it wonderfully around the same time, however few dared to also borrow the eeriness of gothy postpunk to add to the recipe (apart from the mighty Hex perhaps). It was pretty much one or the other. You either went in the vitaminized direction of Dan and The Instigators or you picked the moodier path of Internal Autonomy and The Smartpils. But on that first Ep, ID's songwriting successfully amalgamated both to great result thanks to their careful attention to details. A close listen to the four songs of the record reveals many subtle arrangements and musical intricacies that show ID definitely reflected on their music and had a sense of perspective. The superposition of two differently textured riffs in the opening of "Tense situation" or the moody interlude that explodes into the contagious chorus in the very same song; the double-tracked vocals on the catchier moments (and there are a lot of them, let me tell you); the articulate drum beats that smoothen the transitions; the guitar leads that make the punky riffs shine... It is carefully crafted, even though the production is a bit thin in places. Well! Are you happy now! is a brilliant record, a genuinely humble but incredibly effective minor classic whose catchiness can appeal to fans of The Instigators, Omega Tribe and Skeletal Family alike. Of course, the band is first and foremost grounded in the female-fronted UK anarchopunk tradition of bands like A-Heads, Lost Cherrees or Icon AD (and the lyrics about vivisection, pacifism and political schemes point in their directions as well) but the energy clearly owes to hardcore and the moodiness to goth-punk.



ID then progressively went the gothier road and their magnificent 1989 Lp, Orca, can be seen as a landmark in what might anachronistically be termed "anarcho-goth-punk" (sounds a bit ridiculous for a genre but I need the kids to know what I mean), despite many of its physical representations literally ending up in the trash and its cover standing up as one of the cheesiest, marine mammal-themed cover of all time (if Oi Polloi's "Whale song" was to be drawn, it would be it). Their last posthumous (I think) release was a delicious self-titled Ep in 1992, released on German Xingu Records like the album, which was poppier this time, not unlike Karma Sutra meeting up with Internal Autonomy at the convention of the Nostalgics of Early Chumbawamba. The band also contributed songs to lovely compilations such as "Our land" to the aforementioned 1in12 sampler or  "Discarded" (probably my favourite ID song) to the great Walk across America - For Mother Earth 1992 Ep, a compilation that also included Pink Turds, Hiatus or Mushroom Attack and was a benefit compilation in solidarity with political groups protesting the 500th anniversary of Colombus' "discovery". A fitting place indeed for Indian Dream.

Of course, I strongly encourage you to get the Bosstuneage discography cd that you can get for cheap. You'd be supporting a top notch hardcore punk label in the process.