Self Review

I have lived with copies of our old albums for a short time now and have formed an impression of them, and would care to report this.

The difficulty being that, not having a working turntable, I am not able to describe what they sound like. But I can rely on reports.

If it were a boiled lolly, Since The Accident would be a humbug. City Slab Horror is supposed to be bone coloured, but is obviously butterscotch.

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I would imagine that when the vinyl was black on Since The Accident it would sound infinitesimally different to when it was white. If one was very particular, this would be disturbing about once every second. For most people they would not be particularly worried. I watch it spin and would like it to spin much faster, so as to make colours, but this is not possible.

When you buy a copy, you have to put the record into the sleeve. This last step probably prevents it from using batteries until you’re ready to switch it on. Or it’s to connect you with the physicality of the object. Or something.

The records are heavy. I stood and held one for quite some time, feeling the weight. It weights much more than a 1970′s RCA space age pressing which were designed to be incredibly light and flexible, because that was the best idea. They weight a little less than the Eastern European press-them-like-tractors because that was the best idea. Maybe these are a red sports car.

We played it at a radio station here in Sydney and I was pleased that the music was in fact ours. When we made our first album back in 1979, EMI put an album by the Bushwackers Band there by accident. We thought a while and then told them. It was a near thing.

proxy

I have been told that the quality is very good. It should be, given that it’s actually from the master. There is a sticker on the front that claims I have remastered these albums. That’s not true. I did nothing except reproduce the recordings properly. That’s why the sound is better.

In ‘The Wire’ magazine they have reviewed these records as ‘a blueprint for a possible musical future’. Given that we are in that future I was curious to see if the reviewer was game to make a comparison between the blueprint and the reality. He did not. He did mention Aphex Twin which reminded me I was reading The Wire. But I worry now about how you can talk about being prescient after the fact. It’s like a time travel paradox.

It’s a good review actually because the writer describes how uncomfortable we were between the polarities of pop and opposition. Like whatever we did was never going to satisfy somebody who wants totality. If you wanted a theme that described Severed Heads that’s it right there and so if the reviewer is hearing that, these are good records.

Now I really should buy a new stylus.

Purchase desirable physical objects of limited manufacture.

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Dead Eyes Opened replica vinyl. Click on the image.
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Since The Accident replica vinyl. Click on this image.
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City Slab Horror replica vinyl. Click on this image.

These objects may be possessed for a small fee. Other objects that may soon be possessed in a similar fashion are:

Eighties Cheesecake. Status: delayed for artwork revisions.

Ear Bitten. Status: in planning. Expected in 2015.

Clean. Status: in planning. Expected in 2015.

The comparison.
The comparison.

Terse Tapes then and now.

You’ve seen all the old pictures. How about some new pictures? TERSE TAPES was brutally murdered around 1998. But it rises again, starting right where it was stopped, as if the war never happened.

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The famous BOOFHEAD as seen on stages all over North America. Like all Ensoniq equipment of that period it is built out of pure brick shithouse. It still holds patches from Rotund For Success, and will punch you if you dare erase them.

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There underneath the ReVox is a Roland Luxury Yacht, which was too cool in about 2000. No sound is too chorused for this opulent box. Note the authentic SCSI drive. Beneath is a very battered S612 sampler, not the same battered sampler as was used on Big Bigot. A near relative with the same neurosis. The mixer is sitting on an Alesis ADAT which hasn’t seen the sun for many years.

korgs

When they do a Star Trek reboot reboot, they are welcome to film ‘Mount Knobs’. Here are all the twiddles a man could desire. From front to rear – the Roland SH32 will never win prizes for looks, but certainly for bloops. The KORG Radias is the slick silver grandchild of the old MS years and a great Xmas decoration. The blue box is a JP8080 and yes, supersaw but not always. And a virtual PolySix, which (it should not surprise you) recognises the knobs on the Radias.

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A small part of the post modern world sneaks into frame, as a Blofeld sits atop of ‘Yamaha Peak’. The two groove boxes below house faux Prophet-5 and faux DX-7 cards. Prop them up on decorative plate holders and voilĂ  – the knobs are in reach of the engine driver. The Blofeld is about to get a nasty shock when a V-Synth XT rack gets plunked above. Like a Mopho hidden at back, it’s driven from elsewhere.

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And here is the nerve centre of the whole enterprise. Tiny keys for tiny fingers. A Micron is caged under a MiniNova, it too is run from elsewhere and will have to put up with being second fiddle. The scary thing is that there is more than this, too high or deep to see.

All of it is being used right now to make a new recording…

Vinyl is back from the factory. No one died.

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Reports that the Slab album is back from the factory, it plays, it sounds good, and no-one died. Looks like both labels are near to laying eggs and so I will link you straight to their evil empires:

For Since The Accident and City Slab Horror please proceed to http://medical-records.org/

For the Dead Eyes Opened 12 inch please proceed to http://www.darkentriesrecords.com/

Some people are worried about the digital downloads – all of these recordings have been available for quite some time as downloads – so long that it seems sensible to close them for a while and let the poor bastards sell the records. You do not want to condemn people to cardboard boxes for the rest of time do you? When they get sick of us they will hand the downloads back again. Fair.

Now, both labels are thinking about what they might do next. What should they do next?

EAR BITTEN

I don’t own a copy of EAR BITTEN. I think I had my last copy stolen 1990 something or other.

A side effect of asking Twitter for scans of the front cover  – some of the inserts have resurfaced. This one came from Phantom Circuit. I haven’t seen this in ages. Not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.insert 4a

We got some nice scans of the cover too, so we’re looking into some T Shirts of ear bitten LP

EAR BITTEN isn’t being reissued but it’s fun to see some of the old images again. This cover was scanned by John Laidler, one of the artists that was on the other side of the album as Rythmyx Chympx. That’s a real close-of-cycle right there.

Correspondence mountain

Before email, people would write with pens on pieces of paper, fold the paper into an envelope and mail the actual physical thing to somebody. Shocking, I know. I used to do this, and other people sent their paper to me too. Even more unusual I would keep the paper in a big expanding file.

Having dragged that file from place to place I am now determined to scan it all and reclaim a large amount of space. I mean large; a lot of people used to write to me and this file includes mail from 1978 to about 1998, around the time that mail started to come electronically.

On one side it’s really great history, with mail from many of the bands and individuals that worked in music throughout that time. On the other hand there’s an awful lot of private thoughts in there, which I must keep away from prying eyes. For whatever reason girls would write to me, not to tell me about how gorgeous I was (for alas I was not) but to tell me all about their love lives. There was a bit of flirting but mostly Severed Heads was everyone’s BFF. Maybe I’ll understand why if I read it all again.

There’s also much embarrassing mail from people went on to become far more important than me. It would seem a dick move to haul out something like that. I think it can just be left unseen until I finally cark it and the world has forgotten us all.

But I’m going to show a few gems as I find them, and this, and the next few posts will grow to have some funny pictures for you. Come back and see new additions over the coming weeks.

Let’s start!dreifussand

NMEs

The code in Under Gail Succubus

One notable feature of the Under Gail Succubus album is that every one of the original copies has an individual serial number. This was a crazy idea, that only worked so long as the sales were in the hundreds. To do this I used a VST to make sonic signatures in a batch, then ran another batch that added this to the master audio and burned a disc. The idea was that if somebody uploaded the disc the signature would be there and I would have their serial.

No one uploaded the disc. That might be a success. It might also be that UGS was not popular enough. Once it became a download, the serial numbers only indicate if the album was from iTunes or Bandcamp.

So where is the signature? We’ll use Adobe Audition. Load the track Three Doors. Listen right at the very end and you hear three tones. Here’s what that looks like.

A

Simply switch on the spectral view and

B

The distortion is due to the logarithmic scale used in Audition. These days it’s easy to make and read these signatures, but back then it took a fair bit of fussing.

As with just about every prank I pull, no one ever noticed that the ‘three doors’ were plainly audible at the end of the song. Probably because I only discovered later that there’s a band called Three Doors Down (yes I am sheltered) and obviously I’d heard those words and adopted them without realising where they came from. Cut the title quick smart!

Here’s some more fun facts about UGS!

  • A woman’s laugh is hidden in every track. (Gail!)
  • The main lyrics for Snuck are from the wife’s sleep talking to somebody called Lillian. Over many nights.
  • Most tracks are about atomic war and the aftermath.
  • Three Doors is about dying from a heart attack.
  • Inside The Girl has a lot of mixed references but ‘it’s black and it’s tan’ is about my family’s antique bowler hat. About which I was horrified when I realised the significance.
  • Bruise Vienna was a challenge to only use the sound fonts that I used when teaching secondary students at the time. Vienna is a sound font editor.
  • I called it Under Gail Succubus after a fake band name I made around the time I knew Skinny Puppy. The album revisits a lot of the techniques I was using around that time, and reminded me of working on that track Assimilate (overly loud compressed strings for example).

Merchandise!

We never thought about merchandise. It just didn’t fit in our brains somehow. The last few gigs the promoters were truly dumbfounded because we just didn’t have any. What? but that’s how you get paid!

Meh.

So in the same spirit as the farewell gigs we did for people we trusted and the albums we’re re-making for people we are going to trust, we are going to merchandise with a person we have known for very a long time, and a new company.

Now let’s be honest – very few people are going to wear stuff because we are cool. They will wear it because it is cool. I wondered if we have anything the kids will dig. This evening I went through our baggage.

1981 slide_monster

This guy is pretty cool. He’s a slide from our 1981 live shows. Kind of retro hallucinogenic.

1984 sick_kid

Oh now this one breaks the ice at parties. That’ll Hot Topic for sure.

1986 - 2002 Pumpkin Dog

I’m kind of biased about this one. I’d wear it if no one else did. Toy Dog + Pumpkin sticker = party starts now.

1986 Rotund back 2002

Yeah.

One thing I had forgotten was the limited edition albums we’ve sold over the years.

2010 Showbag DVD and BluRay

2010 Showbag Bluray back

2006 Under Gail Succubus metal

The Showbag Blu-Ray in the BIG TOP microchip anti-static container and the metal boxes for Under Gail Succubus. Can’t imagine having the time to hand make these things any more. What about the OP2.5 CDs with the individual pieces of cut foam in the back? Was I nuts? I was nuts.

Actually, talking about Under Gail Succubus why don’t I tell you where the individual owner codes were hidden? Next time…