new to stock as of
december 1st, 2011
|drag city (usa) #dc 458 lp|
groovy (uk) #stp 1 lp
free agents “£3.33” long playing record
- untitled (1) (17:49)
- untitled (2) (4:14)
- untitled (3) (8:38)
- untitled (4) (6:00)
|december 2011 release ; ... the first groovy release, free agents’ (aka pete shelley, eric random, francis cookson, and barry adamson) “£3.33” (recorded in the late 70’s, released in 1980) sets the tone for the onslaught to come, with it’s art-damaged hedging of “minimal synth” tropes (due to the involvement of both former “electronic music society” chair pete shelley & manc synth-legend eric random) & straight-up reckless free-improv abandon ... |
... in many ways this musical formation is the true heir to such forward-thinking freakout troops as the sperm (there really is a lot in common ; irreverence, ineptitude, but a certain formal & technical dexterity that moves things along), taj mahal travelers, seeselberg, the futura crowd, etc ... there’s really no wonder that this appeared on the (later, revised) “nurse with wound” list ... highly recommended !!!
ps. slightly higher price due to drag city’s adherence to the original spec ; comes as a “paste-on” with a repro of the original 1980 insert ; rad ...
|drag city press release...|
free agents £3.33 lp dc458/stp1
street date: december 6, 2011
originally released on groovy in 1980
the first groovy release cast a light on the murky goings-on of a progressive electronics society in the midst of the manchester punk scene of the late 70s. francis cookson, (aka sinister dexter) led the madness, which comprised tape loops, feedback, free improv and what have you from the likes of pete shelley, eric random and barry adamson. the original's diy deluxe packaging has been duplicated – don't worry, get free agents!
|a little bit of history is a dangerous thing. how then would a present-day acolyte of punk rock’s strict regimen explain how pete shelley launched an avant-garde diy label while riding high on the british charts and touring internationally back in 1979 and ’80? today, buzzcocks’ sound is recognized as a template for the punk-pop sound, but the atmosphere in which they and their contemporaries gestated was markedly different than today’s pop-punkers might expect: a cultural free-zone where anything went, not just the fast and loud. early-wave british punks were looking for something different: outsider prog sounds, electronic “music”, primal screaming, free-jazz—anything, as long as it was interesting and set apart from the blandness of mainstream product.|
loving the art of records and their wayward appeal, it was only natural for shelley and francis cookson to conceive groovy records as a way to make some truly freaky (and decidedly un-punk rock) records, and do as much of the work of making the records themselves as they could. these releases represent some of the farthest-out sessions on the wild-to-begin-with late-70s manchester scene. that three of these four albums were released in the space of one big year, 1980 the one real year of groovy’s existence, is further testament to the swirl of passions in swiftly morphing times.
free agents was the first of the lot, with an album named after its price, £3.33. cookson took live performance tapes from a tiller boys show (a conceptual band featuring himself, eric random, and, when available, shelley) and added some additional recordings using tape loops, feedback and anything else he could get on there. it ranged around from post–“revolution 9” collage to wack beats that one might associate with the emergent krautrock to stark industrial moments, flowing into each other with an organic, freely improvised quality. packaged in 12” sleeves with photocopies of cookson scribbles pasted on the front and back, free agents was diy all the way.
the second of the groovys was actually the first to be recorded, back in 1974. sky yen dated back to pete shelley’s college days, where he chaired an electronic music society, playing records over the intercom during lunch hour. after he’d made the recordings that became sky yen six years later, he added them to his playlist—and his schoolmates’ consternation. the material wasn’t exactly easy listening / ambient style—it was raw waves of oscillator tones, wildly leaping up and down and stretching out into a pair of twenty-minute pieces. thirty years of electronics-saturated music culture lends perspective to the appeal of sky yen—the album’s edges are still jagged and sharp.
surrealism raised its willfully mutated head on the third groovy release, hangahar, credited to sally smmit and her musicians, special guest lindsay lee. claiming to be the soundtrack of the film hangahar, the album was inspired by a casual demonstration of a made-up sung language. a full-blown recording session captured this previously unheard quantity, the better to wake the world to its allure. the groovy gang broke out the oscillator and any other synth devices they had on hand (along with a kitchen cabinet full of impromptu percussives) to back up the operatic overtones of the mysterious eponymous chantueses via drones, riffs, chanting and, with reverb pots fully open, loads of ominous atmosphere throughout. despite the deep feeling of synchronous accord throughout this recording, it has proved to be something of a path not followed for the once and future ms. timms — sally, that is, of eventual mekons fame.
this was the last the world heard of groovy — until now. their house of ideas wasn’t spent by any means—as of 1981, another session was planned under the general description “a man sprays a ford fiesta brown” but that never came to pass. a sea-change was signaled with the buzzcocks’ break-up, pete shelley’s subsequent solo career and energy going to other projects. however, even as these events were unfolding, recordings were made on a porta-studio at pete’s place that further realized the groovy direction. after the pubs closed, pete brought back a motley crew of usual suspects and special guests, broke out the synths, drums and what-have-yer attitude, resulting in a wealth of additional material that provided private listening pleasure for the groovy alumni over the years. culled from francis cookson tapes, these pieces make a fourth groovy installment entitled strange men in sheds with spanners that features a bent towards more disciplined rhythm pieces scored with a very purposeful array of synthetic sounds — truly the lost next new wave of groovy, finally crashing on our ready shores in 2011.
so here it all is, each of these lps in their own faithfully replicated jackets. these four aural tomes will be collected together for a cd box release in early 2012 —but really, what are you waiting for? it’s been over thirty years’ now—get groovy!