Review: REPRESS ALERT: New label Platform 23 lands with a bang, delving into the mysterious world of 1980s cassette culture and in particular the Vox Man label run by French outfit Vox Populi, Axel Kyrou and Francis Man. This Alternative Funk: Vol 1 collection cherry picks from the various installments of Alternative Funk that Vox Man released in the mid 80s, presenting some vaguely familiar names and a whole lot of unknowns that fuelled a DIY scene brimming with creativity and lo-fi brilliance. On this first installment, get down to weirdo boogie of From Raushenberg, wig out to the psychedelic synth music of Scoop! and throw down to the drum-tastic madness of Fist of Facts. It's all old, and yet it feels so new.
Review: Following the excellent first installment of archival material from former Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia's Robbert Heijnen, Platform 23 return with another four stunning digs from the vaults that further flesh out the mysterious allure of this singular artist and his peak early 90s era. "Shadow Play" manages to be many things at once - bumping late 80s deep house, dubby rhythm study, spine-tingling proto trance, and much more besides. "What A Life" has a more techno-minded tint to its programming and sequencing, but it's still definitely on the eyes-closed trip-out trajectory as it snakes its way through thick plumes of pad. "Sacrifice" puts rattling percussion at the front of the mix to create an exotic, outernational feel, and "Tepu" takes things heavier with a submerged tribal beat underpinning a murky low end throb and dubby processing.
Review: Platform 23's celebration of Exquisite Corpse wraps up with this fourth installment of visionary proto trance bubblers from the dream team of Robbert Henyen, Debbie Jones and Tim Freeman. As with the previous installments, they've picked choice tracks from across the spectrum of the PWOG-affiliated project's output, kicking off with a transmission from the debut release, "Honeymoon". Throughout the mood is loose and wigged-out, with a pleasant stew of New Beat, acid, house, trance and dub among the core ingredients flavouring this thoroughly early 90s dish. This is psychedelic dance music crafted before the genre boundaries were established to ruin everyone's fun - savour the vibe as we return to more freewheeling times once more.
Review: Shape-shifting post-punk quasi-legends Bourbonese Qualk are finally getting a bit of the shine they so richly deserve after years in obscurity, not least thanks to the retrospective compilation on Mannequin back in 2015. Now Platform 23 are reissuing their classic album "Laughing Afternoon", originally released back in 1983 and having lost none of its impact. It's a slippery, shape-shifting creation that veers between uneasy soundscapes and gutter-dwelling funk, with some truly visionary signal processing, electronic textures and more besides in the mix. It's a crime this crew aren't held in the same regard as their other early 80s post-industrial peers, but at least the wrongs are being righted now.
Review: Platform 23 continue to explore the illustrious, intriguing archives of Exquisite Corpse with a third installment of early 90s gold. There's a pronounced trance edge to Robbert Heynen's productions here, all captured in that heady period between 1992 and 1994 when the tag stood for some of the trippiest dance music you could hope to get lost in. "Point Zero" is a forthright stomper laden with lysergic tones that morph and modulate over the driving rhythm section. "B K S" sports a jazzier tone that aligns it more with deep house than trance, but it's still geared towards maximum immersion. "Traditional Ties With Dreaming" is a more angular piece that emphasises interlocking percussive rhythms with a tribal techno bent, and "Elevator" rounds things off with a swooning slice of impeccable ambient techno.
Review: Platform 23 continue to do a great service to all seekers of furtive sounds from the DIY underground, this time shining a light on the wonderful Mode I/Q. Anyone who digs the sound of New York-tinged new wave and danceable post punk will love this record - the limber disco funk of the rhythm section meets with squalling guitar textures and dubby FX, all shot through with a hooky pop sensibility that makes this record so easy to fall in love with. "Confidence" is especially strong, as is the ramshackle party starter "Two Different Things". It seems there's no end to the overlooked gems from this golden era of independent music - it's time to catch up with Mode I/Q and file them next to your favourite disco-not-disco movers and shakers.
Review: Once again diving into the mysterious electronics of decades past, Platform 23 strike gold with this cult release from short-lived Canadian duo Vini Vidi Vici. In its original form this 1989 private press mini-album emerged from the Montreal underground with a prescient take on house and more experimental minimal wave fare - it's no surprise original copies fetch hefty prices in the second hand market. From the psyched-out house thrum of "Club Stuff" to the percussive bounce of "Vini Vidi Vici" and the more madcap sample juggling of "Ou Sommes Nous?" this is a killer record unbound by scenes or trends - just pure, primal hardware experimentation.
Review: Please find enclosed one 'Deluxe' stereophonic gramophone record from Concept City, containing thirteen recordings of musics entirely produced upon 4-track portastudio for your pleasure and discourse - the sole work of Mr Robert Grant of this parish.
So states the photocopy insert from the 1985 November LP on Cordelia Records. Home to R. Stevie Moore, Rimarimba recently reissued by Freedom To Spend - and label owner Alan Jenkin's The Deep Freeze Mice, Cordelia was home to a menagerie of sound collage plucked from the ether.
Included is the only vinyl release from Concept City, spreading across 13 instrumental tracks of samples and noise. The Welsh choir and robovox meets hypnotic bass of Open The Network glides to the acoustics of Jayne Andrews and Filament, before Steam amasses TV ad cassette archives. As Etruria and Lapse Wine's Durutti meets reel-to-reel to the cold wave of War, Children and wasp synth of Helsinki, Grant slowly unfolds a masterpiece.
Looped drum samples, multiple layered to tape, sped up and slowed down for phasing, the title track is a pinnacle of 80s DiY genius. 'Crossroads' multi-sampling Meg leads to the exotica 'muzak' closings of Penetration and Friends. With just 5 albums over 40 years the music of Mr Concept can be a discovery and cherished.
Review: The second album to be reissued by Mannequin and Platform 23 Records of the music from Bourbonese Qualk, Hope saw the politically active musical entity expand on their mix of music, art and politics.
Staunchly independent, doing the recording and design via their Recloose Organisation label, by 1984 the group had occupied a large disused building on the Old Kent Road, becoming the base for the band's activities as well as other creative and political activism.
Recorded at the Ambulance Station, Hope is full of unceasing drum machine rhythms, electro pulses, echoing samples and lo-fi synths matched with strummed guitars and dub bass. The accompanying drones and snarled vocals go beyond any early 80's industrial tag to be something more unique, with the uncompromising, conceptual and avant flashes showing a more experimental buzz, an awkward quasi-funk noisy nuisance.
Remastered by Rude 66, this is music as much for then and today, a radical, revolutionary cultural force that acts as a positive social charge.
Review: The music of Chel White is celebrated in Automaton, a collection of mostly unreleased recordings from 1985 to 1991, by this innovative animator, film maker and visual artist.
Having studied music theory in grade school, White taught himself drumming and played in a new wave band until, in 1981, together with Dan Gediman, they formed the minimal wave duo Process Blue (Alternative Funk, 1985 / Dark Entries, 2018). Here their experimentation went way beyond playing drums.
His interest in industrial music, fostered in the late '70s and early '80s while working in factories as a way to put himself through college, informed his use of electronic instruments, tape manipulation, noise and unconventional percussion.
By 1985, as a now solo artist buoyed by newly affordable audio sampling technology, White tapped into his earlier teenage fascination with the art and films of both the Surrealist and Dada movements - in particular their disparate and fragmented imagery and sound - as a means to create striking new sonic palettes.
Science & Industry - a track largely influenced by Balinese monkey chanting and the consumer excess of American in the 1980's - is a clear example of "music collage". Photocopy Cha Cha, made for the short animation film Choreography for Copy Machine (Berlin International Film Festival, 1992 / Sundance Film Festival, 2001) moved his music into the realm of early multi-media.
Experimenting further, tracks like Liquid Shadows and Pensive provide minimalist moments, before the drone-like Dream #630 and Forest Song point to a future that included music video works (David Lynch/Thom Yorke).
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