Album Review: SkinGraft Records Present Songs To Make You Shudder (SkinGraft) – What we need to do here is make sure this music doesn’t just end up in the hands of the beard growers and the chin strokers, these fine pieces are far far too vitally exciting to just be left in an obscure corner over there, they really should be heard by all. The world would be a far far better place if labels like SkinGraft were the mainstream and songs like these were on the daytime radios of taxi drivers and shop workers. Not that there are many record labels like SkinGraft, indeed are there any? Has anyone stuck to their guns and been so consistently unflinchingly rewarding as SkinGraft have been over such a long time?
And is David Yow sounding like the Central Scrutineer here? You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant or indeed at Joe’s Garage, you can even get a Jesus Lizard doing things with the gloriously angular Yowie and that can surely only be a good thing and the string on consciousness flow of David Yowie followed by that Celtic Frost cover from Lovely Little Girls is just brilliant. Do Lovely Little Girls covering the mighty Celtic Frost sound rather like Miss Roberts and her Rude mechanicals? Actually, as stylish as this Frosty cover version is, does it sound a little tame when you put it up against Lovely Little Girls‘ own material? And David Yow singing with Yowie, why why why is this not listed as David Yowie? Come on! USA Nails are going from strength to strength and yes, more of their excellent wall of noise complexity and well are we going to work our way through every track on this fine fine album while Terms do their elegantly crafted falling up the stairs and going around awkward corners mathy thing? Terms do it so well again here as the fourth track in on this so far very very impressive album this is very very, well, four tracks in and it is already impossible to pick a favourite. We’re going to gorge on them all, like eating all the chocolates in the box in one go. dare we suggest it might be too much? So much in that USA Nails track, so many glorious layers flowing with and against each other in such a glorious way in their sound at the moment (excellent end to the track as well, brilliant).
And here come Tijuana Hercules with something way too orangey for crows, that unique out in the desert thing they do, their song is just under three minutes long but they always manage to make it sound like a way way longer journey than that (that is a very good thing), Tijuana Hercules always make you feel like you’re being taken somewhere strangely good, somewhere that might not be that healthy, somewhere that’s probably going to enrich your life (of maybe shorten it). And then there’s France’s Pili Coït, so good to see them here, good to taste a Dur Et Doux flavour here on this celebration of SkinGraft for that is why we’re all gathered here today. This is apparently SkinGraft’s 150th release and we can’t honestly remember a bad one, hell, we can’t recall an average one. Hey, 150 not out is one hell of an innings, they’ve taken a little time to get there, we’re talking a slowly built Geoff Boycott style innings here but hey, take it from us, running a record label is never ever as easy as it looks. One day we must count up how many we actually managed to release on ORG before the bastards finally ground us down, it probably was up around the 150 mark, lot of singles in that though and nowhere near as carefully built up a Boycott type innings or anywhere near as vital as the SkinGraft back catalogue. What I’m saying is, we know how hard it is to get to a 150 (independent releases), nice one SkinGraft, thank you.
Pili Coït are gloriously French, so much good music coming from France at the moment and what are Pili Coït yelling about? We shared a house with two French girls and a crazy mad drama queen of a goth boy back there in the early days of the Flying Luttenbachers, their discussions over tea (the French housemates, not the Luttenbackers, my god Weasel Walter coming around for afternoon tea while we’re trying to watch the cricket, imagine the chaos with him banging on our pots and pans!), where was I? Yeah, our French housemates sounded a bit like this Pili Coït track and once more we’re dancing around architecture or in this case dancing (the wrong way) around some slightly medieval French village maypole and really, you should, as we keep saying with these reviews, skip to the chase and just play the Bandcamp down at the end and then shell out your hard earned (if you can that is, we know money is tight right now) and get a copy. You really don’t need our words here, just go listen. Pili Coït are lush, they’re glorious, they’re beautifully vital, they’re wonderful, they’re awkwardly graceful, they’re one of the best bands around at the moment.
Psychic Graveyard (this time with a John Dwyer remix) can never be called graceful, they are all the machines in crisis at once, is there a hotline we can call? Is this a crisis? This is a crisis, never a crisis, do not panic, use your metal limbs, sonic attacks? Devo-ness? This is no crisis, poisoned electrick heads one and all, this is a crisis, was there a warning sign I missed? Psychic Graveyard sounding good good good again.
Quite what Jim O’Rourke was going to bring to the celebration was anyone’s guess and you know, if you are in any kind of way familiar with our output here at Organ, you know this is going to be a SkinGraft love in, a celebration of a fine fine record label. The policy around here has always, unless really pushed, the policy has been to only cover the things we feel properly positive about, to not waste our space (or yours) on the average or the negative (unless we really are pushed a little too much that is. Hey, pushed enough, then we will break our own rules now and again and tell you what we really think). We’ve been covering SkinGraft releases in a very positive way since the last century. Jim O’Rourke’s seven minutes are deliciously minimal and just right in terms of in all the intense noise and the hard-boiled avant adventure that’s gone past already on the first half of this album, all the Other Rock that we’ve ridden with already, all the positive musical challenge – Jim O’Rourke’s seven minutes are perfectly placed – there is an art to putting together a good compilation album, you can’t just throw these things together. Jim O’Rourke’s seven minutes here are beautiful, his seven minutes are full of reflection before the out and out noise of C’Roaches and yes we are going to contradict ourselves here, really not much of a fan of their out and out abrasive noise, their musical aggression (or indeed their awful band name), even SkinGraft get it wrong once in a while. Not sure what that rather throwaway Strangulated Beatoffs track is all about either, I know this is some kind of Halloween release but have we kind of slightly lost the plot mid-album here?
Shatter On Impact weight in with some kind of Doors flavoured velvety space rock psychedelia that almost takes in a Gong riff and some Master-Building. Shatter On Impact are the new trio from Blake Fleming (formerly of Laddio Bolocko, Mars Volta and Dazzling Killmen) taking you “rocketing through the eye of the cobra and beyond the final frontier to strange new worlds” before we get to Bobby Conn‘s fine fine contribution and a track that slowly gets us back on track as it builds and builds and gently takes you right up there with it. “A veteran of Chicago’s No Wave scene, Bobby Conn quickly developed a reputation for delivering messages of hope, politics, despair, revolution and bullshit in a quasi-falsetto, all the while decked to the nines in glitter, eyeliner and high heels. His third consecutive SkinGraft compilation appearance”. if you ask me, then this Bobby Conn track is as good as anything he’s done, and he’s done many many good things (we still have the eye-level image of his platform boots burnt into our minds after that gig at the Powerhaus over in Islington way way back there). Worth the price of the album for the Booby Conn track alone.
And here come the mighty Flying Luttenbachers slashing their way right to the centre of everything once more, slashing away with four or five musical tantrums going off and things all at the same time, a thrilling hell ride, real progressive rock, as good as everything they’ve ever done and everything they’ve ever done has been gloriously good. “Brutal prog” is what they like to call it, some kind of no wave jazz or well no, who cares what it is or what anyone calls it, this is The Flying flippin’ Luttenbachers, they rule!
Hang on, that voice sounds familiar, I know that sound, oh yes, “Dragging behind ghosts of SkinGraft’s past (Dazzling Killmen, Colossamite and Xaddax) this carbon-based, three-headed organism raise a collective fist at the inevitable dark veil. The debut of Nick Sakes’ new band”. And yes it is an air puncher, I read that as as three-headed orgasm just then, I guess that will do? The first shot fired by Upright Forms, and sounding just as right there as any of Nick Sakes’ previous bands, the future looks bright.
And the whole thing is perfectly book-ended by Former Scissor Girl and past, present and future Azita Youssefi “surprising in the best of possible ways, wrapping up with a reflective synth n’ sax “party’s over” jam that will leave you grasping at straws and reaching for the stars”. Azita for those of you over here, those of you with long memories, is sounding here like something that you might have found on a Better Days tape alongside Nodens Ictus or Evil Edna’s Horror Toilet, like something Monkey Pilot would play in the Poodle Lounge back in Club Dog’s glorious Friday night Robey days, or for those of you who have no idea what we’re on about, like some Stonehenge Free festival 3am bliss just before the sun comes up.
There you have it then, we got to the end, fifteen slices of SkinGraft, nearly all of them vital, and once again another fine fine (fine) compilation from probably the finest record label in the world, shall we go round again? Hell yeah, jump right back on, bring on the next hundred and fifty. This is a Halloween compilation apparently, that’s really an American thing, despite the best efforts of the supermarkets, we really don’t do that over here do we? Nah, it just ain’t cricket, never mind Halloween, this is just a damn fine compilation. Labels like SkinGraft are vital, there aren’t many, maybe Cuneiform, or more recently over in France Dur Et Deux have been doing it, can’t think of too many more. We need to treasure labels like SkinGraft, support them, buy from them when we can afford to, feed them, fight for them, celebrate them, one hundred and fifty not out, excellent innings full of flashing drives and risky sixes over the slips before tea, more Gower than Boycott, vital stuff, celebrate (sw)
Find the a;bum and the order details you need on good old Bandcamp or take yourself to SkinGraft’s own website. Explore hours of SkinGraft back catalogue here
Footnote. I just accidentally managed to be playing this album on Bandcamp and at the same time the just released Beatles Revolver out takes album on Spotify, Those Beatles never sounded so good as they do with Flying Luttenbachers playing alongside them! Luttenbachers vs Yellow Submarine, what the hell is this!? Took me a while to notice I had too many windows open and playing Spotify and Bandcamp at the same time, brilliant though, bloody hell I though, Weasel got it all from those Beatles outakes! Who knew The Beatles were that good?!
2 thoughts on “ORGAN THING: SkinGraft Records, 150 not out, and what gloriously celebration of a compilation album featuring those Flying Luttenbachers, Terms, David Yowie, Bobby Conn, Lovely Little Girls, Pili Coït, Tijuana Hercules and quite a few more…”
Pingback: ORGAN THING: I could spend my whole life just listening to sound, listening to Poptones, to Upright Forms, Standing naked in this back of the woods, Standing on the runway waiting to take off… | THE ORGAN
Pingback: ORGAN THING: I could spend my whole life just listening to sound, listening to Poptones, to Upright Forms and Standing naked in this back of the woods, Standing on the runway waiting to take off… | THE ORGAN