December 25, 2013

Crispy Ambulance - Fin (1985/1990) / Scissorgun (2002) / The Powder Blind Dream (2004)


While Crispy Ambulance was certainly no stranger to sonic experimentation in the studio, their live performances were where they let their more aggressive sonic tendencies reign supreme. In early 1982, preceding the release of The Plateau Phase, the Crispies joined a European tour organized by Wally Van Middendorp, front-man for Dutch post-punk minimalists, the Minny Pops, which they headlined with Factory Benelux label-mates Section 25. All eight shows were recorded by Section 25 soundman John Hurst, and these tapes became the source of the cassette-only 1983 release, Open Gates of Fire. Ironically, it would be this release, along with the cassette-only compilation, The Blue and Yellow of the Yacht Club, that would finally garner Crispy Ambulance the critical praise they had been denied following the release of their stunning debut album. Soon after, a full critical reappraisal of the Crispies took place, and The Plateau Phase, once summarily written off by critics as a purely derivative work, was now being hailed as a masterpiece; for example, David McCullough called it an album that "wasn't only ahead of its time, it seemed to have invented its own time [...] and still ranks as a monster of an album." Nevertheless, by the time people had finally begun to listen, the band had already decided to call it quits, soon thereafter reforming as the thoroughly forgettable Ram Ram Kino before fading from memory for the next seventeen years.

 A full three years after the band's demise, much of the live material from 1981/1982 originally collected on Open Gates of Fire was given a more proper release as Fin, an album more than worthy of being the epitaph for Crispy Ambulance's original run, but also an album that begs the question: what if they had recorded a second studio album? These live performances caught the band both on a creative ascendance and heading toward dissolution; as such, Fin demonstrates a sound quite different from earlier Crispy Ambulance recordings. One of the album's obvious highlights is "The Plateau Phase," which did not appear on the album of the same name. Recorded in Brussels in early 1982, the song has a nervy, scratchy, doom-drenched quality that builds tension behind Hempsall's wandering, languorous vocals. Another standout is "Choral," a song never recorded in the studio due to some resistance within the band to exploring a more overtly electronic-based sound. Nevertheless, on Fin, the song comes off as a charging kraut-rock inspired gem that features some nice guitar-work by Davenport and a particularly ominous vocal performance by Hempsall. The posthumous release of this live album only furthered the Crispies' meteoric rise in the esteem of the critics. Writing in response to the re-issue of Fin in 1990, NME wrote, "Long before Manchester crawled back into flared trousers, bands such as Crispy Ambulance were busily painting their city black with urban mood music. The Crispies were doomed at the time by being compared to Joy Division, but as this record shows, they were much looser and far less serious than the mighty JD [....] Too bad this fine band ended up in the casualty ward." Indeed!

For the better part of a decade and a half, Crispy Ambulance was little more than an afterthought, an obscure corner of the Factory Records legacy, but at the end of the 1990s, with post-punk quickly coming back into vogue, the Crispies quite unexpectedly re-materialized. Alan Hempsall: "We reformed in 1999 because our back catalogue was to be re-released on CD so we thought it would be good to promote it and also fun. The reaction surprised us and a lot of people started to say why not write some new stuff [....] none of it was planned; it just happened by accident." Initially recording and releasing the live Accessory After the Fact, the real fruit of the Crispies reunion would appear a few years later in the form of their long-belated second studio album, Scissorgun, produced by Graham Massey of 808 State fame, which finds the band in brilliant early-1980s form, if not showing slightly more polish around the edges. Hempsall: "I'm not sure a seventeen year layoff preserves your anger. I certainly found it tempting to do something a little more laid back but that definitely wouldn't be in our true style. At first I found it quite hard to work myself up for that but it gets easier [....] Everybody who knows our music seems to be of the opinion that it seems like we're picking up exactly where we left off and whilst that wasn't deliberate on our part it's something I'm very pleased about."  When listening to Scissorgun, it is impossible not to marvel at how fresh and dynamic the Crispies' brand of post-punk sounds twenty years after the fact, and if anything, they highlight how facile most of the revivalists actually are in comparison. Songs such as "Loupgarou" and "Re-Animator" continue the band's unique ability to employ sonic textures in ominously ironic ways. And this points to what always made Crispy Ambulance a unique band. Never one to take themselves as seriously as Ian Curtis & co., they, nevertheless, exploited their looser approach to similarly dark ends, but in the case of the Crispies, darkness always came with a dose of humor.



Fin (1985/1990)
 1.  Rainforest Ritual
 2. United
 3. Choral
 4. Green Light / White Shirt
 5. Brutal
 6. The Plateau Phase
 7. Nightfall Ends the Ceasefire
 8. Bardo Plane
 9. At the Sound of the Klaxon
10. Chill
11. I Talking / You Talking (Parts 1 & 2) 
12. Lucifer Rising
13. Black Death (Life Is Knife) 
14. From the Cradle to the Grave


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Scissorgun (2002)
 1. Step Up!
 2. Loupgarou
 3. Metal Grey
 4. Re-Animator
 5. Heatwave
 6. Parallax
 7. The Drop
 8. End Game
 9. Even Now, in Heaven There Are Angels Carrying Savage Weapons 
10. Sound Block 


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The Powder Blind Dream (2004)
 2. Triphammer
 3. Evil Eye
 4. Protocol
 5. Any Second Now
 6. Four Line Whip
 7. Chimera
 9. Bad Self
10. Houses Sinking
11. Pain & Pleasure


Links in Comments

2 comments:

  1. Fin

    mp3v0

    https://****.co.nz/#!9gkAEaqI!UL9Hry89nfjxsemEb-_h_1WOvaM61oHf0v-ZBizpk18

    flac

    https://****.co.nz/#!t9tBgaqA!Rt6_EEbzfS-xh8zz9aU9WR8yeDFixUatzTTXULqmwj8

    Scissorgun

    mp3v0

    https://****.co.nz/#!B8ETAIYK!amL9ZnzWjdALrGCw54AOARhf8OhlrLhACFRTHOpOVuU

    flac

    https://****.co.nz/#!Z9UywKDY!CPi3kkbHJAr78GVWcbg9fyOCqs13fHj1pHorr0Uw3LE

    The Powder Blind Dream

    mp3v0

    https://****.co.nz/#!tstFWQyb!KXrBi3_e6mQWIs_c96tg0yfbvylTkc9mSy1bcZVtKd4

    flac

    https://****.co.nz/#!x4FDHDbb!EuRuewBgPv0v5y1yS8lwbCwT9uM3EomDZlqbo0Ds69U

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you very much for the discs.
    The link "https://****.co.nz/#!x4FDHDbb!EuRuewBgPv0v5y1yS8lwbCwT9uM3EomDZlqbo0Ds69U" fails.

    ReplyDelete