slide gradually uphill: joe murray on wanda group

July 14, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Wanda Group – Piss Fell Out Like Sunlight (Opal Tapes)

wanda group - piss

Two side long pieces (this is 12 inch vinyl buddy) of…well, I’m not really sure what this is. Before I tie myself up in knots I think I better start this tale at the beginning. This anonymous 12 inch was passed to me by Stephen Bishop. A genuine Renaissance man, Stephen puts out records on his Opal Tapes imprint, makes rubbery electronic squalls as Basic House (think those pink shrimp sweets as corrupted sound files)and sings in brutal hardcore legends Drunk in Hell. Shit…he was even one half of the fledgling Hapsburg Braganza for a while. He dances, he bakes, he can fix cars…the whole ball of wax, you savvy?

It took me a couple of days before I could find quiet time to play this slab…the grey geology collage of a cover gave me no clues so I sat back in my listening chair, a freshly mopped blackboard. Lift needle and drop…side one…’Her Stomach on Terror’ starts with some granular rushing, like a copper mouse sweeping up papery onion skins with a stiff broom, and melts into an Oxygene style fiff (sic – does Joe mean ‘riff’?  ‘fiff’ is way better.  Ed.) that peaks cheekily at the edge of my perception. The lopsided beat is replaced with a dry talcum powder coating making everything slide gradually uphill. There is a music concrete angle to this but it’s done with such gentle slickness it resembles a future organic technology, balancing viscous liquids atop each other with careful gloves. As each thick liquid is spilled out the beaker another sonic texture is revealed, another plankton pond of growing life receives the lightening strike and multiplies, growing festering tentacles. Phew! Side two – ‘Pans out in the Afterlife’ – is a bashment boogie compared to it’s Siamese Twin and has a brief moment of bass thump before a degraded synth line plays from (what appears to be) the other room. Helicopter blades ‘chudder, chudder, chudder’ adding to the Vietnam Vet atmosphere; bad acid and sweat-stained fatigues. The misplaced geology on the record sleeve now seems to make sense. Like that fashionable fracking business the fault lines of sound are shattered and pumped full of high-pressure mung allowing the distilled weirdness to hiss pissily through the shale.

I was going to end this review with a lamentation on age. Put plainly, this kinda stuff makes me feel old…I can almost see the tail-lights of this particular scene speeding off into the distance, leaving me behind with my threadbare cardigan and back issues of The Wire (The Wire?!? – you’re fired!  Ed.). Why? For one, my conscious brain tells me I’ll never have the time to dedicate to this particular tributary. Secondly it’s the actual sound of this and similar Opal Tapes groups. I get the collage aspect of Wanda Group but the process, and the signifiers of how it happens, how a sound is rattled through wires and out speakers is a mystery to me. I’m listening out for tape hiss or loop return-click…but there’s none of that. I’m guessing that’s due to there being a computer involved at some point. However, even as a single dalliance, a knee-trembler, this is one sweet record.

But, after spending a week with Wanda I can confidently announce we are starting a meaningful relationship with each other, inviting along Ex-Con and Coin for brunch, planning a holiday and all that jazz. Midwichers…raise a glass to the happy couple!

(Editor’s discographical note: this release has been available in three formats: cassette, vinyl – the version Joe is losing his head over here – and download.  The image above is nabbed from the Opal Tapes Bandcamp site and thus accompanies the latter)

Opal Tapes

Wanda Group


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  1. yes. such a relief to find real writing about music. And good music to boot. And Joe Murray, don’t lose faith or hope in the new tributaries of musical (d)evolution. You will never hear everything, and what sticks sticks, and other shit passes by like a leaf on the stream. There will always be sounds to be passionate about, and formats to appreciate. Let’s just enjoy ourselves, shall we?
    Keep up the good work. I just found this site. I shall be back!

  2. Thanks for the kind words forestpunk – glad to have you as a reader. Rob x

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