Sunday 21 April 2013

Top 102 Albums⁺ No 19 - 390 Degrees of Simulated Stereo

Top 102 Albums⁺ No 19 
390 Degrees of Simulated Stereo - Pere Ubu

If it's good enough for Moses...
Hey, I know there were rules but they are meant to be broken, aren't they?

This is both a live album and a compilation. It even includes a track recorded in their rehearsal loft. I guess you'd call it lo-fi. Bot it's not 'lo' on anything else. Sounding like a mix of a Krautrock Stooges with early Roxy Music, Pere Ubu are one of my favourite bands. I saw them live twice (late eighties) and they were fantastic, perhaps the best live band I have ever seen.

Here are some notes from the Pere Ubu website detailing where the tracks were sourced from, and the only track I can find on Youtube. 
"Nonalignment Pact, Heart of Darkness, and Laughing
Recorded Dec 5 and 6 1978 by a 24-track mobile truck at the London College of Printing. Soundman was Paul Hamann. 

Street Waves
Recorded May 5 1978 by Radio Crocodile at Theatre 140, Brussels, Belgium. 
Real World and My Dark Ages
Recorded Feb 18 1978 on a reel-to-reel tape machine at Disasto 2, WHK Auditorium, Cleveland. Soundman was Pat Ryan. 
Modern Dance
Recorded Mar 2 1979 on a cassette recorder at the 1st International Garage Exhibition, Cleveland State University. The event was the origin of the "Avant Garage." 
Humor Me
Recorded Oct 14 1977 on one channel of a reel-to-reel tape machine at the Ubu rehearsal loft, West 6th Street, Cleveland OH. This is an early version of the song with largely mumbled phonetics for lyrics. 
Can't Believe It, Over My Head and Sentimental Journey
Recorded April or May 1976 on a cassette recorder at The Mistake, Cleveland, Ohio. Currently only available via The Shape Of Things. 
30 Seconds Over Tokyo
Recorded August 4 1977 on a reel-to-reel tape machine at The Pirate's Cove. Soundman was Pat Ryan."

This, I know, will not be to everyones taste. Their first album, The Modern Dance may be an easier intro, or the compilation of early singles Terminal Tower, or Dub Housing. I had listened to all three before I got my grubby hands on this. Objectively(if such a thing could be said to exist in the area of taste) they may be better albums. I am not trying to convince anyone of anything, just sharing my own passions. 

Perhaps the major reason I love this album so much is the early version of Humour Me, from The Modern Dance. This early version is, to all intents and purposes, a different song, and I think a better one. In fact it is one of those songs I have on occasions listened to over and over and over again in a faintly obsessive manner. My Dark Ages is another such track. 

I like the mud on these recordings. You have to reach for some of them, they don't give themselves up easily. They bristle with adventure and creativity. And I love these songs. I got a box set of their early singles and it is a thing of wonder. Thirty Seconds over TokyoHeart of Darkness, Cloud 149 and others make these early singles essential. Here you find them slightly out of control, rough captures of ephemeral performances made permanent by chance. 

I thought I was going to be able to share a Spotify playlist of this but then realised that it is reading it from my own hard drive. I have a much treasured vinyl copy which I still listen to despite a scratch on the opening of Non-Alignment Pact (a song covered by The Knocking Shop) but I also bought a digital download from the band's website and if you are curious to hear this then you can do the same for a mere $10. That's a bargain.

I was looking for a copy of The Knocking Shop playing Non-Alignment Pact but I couldn't find one but having listened to some very lo-lo-lo-fi cassettes of us playing live I thought I'd offer you the chance to hear one. From 11/3/1994 this is Carnival. It's transferred from cassette via a cheap microphone plugged into my laptop. That must be why I forget my cues and get the timing wrong and sound generally confused!

1 comment:

  1. another one where I'm ashamed I'm more familiar with the band's name rather than their music! - so off for a proper listen