Friday, August 29, 2008

The Music And Research of Simon Crab

Simon Crab has a blog, Stalker, that deals with political and noise issues. I had previously come across this site while reading about acoustic radar, but there's also lots here on his particular musical affections, sonic pollution, sound weaponry and old USSR synthesizers... all stuff I'm totally in love with, then.

The author is also a "well known" musician, if you happen to be the sort of listener who plowed through crates of obscure industrial noise albums in the backs of record shops throughout the eighties. I was, and so I happen to own several of his recordings.

Crab was one half of experimental English group Bourbonese Qualk (with Miles Miles, now deceased). He's digitised the entirety of their catalogue and made it available on a dedicated site. Fans of The Pop Group, 23 Skidoo, Test Dept. and other ethno-industrial luminaries with find much here to enjoy. Even if they rarely excelled, Bourbonese Qualk (one of the worst names ever?) plowed a particular musical furrow with great determination.

The material covers a long period, from 1980 until 2002, and the sounds vary incredibly. Though I bought their first two releases, Laughing Afternoon and Hope, way back in the days of moldy vinyl crates, you might instead wish to start with the relatively accessible My Government Is My Soul. This, their seventh album from 1990, contains subterranean bass, ethnic melodic flourishes off in the distance, thumping drums and tortured/torturing screams. There's even a dub track featuring steel drums! My favourite selections are ambient pieces that would not be out of place in Eno's Fourth World series. The record has a schizoid feeling, like Mark Stewart meets Jon Hassell.

I should also point out the 1993 release Autonomia. I remember buying this on CD and wondering if perhaps there wasn't a second group called Bourbonese Qualk -- it seems to come from a different p(l)ace than their other output. Listening to it now, the full-on stripped down industrial techno sounds strangely like some of my own work.

Making all this music available is a laudable achievement.

(For the daring there's also a torrent of the entire site here.)

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