4LP, 80-track boxset of previously unreleased, rare and archive material dating from the band’s formation in 1980 to the end of their Recloose Organisation label in 1986. A total must-have for those digging into the primordial roots of the UK underground’s strange affection for crooked outernational grooves, queasy electronics and salty distortion – basically everything from Downwards and Blackest Ever Black, and mavericks ranging from DJ Scud to Muslimgauze, Batu and Powell. So good…
Simon Crab’s Bourbonese Qualk were among the most distinctive, politically-charged units of the post-punk, post-industrial firm during its critical 1980-1986 phase. The band’s longest standing member has now selected some 80 peaches from the vaults, effectively closing the gap in any fan’s collection, and opening a very pickable sore wound for any newcomers.
Formed in Southport circa 1979 (but eventually embedding themselves in the South London squat scene) with their first performances described as “mainly vandalism”, the group left a unique, mostly instrumental trail of eldritch atmospheres, atonal synths and infectiously rugged rhythms in their wake which, over 30 years later, still stands out from the crowd today; cropping up as an influence over Raime’s Quarter Turns… album and regularly hailed among the most pivotal underground music in their field, largely thanks to their proper sense of DIY collectivism, a killer back catalogue and countless squat shows, as well as the legacy of recordings on their seminal Recloose Organisation label – home to Bryn Jones’ earliest output as E.G. Oblique Graph – which operated during the years covered in this boxset before turning into New International Recordings.
Archive 1980-1986 is little short of a treasure trove of mutant UK industrial at its widest definition. Starting out with the almost psychobilly swagger of Victims, recorded live at the Sandbaggers Club, Southport, 6th August, it covers far, far too much material to run down individually, but chucks up some immense highlights throughout: spanning super hard-to-find bits like the Sufi-esque proto-techno of Flow on Disc 1; a bevy of cranky jabs and droning vignettes, plus the deliciously dissonant curdle of Work Rhythms In May (1982, previously unreleased) and the much sweeter, exotic infusions of Sunset Sex and Return to Order, both from 1984 on Disc 2; before the clag begins to dissipate and the production feel became broader, more defined, in the likes of Papal Order’s thrumming bassline or the minimalist Hypnobeat styles of Moving Forward, even dipping to Balearic sway in Under Observation (1985), and the serpentine seducer Into Innocence, which is just about as close as we’ve heard to a prototype Raime; whilst Disc 4 leaves us floored with pieces such as the heavy-lidded pop of New Jerusalem and the proceeding suite of gamelan and drum machine rhythm tracks, or the bombed out slugs of Trapped and Bourbonese Qualk’s 2, all circa 1986.
We’ve no doubt that this is one of the strongest V-O-D boxsets to darken our doorstep.