ESR MONTHLY A music capsule delivered by ESR
A music capsule delivered by ESR
This month's issue is written by our friends Invisible Sounds, ones we can always count on for great stories and amazing music.
About the Editor
Idle Rich and Lizatron are Invisible Sounds – DJ team and record label bosses.
The pair share an aesthetic which has driven the creation of the multi-headed beast which is their record collection, a monster which always carries them forward, but free to spin off into various dizzyingly diverse alleyways – krautrock, psychedia, electropop etc.
After forming in London and DJ-ing around Europe, Liza and Rich have now settled in Lisbon where a series of chance encounters brought them to East Side Radio. Since then, they've been playing regular shows at East Side Radio, at some of our parties line-ups and always keen to join us on a crazy idea with a resounding Yes!, a big smile and an even bigger bag full of records equal parts amazing and weird that always bang the party.
Liza's short history of K Records
In the mid 90's, before the internet, when I started finding out about American punk and indie music discovering K Records and everything associated with the label was a revelation. Seeing someone even as famous as Kurt Cobain whose music taste I always respected exhibiting the K Records tattoo was the reinforcement for me. Some of the artists who have released on K are Beck, the Microphones/Mount Eerie, Chicks on Speed, Bikini Kill, Shonen Knife, Melvins, Dub Narcotic Soundsystem.
K Records was started by the leader of Beat Happening (band that I love), Calvin Johnson in his kitchen in 1982 and it was very important to the development of independent music in the US. It's unclear why the name is K but it only makes it more exciting and interesting. The label's main focus has been artists working in and around Olympia, WA, where K is based, but has included bands from across the US and as far away as Japan, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany.
Initially it was started as a cassette-only label, because releasing on cassette is easier and more cost effective. But in 1987 K Records shifted from cassette distribution to vinyl single production with the launch of the International Pop Underground series. This series features artists from around the globe. Some of the artists included in the International Pop Underground are Chromatics, Unrest, the Gossip, the Pastels, Make Up, Built to Spill, Teenage Fanclub and many more.
In 1991 K Records organised the week-long International Pop Underground Convention. This event featured more than fifty independent and punk bands, including Bikini Kill, Beat Happening, Fugazi, L7 and Jad Fair. There was no security and the leader of Fugazi, Ian MacKaye, was working for free on the door proving this kind of DIY and punk attitude which is part of the label's ethic and was breaking ideas of fame and standing against money and corporatism in music. Olympia, WA has always had a feminist approach to punk. K was also always co-owned by a woman, Candice Pederson, which reflected an openness to women's participation. Also, Heather Lewis' presence in K's main band, Beat Happening, has been mentioned as an inspiration for many female-fronted bands at the time.
K Records still exists 39 years later and is still going strong. I have moved on in my music explorations and am not keeping up to date to its recent releases but I still wanted to talk about the label because this institution had a huge impact on the history of American indie music and my life as a music lover.
Richard talks about Invisible Sounds and Krautrock
The music we DJ with as Invisible Sounds has grown from countless influences that have met and intertwined themselves to the extent that we don't tend to think in terms of genres. We just know when something is an Invisible Sound.
That said one kind of music that has undoubtedly woven itself into the DNA of our clubsound is krautrock, the groundbreaking movement that originated in 70s Germany before blasting into space. Both of us were into this sound when we met and, as has happened surprisingly often, when we compared our independent tastes, it turned out that we gravitated to the same things. Not for us the meandering folk strand, we both loved the raw funk of Can and the driving relentless motorik of Neu!
As Invisible Sounds we have had the chance to DJ several times in Dusseldorf, birthplace of Neu! and Kraftwerk and a stone's throw from that of Malaria and others. There we found the spiritual heirs of these pioneering bands, great producers and DJs in their own right.
We've put together a little playlist for you of some krautrock WE consider essential (or that isn't at all essential but which we really like) and some related and equally rocking tunes which purists may say are not stricly krautrock... but who cares what they say when the tunes are this good? Anyway, at the time of writing every single one of these bangers could be found on youtube and so there is no excuse for not strapping yourself in right now, melding your mind with that of Oskar Panizza and getting ready for a wild jolting ride, careening all over the intergalactic highway, leaving in your wake a trail of dirty electronic smoke and dirtier music, seemingly fur immer until with a desperate shrieking of burning metal you finally stack it...
Michael Bundt - The Brain of Oskar Panizza
Killer stop start mess of massive breakbeats, sirens and horses shrieking in the background.
Schaltkreiss Wasserman - GoGoG
Just under two minutes of motorik pop bliss.
Michael Rother - Feuerland
Having said that I like the raw and rocking ones, here I select one of the Neu! guitarist's mellow space rockers.
Hawkwind - Opa-Loka
Hawkwind are a great band in their own right but I particularly like them when they try and be Neu! as they do here.
Higamos Hogamos - Infinity Plus One
UK band with a magic motorik space jam.
Camera - Affenfaust
Dunno anything about this record really but it rocks hard in just the right way
Fat Truckers - Teenage Daughter
Grinding synths meet repetitive beats and imaginative lyrics to add up to kraut perfection
Chrisma - Black Silk Stocking
Italian band who never knew how to spell their name and made loads of great records. But this bit of sleaze is the most appropriate for this list except for some of the others.
Moebius and Beerbohm - Subito
This hard beat is buried in burning fuzz from a swarm of killer bees
Quickspace - The Precious Mountain
Really long and repetive and great - that's what krautrock is
Blurt - The Ruminant Plinth
UK post-punkers try to sound like Can and they pull it off pretty fucking well
Deutsche Wertarbeit - Auf Engelsflugeln
And a mellow from a band (actually I think just one woman) that I know very little about. Beautiful melodic electronics to finish up with.
Liza's Favourite Cover: Ruth Polaroid/Roman/Photo
It's absolutely impossible to choose one favourite cover. There are dozens and dozens of amazing pieces of art that grace record sleeves. Just a few that stand out in my opinion, some are classics and some are virtually unknown, are Slint - Spiderland, Syd Barrett - Madcap Laughs, Ice T - Power, Black Sabbath - Paranoid, Melvins - Houdini, Television - Adventure, Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation, Swans - White Light from the Mouth of Infinity, LL Cool J - Radio, Xao Seffcheque und der Rest - Ja-Nein-Vielleicht, Scorpio Violente - Rome Violente.
One cover that I particularly like because the record is very special to me too is “Polaroïd/Roman/Photo” by a French band Ruth . I remember the moment I heard the track 'Mots' on one of the mixes ten years ago and I just had to find it and I did.
''Originally released on Paris Records in 1985 Ruth’s LP sold just 50 copies and was relegated to obscurity until the track “Polaroïd/Roman/Photo” started appearing on bootlegs and compilations in the early 00’s, slowly becoming the cult synth pop classic. Ruth was the brainchild of Thierry Müller, a photographer and graphic artist from Paris who drew his inspiration from bands and artists like Brian Eno, Stockhausen, Pere Ubu, Neu, Velvet Underground and Kraftwerk. The line-up of Ruth was collaborative and fluid, brass mingles with prototype drum machines, and squalling experimentation sits alongside sultry French girls across 40 minutes of edgy pop innovation that sounds remarkably undated alongside contemporary pop music''
Apart from these several words from the Minimal Wave website, it's impossible to find any information about this band and in a way the cover kind of visualises this mystery. You don't see the face of the woman in the photo and you don't get to know much about the people who made this record. I love both images front and back and how suggestive and erotic they are. I'm thinking of a cheap hotel room or a shared flat full of bohemian Parisians smoking never-ending cigarettes and just being cool. This image is timeless. Apart from the atmosphere I feel from this picture, I also love the palette. The grey suggests the cold and it fits perfectly with the music of this beautiful record. I have spent many nights around Europe playing and dancing to Ruth with my friends and strangers and it's a very important record to me.
Cover design: Thierry Müller.
Cover photos: Jacques Mesple
We hope you enjoyed the music and the stories.
You can read this and previous issues here. You can subscribe here if you haven't done so yet.
Feedback on the newsletter or anything else is much appreciated and you can contact us just by replying to this email.
East Side Radio