Pure - Fetor (Freak Animal CD)
Yeah! Fuckin' Pure, man! Crucial 80's document most people (self included) never knew existed, much less that they'd one day get a chance to hear it! Pure was, of course, Matthew Bower's pre-everything project that would one day become Total, thus predating Skullflower and Sunroof! and, of course, Hototogisu. If the knowledge of my surroundings is as astute as I hope it is, the only Pure tracks available for anyone to hear are on the Broken Flag compilation LP "Statement", which is of course horrifically out of print but can be found on peer-to-peer programs if you look hard enough. But really, where's the fun in that? But now you don't have to worry about paying through the nose on eBay or listening to lousy vinyl rips on your computer, because gloryoski, Finland's Freak Animal has done the world an enormous service by making "Fetor" available once again. This was originally released as a cassette on Mark Durgan (Putrefier)'s Birthbiter label, no idea what year though, and has been in the vaults ever since. The Freak Animal reissue is woefully limited (a scant 300 pieces!) so try not to make the same mistake you weren't around to make in '82 or whenever. Interesting note - the Birthbiter tape had the cover and even the song titles credit to Birthbiter, whereas the Freak Animal reissue has, presumably, "restored" titles and album art. And as if just putting the tape back into the public's maw wasn't enough, there's also a bonus track: a live cut from '88 featuring Bower along with Ramleh/Skullflower cohort Stefan Jaworzyn. Legend tells this was supposed to be a Ramleh performance, but Gary Mundy no-showed so the two went it alone performing "similar material of Pure tape". Hell yeah, dude.
So what's the story, morning glory? Well I'll tell you. If I'd known that this material was so face-destroying, I don't think I would've been able to keep my pants on for the 20+ years that this was stewing away in somebody's basement somewhere. I mean yes, I'm a big fan of most things Matt Bower puts his hand to, you don't need to be a private dick to sleuth that one out. But "Fetor" is just, Jesus Christ. It's a total jolt. It's your dog running away from home. It's your grandmother slapping you in the face. It's that video clip of the professional vaulter running up to the horse, missing the springboard, and launching himself stomach-first into the butt-end of the horse. And the convulsions that followed. It's all the hyperbole I ever laid down in these non-pages rolled into one disgusting, quivering ball of matter. It's astonishing to hear Bower's deconstruction of all forms of rock in such a thoroughly advanced mode at such an early stage in the game. Two fine examples: the opening "Transformer" is something akin to a fusion of power electronics and punk rock-cum-black metal with Bower marrying shards of his now-vintage guitar squall with a near-blast beating drum attack, and "Nigredo" spits out a venomous, churning riff over which Bower lays snarls and drum machine/taped goop. Sounds like nothing I ever heard before it and only a few things after it - the Dead C's one for sure, and Birchville Cat Motel's "Our Love Will Destroy the World" is a surprisingly close reference point. Other, more formless behemoths include the hulking "Volcano", quadrupling up guitar noise and stirred via Bower's ecstatic wails; "Bardo" which boasts a sick, juddering guitar/percussion burning; and "Null"'s lurking, spacious sound explorations like dark wings cloaking entire cities in shadows. "Untitled" is perhaps the most composed of all, a heartbeat drum pattern backing up Bower's own relatively-restrained (in the context of the record, at least) cosmic strikes. If you chose to pin it so, this track alone could be the catalyst for some of his most recent work as heard in Hototogisu with Marcia Bassett.
After all this, the 20-minute bonus track with Jaworzyn might sound like a bit of a disappointment to some, with considerably less activity despite doubling group membership. Nevertheless, it's still a choice meandering, with one guitar sending out harrowing gamma drones (probably Stefan) and the other replying with hotly-charged feedbacking shrieks (probably Matthew). I'm also guessing it's Jarworzyn contributing at first barked commandments and later chanting that borders on the ethnomusicology that reminds of Whitehouse's faux-world music collections. Their set ends with slow-dissolving guitar fade and breathless shouts...oh to have been at the Birmingham City Tavern on that day.
If I can be real for a second, this whole CD is the absolute balls. Talk about a huge puzzle piece falling into place with a thud - you don't know spit about Bower and Broken Flag and Shock and 80's U.K. power electronics in general until you wrap a fist around "Fetor". And now with this and the Vinyl on Demand Broken Flag box, the picture's starting to get a bit less muddied in 2007. How glorious it is indeed! Hats perpetually skyward to Freak Animal for doing this baby all different kinds of justice. In case I even needed to say it: highest possible recommendation. Gettit!