I must write a letter to you. I must make myself clear. But just as I do many of these broadcasts "under duress" of some kind, I often write these commentaries, or remembrances, or whatever they are, on short deadlines, self-imposed (out of guilt, usually) or perceived. Occasionally I am reminded that this matters to someone, but for the most part it's an imagined, impatient reader/listener or a voice in my head cracking the whip.
ANYWAY, yes, I gave over a program, basically, to Lonely Is An Eyesore, which I describe herein as a "life-altering record" and a "gateway," and which was "enjoying" its 30th birthday "on the day" of broadcast (if you account for time zone difference). Surely in a hopeless case like mine, you will have guessed that the Senior Catharses are regular listeners--I hope I make them proud, occasionally; my mother texted me after the show to ask me what the big deal was, since I didn't explain. I PLAY RECORDS SO I *DON'T* HAVE TO TALK. But I'll try to "talk" here.
THE GATEWAY: this description is not exactly true. In spring 1987 I was playing new EP releases by Throwing Muses and The (legendary) Wolfgang Press at my old station. So I "knew" who they were. I was already familiar with Cocteau Twins (hard not to be) and This Mortal Coil. (And, "of course," the long-departed Bauhaus.) Once, during the fall term of 1986, I had binged on Hershey's Kisses while blasting Xmal Deutschland at full volume in one of the station's listening rooms and given myself a blinding headache; I would do it again! I would guess that someone had tipped me off to Dead Can Dance; "The Fatal Impact" seems like something Early Me would have played on the radio. Colourbox were also "on my radar" but I hadn't really embraced them yet.
These were merely data points, bands and records I happened to like. Though I did read record covers, it hadn't occurred to me to think about patterns. Labelthink, as I call it, hadn't overtaken me. I recall, as an adolescent, noting that Prince, The B-52's, and Devo were all on Warner Bros. records, so someone there must have had decent taste. New Order and my beloved Durutti Column records were released by something called Factory Communications Ltd., and that was a cool coincidence. I knew that I had to have Smiths records on Rough Trade, not Sire, because I wanted nothing to do with those garish yellow-and-orange labels (also that I seemed not to like anything on MCA or Arista, or the stupid rainbow / mountainscape labels; aesthetics mattered, if only vaguely). Just babbling self-musings, a baby struggling to form words it didn't understand yet.
LIFE-ALTERING: Something flipped when--sitting in my parents' house, listening to some other DJ at my station--I heard (Clan of) Xymox's "Muscoviet Musquito" and, not knowing who or what it was, decided I had to hear and own the record. But, not having caught the back-announce (I'm sure it was because one of my siblings insisted on talking to me or something), I couldn't attribute the tune. The next time I visited the station, either because I had a show to do or because I was bored, I rummaged through the "current" bins. We had received a vinyl copy of Lonely Is An Eyesore--but I had no idea what it was. It just "looked cool." Maybe I thought it looked something like a This Mortal Coil or Throwing Muses record; maybe it was just serendipity. Serendipity was strong in those days. But anyway, here was the song, and everything else: an aesthetic, a catalog, a history, what seemed, stupidly, like a way of being. I was sad and lonely (ha ha) and impressionable; records meant so, so much to me at that time.
I became a 4AD devotee, overnight, it seemed; I wasn't de-programmed until about 5 years later, and only through what must have been a long series of disappointments. It just so happens that my memories of those years are quite repressed--certainly for non-4AD reasons! This is the cause of many of my problems now, I feel. All I know is the initial rush, a blazing summer of limerance, if you will; that labelthink was upon me, that I had to have everything, and that I've never really been the same.
In my (hasty and improvised) defense--objectively I wasn't that far gone. My band did send demo tapes--universally rejected, btw--to other labels. I was not the guy at the Pixies gig who had spray-painted the 4AD logo on the back of his leather jacket. (Counterpoint--but there I was, nevertheless, at two Pixies gigs, and my leather jacket was spray-painted with something else.) I'm not the guy in the facebook fangroup who thinks he's going to blow people's minds by posting some YouTubed Cocteau Twins song we have all heard half a million times. I know, based on the remaining evidence, that there were other things happening, that I had a previous identity (musical and otherwise) that was perfectly fine, and maybe even halfway cool. But there is no denying that I was smitten, dangerously obsessed. I wanted to be this.
Had I understood at the time I first heard this record that I was seeing "light from a dead star," that this was actually, by a plausible reckoning, the end of 4AD as it presents itself here, I might not have to work so hard to recover Young, Unbroken Me. But who knew at the time?
What remains? Three of the bands on this record are in the Hall of Legends, and I can't say for certain that there won't be more. At least a couple of other Legends have had brushes with 4AD, and maybe are people whose music I might have missed had there not been some connection. Despite the fact that I've since concluded that I like the Natures Mortes and Presage(s) compilations better (and am embarrassed by how shy I sound about this when I allude to it in the program!), LIAE is a singular achievement--there are a bajillion great Creation comps, for example, but not one conceptually similiar to this--and it still "sounds good loud," as I said to Friend of Bombast Mr. D when we were texting each other during this broadcast. I'm hopeful that one of these days I'll be able to hear it again with innocent wonder.
Oh yeah, there's about an hour and eighteen minutes' worth of other music here, too. Hopefully it will mean something to someone, maybe even me, in 2047.
Pretty sure I failed to clarify anything here, but as the kids say "it is what it is." Obscene, obscure.
BOMBAST playlist, 2017 June 28, 2100-2300:
- "Stairfoot Lane Bunker - Minor Science Remix" | Special Request | Stairfoot Lane Bunker | Houndstooth
- "The Seven Armed Drummer" | Autre | Air Texture Volume V | Air Texture
- "Your Neighbour" | Boy Robot | Final Transmission EP | City Centre Offices
- "Reza's Final Battle" | Saint Abdullah | The Sounds of Evil - Vol. 1 | Boomarm Nation
- "Roger Wilco's Night Out" | Marius Circus | Roger Wilco's Night Out | In The Garden
- "Huit" | Sky H1 | Mono No Aware | PAN
- "Saunter" | Arca | Arca | XL
- "My Eye on You (feat. Gavin Clark)" | Toydrum | My Eye on You (To Reinvision) | Skint
- "The Same River Once" | Rapoon | Miracle Steps (Music from the Fourth World 1983-2017) | Optimo
- "Primitive Methods" | El Mahdy Jr. | Time to Sell the Golden Teeth | Boomarm Nation
- "Hot Doggie" | Colourbox | Lonely Is An Eyesore | 4AD
- "Acid, Bitter and Sad" | This Mortal Coil | Lonely Is An Eyesore | 4AD
- "Cut the Tree" | The Wolfgang Press | Lonely Is An Eyesore | 4AD
- "Fish" | Throwing Muses | Lonely Is An Eyesore | 4AD
- "Frontier" | Dead Can Dance | Lonely Is An Eyesore | 4AD
- "Hold Me Tender - feat. Urour" | Khan of Finland | Nicht nur Sex | Shitkatapult
- "Stratos" | Julien Villa | Away | Sodasound
- "Fukui Morning" | Claude Young | Air Texture Volume V | Air Texture
- "Don't Know Why" | Slowdive | Slowdive | Dead Oceans
- "Definizione dell'impossibile" | Tale of Us | Endless | Deutsche Grammophon
- "The Cotton And The Organ" | Gl. Harlev Organ Orchestra | Organ Sessions | Jahtari
- "Crushed" | Cocteau Twins | Lonely Is An Eyesore | 4AD
- "No Motion" | Dif Juz | Lonely Is An Eyesore | 4AD
- "Muscoviet Musquito" | Clan of Xymox | Lonely Is An Eyesore | 4AD
- "The Protagonist" | Dead Can Dance | Lonely Is An Eyesore | 4AD
- "Neckless Dub" | Jay Glass Dubs | New Teeth for an Old Country | Bokeh Versions
music for presence