Nagamatzu “Above This Noise” Out Today

New compilation from NAGAMATZU out now:

Der Gute Kamerad (Life ’85 Version)
Melancholy Oxide
Under The Roof

Crackle Black
Evil Ed
Carmine (September 1986 Version)
The Sunlight Home (Passions Organiques Version)

Nagamatzu were the British duo of Andrew Lagowski (SETI, Legion, Terror Against Terror) on synths, guitar, and programming and Stephen Jarvis (Pure Motorised Instinct, Terraform) on synths and bass. Formed in 1982 after messing around with old tape machines and drum boxes, making numerous contributions to international compilations and erratically releasing their own cassettes. Their name comes from a character in JG Ballard‘s “Atrocity Exhibition” and their music reflects his influence. Nagamatzu self-released their debut cassette “Shatter Days” in 1983 after messing around with old tape machines, drum boxes and effects.

“Above This Noise” is a compilation of 9 songs recorded in the period between the release of ‘Sacred Islands of the Mad’ in 1986 and ‘Igniting the Corpse’ in 1991. It gathers tracks which surfaced on some of the international compilation cassette releases that the band were invited to contribute to in the 1980s as well as some previously unreleased songs. The band’s working method was for Andrew to first record a backing track, usually rhythm, sequence, samples. Then both members would layer more electronics, samples, guitar and bass over the top, recording the whole piece in one take. These instrumentals combine stuttering bass, guitar bursts and funeral keyboards draped over a dragging drum machine beat, calling to mind Clock DVA, early New Order or Cocteau Twins. Their sound is full of complex rhythm patterns and dark electronics.

All songs have been remastered from the original tapes for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The vinyl comes housed in jacket silver and black designed by Eloise Leigh. Each LP includes a fold out poster with liner notes by Stephen Jarvis and an early gig flyer. Finally rescued from the UK D.I.Y. cassette underground and restored, “Above This Noise” presents 9 Nagamaztu tracks for the first time ever on vinyl.

plus a note from Stephen Jarvis:
Due to some misunderstandings between ourselves and Dark Entries while we were preparing this release an error was made in the track listing that you will find on the reverse of the ‘Above This Noise’ sleeve. The track ‘Spenkelink and Darden’ does not appear on the vinyl. In it’s place on the record you will find ‘Shroud’, and where that track was originally listed you will find ‘Melancholy Oxide’. The listing on the labels is correct. Dark Entries did re-print the sleeves with corrections, but for some inexplicable reason the production company failed to use them. And because of Dark Entries brilliant and hectic release schedule there wasn’t time to send them back to swap over. You will also note that the liner notes are for the mistaken track listing, the corrected version is below. It’s a shame this happened, but sometimes life just chucks weird stuff at you and you have to roll with it. Apologies for the confusion.

This collection gathers together tracks which surfaced on some of the international compilation cassette releases that we were invited to contribute to in the 1980s, and some that we made in the period between the release of Sacred Islands of the Mad (DE009) in 1986 and Igniting the Corpse in 1991.

The period from around 1984 to the end of 1986 was arguably our most productive. Our working method was for Andrew to record a backing track, usually rhythm, sequence, samples, and then we would layer more electronics, samples, guitar, bass and a general racket over the top. As we didn’t have multi track recording available at the time we would play along live over the backing track, recording the whole piece in one take. Every time we cocked up (usually me) we’d have to begin the whole recording again. Using this method it is testament to Andrew’s growing engineering skills that the tracks are as clear and well balanced as they are.

A by-product of this process is that we often ended up with several different recordings of the same song, trying to iron out little wrinkles and experiment with different sounds, striving not only for quality, but also an emotional resonance. We also used to re-record backing tracks for our live performances as we didn’t want to simply replicate the recorded versions. So we also have many alternate takes from rehearsals for gigs. The version of Carmine included here is from a practice for our gig at the Reptile House in London in 1986 (you can listen to a recording of that gig on our Bandcamp page).

The track Der Gute Kamerad was constructed around a reading of the poem by Ludwig Uhland, written in 1809, about the loss of a comrade in battle. We wrote it when we were asked to contribute to the compilation Life 85. That’s Andrew’s Mum doing the reading for us, we later re-recorded it for the Sacred Islands release.

The Sunlight Home is the original version, which we gave to Didier PK at Organic in France for the Passions Organiques Vol 3 tape in 1987, and a year later to Aruru in Germany for their Nimramicha release. A different version, recorded on 24 track at Goldsmiths College in London, was released on the Lift Off 12” single and there are multiple live variants. I think that Crackle Black is from around this time too, though my memory is hazy.

Following the release of Lift Off on vinyl we entered a bit of a fallow phase. We lost a bit of momentum and struggled to write anything that we considered to be a move forward from Sacred Islands. In September 1987 we recorded Melancholy Oxide (though we only just got around to giving it a name in time for this release), Radio Song (available on DE047) and in 1988 Under the Roof, built around a sample of words spoken by Andrew’s wife Yukari.

Shroud, Tilted and Evil Ed were all recorded around about the same time in 1989, a short last blast of guitar and bass before we changed gear and started working on the tunes that would make up Igniting the Corpse. That change of sound meant that these tracks weren’t suitable for the album and so remain largely unheard with the exception of Shroud which we gave to Wojcek Czerniak to release on his cassette compilation ‘My life is mine again’ in 1992 on Obuh tapes.

NEXT is a compilation from Philadelphia’s Executive Slacks out August 8th:

I Don’t Know What To Do
Radiation Baby
30 Years (Original)

Filet Mignon
Join the Army, Johnny
Who Am I?
I Bang My Head (Against the Wall)
They Read
I’m Coming (Bedroom Version)

I’m Coming (Live on WXPN 1980)

Executive Slacks began in the hot, humid summer of 1980 Philadelphia by Matt Marello, John Young and Albert Ganss, three bored, broke, anxious art students. Starting out with performance art in subways, they soon took their angst-ridden act to galleries and night clubs. The band found their moniker in a run-down bookstore after seeing an ad for men’s polyester pants. They pieced together sounds that captured the growing paranoia of an age predicted by Orwell and the growing inequalities of the 1980s.

In 2014 we reissued their 4-song debut EP from 1982 and asked the band if they had any demos. They excavated two cassettes that contained their earliest recorded material from 1980 and 1981. “Seams Ruff” is a 13 song compilation from these cassette collections plus a bonus flexi disc featuring a live performance on WXPN from 1980. The tracks were created with the use of heavily modified synthesizers and noisemakers, the broken innards of a grand piano, metal oil drums and a spray painted Harmony Rocket guitar. The Slacks drew their influences from contemporaries like Cabaret Voltaire, SPK and Tuxedomoon, as well as Disco and Dadaism. Dripping in nihilism, the song’s lyrics tackle the existential dread of the late 20th century and three of the songs are taken from “Mann ist Mann” a 1926 play by the German modernist author Bertolt Brecht. Executive Slacks’ unique brew of primitive electronics, harsh guitars and aggressive vocals inspired many bands like Ministry, Front 242 and Skinny Puppy.

All songs were remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The front cover was designed by John Young and features an xeroxed black and white photo of the group taken by Daniel Perry. Each copy includes an 11×11 double sided hand-drawn insert by Matt Marello with lyrics, photos and a collage from the band’s archives.


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