Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Kevin Harrison - Tape Recordings 1975-1985 (2016)

I always get the impression that Kevin Harrison should probably be a little more famous than he is - fame here translating to people hearing about your music, saying nice things, then buying it so that you can keep on making it and don't end up having to get a job in Tesco. That said, I've never been quite sure as to the precise extent of his fame. I first read about him in Martin Bowes' Alternative Sounds zine back in 1981, so he's always seemed sort of famous to me. I don't remember if he ever got name-checked in Dave Henderson's Wild Planet columns in Sounds, but given the wackily eclectic mix of that which Henderson covered and the sort of records Kevin has put out, he really should have been. I suppose, if nothing else, at least no-one is calling him an industrial legend or asking what he thinks about Charles Manson.

According to his website, Kevin Harrison's earliest sonic experiments were performed at the age of twelve, dropping nuts and bolts into a bucket of water then manipulating the sounds produced on the family tape recorder, and all whilst the Beatles were still in lovable moptop mode; leading to art school, and then to a bizarrely varied if somewhat underpublicised musical career which never quite seemed to square with any established or conventionally marketable pattern. These recordings might be seen as roughly kin to that whole krautrock thing, but there's always been more to the man - soul-driven dance pop with the band Urge, collaborations with various Specials and other Coventry luminaries, hanging out with members of DDAA, This Heat, and Tuxedo Moon: the guy is interesting before you've even heard a note.

Tape Recordings 1975-1985 is, as you might surmise, mostly instrumental, but never quite ambient. The fifteen tracks cover a broad range of moods - and very little which sounds like bedroom recordings, if that bothers anyone - but more than anything seem to suggest a film soundtrack, specifically the kind of effects heavy 16mm freak out genre which prevailed at the hairier end of the seventies. Guitars chime and echo off into analogue eternity as a church organ lights the darkness, and other sounds creep in, mutated beyond recognition or just hanging in the sky like giant Zardoz heads.

This is a wonderful record, and if you're new to this guy's work, it should really be considered just the beginning...

No comments:

Post a Comment