Acolytes Action Squad
Early Winter Recordings
From the tiny bespoke imprint who in recent times have lavished us with all to crucial releases from the Broken Blackbird Ensemble, James Green, David A Jaycock and James William Hindle now comes perhaps the strangest of all – the eleven track opus ‘Winkle Time’
As per usual strictly limited though this time to 350 copies and all housed in handmade 2 colour stamped sleeve, this particular release is a collaborative affair between Early Winter Recordings and the Acolytes own Terraas imprint.
If there’s any justice in this world this will fly out off the racks while quite literally serving to be the strangest release you’ll hear all year. The mysterious Acolytes Action Squad are duo the Essence and Lord Ditchus (Heather and Brian in the real world) who hail from around and about Sheffield, well that is when they materialise into the real world – between them they have recorded a handful of quietly reposed self releases all let loose on an unsuspecting clued up underground populace. They have loose connections with Hot Snack (by all accounts a collective we should be checking out being that they describe themselves as Sun Ra meets the Clash and feature here on ‘letters to the master‘ for a brief spot of primal freeform funky stew making), the Big Eyes Family Players and the aforementioned Broken Blackbird Ensemble. They are also fully paid up members of Sheffield’s free noise society. They are weird. Very weird.
To describe ’Winkle Time’ its necessary to lay a few ground rules as to what to expect. ’Winkle Time’ is one of those rare releases that evokes an extreme of emotions that range from annoyance, bewilderment, perplexing and utter joy. It’s all at once disturbing, obscure, abstract, impish, surreal, nonsensical, daydream, daft and broken. In essence ’Winkle Time’ is freeform frivolity to the max touching base with the outer realms of drone montages, the left field school of the absurd, avant art pop in its truest form and here we are thinking Henry Cow and Dadaist dementia.
Some seven years in the making ’Winkle Time’ is a curious beast that hops, skips and jumps over the generic fences seemingly without any notion or care for melodic form instead preferring to evolve at will or rahermore by accident, ‘music for Perspex’ takes its cue – or so it seems – from the strange cave dwelling caricatures as envisaged on Volcano the Bear’s druid textured ‘yak folks y’are’ though on this occasion flavoured with elements of the Native Hipsters and the Slits with Bjork overseeing the mix. The VTB connection is revisited again on ‘the yak’s head – parts 1-2’ where the coalescing of strange farmyard noises and alien chatter manifests into a bizarre shamanic brew of lysergic trippyness that points to a solstice soiree conducted by Sunburned Hand of the Man and Circulus Elsewhere ‘minimum beam’ flirts with out there improvising dashed with the delicately drifting aromatics flavours of far Eastern motifs while the fusing of the electronic and found sounds within ’winkle time itself’ are crafted into strangely creepy drone manipulations that imagine Dreams of Tall Buildings relocating the Clangers in an 70’s styled Eastern European children’s cartoon montage. Disquieting stuff indeed. And just when you think you‘re beginning to get the measure of the blighters they throw in the odd curveball to have you leaping on your back foot – case in point ‘check:weigh in‘ and ’against old masters’ – the former a head jamming brief but volatile nod in the general of Melt Banana / Atari Teenage Riot while the latter a superbly unsettling and insular playground twisted slice of Pop Off Tuesday styled oddness of fluxing binary intermissions that crawl over you like a sick infestation – best listened to with all the lights on regardless of whether its daytime or not. That said best moment is the macabre mantra like maypole prancing ’legend of blank canvas’ – think of a fried fix of Bowie’s ‘chant of the ever circling skeletal family’ thrown into a hot wash and tie dyed with wired elements of mind evaporating weird folk -once heard somehow I reckon your hi-fi will never quite be the same again.
One for the curious and the strange.
Key tracks –
Legaend of blank canvas
Winkle time itself