Southall Riot, I am Voyager, Azimuth Co-Ordinator, PhilM

Memory is a strange thing, there are bits you remember that you’d rather forget and conversely bits you forget that you’d rather remember. Doing these missives we stumble across oodles of stuff, we’d love to write about everything we hear but things like sleep, work and sleep get annoyingly in the way, I can recall and indeed pinch myself when I do, for not nabbing the recent Sex Witch album and Concetism’s debut on limited vinyl when I had the chance. Similarly, I often forget that I have all the Nick Drake albums and yet mysteriously find myself gravitating towards the D section of the racks whenever I enter a record shop to have a curious nose.  Or how good Southall Riot where. Let’s not get bogged down with the fact that they sold around  45 copies of each release,, appeared in various guises on some of the finest labels of the day – earworm, static caravan and enraptured and even ran their own label – Victory Gardens – although ran might be pushing the description of notions of their business acumen. They were often referred and likened to Guided by Voices though this probably had more to do with the fact that they recorded short symphonies of sound that featured guitars, sounded like no one else and played and recorded lo-fi home made pop, yet while GBV’s bedroom was serenaded by regular visits by the sun,  Phil and Stu shivered their way through demo sessions holed up in a bulb-less pantry space beneath the stairs. Rock n’ roll right on. And so after occasional visits to these  pages in varying guises – the last being as Phil M on a  rare as hen’s teeth cassette put out by Static Caravan in 2009, Phil acquired a lathe cutting machine and set up the 454545 imprint whilst taking in orders to cut lathe pressings for other labels such as fruits de mer, static caravan and pretty much everyone who has released a limited lathe edition in recent months. These days the lathe vinyl isn’t as troublesome as it used to be, they actually play straight through – which is a bonus, they don’t stick, jump or have that heart stopping effect of watching the stylus slide across the disc in some sort of ice skating routine. I must admit I’ve gotten to love them.

And so to the 454545 label side of things, those familiar and remembering the hilarious dispatches issued forth by Victory Gardens by their in house receptionist and the almost devil may care issuing of releases on SOUL – might well recall that these were labels that issued releases in limited issue on 8 track cartridges, spliced pieces of the original master tape and cassette – one of which was mummified in candle wax. 454545 therefore smacked of career suicide, rummaging through his extensive vault of recordings, forgotten releases and lost out takes, Phil M hit upon the notion of putting out 45 records in editions of 45 to be played at 45 rpm – hence the idea 454545 – why editions of 45 – well the mere fact that the band oft sold around  45 records is a lie – and that they have all our names is merely a coincidence and something which the label have assured us of. How they knew where I lived did however worry me.

Latest to the 454545 roster –  release number #27 – is a little known gem that originally appeared on Enraptured’s occasional Bedroom Ambience compilation, more pertinently – Volume 3. Southall Riot’s ‘rugby players make good businessmen’ was one of the sets highlights – I should know because I seem to recall cobbling up the press release – I say press release – it was bordering on War and Peace and in certain schools across the length and breadth of these fine lands is used specifically as a means of studying the relevance of punctuation and creative flow both of which were on ration at the time. Anyhow let’s get serious for there has been thus far too much frivolity. A crafty earworm that slowly veers into view bruised by a bitter sweet casting that possessed of a ghosting of early Kranky heroes such as LaBradford and Stars of the Lid flickering and flittering in and out of the ethereal haze. Amid the shimmering vapour trailing signatures, the negligible bruising of a forlorn howl weaves wearily throughout gently ascending to some hitherto unseen peaking point and dovetail and arc along a sonic trajectory very much recalling a crushed Godspeed / Grails a la the  28 days later soundtrack. Over on the flip you get the  stripped down demo version – this time more quickened in pace and solidified by the percussive patterns, less dreamy and cosmically inclined and somewhat daubed in a post rockist aura that dips and nods to billy mahonie yet curiously name-checks a very youthful Cure with a smidgeon tasting of the Workhouse. For my own sins I can’t recall ever hearing Azimuth Co-Ordinator, one of Phil M’s many guises ‘the jr control’ is a hypno grooved slice of immersive kraut kosmiche freewheeling in the same kind of sonic states as Slipstream, this version dating back to 2001 has so far remained previously unreleased and should be high on the radar of those among you attuned to classic era Delirium outings from the early 90’s not to mention well versed in the spacey and wigged out moments found on the Walking Seeds  ‘bad orb, whirling ball….’. Over on the flip ‘the les walk-in’ features a compendium of demo out takes recorded throughout the 90’s parts of which initially appeared on the Victory Gardens sub cassette imprint SOUL, there scratchy lo-fi aura ought to appeal to those admiring of Half Japanese / Jad Fair though more importantly for observers of these pages to fans of the Bordellos. I am Voyager reveals another facet to Phil M’s persona and finds him navigating the surreal dream like crookedness of Syd Barrett and the partly theatrical / part pop primed ‘Deram’ era playfulness of Bowie, ‘better than chase and status’ found here reworked recently by the fog is in the fir tree arrives possessed with a curiously impish Donovan dialect, albeit that’ll be Donovan after a night out with the Freed Unit. Over on the flip the same track deconstructed in recent months as ‘chasen’ with the beats, the looping motifs and a reading by TS Elliott of ‘the journey of the magi’ coalescing to craft something not a million miles away in feel from Stylus’ ‘pluen eira’. Go to http://www.345rpm.co.uk/catalogue-1.html for further info on the label and following the links to the lathe cutting services over at http://www.345rpm.co.uk/about.html

fourth release from 454545 featured two cuts from this little gem namely – ‘telephone box = prison’ and ‘penny your eyes’  – here reprinted from a Losing Today posting c.2009……..

And returning back to all things Static Caravan related – that promised cassette release from former Southall Riot man Phil M. Entitled the ’Phil ((m) mix)’ this limited to 80 only cassette comprises 14 tracks all handsomely packaged in cardboard covers reclaimed and bastardised from boxes ‘pilfered’ from Sainsbury’s, Somerfield and Fat Cat records. Initially intended to be a pure 100% analogue recording – Phil’s apologies on the accompanying track list insert note with a certain degree of disappointment the finishing process being tampered ever so slightly by the introduction of Audacity software. A gem of a release it should be said, those familiar with Southall Riot recordings of old will not be found wanting neither will admirers of both the Freed Unit (‘ok fly girl’ and ‘penny your eyes’) and those recent 4 track recordings by the Bordellos (especially ion the bubblegum psych of ‘impossible thoughts of the late dream‘ or the fried ‘paradising‘) – in fact the minute this release kicked in after its initial Judith Chalmers spoken word sample (yes you did read right) the savoured memories of those SR releases came flooding back in an instant, nice to see that in the intervening years since he last had cause to adorn our turntable that Phil hasn’t lost any of his knack for the turning out of crisply phrased lysergic lo-fi loveliness, imagine the honey tipped kaleidoscopic pop detailing of say the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band dimpled with the mindset of Half Japanese or Jonathan Richman and applied with the skeletal threadbare touch of Guided by Voices. it’s a bracing affair of quickly drilled minimalist psych pop treasures in the making briefly appearing / disappearing in a fleeting instant all deftly despatched in a lysergic flavouring of sugar drizzled lazy eyed tonalities. That said its not just sun shiney radiant pop that you’ll find here, dig a little deeper and a few surprises are there for the discovering such as the darkly disturbed dream weaving mirage that is the instrumental ’telephone box = prison’ with its nods to Barrett era Floyd. Elsewhere there’s the cosmic promenade pop of ‘were’ which could easily be Meek meets Tornadoes meets Pluto Monkey via Wire in another time, age / world while purists of late 90‘s Montreal pop would do well to scout ‘songbird‘s return‘ while simultaneously refreshing your memory banks with Constellations finest moments whilst dare we neglect to mention ‘fade back as luck‘ which if we didn‘t know any better sounds not unlike an unlikely studio meeting between Gnac, Roy Montgomery and L‘Augmentation. Flip the tape to be greeted by a spot of ’hex’ era Fall via ’the unexplainable’. All said it’s the sets obvious out on its own curio ’do you know’ that gets our vote as the collections best moment – a kind of hot spin wash of loosely fragmented and unrelated sounds weaved into a discernibly weird and wired lurching and mooching montage of ghostly Cab Calloway apparitions refracted through the sonic sound chamber of the much missing Element of Creeping Bent fame and dutifully peppered with the mind altering and trippy vibes of ’bad orb whirling ball’ era Walking Seeds.

A wholly analogue version of the ‘mix’ is apparently available on polite request – a copy of which we’ll try to nab for further mentions.

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