It would have been around March 2008, when through the door dropped a CD-r with accompanying press release. Emerging from the shadow of Bracken records, Fruits de Mer promised a journey into prog, psychedelia, kosmische and ambience. For a label with a curious fetish for fish, fishy things and fishnets – of the kind adorned over legs or admired by goth folk, there’s been a sense of part bedevilment, part kid in a sweetshop and part how not to run a label type mischief afoot here. That debut release featured a brace of covers by Schizo Fun Addict whose legendary rare as hen’s teeth ‘the sun yard’ album was recently offered gratis and on vinyl too boot to those subscribing to the labels mailing list. And I suppose that says everything you need to know about the label, it doesn’t do the obvious. In the finest tradition of the classic labels that have gone before, Fruits de Mer has become an institution, moreover a trusted taste maker. Run by a record collector with an eye for what a record obsessive / enthusiast likes, that being limited edition runs. But there’s so much more to it than simply that, it’s a way of life, a community or more so a family, that’s persevered with vinyl when wax was so yesterday, the miss presses, the wrong colours, freebie releases, cassettes, Eddie Stobart toy lorries, flexi discs, lathe cuts, weird eye feasting special edition box sets featuring all manner of dream catchers and test tubes – hello the Chemistry Set and Sendelica, bespoke packages, even spawning its own festival and a co-opted label in Friends of the Fish and a stalker like obsession with the Pretty Things. We could go on, but I think you get the measure. Anyway, a heartfelt best wishes on your 10th birthday and may there be many, which at this point leads us merrily to the release of a six sided vinyl set called ‘Goldfish’. A kind of where we’ve and where we are probably going retrospective featuring the personal label selections of head honcho Keith, all lovingly fished from out of the back catalogue and served up as a celebratory ear popping platter – on gold vinyl, why – were you expecting any other than.
A seismic set all said, a rekindling of memories if you will set within an eye catching and humungous fold out sleeve revealing within a festooning of strange alluring delights. Don’t even bother asking me my favourite selection, you’d struggle to put a cigarette paper between them if push come to shove in deciding your favourite sonic children, safe to say an immaculate no filler roll call which in many ways does admirable justice in proving the esteemed gravitational pull that this once fledging label has had on a disparate gathering off rare outsider talent. First three tracks alone are worthy by themselves of the entrance fee alone, a mind frying acid interpretation of George Martin’s ‘theme one’ by Tor Peders bleeds sublimely into the woozy folds of Sendelica’s retooling of ‘Venus in Furs’ while just as you are peeling your jaw from the floor, along comes the seductive ghosting of Us and Them’s frankly faultless spell crafting in the shape of a cover of Magnet’s ‘Willow Song’ which in our much humbled opinion just edges Seafood’s from a view years ago. Somewhere else looms one of the Chemistry Set’s finest moments in the guise of ‘kiss me, vibrate and smile’ while White Sails, whatever happened to them we’ve oft wondered, sneak in the blissfully seafaring and softly euphoric tug of ‘Fluff’ to catch you off guard and somewhat entranced. Therein there’s a smattering of old friends with keynote appearances by Vibravoid, Soft Hearted Scientists, a truly remarkable re-visiting of ‘Hilly Fields’ by Nick Nicely, blue zeta giant puppies – who much too our distress, have recently gone a little quiet on the platter producing front, Cranium Pie, the Pretty Things – see told you – see earlier, Crystal Jacqueline and Schizo Fun Addict whose new album is set to drop and will appear here shortly to much fond swooning. In addition to six sides of vinyl you should find comfortably tucked in amid the mind turning waxen goodies a late to the presses two track 7 inch featuring cuts by Saturn’s Ambush and Johnny Vines. Apparently this brace of beauties were primed for inclusion on the grooves of the original six sides but missed the cut, the former a cover of the legendary ‘White Horses’ retooled here with a very Magazine-esque vibe albeit as though featuring a youthful ‘replicas’ Numan skulking around in the shadows while the latter serve up a progtastically stonking take on Jane’s ‘waterfall’. While wrapping up matters for this mention, lest we forget to draw your attention to a little something special from Beautify Junkyards whose version of ‘from the morning’ is truly one of those stop you in your tracks dead moments and is something which gets beneath the skin to the very essence of Nick Drake like nothing we’ve heard apart from an equally mesmeric cover by Rhys Marsh. Enjoy.