goldfish …. original draft…

okay we happened across this brief and unfinished Goldfish appraisal – slightly more detailed vis a vis with reference to our memories and love of the label, must have initially penned this about a month ago … thought lost in a recent laptop went into sulk debacle ….. Andy Bracken gets a mention here – apologies Andy for not getting back, when i finally root out your email i’ll respond at length, thanks again…..

Ten years ago this month a fledging label would emerge from out of the shadows of another, it would grow to become an integral taste maker, an institution and a way of life spawning a close knit community of kindred musical talents and nomads many of whom had for years seemingly operated in a vacuum, perhaps forgotten, overlooked and shut out by a record industry whose eyeline narrowed to the chase of profits, bandwagon jumping fashionistas and the latest barely audible belch of some one trick riff slinger happening off the stop sign marked Camden. But that’s just a part of the labels chemistry, headed by record collector Keith Jones, he has essentially steered the good ship Fruits de Mer these last 10 years, in many ways he must feel like a kid in a sweet shop or the person equipped with the ability to print their own money, for what was once a tiny label putting out releases you suspected they prayed others would like and indeed buy, has all these years on achieved cult status amid collectors and record buying obsessives as well as procuring the affection, acclaim and seal of approval of critics both of print and broadcast.

I recall well that first Fruits de Mer release, it would have been around March 2008 when sat waiting on our doormat that familiar looking package that hinted of new Bracken material for review. Only it wasn’t. We’d been fortunate enough to hook up with Andy a year or so earlier via email – incidentally many thanks Andy for the recent note, sorry for not responding – appreciated all the same, things as you can probably appreciate, have been a little distracted of late. In those days our letter box was stuffed on a daily basis with all manner of CD’s, seriously it was a time-consuming event just opening the packages. However, if the memory serves me right, it would have been a split outing pairing together and his voice became and spare snare that hooked us in, from that point on we were firmly onboard with the Bracken release roster, which I still say to this day, probably to the annoyance of Jet, released the finest thing ever put out by Schizo Fun Addict, namely ‘dream of the Portugal keeper’. Mind you, must admit their new one is no slouch in the affection stakes. In fact, getting back on track, that first Fruits de Mer release happened to be by Schizo Fun Addict, a brace of covers – Small Faces and a George Martin penning made famous by Van der Graaf Generator, we’d encountered Schizo Fun Addict a year or more earlier courtesy of a killer album for Canarsie entitled ‘Atom Spark Hotel’.

Initially the label, served as an outlet for Keith to put out predominantly progressive and psychedelic covers, strangely at a time wherein both varying styles appeared strangely out of favour, progressive rock was still amidst its slow thawing acceptance back into polite society buoyed mainly by an overtly progressive showing by Radiohead a la ‘hail to the thief’ and the relative warm reception and success of the PROG publication. Adding fuel to this, each release was vinyl only, no downloads and no CD’s save for promos and in its 130 plus release entirety, perhaps only a handful of special release packages. Now in these days of sound quality enlightenment, vinyl releases mightn’t be such a big deal, but there was 10 years ago, a real fear that vinyl was at its very end with the onset and advancement in download technology. Mind you the Fruits de Mer folk have never shied away from putting out releases on near defunct and forgotten mediums, one of their earliest, ‘we come bearing gifts’ was parcelled up on a cassette, a trick later repeated on special editions of Cranium Pie’s ‘mechanisms’ some of which arrived with their own personal tape player. Of course, there’ve been flexi’s, limited lathe cut vinyl releases, ridiculously fantastic boxsets with ‘Strange Fish’ starting the fascination. The box sets in fact have established a life of their own, these days appearing as eye catching packages stuffed full of various goodies, who remembers the test tube sets inside the Chemistry Set special or the variously assembled Sendelica editions which to date have come packed with everything from dream catchers to satori chop sticks and everything else besides. And lest we forget the one offs, the miss-presses and the pressing plant cock ups – resulting in strange coloured discs – check out the scarce section of the label web site for a more detailed flavouring. Of course, there’s festival gatherings and the members club freebies which collectively serve to reinforce the fact that Fruits de Mer is more than a label but a way of life.

So why, you might well ask, do we waffle on. Well aside showing our undying affection for the label, their milestone anniversary is being marked by several key-note releases over the coming weeks all of which we’ll endeavour to feature and mention soon. That said the birthday frivolities and festivities started earlier in the year, December in fact, with the issue of specially pressed copies of Schizo Fun Addict’s ‘the sun yard’ album, first time on vinyl, issued to members of the fan club. Now comes ‘goldfish’ – typically wow in terms of both content and presentation, its track-listing specially selected by the labels head honcho, is a mammoth 30 track assembling of moments from the labels enviable back catalogue. A stellar gathering of outsider talents…….

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