Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Amos & Lepke - "Modern shit will make you ill" (It's War Boys _ £21) 1984

As I recently acquired the sole missing piece of the "It's war Boys!" jigsaw, namely "Modern Shit Will Make you ill", aka, this tape......; and Amos (Jim Whelton) guested with The Work in Japan) and came from the same squatland scene as This Heat. I bring you this new chapter in the documentation of Amos/Its War Boys/Homosexuals recordings. Directly taken from the original Its War Boys catalog, here is one of the most obscure sonic works of the early 1980s, Modern Shit! First issued on tape (cat No. £21) this work circulated only privately among the close friends of the label and was never officially distributed. Actually, it represents one of the most intense and experimental outputs of this creative London squatland-garde period.
The idea was to create a contemporary 'Non-stop', vaguely in emulous contradiction to products by people like Cerrone and Biddulph (1970s disco queens- which in hindsight was probably even 'weirder' than this stuff?....it just lacked the sense of humour).
Lepke and Amos, the two minds behind this project (and 2/3 of the Milk from Cheltenham adventures), each constructed a half hour near-continuous non-stop collage using only the foulest materials.
In those days, they had their 8-track studio in a mouldy basement below Brixton Road, Sarf London and they happened to occasionally record some awful wannabe pop bands. It was a truly horrible experience for our heroes,but with a good side.
Almost as soon as the idiots left the studio, Lepke and Amos would start re-mixing their music, often stealing and sticking it (suitably mangled) onto new tracks, the basis material for "Modern Shit!"
Two pseudonymous British gentlemen lurk behind this Modern Shit. The first has used various vaguely absurd monikers over the years, including Amos, L. Voag, and Xentos “Fray” Bentos; the other has stuck with one improbable handle: Lepke Buchwater (no doubt meant to echo the name of legendary U.S. crime kingpin Lepke Buchalter). Currently, they comprise two-thirds of the excellent Die Trip Computer Die; in the late ’70s/early ’80s Amos was in the Homosexuals, the Just Measurers, Amos and Sara, and a host of other obscure bands, while Lepke was the brains behind the group Milk from Cheltenham.
Despite the fact that all these outfits produced wildly creative music, arguably some of the best from the post-punk era, chances are (with the possible the exception of the Homosexuals) you haven’t heard of any of them. In the case of most of these recordings, their low profile was due to a deliberate obscurantism stemming from a DIY/anti-capitalist rejection of the Music Business. As for the Modern Shit project, originally released in the early ’80s on Amos’s cassette label It’s War Boys, there was another reason for keeping things at an almost subterranean level. At the time, Amos and Lepke supported themselves by running a small recording studio, where they recorded all kinds of crappy local bands. As mentioned, after the bands had left, they would muck about with the session tapes—and a lot of that muckery/mockery found its way into this project.
Amos and Lepke’s plundered material got worked into two absurdist “mega-mixes” that were intended as a surrealistic parody of ’70s “non-stop” disco mixes produced by the likes of Cerrone (of Love in C Minor and Supernature fame). Each produced their own continuous half-hour mix, Amos’s appearing on the first side of the original cassette version (indexed as tracks 1 to 19), and Lepke’s on the flip (now tracks 20 to 37). 
Amos and Lepke worked with the same collection of resources, principally drum machines, keyboards, their own vocals, and all manner of “found” recordings—taken from records, TV, and the hapless local bands mentioned above (from whom they mostly lifted vocal tracks).
In terms of methodology, Amos’s mix bears less resemblance to an actual disco “non-stop” than Lepke’s, but it is nonetheless more impressive as a piece of music. In place of a disco’s steady rhythmic base, Amos uses recurring fragments or loops to create linkages between parts. (These bits and pieces can’t really be called “samples,” as it’s very unlikely either Amos or Lepke used samplers, which had barely been introduced at that point. Their dense collages were done the old-fashioned way, with tape manipulation, splicing, turntables, and loops.) Rhythmically, the last thing Amos lays down is a groove—rather, his rhythms are deliberately ridiculous and deranged. The mix’s wacked-out surrealism, however, is tempered by sections that are strangely beautiful, brooding, and mysterious. After a barrage of bizarrely collaged fragments, Amos’s side ends with a five-minute song that could almost seem normal if you weren’t really listening. A lifted vocal lead is rendered completely absurd through strange keyboard colourings and subtly off-kilter backing vocals.
Amos’s own lyrics (that is, when he himself is singing) are both comically ridiculous and somewhat menacing. They are also interrelated with the lyrics in Lepke’s mix: while nothing remotely like a coherent narrative emerges, both reference World War II, Nazis, and political repression.
Lepke’s mix is “funkier” than Amos’s—you can tap your foot to much of it, and an actual bona fide disco beat even crops up briefly. But it’s still a complete piss-take, and full of wildly demented humour.Hours of fun can be spent spotting the extracts form Holgar Czukay's 'Canaxis', and identifying snippets of Pierre Henri's musique concrete oeuvre.
The work these two produced,predates and will appeal to fans of the plunderphonic/cut-up work produced by Nurse with Wound, John Oswald, Stock, Hausen & Walkman, and People Like Us.But remember ,they got there first.


(1-37) Modern Shit Will Make You Ill

DOWNLOAD this vintage shit HERE!


Costanzo said...

Absolute gem. Never seen the original cover before, some closure there. Expect to see more Die Trip Computer Die in the future?

Magnus said...

Whoa, the only Amos I'd never heard. Thank you so much. I waited 34 years. I'm gonna cancel this workday and just put this on repeat.

Jonny Zchivago said...

May havé more obscure Amos traces coming up Maybe? You lot Heard "PSST! Wanna buy a tapé " a fake compilation by Amos and leptke,
Some Die Trip Computer Die coming too.