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- Hemp Is Here by Leven Signs
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This album originally appeared (and quickly sold out) all the way back in 1985, a shining example of out-there futuristic new wave experimentalism which was quickly forgotten and overlooked thanks to its impossible-to-find status. Luckily for us, however, Digitalis boss Brad Rose stumbled upon a cassette version of the album and went to the trouble of tracking the artists down and here’s the result of that - the album’s first repress in 28 years!
On the record, the duo of Pete Karkut and Maggie Turner make some very strange sounds indeed. The bulk of the music has been constructed by Karkut, clearly a tape editing wizard, using live instrumentation and samples for a soundworld of bubbling lo-fi polyrhythms and spidery organ melodies, conjuring an intoxicating east-meets-west experimental post-punk weirdness which brings to mind the cold repetition of Suicide, the textural schizophrenia of Marks & Lebzelter and the detached sensuousness of prime Scott Walker, while the sometimes jarring jumble of textures is bringing to mind the excellent recent Spectral Park LP.
The puttering polyrhythms sometimes bring to mind Moondog, but the amount of layered futuristic weirdness that’s laid on top of that are more reminiscent of an organ-heavy Pere Ubu. It’s a difficult record to write about because I can’t think of anything else that specifically sounds like it, but it’s an intriguing and well-formed album that’ll keep you coming back for more, if only in an attempt to properly get your head around it! Head-scrambling and innovative stuff for its time, it still sounds weird and futuristic now.
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