The Third Eye Foundation’s legendary slice of shoegaze-inspired drum ‘n' bass is finally reissued by Ici d'Ailleurs. Semtex’s brutal, dense and anti-establishment music blends harsh breakbeat rhythms and melancholy samples to create something that still sounds unique 20 years later. It feels a little strange to have something so perfectly rough and anti-social so beautifully presented. Available on CD and double vinyl LP.
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Fuck. Twenty years since ‘Semtex’. I’m an old old man. Listening again to the opening drum and bass clatter of ‘Sleep’ I’m led to wondering ‘What on earth did this sound like to people at the time’? Well I should know as I was an enormo fan of the Bristol underground scene of the mild 90’s…so let me cast my mind back….
It sounded as it does today.... like the most unbelievable amalgamation of pulverising drum and bass with skewered shoegaze noise. It sounds like running into the sea on the coldest day of the year and being slapped around the face by wet fish. It sounds like what My Bloody Valentine should have done after 'Loveless'. Lets say it blows away cobwebs. ‘Semtex’ was Matt Elliot’s first communication as the Third Eye Foundation and whilst future records may have become sonically stronger, this one shows the absolute root of the idea that you could mesh shoegaze with beatery and samples. He made this on a four track, dreadlocks dripping onto the controls, a spliff dangling dangerously onto effects pedals. It’s not really one of those albums which opens with one slab of brilliance only to run out of steam later on, everything is good or at least interesting. ‘Still Life’ introduces the skirling churning feedback that would be Third Eye Foundations calling card, ‘Dreams on His Fingers’ is ethereal and 4AD like with washed out vocals and tremolo’d guitars, ‘Once When I Was An Indian’ (ha! Love!) starts the process which bvdub would continue many years later of circling voice samples over beats.
This lovingly packaged re-issue has 23 (twenty three!) bonus tracks split over physical and download. I haven’t got time today to write about them save to say my copy is coming home with me tonight and I'd strongly suggest you should invest too.
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- Semtex by The Third Eye Foundation
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