High-grade reissue of the 1983 album of Normil Hawaiians, who were not Hawaiian but were based within the vivid Brixton squat scene of the time. Operating in the grim depths of Thatcherism and following the suicide of a close associate of the band, Normil Hawaiians recorded this remarkable suite of unusual and highly-collaborative group music, which sadly sank without a trace as a consequence of label failings. But this reissue gives What’s Going On? the love it deserves, with lots of liner notes and seven bonus tracks, as well as a fine remastering job.

Limited CD £11.99 UTR121CD

Remastered CD on Upset The Rhythm. Edition of 500 copies in gatefold wallet with booklet. Includes bonus tracks.

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Limited Vinyl LP £18.49 UTR121LP

Remastered LP on Upset The Rhythm. Edition of 500 copies in glossy gatefold sleeve with booklet insert. Download includes bonus tracks.

  • Limited edition
  • Includes download code
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What's Going On? by Normil Hawaiians
1 review. Write a review for us »
9/10 Daoud 11 July 2019

It’s hard to imagine what it was like for their to be a proper squat scene in London. I grew up there in the 90s, and even for me, the idea of every tiny bit of land not being aggressively monetised is kind of impossible to imagine. I mean, they’ve even got those live in guardians now who basically pay to squat.

But, and this should not shock older readers, there was a time where you could more easily squat in London and follow your creative pursuits. This isn’t to say finding success was any easier (or indeed life, this was under Thatcher after all), but it definitely did enable some bands to do things they might not have done otherwise.

In 1984 Normil Hawaiians, of the Brixton squats, tried to release ‘What’s Going On?’. Unfortunately their label collapsed and very few people heard the record. This is a great shame. The sprawling collective were musically adventurous and politically astute. Though they will probably be filed alongside the post-punks forever more, there are elements of spoken word, ambience, and even moments approaching noise.

‘Martin’ is a dub bass line that slowly gives way to screeching guitars. ‘Louise Michel’ has one of the members reading the speech the songs namesake gave when brought to trail after the Paris Commune. The album’s best tracks are its two sprawling and ambitious closers. Both reach ten minutes and see Normil Hawaiians performing a free form exploration of their sound that makes them every equal to the likes of Can and This Heat.



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