Sunday, 16 January 2011

From the Top Drawer I - Webcore

It seems like every young hipster in the neo-psychedelic movement today is telling you that they've always listened to Hawkwind, Neu!, Spacemen 3, and Amon Duul II and base their own band's sound on those templates. Nothing much wrong with that, (although a lot of these new bands seem derivative and not very original, not surprising if that's all they've listened to) but they always seem to miss out on referencing a whole era of music, which to many people in the UK at least, was very important in shaping their daily reality. Maybe they've never heard of the (very diverse) bands that played the many free festivals, parties, squat gigs and urban clubs that were the lifeblood of the underground psychedelic scene of the 1980s before the rave scene kicked in to change the landscape. These bands picked up the torch of the psychedelic scenes of the 1960s and 1970s and kept that flame burning through the next decade adding their own particular flavours to the stew.

This was the post-punk era of DIY culture when many people were bypassing the music business altogether and releasing their home-recorded music on cassette tapes, at the time the best medium to transmit their particular visions to fellow psychonauts. Portable boomboxes and hi-fis blasted out weird sonic collages in a thousand squats, housing co-op kitchens and travelling vehicles parked up in the Great Outdoors as well as through PA systems at word-of-mouth events.

These were formative years for me and my musical education, and I was an avid collector of those cassette tapes when I could find them. I bought them at gigs, festivals, Club Dog and Deptford Crypt events and sometimes begged the bands themselves who as yet hadn't released anything to fill a blank tape with their latest noodlings for me. I still have many of these recordings and intend to share some of them here to fill a perceived gap on the internet. I'm starting to convert these tapes to digital format for my own collection, and to share if there's a demand. I hope that the band members and artists don't object to me doing this...

To get things rolling I've chosen one of my favourite bands from the era I've just described - Webcore.

Their gigs were always events that I would look forward to with anticipation, as the mystical musical environment they conjured up was something very special. Poetry, chanted mantras and various organic and inorganic instruments would be layered on top of sheets of ambient synthesized sound, fretless bass and solid tribal rhythms, each performance seemingly unique no matter how many times one would see them play. Their flyers were also decorated with astonishing artwork to provide a conceptual vision of intent.

This tape is called 'Cinematography' and dates from 1984.
I've ripped it at 320kbps from the original and it comes in two parts, sides 1 & 2. I've done a little bit of tweaking to get the overall levels near 0db and topped and tailed the tape hiss at the beginning and ends of the sides.

The tracks are -
Side One: Exit The Fear/Jack Smack/Shades Of Light/Son Of Man/Webcore Atman
Side Two: Poison Without Trace/Captains Table/Edentide/The Feather Mask And This/Prophet Gear

Download HERE

The live performances of Feather Mask were something else completely! Well, all the songs...really intense, phew!
I also love the section of one musical tone-poem that talks of getting up to go down to the benefit office to sign on, genius. 'People are lethal...'
Thatcher's/Major's/Blair's etc Britain in a nutshell.

Webcore pics from Club Dog, @ Wood Green, London 1986-87

Typical flyer artwork


  1. Thanks for the downloads....

    Time warped, tweaked and remastered versions available here:

  2. Hi C-Life, you're very welcome, and thanks in turn for the remasters - sounding sweet!
    Any plans to put out any other/unreleased recordings?
    (Guessing you might be guitarist Clive...?)

  3. I can't believe that I'm listening to these recordings again, I was living in Cornwall when the Webcore/Artistic Control thing started and I've lost all the tapes and vinyl I had. Many thanks for posting this. Do you have any Artistic Control?

  4. Hello Anon and thanks for stopping by.
    Yes, I do have the Artistic Control tape that came out on ARK - unfortunately it has suffered a bit of wear and tear like old cassettes do, and a bit of TLC will be needed before I can attempt to post it (it might be too far gone but we'll see...).