Volume Twelve AKA “Winter Sports Special” arrived in December 1994 and jovially informed readers that Prince Edward had been appointed as Assistant Features Editor.
We start with Node’s Olivine. Consisting of Dave Bessell, Gary Stout, Ed Buller & Flood; “One minute the music conjures up Alaskan snow and ice, the next Amazonian jungle heat.” It’s a majestic, sweeping
fjord beast of a track and like the more accessible brother of anything off Ambient 4. Next are Spiritualized with the more-rock vibes of Good Times (Pure Phase), a new version of a song that originally appeared on Electric Mainline EP. The interview is both illuminating and informative. Meanwhile Goya Dress had recently supported Suede and Foetus sounds like a 4AD knock-off complete with poetic depravity. Stealing the show are Garbage and the thrilling & visceral Vow. While not released as a single until March 1995, it was a great coup to get it here and I played it almost daily during those cold weeks. This was a prime example of a understated or quiet licensing which gradually gains momentum – Steve Lamacq and John Peel both picked up on it. Record shops started getting requests and enquiries for a single that did not exist.
Le crunch continues with the hypnotic sound of Prolapse and Visa For Violet And Van. I’d had loved to see that performed in Trainspotting. A chugging riff upon more riffs. Cut from a similar cloth are Shriek and the catchy Girl Meets Girl, another Peel favourite and one that only can be found here (aside from the ’95 Deceptive single). On the other hand Pet Lamb’s frantic Son Of John Doe hasn’t aged as well. After two enjoyable one-sided 12″ singles Paranoid From The Neck Down and Spent (both on Blunt and purchased from Borderline Records), they released their debut album Sweaty Handshake on Roadrunner Records. It was primarily composed of said EPs a long with a brace of songs which lacked the initial charm and energy of the earlier recordings. The album sleeve was horrendously grotesque and the insular Dublin-centric indie scene vibe is amplified with interview comments like “We know almost fuckall about anybody outside of Dublin.” complete with some advice for “Volume’s Catholic readers” re moving out of their parents’ gaff.
The new Moby record, Everything Is Wrong was eagerly awaited back then. What Love? has an industrial slant, a mix between Revolting Cocks and KMFDM. Next are G Love & Special Sauce with the almost arcane Tomorrow Night (Live) – Beck meets Tom Waits via Blues Explosion. It’s well paired with Massive Attack’s Karma Coma (Bumper Ball Dub) lifted off that album with the Mad Professor – No Protection. We’re back to Spacemen 3 roots as Experimental Audio Research under the guise of Sonic Boom drop the eerie Space Theme (Tribute To John Cage). Not to be confused with the far superior H-Foundation, Laika’s Lower Than Stars is watery spacecake pondering. Bringing out the melancholy are Ride with the deeply moving Only Now (US Remix). It would have fitted in on Cosmic Carnival and is even more laid back after Jack Rieley’s tinkering. I love the way OX4 has four tracks from Carnival Of Light, truly one of the most underrated of ’90s albums.
It was early days for Catatonia but Dream On is pretty and effortlessly poppy with Cerys’ trademark vocal. Staying in Wales, Novacaine (from Newport) contribute the heartfelt Pond Life, a catchy number with strong lung action. Elsewhere Love Spit Love’s Wake Up is a pleasant acoustic strum from ex-Psych Fur Richard Butler. Highlight of this final furlong are Flinch with the edgy, shoegaze vibe of Days. Lead by the impressive Grog, it’s a track with cracking bass and suitably vague angsty sentiments. There’s just time for a few album reviews – Dog Man Star, Dummy, Nirvana Unplugged and The Holy Bible all out around then. I write this piece on a Wednesday evening; the day of the week when weather is at its worst, particularly in November and December as darkness sets in. Ending on a suitably bleak note are Nitzer Ebb and the self-fulfilling prophecy In Decline.
Garbage – Vow
Ride – Only Now (US Remix)
Lest we forget
Prolapse – Visa For Violet And Van