Volume Sixteen: Copulation Explosion (Volume, 1996)

Review
You had to email Yvonne at Volume to take out a subscription. Four issues cost £45 and in the book for Volume Sixteen they were still advertised along with back issues of both it and Trance Europe Express. The draw: a free t-shirt of Freddie, cover star of Volume Three.

We start with Dubstar’s Not So Fast, a new track recorded especially for the magazine. It is a slowburner, well-crafted with their typical sound. Disgraceful still gets a regular autumn airing in my house, perfect for changing seasons. In a very welcome change, the contents page for this issue has a helpful note on the track therein. For example Space (sounding strangely like Dubstar for the first 10 seconds) offer up Me And You Vs The World, described as “a cheesily embellished version of one of their tufest tunes” – ultra nice instrumentation too. Breaking the spell are Bawl and the aptly described Unfinished. Nice James Joyce discussion in the text. Pity it wasn’t Brawl, fondly remembered here. Next are Candyskins; Oasis sound remarkably like them. Europe + Japan is very catchy stuff, an exclusive. Meanwhile Northern Uproar proudly announce that they’re not voting and struggle to know the difference between Conservative and Labour. The Alternative Electric version of Moods is a wonderful mix of melancholia and ace swirling melody lines.

Linoleum crash in with the casual swagger of She’s Sick, a track that would later feature on their debut LP Dissent. I had forgotten about them until now. Next are Cradle with a French version of Second Nature, an old Wedding Present trick. Nothing special. Thinking back 25 years, I remember spending a lot of time listening to Super Furry Animals. Fuzzy Logic got serious play, a fantastic debut brimming with confidence. There’s an interesting demo of Frisbee here, slower than the final take. “Two parts ethereal bubblegum pop, one part enigmatic dead seriousness (with a bit of Supertramp thrown in)”. Golf is on the TV and Bunford gives it the thumbs up: “Any sport where you get to dress like a pimp is alright by me.” Curiously the brief review of the album dismisses it as “so little having lasting power” which is way off the mark. We then go back to London for Octopus and their jerky I Know Who I Am. And then a Beck exclusive, the aggressive Thunderpeel. The free-spirited Odelay remains one of that year’s high points. Compressed deluxe edition.

The Cure get a nice long feature here which is worth the price of admission. It was the Wild Mood Swings era, widely maligned but it has high points. The Roxy Mix of Club America is an even baggier take on the original, frantic guitars and Robert’s deep voice. It’s followed by Pusherman’s Whole, a track of similar length but containing none of the creativity. And then Baader Meinhof’s oblique instrumental GSG/29, lifted off their knockout album, another heavy spinner of ’96. A particularly great year for The Auteurs and their £1.99 classic After Murder Park. One of my highlights of the entire decade was seeing Luke Haines perform tracks from both albums in Vicar Street. Back to nature: Moonshake’s Nothing But Time is a smoky trip hip journey while Gretschen Hofner’s St Pauli is as wretched as I can remember. The interview sees the singer spout off in a confrontational fashion, dropping cliched anti-U2 comments. After a boring Shave number, Lush drop a new tune, the gentle Half And Half which would eventually show up on the controversial Chorus box set. Lovelife gets called “a singalong hymn-book for the perpetually disenchanted” – a pretty accurate description. Good interview too.

On Creation, Edward Ball’s Docklands Blues is a sparkly night-time observational from the former Television Personalities man. Next are Balloon with the wispy Saw Song, waiting for sleep. Then Vic Chesnutt’s cover of Flowers On The Wall, recorded for a Dutch radio station. The CD concludes on a downbeat note, the Afghan Whigs solemn 3.00AM bedsit lament, I Want To Go To Sleep. But there’s more! Another CD with read-only memory content and five tunes. Starting are Labradford with The Window, all elegant ambient textures before Heave’s faraway sound of Barberskum. Surprisingly we go all the back to 1979 for The Pop Group’s 3:38, the B-side to She Is Beyond Good And Evil before singer Mark Stewart serves up the more interesting Digital Justice (Dub), bleak techno for the future. Finally, we end with an old favourite of the magazine – Meat Beat Manifesto and their baroque industrial classic Future Worlds (Alternative Version). Just get higher.

Favourite tracks
Northern Uproar – Moods (Alternative Electric Version)

The Cure – Club America (Roxy Mix)

The Afghan Whigs – I Want To Go To Sleep

Meat Beat Manifesto – Future Worlds (Alternative Version)

Lest we forget
Mark Stewart – Digital Justice (Dub)

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