LEVEN SIGNS - HEMP IS HERE (LP)


"Leven Signs' "Hemp is Here" really should be considered a classic of mid-80s UK avante garde, but it came and went in 1985, as both a cassette release (Unlikely Records) and vinyl release (Cordelia) in the blink of an eye. This duo of Peter Karkut and Maggie Turner managed to craft one of the strangest, most affecting albums of new wave experimentalism that I've ever heard. Due to the album's impossible-to-find status, it's been largely forgotten and continuously overlooked, but hopefully that will begin to change. But what is it about "Hemp is Here" that makes it such a special record? At times it feels like a modern, electronic take on gamelan music with crashing rhythms and modal melodies corrupted via bewildering sonic manipulation. Karkut layers organ sequences over and over, constructing songs that have more in common tonally with music you'd hear in gothic cathedrals than any sort of school of electronic music. Think of a more diverse, Turkish-tinged "Flaming Tunes" and you might be getting close. "Hemp is Here" is a manic conglomeration of influences and ideas, ending up as a sensational playground of aural narcotics. On the surface, Karkut's complex compositions seem at odds with Turner's often-detached, stunning vocals, but it's the dichotomy of those two disparate elements that latch on and don't let go. This record is almost 30 years old and I'm still not sure what it should be classified is (other than brilliant, of course)." (label info) highly recommended
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in stock | US| 2013| DIGITALIS | 18.90


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