Zaheer (Xvarr/WASWAAS) Top Ten
Having recently moved back to my roots in the middle-lands, Leicester to be precise, it seems right to orient this top ten accordingly. Interestingly, whenever we tell anyone news of our move however, more often than not, we’re met with the classic one-liner which always hits hard…’oh, I’ve never been to Leicester’…
Anyway, I have found myself returning to a favourite haunt, Rockaboom records, where some could say it all started for me and many others who grew up here in the late 80s to early 90s (before making a hasty exist to locations as far afield as was humanly possible: Manchester, Lyon and then London in my case.
Without delving too deeply into the mundane aspects of nostalgia, it seems appropriate to pay homage to one’s foundations…rest assured I’m definitely not one to retrace tired steps in the hope of recovering some lost pubescent energy (especially at my age)…but looking back into the mirror of youth can be a powerful experience, if it’s used with the appropriate degree of caution.
Why move back to Leicester you may ask? Well, it’s all been in the name of evolution and a much needed escape from the vortex that is London - sonic outputs have paused and the move has presented an opportunity to reflect on what has passed, and what shall come to pass in the realm of creative projects.
In some senses, becoming tangled up in the material aspects of the creative process (the product is of course one and the same) - record, release, mourn, forget, record, release, self-doubt, record, release, feel out of sync with deeper motivations became boring and repetitive….and far removed from the reason(s) behind sharing that particular aspect of my inner vision. Turning back to the reason I’m here, it is the spirit of early purchases from Rockaboom (and similarly dated acquisitions from the vicinity) that make up my top ten for Reckless.
Back then, I was drumming in a local band, playing synths for a community entertainment group (where I became acquainted with my Juno 60) and wrestling with a plethora of emotions and adolescent temptation, with exposure to many types of earthly pleasures, all of which no doubt played a pivotal role in inspiring me to make otherworldly music. In terms of creative projects outside the band at this point, I was using metal pipes, a borrowed R8 and Tascam 4 track, recording vocals using a Realistic lapel mic ‘borrowed’ from dad…these releases have yet to see the light of day…
1. Godflesh - Slateman / Wound 91 (Sub Pop)
I used to see Godflesh a lot round our way before I left for University and was thrilled to be pummelled by their raw power whenever the chance presented itself (quite often at the now long gone Princess Charlotte as I recall). I also used to have the Pure lp poster on my bedroom wall and I always remember the time my Grandad had come over from Canada and laughed at the two words that made up the totality of that poster: Godflesh, Pure…that moment of connection us, as well as all the music of Godflesh stays with me till this day. We actually did a cover of Christbait Rising (Streetcleaner lp) in our band which was always a joy to recreate on a physical drum kit.
2. Stasis - Circuit Funk (Peacefrog)
This record blew me away on so many angles (and as the sticker attests only cost £3.99 new when released, which also blows me away on many angles when looking at the price of vinyl today)…those early Peacefrog records seemed untouchable at the time and were worthy contenders for their Detroit counterparts. Simply one of the best - the melodies, the programming, the processing, the dreams of a future, which seemed so distant then but which now hang over us with dystopian fervour.
3. Ramleh - Blowhole (Shock)
This record fused the beauty of noise which I was very into at the time and somehow seemed tinged with indie music creating otherworldly melancholy pain and ultimate pleasure in a more stark fashion than others seemed capable of… dropping the needle on this one was instant immersion into a brick wall of melodically dissonant gut wrenching deepest sonic whirlpools.
4. The Field Mice - Emma’s House (Sarah Records)
Talking about indie music, despite my peers’ supposed eclecticism, I always seemed to get it in the neck for being into indie pop, especially anything on Sarah Records…I always found this fascinating and quite ironic, but didn’t let it deter me from pursuing my interests in blue cagoule deepness. The Field Mice, and especially this record did it for me big time, the lyrics were sarcastic in their potency and simplicity and many a tear was shed whilst delving into this classic 4 track ep.
5. Peregrini - s/t flexi
My first flexi, and also my first exposure to the Japanese avant garde…still very mysterious to me this one, never figured out who, why, how, when…but it’s brutal in its perseverance and weirdness.
6. Circus Lupus - Super Genius (Dischord)
I still wonder where the T-shirt that accompanied this stormer of an lp (so much angry love in this record) went. I got it from the gig they played in Leicester, last seen with numerous gaping holes and much faded graphics. Also, kind of connected to this but remember sleeping on my mate’s floor with Lungfish in the same room around the same time they toured,…another story for another time.
7. Pump - The Decoration of the Duma continues (Final Image)
This lp was actually purchased second hand from Ultima Thule, yet another legendary record shop in Leicester! I remember my dear friend Jon bought this at the same time, as they had two copies…and the Freeman brothers did their best to entice us, which I’m glad they did …apparently one of the copies had a different coloured silver ink on the sleeve, I still can’t get to the bottom of whether or not this was true and/or reason for generating excitement, this record is always top of the pile but a close guarded secret at the same time. I was always into Karl Blake, so this was a bonus in terms of sealing the deal.
8. :zoviet*france:* – Look Into Me (Charm)
Went to see these guys play in Nottingham at the time this and the Shouting at the Ground lp were out - I bought both at the time. One of those gigs which you never quite comprehend at the time, but still one of the few that just stick with you for all your life. I remember sitting on the floor, surrounded by myriad effects, and lots of confusion in my ears…not many have confused to this degree since.
9. Green Day - Slappy ep (Lookout records)
Similarly formative in terms of influence (only first two eps though), although I tended more towards the Dischord angle at the time, but when you’ve got a lot of teen energy, Green Day seemed to be able to soak it up quicker than a Regina blitz. Interesting fact, Tre Cool nicked my Swatch when we went to see them in Wigan. Although he did return it when I jumped on stage at the end of the gig, looking around with my trademark accusatory eyes! Those eyes have served me well over the years.
10. Spacemen 3 – Recurring
Ever since seeing the video for Big City on Snub TV, I was hooked and this was an opiate-soaked sonic drug I never wanted to get off…ever! I actually borrowed my copy of this from the local Leicester music library in the town centre, which no longer exists, and recorded it to tape at home at the time. Oh let the good times roll. Ironically however, in the case of this particular city, there’s nobody I know to be found here.