Hard Copy: Fear Drop

With the advent of digital download, print media with accompanying free records, tapes or CDs are becoming increasingly rare. In Hard Copy, Jukebox Heart presents one such print media item and its associated audio. This time, the wonderful Fear Drop magazine.

Based in La Ferriere-sur-Risle, in the north of France, Fear Drop was founded in 1993/1994, and after some rather eclectic beginnings, was quickly devoted to various forms of musical experiments. The majority of these experiments lay in that proverbial gray area between abstraction and figuration, and the magazine’s priority evolved such as to seize and preserve these aural passages. Today, the project is articulated mainly around the reflection, description, and the translation of abstract musics. Each issue of the magazine Fear Drop is accompanied by a compilation CD gathering new pieces, the majority of which are composed exclusively for inclusion in Fear Drop.

I first leaned of Fear Drop recently, when a newsletter arrived in my inbox from Touch Records announcing the inclusion of several Touch artists on the CD accompanying the most recent issue, number 15, including BJ Nilsen, Chris Watson, Jana Winderen, and Mike Harding himself. Also included is Black To Comm, whose recent performance at Boston’s Gothe Institut was simply fascinating. So I immediately searched for back issues and scored all the way back to issue 7.

Featured here is Issue 14, issued in late 2008, which is an entire issue dedicated to an analysis of The Cure’s “Pornography” album, originally issued in 1982. Indeed, the accompanying CD reworks and reconstructs the entire original LP with 8 artists coming together to form a compilation, with each artist interpreting one of the 8 tracks on the original LP. Th resulting tracks were then sequenced as on the original recording. Artists include the diverse mix of Nadja, Savage Republic, Troum, Contagious Orgasm and more. The results are varied and range from the faithful to the completely unfamiliar. Savage Republic provides a very faithful rendition of The Hanging Garden, which, considering the bands heavily percussive bent, makes a good deal of sense. One of the most unpredictable tracks is presented here.

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Wild Shades provide a cover of “Siamese Twins”, and the results are gripping, engaging and as amusing and unlikely as the Flying Lizards cover of “Summertime Blues”. Click on the arrow above to hear the track.

The Cure is one of those bands that everyone who grew up in the last 30 years grew up with. So we all have our periods of The Cure which resonate with us. Perhaps, too, we have a well-defined moment when we realized that we may have outgrown them and moved on to bigger and better things. Of course, one never really outgrows The Cure. Oh sure, we may have our fill of self-indulgent music snobbery that evokes the requisite nasal upturn upon the mention of the band’s name. Too pedestrian? Sure, sure. But when those doors close, I’d be willing to bet you have that one guilty pleasure, that one Cure song that no one knows you know about but you that gets your foot tapping where no one can see it, or that makes you cry and blame it on seasonal allergies, or, goddammit, just makes you dance. Period. Sublime moments for me: Seeing The Cure perform Boys Don’t Cry to an audience of 30 people in the basement of a Boston University dormitory. Seeing them again years later performing Primary to synchronized out-of-phase strobe lights. And then again, Shake Dog Shake, once again in Boston. But for me, the magic ended with Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. Even the title made me bristle and blanched my cool all-black wardrobe. Things would just never be the same, even if the album was a little darker than the title suggested. But gone were the dim, foggy days of Faith and Seventeen Seconds, that was certain. Pornography, of course, was a an entirely different affair. I remember playing it in the living room when it was hot off the press, which prompted my then room-mate to urgently enter the room, saying, incredulously, in a tone which ultimately suggested three question marks, “Is This The Cure???” When I nodded, he just said, “OK, now they are starting to frighten me.” Porngraphy, was, in fact, their grand opus of the time. Not as accessible as the previous two albums I just mentioned, but certainly more to the point. Robert Smith’s hair was getting longer; his eyeliner, darker; his pout; deeper and the cracks in his voice, well, more cracked.

In any case, closet fans of The Cure can now call the date of the release of this issue of Fear Drop their National Coming Out Day. Fear Drop has reclaimed hip street cred for The Cure for their most secretive admirers, and validated those of us who never really cut the strings, even if we pretended to…

To hear the original version of Siamese Twins, as performed by The Cure, click on the arrow below.

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Fear Drop is a non-profit. Please visit Fear Drop and send a little love their way…

Bizarro Cover Versions: Druscilla Penny

Bananafish is a magazine which was founded in 1987 in San Francisco, California, by “Seymour Glass”, focusing on various aspects of underground culture, particularly musical genres such as noise music. The style of the magazine was a mix of interviews, articles, fiction, and music reviews, often written in Glass’s absurdist, stream-of-consciousness writing style, which at times bordered on nonsense. “Reviews” were often contextual accounts of a day in the life of Seymour in which the record under review happened to be playing. The text was complemented by bizarre artwork and photographs, frequently unrelated to the articles they accompanied. One trademark of the magazine was its use of appropriated text and images from uncredited or unknown sources, taken from found objects picked up by Glass, other contributors, or readers.

Another regular feature was the inclusion of a compilation 7″ record or CD of music by artists profiled in the corresponding issue. Bananafish is often credited with giving many Americans their first exposure to Japanese noise musicians such as Merzbow and Solmania, as well as domestic noisemakers like Emil Beaulieau.

One of the issues that was published was a sort of twisted tribute to the Carpenters, and the 7″ record, produced by Rrron Lessard’s (yes, of Emil Beaulieau fame) well established RRRecords label, and featured several artists covering tunes by our beloved brother/sister duet. The above portrait of Karen and Richard is a special rendering of the duo especially for use on the label of this 7″ record. The image below is the cover of the Bananafish issue that accompanied this record.

Banafish Issue

The included single was a twisted tribute to K&R. All the tracks were Carpenters’ covers and included such artists as Thinking fellers Union Local 282, World of Pooh and Emil Beaulieau. Included here is World of Pooh’s cover of Druscilla Penny, one of the few tracks originally sung by Richard. World of Pooh is one of the stops along the way in Babara Manning’s extensive recording career, part of which was covered here in a previous Jukebox Heart installment. This track was culled from the single included with the Carpenters issue of Bananafish.

Click on the arrow below to hear World of Pooh’s cover of “Druscilla Penny”.

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Record included with Banafish

See the track listing below:

A1 Cathy Kidd & Tim Smyth – Rainy Days And Mondays
A2 Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 – Superstar
A3 Piglatin – Hidden Track
B1 Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 – KLTX
B2 World Of Pooh – Druscilla Penny
B3 Lucian Tielens – Sing
B4 Cathy Kidd & Emil Beaulieau – Hurting Each Other

Hard Copy: Emigre

This idea for a new topic on Jukebox Heart has been fermenting for a while, and finally late last night it all sort of gelled. In another popular social networking forum, one of my postings veered directly into a discussion of relationship disharmony and my passion for reading. Obviously, the time was right, I thought, to talk about music publications and the delight of an accompanying freebie recording. Hard Copy was born.

With the advent of digital dowmloads, though, it has become much less frequent to find a CD or 7″ single tucked inside any of the more interesting rags, and this is something I miss whenever I checkthem out on my cool record shops’ news stands. The fact is, I have a ton of this shit. I’m sitting here in my studio staring don ten overstuffed boxes of it. So where to begin. This could include anything, from fanzines with handcrafted mixtapes to fully produced books with professionally manufactured CDs attached. I decided to launch this series with Emigre.

Emigre logo in use c. 2002.

Emigre, as I’m sure many reading this already know, is/was a pioneering type foundry and graphic design firm. Their publication, Emigre Magazine, ran for 21 years and published 69 issues between 1984 and 2005. The “4AD” issue, featuring Vaughan Oliver, 23 Envelope and the design of 4AD Records legendary and is part of the canon for design students globally. Emigre’s alliance with Bruce Licher – the man whose Savage Republic band defined southern California post punk music for nearly a decade and who set a standard of design using hand letterpress techniques in all of his designs for his Independent Projects label – was evident in many of the later issues of Emigre. The union of image, design and music was never a more harmonious relationship than in Bruce Licher’s contributions to Emigre.

Chipboard wraparound folder (left). Magazine cover (right).

Click on the arrow below to hear “Lightspeed” from Scenic’s “The Acid Gospel Expeience”.

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7:37 | 7.14MB

So here, I am featuring issue number 63 from the summer of 2002. It is accompanied by a CD by Bruce Licher’s post Savage Republic band, Scenic, “The Acid Gospel Experience” premiered in tis format along with Emigre magazine and has since been reissued in a more traditional format. Emigre Magazine always succeeded in marrying the notion of a fully realized journal with a font catalog, typesetting all articles in whatever new typefaces they were marketing at the time. The print component of the issues of Emigre which contained an audio component always thematically matched the music housed inside. This issue includes landscape photography by Jason Fulford, landscape painting by Shelley Hoyt, design ephemera by Charles Wilkin, and music by Scenic, all set in Zuzanna Licko’s Fairplex typeface family, which was premiered in the issue. Each face was presented and described in an essay discussing the font, its development and use.

Below are some page spreads from Emigre 63:

Landscape photos from Jason Fullard

A sample from the essay on the Fairplex font showing some of the available faces.

Two of the paintngs from Shelley Fords View From Berkeley series.

Pagespread from designer Charles Wilkin introducing his Index A font.