Thursday, April 19, 2007

Toll-Christ Knows,LP,1986,UK

The whole 1980's Broken Flag/UK Industrial scene has always fascinated me. I started exploring the label's artists and discography a couple of years ago when I started to really hunt down Skullflower records in earnest, and discovered the label's history online primarily through websites like Monotremata. For those that are unfamiliar with this chapter of underground UK music, Broken Flag was a label established in the early 1980's by Gary Mundy, a longtime guitarist in legendary improv-noise outfit Ramleh and a key figure in the early years of Skullflower. Broken Flag released several seminal LPs from bands like Skullflower and Ramleh, as well as a ton of cassettes from Ramleh, Controlled Bleeding, Total, Con-Dom, and many others. One of these Broken Flag cassettes was the "Christ Knows" tape from a band called Toll, a sort-of Ramleh side-project that featured Mundy, Matthew Frith, and Tim Soar. The cassette would eventually also be released on LP through the label in 1986, and part of it's word of mouth mystery over the years is due to the additional players on these recordings: two of the tracks feature a pre-Stereolab Tim Gane on electronic percussion, and avant/industrial legend Paul Lemos (of Controlled Bleeding, Skin Chamber, and freakout-prog unit Breast Fed Yak) contributed electronics to some of this material as well.
Toll's music stood out from the largely free-skronk/destroyed electronics of the Broken Flag roster, blending weird, post-punk style hooks and wiry guitars with washes of psychedelic electronics, heavily affected layered downer singing and haunting chant-vocals, eerie industrial drones, heavy low-frequency ambience, caustic fried electronic noise, pretty, minimalist casio melodies and basslines that remind me of old Cure songs, grinding machine rhythms banged out of thunderous sheet metal, guitar drones, violin, heavy spacey dark dirge riffs, and a dark and weird sense of humour mixed together into an eerie twilight dream fog. Their sound evokes a similiar sort of hallucinogenic, urban paranoia that is found in 80's UK power electronics/noise/skum, but Toll's approach is more surreal and subdued, like Nurse With Wound mixed with dark 80's post-punk and grim, grinding Industrial fear. There are parts of this album that even sound almost like an instrumental early singles-era The Cure jamming with the ripping early power electronics of Ramleh. Highly recommended!

get it here

7 comments:

RisingRunner said...

Cool! I love it when you post something that I've actually heard (of). I believe I've got this on LP, so looking forward to listening to it again.

Thanks!

Dr Wommm said...

Good work fella, I'd also urge everyone to track down the reissue of Fetor by Pure, Matt Bower's pre-Skull flower which is equally brainscraping. Oh, and if anyone has a copy of Gary Mundy's solo project from the early 90s, The Ruby Kennel Cleb, please upload it 'cos I've lost my copy and I miss it so...

howsthatsound said...

thanks this is great! i'd also love to get ahold of some of the rare matthew bower stuff. i'm kind of obsessed with his music.

Anonymous said...

this stuff was reissued by cold spring records (uk) last year on cd with 3 bonus tracks added and altered artwork (unfortunately). the material was remastered.
it can be purchased directly from the label as far as i'm concerned.
anyway, keep up the good work!

Ian said...

nice!

Josh said...

Fantastic stuff, thanks you so very much! This is almost impossible to find.

I know I'm a bit late asking, seeing as how this post was three years ago and everything, but by any chance do you happen to have Toll's even rarer cassette, "No Doubt"?

Pachubatinath said...

...lovely reissue of this badboy on Cold Spring for those of you who want to flash the cash. A great record for fans of SPK n' that.

(Includes bonus tracks).