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Baker's Dozen

Parallel Worlds: Peter Strickland's Favourite Albums
Colm McAuliffe , June 3rd, 2014 13:03

On the occasion of the Berberian Sound Studio and Katalin Varga director releasing Wasp Boutique, a collaboration between Art-Errorist and Zsolt Sőrés, on his record label, and with a new feature film on the way, he sits down with Colm McAuliffe to talk 13 formative favourites


The Hair And Skin Trading Company - Psychedelische Musique (Lava Surf Kunst)
Why was this album overlooked? Had it come out of Germany in the 70s, you'd have people fawning over it. I really love this album and listening to it again now, it still drones, echoes and flickers in such an askew manner. It can sound incredibly heavy, dubby and at times, quite ghostly. It's one of the strangest records I've heard from the 90s.

I know I shouldn't, but I can't help lumping The Hair And Skin Trading Company in with Loop and Spacemen 3 and all the other offshoot bands. They were all vital for me in my late teens and early twenties. The Hair And Skin Trading Company, Juicy Eureka, Main, Spiritualized, EAR, Spectrum - they all made life-changing music and as with Stereolab and Broadcast, got me into so much other music. There would be no Sun Ra, The MC5, The Stooges, The 13th Floor Elevators, Steve Reich, Faust, Can or Birthday Party in my collection, were it not for Loop and Spacemen 3. Simon Reynolds was really eloquent about some of these influences in his Blissed Out book, but it was hard to find much else on these bands, especially as I came to them after they split. Most of what I read focused on the rivalry or tried to goad certain members into badmouthing each other. I got the impression that Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce were the Liz Taylor and Richard Burton of Rugby, but all that was just irrelevant tattle when you look at the legacy they have left behind.

I was too young and too ignorant to catch Loop and Spacemen 3 live before they split up. Some devious friends still love to wind me up by saying how they saw those two bands live. Even Toby Jones used to taunt me on the set of Berberian Sound Studio by saying how good The Cure were on their Faith tour. I was lucky enough to see most of the offshoot bands several times to make up for missing out the first time round. I saw The Hair And Skin Trading Company live in a bar in Reading in 1995 and they blew my mind. I think they only played two or three tracks, but very extended versions. Hardly anyone was there and I was tempted to tell the band how much I loved their set, but I'd made a wally of myself in the past doing that kind of thing, so I spared them.

I could pick any number of albums by Loop, Spacemen 3 or their offshoots, but Psychedelische Musique was so criminally buried at the time. 1995 was a strange year what with all these Britpop bands playing kiss chase with the music press, but beyond that, exceptional music was being made. Stereolab released two very strong albums, Main put out their Hertz set of five EPs a month, Spiritualized put out my favourite album of theirs, Pure Phase and then Psychedelische Musique came out. I also discovered Zoviet France and ate my way through their back catalogue. It was a great year for staying in my bedroom and listening to music.