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Historically Fucked
The Mule Peasants’ Revolt of 12,067 Noel Gardner , January 31st, 2023 10:07

A truly unhinged record from four well-seasoned noiseniks

If you, a hater, want to dismiss pretty much any given piece of music deemed experimental or avant-garde or otherwise Weird, you can accuse its creators of either taking themselves too seriously, or not seriously enough. Most likely you’ll be talking shit, and mistaking vibes for insight, but we are all sinners on that front, no doubt.

Let’s accept, for argument’s sake, that some improvised music – from the thousands of hours’ worth recorded each year – does take itself too seriously, is arid and dour and gives no indication of anyone involved having fun. Then consider Manuncian quartet Historically Fucked and their new album The Mule Peasants’ Revolt of 12,067. It sounds like an unstoppable party! Sure, one for a selective clientele, who dig Fluxus methodology and Skin Graft Records catalogue obscurities and the well-spoken goofballs of post-AMM British free music – but those people might just dance you squares under the table.

All of Historically Fucked have plenty of irons in and out the fire, with David Birchall and Otto Wilberg (guitar and bass respectively) consistently doubleteaming on other recordings and performances of a skronkish ilk. Greta Buitkutė retains links to the no-audience underground scene in Newcastle, where she used to live, and Alexander Pierce has grown a freakier hide since an earlier life drumming in briefly hyped indie-dance unit Egyptian Hip-Hop. Coming courtesy of Upset The Rhythm Records, Mule Peasants is the band’s vinyl debut following some self-released cassettes and CDRs (all long sold out but streamable here), and is decidedly more focused for being a brisker, leaner 24 minutes.

With technical assistance by people with ears for punk tonality – Rory Salter recorded the album, Mikey Young mastered it over in Australia – there seems to be an increased desire to charge forth rather than meander. ‘Seven Eggs For Seven Sisters’ has something of early Melt-Banana about it, staccato-scrabble guitar and exhortations yelped by Buitkutė as if inadvertently touching a hotplate. She is Historically Fucked’s lead vocalist, to the extent that such formal titles are appropriate here, but one or more of her bandmates will often serve as a deeper-voiced, equally post-language foil, as on ‘Lumic Speed (Lynx To The Masters 1 By 1)’. (No clue about any of their song titles, sorry.) The backing vocals – again, this feels like a term suited to more composed music – on ‘Dismal Abject’ have the air of someone singing to themselves in the house after being stuck inside for a week.

When the instrumentalists of Historically Fucked really get on each other’s level it’s a delightfully oleaginous sound, parts bumping into other parts like aubergines in a deep fryer. Pierce kicks off ‘I Could Not Look In My Lung’ with a scrambled take on funk drumming; Birchall does something similar to a guitar style that might have its origins in jammy 70s arena rock or post-hardcore a la Fugazi. Wilberg’s bass interjections are like being prodded with something both sharp and leaden. ‘Twelve-Stool Dad’, which concludes the album, is an absurdist blizzard of dense clusters which attacks the senses more harshly than anything before it, Buitkutė turning in a vocal meltdown that renders her larynx a certified noise instrument. Behind her, talk is of vegetables – “pound of carrots” says someone; “head of broccoli”, “cauliflower”. A very ‘humourists of UK improv’ detail, which is good, and to add to its appeal The Mule Peasants’ Revolt of 12,067 is music you can get out your seat and dance to.