Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Grand Mal X

Grand Mal X. Who are they? And, how does Thomas Ekelund of Belaten find these projects? Release after release, tape after tape of high quality electronica…that is apart from the last Belaten cassette I mentioned - the pointless Nordwall/Vainio "Monstrance" reissue that was even more limited than the original, that one threw a spanner in the works of an impeccable roster of releases.
Grand Mal X. Please don't let it be the project of some ex-member from X Mal Deutschland. That would prejudice my ears somewhat. In 1984 I travelled on a coach from Manchester to London to see 400 Blows support X Mal Deutschland at The Lyceum, only to be told (after entrance) that they had been replaced by The Guana Batz. I was told by Robert (guitarist with The Blowers) that the reason they had been pulled was that they turned up for soundcheck with no drum kit or bass player and X Mal Deutschland took exception to this. I watched The Guana Batz and the following act, Flesh For Lulu, from the balcony and then got ejected by the bouncers for "skinning up".
Anyway…Grand Mal X. Research. They have a Facebook page which tells me little but for some reason I think they are East European exiles living in New York. That's one of the joys about the Belaten series. Thomas releases stuff by folk I have never heard of and it is always quality "different" electronica and to some extent quite commercial. Club music, night music, electro-pop, cold wave, E.B.M. All genres that exist but mean nowt (to me).
To digress somewhat, the other night, I was watching some shit on the TV hosted by Danny "Pets Win Prizes" Baker about music in the 1980's and he claimed that after punk in the 1970's came "post punk" but that is not how I remembered it. The "independent / DIY cultured music wasn't called "post punk", that terminology came much later. I remember it as "New Wave" which was an umbrella for all things "indie" - Power Pop, 2Tone, Industrial, Electro, Oi, Gloomy Shoegazers etc. But then again, I suppose I don't like Danny "Daz Doorstep Challenge" Baker that much, a man desperately trying to re-write music history to fit his own agenda. I once heard that mobile phones were invented for people who had very little to say but didn't know how to shut the fuck up….I bet Danny has a few mobiles…
Anyway….Grand Mal X. "Life EP" brings us six tracks on a C36. Every track a beauty. It is all reminiscent of other sounds without sounding "carbon copy". "Units" has a Clock DVA vibe - DVA circa "Buried Dreams" and the following piece "Tricks Of the Trade" with an infectious Latin beat  is lyrically and musically in Wir territory. "Four Chambers" also has a Duet Emmo / Cupol feel. "Late Night Call" closes side A and "The Crossing"opens side B, both have exquisite sequencer patterns that just exude neon. Driving motorik. The last piece "Sudden Portal" brought the Pet Shop Boys to mind (or Flight Of The Conchords being PSB)! At the turn of the 1990's I knew a DJ in Tokyo who used to send me Pet Shop Boys CD's and rarities …
Grand Mal X. I certainly want to hear more … it is like that with virtually all of Belatens' releases … The tape has sold out from the label but get in touch with them via Facebook …

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