Hydroplane - Selected Songs 1997 - 2003

£28.00 / £26.00

12" Deluxe Double LP w/ poster | Edition of 200
12" Standard Double LP | Edition of 800
RELEASE DATE: 1st September 2023
1. We Crossed The Atlantic | 2. The Love You Bring | 3. When I Was Howard Hughes | 4. Failed Adventure | 5.  Stars (Twilight Mix) | 6. Grand Central | 7. International Exiles | 8. Merry-Go-Round | 9. Radios Appear | 10. City Terminus | 11. Min Min Light | 12. Oregon Snow | 13. Cherry Lake | 14. Blackout | 15. Please Don’t Say Goodbye | 16. Museum Station | 17. Blue Train | 18. You Were There | 19. Something Better Beginning

Selected Songs 1997-2003 compiles some of the finest moments in the recording history of Hydroplane, the Melbourne-based indie-pop three-piece that operated alongside The Cat’s Miaow through the second half of the nineties. It’s the third release in what feels, now, like a loosely planned series by World Of Echo, documenting the music made by this group of friends in Melbourne sharehouses (The Cat’s Miaow’s Songs ’94-’98, 2022), or in the case of The Shapiros (Gone By Fall, 2023), while traversing the International Pop Underground.

Hydroplane would be familiar to anyone already following these breadcrumb trails – Andrew Withycombe, Bart Cummings and Kerrie Bolton were the group’s core, all members of The Cat’s Miaow. With Cat’s Miaow drummer Cameron Smith itinerant, having moved to London, the trio used this opportunity to expand their music. It’s a subtle, but important shift. If The Cat’s Miaow was about the perfect, minimalist, two-minute pop song, Hydroplane’s music was far more open-ended, embracing the loops and drones, sampled house-y shuffle beats, the burbling of a Roland Jupiter-4 synth, all of which the trio joined, effortlessly, to their endless capacity for moving, elegant melodicism.

They may have only planned to release one seven-inch single, but the sound Hydroplane created was so bewitching, so compelling, that the project’s lifespan ran for around half a decade, and they ended up releasing three albums, including a self-titled debut recently reissued by Efficient Space, and seven singles. There are all kinds of compelling things happening in the music compiled here – the hazy repetition of the gentler side of Krautrock is in here, somewhere, which also suggests Stereolab at their most intimate and disarmed; the gently drifting guitars, gauzy and oneiric, set the songs adrift and floating, each one lost in its own imagined, distracted world. Songs like “The Love You Bring” set indistinct tonal floats across dance rhythms, in a way not quite heard since My Bloody Valentine’s “Instrumental” – but with the added gift of Bolton’s gorgeous voice.

This loose coalition with dance music, and the quiet experimentalism at the heart of Hydroplane, also gestures towards peers like Hood, Acetate Zero and Other People’s Children, and releases on renegade labels like Wurlitzer Jukebox and Enraptured. Like those groups and labels, The Cat’s Miaow were reconciling independent pop music’s past – sweet melody and melancholy, chiming and droning guitars – with the futures promised by DIY electronics and nascent digitalia, the interface of indie and IDM that led to some of the underground’s most blissful, texturally swoonsome music. All that is here, but also, the poise of the melodies is pure Cat’s Miaow, though, with Bolton’s voice sailing, pacifically, over some of the most pared-down, gorgeous music made during their decade.

It was a time, too, when such music could make waves – “We Crossed The Atlantic”, one of their early singles, was picked up by John Peel, who played it repeatedly on his legendary radio show, the song reaching #13 on his 1997 Festive 50. That the song itself was a cover of a tune by 1960s Australian beatnik-pop-poet Pip Proud felt even more perfect – a group of outsiders paying tribute to another outsider, played on the radio one of the few broadcasters brave and human enough to take a chance on this music. But it was a time where everything was up for grabs, and genres were flowing into each other: folk songs went drone; indie re-discovered noise; ambient pop floated, again, out onto the dancefloor. And while they may have been sequestered away in Melbourne, Australia, Hydroplane felt core to that scene, a quietly driving force.

Compiling material from across their brief but mercurial career, this double album perfectly captures the magic and mystery of Hydroplane’s dreamlike, perfect pop songs.


Läuten der Seele - Ertrunken Im Seichtesten Gewässer

£22.00 / £20.00

12" LP w/ poster | Edition of 100
12" LP | Edition of 400 | RELEASE DATE: 7th July 2023
A. Molch, Pfütze, Schilf & Stein | B. Knochen, Mond, Buchstabe & Tropfen

Somewhere in the Lower-Franconian vineyards lies a hidden and mostly unknown canyon, a place that often returns to the thoughts and dreams of Läuten der Seele’s Christian Schoppik. Though a much rarer occurrence now as a consequence of environmental change, chance encounters upon the area in the past would sometimes reveal small ponds amongst the reeds, teeming with life and populated by colonies of newts and the endangered yellow bellied toad. The transience of the water and the wildlife it hosts, dependent on season or climate, lends the area an almost fantastical, dream-like quality. Was it ever even there at all? A secret place that may or may not be present holds vast appeal to some enquiring minds… Ertrunken Im Seichtesten Gewässer, the third Läuten der Seele album in two years, is inspired directly by these experiences. Translating as ‘drowned in the shallowest stretch of water’, a title as pregnant with dread as it is wonder, the themes present speak both to personal memories and a wider understanding of place and time, and how we might interpret our own position within an ever-changing, sometimes disappearing world.

The record is presented as two long-form pieces divided into four separate movements, each titled so as to reflect this natural environment and its intersection with imagination, relying on processes of collage that draw from myriad indeterminable samples, field recordings and various recorded instruments. Those familiar with Schoppik’s work, both as Läuten der Seele and with Brannten Schnüre, will find present many of his signature tropes - the way deeply layered collages render abstracted visions of the past alive in the present - though what is always significant about his approach is not so much aesthetic as the wider concepts it attempts to express and emote. Indeed, emotional response is key to the Läuten der Seele sound, how overlapping notions of nostalgia, memory and identity calibrate experience and understanding of who we are and the world around us, whether it’s a world that’s gone or another imagined into being. If you observe the artwork closely enough, you may find a clue as to the canyon’s location, though such specifics are besides the point. The music itself infers a wider sense of the impermanence that characterises hidden worlds, wherever they might be or whoever they might belong to.


The Shapiros - Gone By Fall - The Collected Works of the Shapiros


12" LP w/ A3 risograph poster | Edition of 100 - SOLD OUT
12" LP | Edition of 650 | RELEASE DATE: 3rd March 2023
TRACKLISTING: 1. Paris Kiss | 2. Cry For A Shadow | 3. Month of Days | 4. Gone By Fall | 5. Makes Me Smile | 6. Cut | 7. Do You Know | 8. Hundred Times | 9. He Said, She Said | 10. Cross Your Mind | 11. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? | 12. When I Was Howard Hughes

World of Echo are pleased to announce the release of Gone By Fall – The Collected Works of The Shapiros, a 12-song compilation by a here today, gone tomorrow pop group formed by Pam Berry (Black Tambourine, The Pines, Glo-worm, Castaway Stones, Belmondo, etc.) and Bart Cummings (The Cat’s Miaow, Hydroplane, Bart & Friends, etc.), while the latter was in Washington, DC in 1994. Tapping into that city’s inspiring independent pop scene, looking for like-minded souls, Berry and Cummings were joined by Scooter, a.k.a. R. Scott Kelly (Veronica Lake, Belmondo, Sabine, etc.), and Trish Roy (Belmondo, Heartworms).

The Shapiros may only have existed for a few weeks, during August 1994, but during that brief window of opportunity, the quartet recorded twelve gorgeous pop songs – nine originals, each a model of concision and restraint, and three covers, which gift the listener some of the coordinates to the group’s sound, a meeting point of C86 and the Brill Building Sound: lovely versions of Beat Happening’s “Cry For A Shadow”, 14 Iced Bears’ “Cut”, and The Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”.

The material was recorded over three days at Mulberry Lane, the basement studio of Archie Moore – who, at the time of the sessions, was busy as one-fifth of Velocity Girl – and released via time-honoured formats for independent pop: two seven-inch singles, one split single with another Cummings project (Pencil Tin), and a few stray compilation appearances. The band in many ways was driven by Berry, who organised the release of The Shapiros’ first two singles, through the Fantastic and Popfactory labels. This is unsurprising: as co-founder of the long-lasting Chickfactor fanzine, Berry was a significant and supportive presence in independent music in the USA.

The songs on The Shapiros are perfectly formed; they’ve no need to say any more than what’s necessary, and this elegance of form lends them a timelessness that, for some, might seem outsize to the brevity of the project’s existence. But great things often happen in passing, capturing the sparks of a situation and the enthusiasms of new and unpredictable encounters. For Cummings, being in Washington was “the most fun I’d had in my life up to that point,” and he’s quick to point out the significance of what had happened in the city in recent times: it was a stronghold for creative independent pop music, with bands like Unrest, Velocity Girl, and Glo-worm, and thrilling pop singles being released at a fierce clip by labels like Teenbeat and the early Slumberland Records.

The Shapiros’ music is a particularly seductive kind of blissful pop. The reverberant chime of a guitar, the subtle sweep of brushes on drums, a gently pulsing bass guitar, all perfectly played and placed, frame a beautifully unaffected voice, one that’s understated without being detached. It’s music that understands how small gestures are often the most deeply affecting. And though it may speak quietly at times, it’s strident and strong; clear and direct. They may have only recorded twelve songs and played two gigs (one supporting Lois and The Magnetic Fields, the other Nord Express), but what a body of work to leave behind – diminutive in the best possible way; every second of these twenty-five-or-so minutes of Shapiros magic counts, every moment matters. - Jon Dale, 2023


Moin - On The Blink/Free Lunch


10" | Edition of 25 | Release Date: 28th December 2022 | SOLD OUT

Moin's second album, Paste, landed right near the top of our records of 2022 list. To mark such an ocassion, we've been fortunate enough to partner with the band and their label to create a highly limited 10" lathe featuring two previously unreleased and otherwise unavailable tracks.

Fans of Paste will find much to love here. 'On The Blink' and 'Free Lunch' were both recorded around the same time as the album, and provide two further examples of the band's distinct - and i would argue, currently unparalleled - hybrid formulation of post-hardcore intensity and the forward-thinking instincts of electronic music production. The results remain starkly unique. A post-everything band with an approach that somehow manages to sound both heavy and ruinous while striving to build something new. And with it, more unequivocal evidence of one of the best from these shores in some time.

'On The Blink/Free Lunch' was cut at Vinyl Pressure in an edition of 25, with each copy hand-numbered/stamped, and coupled with a risograph insert designed by both Moin and Matthew Walkerdine. Please note that due to limited quantities, orders are restricted to one per person.

"'On The Blink' is a lopsided meditation on mooching about on the sidelines. And 'Free Lunch' is just that, an unexpected event with vague nutritional value." - Moin

On The Blink
Free Lunch


Movietone - s/t


Second Edition dlp LP | edition of 500 - AVAILABLE NOW
Deluxe dbl LP w/ two sided risograph print | edition of 50 - SOLD OUT
Standard dbl LP | edition of 450 - SOLD OUT

World Of Echo are proud to announce the long-awaited reissue, on 17th February, of the self-titled debut album by Bristol’s Movietone. Originally released in 1995 by Planet Records and reissued on CD in 2003 by The Pastels’ Geographic Music imprint, this is the first time Movietone has been reissued on vinyl. An expanded double-LP edition, it includes the extra tracks from the 2003 CD (their first two singles, and an unreleased demo of “Chance Is Her Opera”), and adds three more unearthed gems: demos of “Alkaline Eye” and “She Smiled Mandarine Like”, and an early take of “Late July”, recorded in a garden by Dave Pearce (Flying Saucer Attack) in 1993. Taken together, this is the definitive collection of music from the first phase of one of Bristol’s most remarkable groups.

Movietone was the cumulation of a series of events, explorations, and discoveries, starting at secondary school – the group’s core membership of Kate Wright, Rachel Brook, Matt Elliott and Matt Jones met at Cotham School in Bristol. As for many other groups, their early years were all about experimenting, and finding ways to ‘make do’, a DIY sensibility that would inform Movietone through their decade-long lifespan. From formative rehearsals in a shed in the garden of Brook’s family home, to recording early material to four-track in Redland Library, and on into the Whitehouse and Mr Grin’s studio sessions for their debut album, Movietone’s music fell together in a creatively unpredictable, yet conceptually rigorous manner.

By the time they released Movietone, they’d found a home with Bristol’s Planet, run by author Richard King and James Webster, who had both released their first two singles, “She Smiled Mandarine Like” and “Mono Valley”. There was other music happening around them in Bristol, too, from the Jones brothers’ avant-rock outfit Crescent (who were Movietone’s closest conspirators), through Elliott’s jungle/electronica project Third Eye Foundation, and Brook and Elliott’s membership of Flying Saucer Attack. A closely knit community, Movietone are the centre of this nestling architecture of groups.

The vision in the music, mostly, belongs to Wright, but Movietone ran in democratic creative consort. Listening back to Movietone, you can hear this democracy in action through the wildness of the music, which is balanced by the poetics of Wright’s lyrics and melodies. Full of half-captured memories and entangled abstractions, there’s an elliptical, ruminative quality to much of the writing here that shows the deep influence of the Beat Generation writers, along with a twilight environment captured in the songs that’s pure third-album Velvets, Galaxie 500, early Tindersticks, Codeine. Unpredictable interventions – the crashing glass in “Mono Valley”, the sudden explosions of “Orange Zero” – point towards the noise blowouts of My Bloody Valentine, the unpredictability of Sonic Youth; Wright’s understated vocal cadence suggest a deep, embodied understanding of John Cage’s Indeterminacy.

Movietone would go on to make three fantastic albums for Domino – Night & Day (1997), The Blossom Filled Streets (2000) and The Sand & The Stars (2003) – and their Peel Sessions were released early in 2022 by Textile. Still held in high regard by artists like Steven R. Smith, and The Pastels, whose Stephen McRobbie once described them as “one of the great unknown English groups,” it’s an absolute thrill to listen to Movietone anew – still inspired, still seductive, still magic, still mysterious.

Jon Dale, 2022

Disc 1
Chance Is Her Opera
Heatwave Pavement
Green Ray
Orange Zero
Late July
Darkness-Blue Glow
Mono Valley
Coastal Lagoon
Alkaline Eye
3AM Walking Smoking Talking
Three Fires
Disc 2
She Smiled Mandarine Like
Under the 3000 Foot Red Ceiling
Orange Zero (single)
Chance is her opera (demo)
Late July (demo)
Alkaline Eyed (demo)
She Smiled Mandarine Like (demo)


Various - Thorn Valley


Deluxe dbl LP w/ 4 bookmarks risograph printed on seeded paper | edition of 50 - SOLD OUT
Standard dbl LP | edition of 450 - SOLD OUT

“Let me fly you home. We can talk on the way”

Thorn Valley is a 20 song assemblage of various transmissions from the ever diffuse and widening DIY underground, released to mark the four year anniversary of World of Echo.

Available as a gatefold double LP pressed in an edition of 500, 50 of which come with four risograph bookmarks printed on seeded paper. Artwork by Matthew Walkerdine and Jessica Higgins.

1 Pat Benjamin - January 11
2 Bons - Droste
3 Nein Rodere - Projection Check
4 Goldblum - Deep River
5 TRjj - Collectivizor
6 Blackwater - Overload
7 Komare - Blanco y Verde
8 CIA Debutante - Slow Navigator
9 Valentina Magaletti - Low Delights
10 Roxane Metayer - Arc Volute
11 Stefan Christensen - No Alternatives
12 Exek - Who’ll
13 Still House Plants - Thinking About Appearances
14 Moin - Toots
15 People Skills - Flag For Gravity
16 Able Noise - To Appease
17 The Dengie Hundred - Albatross III
18 Tara Clerkin & Sunny Joe Paradisos - Castelfields
19 Mark Gomes - Orbiting Ganymede
20 Pat Benjamin - August 2


The Cat's Miaow - Songs '94-'98


LP - SOLD OUT / LP & 7" - SOLD OUT | RELEASE DATE: 15TH JULY 2022 | 2nd edition - SOLD OUT

On July 15th, World of Echo will release Songs '94-'98 by The Cat's Miaow, an 18 song collection of material spanning the band's recorded output during those years, and includes one previously unheard song written shortly before the band morphed into Hydroplane. It will be available on both digital and vinyl formats, the latter of which comes in two different additions - a standard black pressing limited to 500 copies, and an additional black pressing of 250 which includes a 7" of the Third Floor Fire Escape session and a zine containing artwork from various 7"s and cassettes, available only via Bandcamp and World of Echo. Further words below courtesy of Jon Dale.

Songs ’94-’98 is a smart selection of material from The Cat’s Miaow, an Australian indie-pop group that gifted their decade with some of its finest songs. Released on World Of Echo, the album draws from the group’s string of excellent seven-inch singles, a small clutch of compilation contributions, and features one previously unreleased song, “I Take It That We’re Through”, recorded in 1998. Part of the burgeoning international pop underground of the nineties, The Cat’s Miaow’s legend has only built over subsequent decades, as more people discover this most quixotic and curious of groups: a recent appearance on A Colourful Storm’s compilation of Australian indie-pop, I Won’t Have To Think About You, is testament to their enduring influence. In part emulating the selection of tracks on the 1997 CD-only compilation, Songs For Girls To Sing, Songs ’94-’98 is also the group’s first ever full-length 12” vinyl collection – and if you score a copy of the initial edition, there’s an extra 7” featuring all the songs from their “Third Floor Fire Escape View” recording session.

The Cat’s Miaow started out in 1992 as a home-recording duo, Bart Cummings (guitar, bass, vocals) and Andrew Withycombe (bass, guitar) taking time out from duties with Girl Of The World and The Ampersands (respectively), knocking out songs on Withycombe’s four-track. Soon joined by Kerrie Bolton (vocals) and Cam Smith (drums), the quartet spent the next five years quietly, slowly working away in the suburbs of Melbourne, recording gem after gem of independent pop. Like many of their Australian precursors or peers – The Particles, Even As We Speak, The Cannanes – The Cat’s Miaow were more successful overseas, a sadly typical phenomenon within the Australian musical landscape.

The Cat’s Miaow were always worldly and stylish, anyway, each seven-inch single a refined artifact, each song a peaceable jewel. You could hear some relationships with other music – someone (if not everyone) in The Cat’s Miaow was a Galaxie 500 fan; there’s a minimalism to the playing and melodies that recalls Young Marble Giants, Marine Girls, Beat Happening – but the spirit in these twenty-four songs is endearingly individualised, the result of a hermetic vision, an ideal of what a simple, unadorned pop song could be. They had a winning way with simplicity, songs like “Autumn”, “Crying” and “I Can’t Sleep Thinking You Hate Me” passing by in the blink of a moistened eye, and when they stretched out, as on “Firefly”, you can hear hints of the drifting ambience they’d perfect in their other band, Hydroplane.

It’s not much of a surprise that The Cat’s Miaow found a receptive audience, and no small amount of support, from the networked communities of indie-pop labels and fanatics that developed in the nineties – they released records on imprints like Drive-In, Darla, Bus Stop and Quiddity, shared a flexi-disc with Stereolab, and appeared on countless compilations over the years. But they also understood the importance of the local: their first few cassettes reached the world’s mail routes via Wayne Davidson’s legendary Melbourne tape label, Toytown; they turned up on a split single with Davidson’s group, Stinky Fire Engine; they appeared on a tribute cassette for one of Australia’s finest, The Sugargliders, and indeed that’s Josh Meadows of said group playing wah guitar on “Stay”. The Cat’s Miaow also rarely played live – one launch gig, for the Munch video compilation, and a few parties – which is a great way to maintain mystique.

Cosmopolitan yet homely, dedicated to their craft, The Cat’s Miaow always felt a little like a group moving in slow motion, using that pace and focus fully to embrace the art of the perfectly stated pop song – every element in place, no flash and no fuss, no excess, just the core of the thing. Few managed to tease such fierce poetry from such understated, elegant means. From Australia or anywhere - Jon Dale

1. Hollow Inside 2. Light the Beacon 3. Not Like I Was Doing Anything 4. Note On The Table 5. You Know It's True 6. What Time Is It There? 7. I Can't Sleep Thinking You Hate Me 8. Smitten 9. Portland, Oregon 10. Let Me Brush the Hair From Your Face 11. Stay 12. Shoot The Moon 13. Barney & Me 14. Firefly 15. LA International Airport 16. Crying 17. If Things Had Been Different 18. I Take It That We're Through
BONUS 7"***:
1. Third Floor Fire Escape View 2. Autumn 3. Nothing New 4. Climb My Stairs 5. Short-Sighted 6. I Really Don't Know



O Yuki Conjugate - A Tension of Opposites: Vol. 1 & 2


Dbl LP | Edition of 500 | RELEASE DATE: 1st April 2022
Vol. 1: 1. Obverse 2. Retrograde 3. Contra 4. Antipode 5. Discrepant 6. Crosswise 7. Anomic 8. Inimical 9. Antonym 10. Sunder 11. A Far Cry

Vol. 2: 1. Unfolding 2. Entracement 3. Ravishment 4. I Don't Know I'm Not A Dream

Recorded during the first few periods of lockdown and originally released as a cassette midway through 2021, O Yuki Conjugate's A Tension of Opposites Vol. 1 & 2 is now to be released as a limited edition, double-disc gatefold LP via World of Echo on 1st April. The enforced conditions of its creation represented a new way of working for O Yuki Conjugate founders, Andrew Hulme and Roger Horberry, a pioneering duo who have worked as close collaborators on multiple projects for almost four decades now. As such, their writing is for the first time divided in two and recognised as distinct, Horberry contributing the shorter eleven tracks that make up Vol. 1 (subtitle: At Variance), and Andrew Hulme the longer four that constitute Vol. 2 (Into the Pleasure Garden). It's fascinating to hear their approaches separated.

At Variance is defined by its mostly short-form approach, characterised by an airless ambience that recalls the late 20th Century modern minimalism of Thomas Koner, Markus Popp and the Mille Plateux universe, while in other parts, an element of the grander aspects of Eno circa Discreet Music, though retaining a characteristically gritty feel. Into the Pleasure Garden provides a notable contrast, forgoing the lightness of the preceding eleven tracks and embracing what might be understood as some of the more 'classic' elements of the OYC sound: their storm cloud-forming, heavy weather, post-industrial, fourth-world dystopia. Together and apart, OYC celebrate their 40th birthday this year, but remarkably, even under challenging circumstances, their music still retains an almost mystical power.

Future releases in the series are planned for later in the year and will continue with this approach, charting the outer reaches of the individual members musical inclinations. In the meantime, it might be worth giving some thought to start considering this pair an institution of sorts, or at least their own cottage industry.


Tara Clerkin Trio - In Spring


12" EP | Edition of 1000 | RELEASE DATE: 1st October 2021
TRACKLISTING: 1. Done Before | 2. Night Steps | 3. Memory | 4. In Spring

In Spring,
But it's true this time.

In Spring is the second record by Tara Clerkin Trio, a Bristol-based group who appeared to emerge from below the radar of near-all in early 2020 and in the presence of one of the most captivating records of that year. This latest 23 minute, four song collection, recorded in various stages and locations over the last twelve months, does nothing to detract from those first impressions, refining the woozy and shimmering oddness of their debut into an avant-pop sensibility that is increasingly their own.

If the group did arrive fully formed, what that form was did feel supple and hard to grasp. They were, in a sense, essentially new sounding, or at least ghosts between the established lines, and with this new record have doubled-down on their inherently Delphian instinct. At its heart, In Spring is a record of subtle contrasts, experimental yet familiar in its intimacy, obviously modern though tied to certain lineages, and driven by a pop logic which is also free-form and seemingly improvised. Their approach to sound is perhaps the guiding principle here, less concerned with genre as it is texture and feeling, drawing from jazz, folk, modern composition, trip hop and downtempo electronica, yet evading all of those categorisations. Tara Clerkin Trio are too generous of heart to be ripping up any rulebook, they simply seem oblivious to its need.

Their geography does provide some context. Bristol's progressive sonic heritage inescapably bleeds into these four tracks, the enclave of open-minded artists around Planet Records in the mid 90s perhaps the closest point of comparison. There's that same magpie spirit which is both futuregazing and aware of its past, though is mostly set on finding its own path. This is in essence what defines Tara Clerkin Trio, feeling their way through freedom of instinct and curiosity, forging their own desire lines. Not so much taking the road less trodden, just walked at their own winding pace.

"Done before,
And I'll do it again"
Ringing in my head
While I try
To feel


Stefan Christensen - Cheap Things


12" LP | Edition of 500 | RELEASE DATE: 6th August 2021
TRACKLISTING: 1. Cheap Things (For Adam and Hannah) | 2. All of the Time | 3. Tributary Star | 4. Singlemindedness | 5. Wandering Gaze

Cheap Things is the latest record by New Haven guitarist and C/Site label-owner, Stefan Christensen. It's a challenge to list exactly where Cheap Things numbers in Christensen's extensive catalogue, which at over a decade long has seen him issue countless records under his own name and across both his own imprint and a host of international labels, as well as performing in underground noise trio Center and in the heavenly psych act, Headroom. Crucially and somewhat impressively, his work has remained as singular as it has been productive, cultivating a distinct style of playing that is unmistakably his own even when in collaboration with others.

In many regards, Cheap Things represents an apex of the universe Christensen has fostered over the last decade, both collaborative and highly personal. Indeed, many of the key names from the C/Site and adjacent world contribute to the record in some capacity - David Shapiro (Alexander/Center/Headroom), Kyrssi Battalene (Mountain Movers/Headroom), who takes a lead and has repurposed the final track for Headroom, Ian McColm (Heart Of The Ghost) and Rick Omonte (Mountain Movers/Headroom) sit in on drums and bass, respectively, while John Miller (formally of Mountain Movers) recorded a couple of the songs at his home studio. Cheap Things is a record labeled with Christensen's name, but it's certainly also one born of community and like-minded creative enquiry, longtime characteristics in his increasingly dense catalogue.

Though the work that comprises this catalogue has always remained engaging, there comes a sense of event with Cheap Things not necessarily present in some of the more off-the-cuff experimental cassette releases issued in both this and past years. This may be in part attributable to the time invested in recording these five songs: starting in mid 2018 and finishing throughout the various periods of lockdown in 2020, this is the longest amount of time Christensen has spent working on a record. Recording itself is an integral aspect of the way in which Christensen creates his sound, relying on the freedom of home studios, the analog limitations of four and eight tracks, and the unique results gained from tape loop manipulations. Such processes add an element of both warmth and spontaneity to the work, though one crucial difference is that much of Christensen's other work is written with, what he calls 'little pre-planning', whereas Cheap Things is defined by a much more precise and pre-formulated vision. The result does feel strangely and more obviously definitive.

There's a life to these songs beyond their recording, the roots in fact stemming all the way back to Christensen's first solo release in 2015, the record on which the title track first appeared, albeit in rudimentary form. Written in response to the death of a friend from an overdose, Christensen was motivated to re-record the song when hearing that at the start of lockdown another friend from the same circle had died in similar circumstances. Over the years the song has grown in length and intensity, and reaches its ultimate form here, an acoustic drone that pulses with a near-spiritual reverie. It's fitting testament to the people it commemorates, and sets the tone for the remainder of Cheap Things, which through its unique melding of folk, noise, experimental and avant blues traditions appears to provide a cathartic release from the various experiences of grief, illness and stress. Much like the music of Tomokawa Kazuki, Mikami Kan and Neil Young, who have informed the album in various ways, the intent here seems to be to communicate big ideas with modest means. Cheap Things, then, is unusually titled, if not expressing the infinite and the eternal, at least suggesting that in striving for the bigger ideas we might find truth, or perhaps just some piece there of.


Mosquitoes - s/t


10" | Edition of 300 | RELEASE DATE: 5th March 2021

Clive Phillips, Dominic Goodman, Peter Blundell are Mosquitoes, a somewhat inscrutable London-based outfit in operation for something close to seven years now, and have released music across a host of celebrated and broad-minded underground labels. Give or take the occasional interview in the less-straight parts of the music press, this is as much formal biography as their music has thus far allowed, for there's something essentially unknowable at the centre of what makes Mosquitoes what they are. So murky is their early history in fact, the first two self-released Mosquitoes records seemed to disappear from sight before really becoming visible. As more records have emerged, those first communications accumulate new meanings, acting as vital documents in tracking the evolution of a band who stand at the vanguard of contemporary British music.

The second of these records, recorded to tape in summer 2016 and first released as a single-sided 12" under the name MOS-002, is arguably the first true iteration of Mosquitoes. Now fittingly renamed Mosquitoes for its reissue as a dubplate-style 10" on World of Echo on 5th March, these five cryptically titled, shape-shifting tracks, see the trio embrace a near-genre-less fluidity, and in doing so express a unique combination of both freedom and intent. By design or instinct, Mosquitoes stand at their own inverted rock nexus, presenting a music that's turned inside out, and in doing so, music that twists the listener the same way.

In that sense, Mosquitoes plug into a long lineage of DIY savant iconoclasts, those outliers who would deny orthodoxy in order to excavate new languages and ideas - The Dead C, This Heat, the anti-formalism of No Wave, David Toop's General Strike. As such, Mosquitoes rely on a musical pluralism in order to take it apart - you must know how something is made before you reassemble it anew. Labelling this an EP may possibly underplay the breadth and ambition of what's on show. Later records would arguably be more cohesive, but what stands as particularly startling with this early work is their fearless and all-encompassing dive into the avant garde. Consider the anti-rockism of the scorched earth 90s re-imagined through a distinctly avant filter of free jazz and dub aesthetics. And it's the latter which perhaps shapes Mosquitoes most, dub the perfect vehicle for the articulation of such wilful anti-formalism. Make no mistake, this is music that's unafraid to be tough, to demand something of the listener and to not ask permission. And to bear witness to a rejection of formalism so aggressively pursued is to be reconciled.


Mutabor! - Two Wishes


12" | Edition of 300 | RELEASE DATE: 6th November 2020
TRACKLISTING: A. '1001 Nights' | AA. 'Treats'

World of Echo debuts on the other side of the counter with a reissue of Two Wishes, the solitary 12" by Anglo-German collective, Mutabor!. Seemingly lost to time, Mutabor! were first brought to World of Echo's attention when drummer/singer, Gary Asquith, played at the shop's first birthday celebrations while promoting one of his other bands, Rema Rema. And so the story goes...

Mutabor! emerged wraith-like from the monochromatic grit of Berlin's art punk underground late in 1981 when Asquith left London to set up temporary residence in the city following a chance meeting with Malaria's Bettina Koster backstage at a Birthday Party gig at the Lyceum earlier that year. Beguiled by the possibilities of collaboration, musical and otherwise, he was soon to make his own contributions to what was an already fecund scene. Partnering with Koster, and Gudrun Gut and Manon Duursma also of Malaria!, Mutabor! were publicly birthed via an impromptu performance at punk rock polestar the Risiko. Asquith found himself playing percussion in what would be a first, while the rest of the band ossified in front of him in typically idealistic post-punk democracy. Little documentation of the performance survives beyond that which exists in the memories of those playing - that itself shaky enough - though there was clearly sufficient encouragement for them to commit to a recording session.

Later that winter, the four booked time at Music Lab, the studio operated by Harris Johns, for what would ultimately be their only studio visit. Two songs were laid to tape, and soon after a photoshoot was to take place at Koster's flat, resulting in a handful of images that, along with the music, comprise the sum total evidence of the band's existence. 1001 Nights and Treats both found their way to Peter Kent, a co-founder of 4AD who had recently left the label with the ambition of starting his own imprint. Entitled Two Wishes, the two track 12" was to be the first and only release on Loaded. It seems that Mutabor! were to represent a series of firsts and lasts, a trend that continues now as they open the World of Echo imprint.

It's fitting to think of Mutabor! in these prescient terms given how they sounded. Berlin at that time shared a spiritual axis with New York, the conceptual & aesthetic discordance of no wave and a nascent off-beat dance culture underpinning much of the respective creative activity. There are shared signifiers, but even in that context, Two Wishes sounds oddly out of step, moving to its own unusual rhythm. 1001 Nights stutters along on a tribal beat that seems to run independent of skronking sax, spidery guitar lines and deadpan vocal incantations, the ghosts of two songs meeting in some kind of incompatible voodoo union. On the reverse, Treats slows down and dims the lights further, as Asquith sardonically recites desirous threats as an increasingly malevolent sax and guitar grinds behind him. No surprise the darkness within the music given the parent bands and the backdrop of a crepuscular early 80s Berlin, though there remains a complex compositional element to these songs that suggests a broader spectrum of emotion - desire, romance, and ultimately, infinite possibility.

Recut and mastered, Two Wishes is now presented with the original front cover artwork alongside additional imagery, including a 16 page booklet, all culled from Asquith's own archive. A brief bolt of energy at a crucial juncture in music history, Mutabor!'s story is emblematic of the mutli-verse of post-punk and the creativity its ideology necessitated.