Mutabor! - Two Wishes
12" | 45RPM | A. '1001 Nights' | AA. 'Treats' | Edition of 300 | Released 6th November 2020
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.