Music played a large hand in the genesis of Thee Data Base, a zine that I co-edited with Alan Benzie back in the 1990s. And whilst music was well represented in the content of the zine itself, it was actually the electronic / experimental music scene around us in Glasgow and Edinburgh that galvanised us into some form of action in the first place. It was clear that this particular type of music at this particular time had brought disparate people together in search of something ‘else’ – a refuge from the musically barren 80s and the rebirth of ‘Britpop’ in the mid 90s.
It struck me that a compilation of local music would be a logical extension to the zine and to our irregular club / performance nights. We put a call out in one of our issues and received a healthy reply from the community. Of course, these were the days pre-broadband and even pre-CDR, so the best solution for distribution was the mighty cassette tape. I compiled fourteen tracks from the submissions (and added in a couple of our own for good measure) and designed the sleeve artwork (above). Alas, our zine venture came to a natural end before the cassette could be released, and faced with issues of cost, time and a little thing called ‘life’, the ‘master’ cassette was put into a box and forgotten about.
As I launch into another compilation venuture, New Weird Australia, I’m posting this of something of an interesting counterpoint – Old Weird Scotland perhaps? If I recall correctly, the bands featured here are mostly all Scottish acts, all operating around the late 1990s. The main exception is Involution – a very early project from American producer Kush Arora who befriended us by long distance at the time. Kush has since gone on to work with or play alongside Negativeland, The Bug, Flying Lotus, Warrior Queen, Blevin Blectum and Thievery Corporation. (Note, the Involution here is not to be confused with a Cevin ‘Skinny Puppy’ Key project of the same name).
I don’t recall what became of anyone else here, however that doesn’t detract from the quality of the work – ranging from the proto Anticon vibes of Cassius Clay Inc to the drone work of Heehawhairhead, or the 808 squelch of Alan’s Re:Search project to the primal screams in the live recording of Roddy Hunter‘s performance piece ‘Infant Inside’ – and there’s also Stephen Beer‘s beautiful Brian Eno-esque electro lullaby and the white-boy, lo-fi bedroom take on Dionne Warwick’s ‘Walk On By’ from Natural Born Chillaz. The closing track is a screwed version of a poetry reading, designed to signify the launch of a slo-mo project I intended to work on – needless to say, this still remains my only ‘No-Fi‘ recording to date.
1. RUBY JUNE Doodle
2. CASSIUS CLAY INC. The Rosy Cross
3. ESOFERRIC Deletia
4. HEEHAWHAIRHEAD The Great & The Grey
5. RODDY HUNTER Infant Inside
6. RE:SEARCH Non:Ecludian Rhythm Pattern
7. CRUX Gravel
8. INVOLUTION Sculpted Presence
9. STEPHEN BEER Underwater Camera Work
10. HAND OF POB Oil & Water
11. TAGNUT Purge
12. FOENE Tape Extract
13. NATURAL BORN CHILLAZ Walk On By
14. NO-Fi When I’m Dead