Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reissues Reviewed

Whilst Cindytalk themselves are keeping quiet regarding the reissues of "Camouflage Heart" and "In This World" ,various websites,fanzines and magazines have been reviewing the remastered and repackaged records.
This silence is due to totally unforeseen and indeed very unpleasant circumstances brought about by the releasing Italian label and Cindytalk are therefore heading towards legal action.
It is not my place to discuss this matter here but - to illustrate the situation - I will just mention the fact that to this date,Cindytalk are yet to receive ANY copies of the releases in either vinyl or CD format from the label,as well as any royalties or contractual payment.
Cindytalk were absolutely delighted to have their back catalogue reissued and worked hard to make these records available but the joy has all but evaporated.
Bruised once again (cf. Midnight Records and World Serpent),the band is now looking into new possibilities to release the back catalogue through their own label.

Aquarius Records, the oldest independent record store in San Francisco,
included these reviews in their highlights of the week:

CINDYTALK Camoflage Heart (Wheesht / Scratch) CD (with 12 page booklet)/ LP printed inner sleeve

"Longtime regular aQ customer Joshua Maremont commented that Cindytalk's Camoflage Heart is a record which was only really meant for about 30 people. Not that only 30 copies of this record were released, or that it is so terminally obscure and willfully difficult that it by design has a marketing ceiling of an elite few. What he's on about is that Camoflage Heart is such a personal document of self-realized torment, pain, and sorrow that when Cindytalk embarked on the project, it's hard to imagine that they had any delusions about the intensity of this album and the potential for these songs to alienate beyond a limited few.
At the helm of Cindytalk is transgendered vocalist Gordon Sharp, who to this day is probably still best known as one of the multitude of vocalists who appeared in This Mortal Coil. In many ways, Sharp is the masculine equal to the Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser in delivering expressionist falsettos, trills, and banshee wails in an eerie, yet heavenly fashion. He's one of those few vocalists who can make the lyrics embody their content by shaping the words into emotionally charged sound. In fact, Sharp and Fraser had come together for a duet back during the Cocteau Twins' Peel Sessions of 1983. In his 4AD lineage, Gordon Sharp's first band was the criminally overlooked punk-glam ensemble The Freeze, where his Marc Bolan strut matched the nightmarish lyrics on top of some truly fantastic Bowie / Buzzcocks sparkplug riffs. Sharp, alongside fellow Freeze band members John Byrne and David Clancy, found shortcomings in the glam punk agenda, and sought a wholly new direction that became Cindytalk.
While undeniably dark and theatrical, Cindytalk cannot be pigeonholed as an '80s goth band, even in comparison to such off-kilter groups like The Virgin Prunes, Princess Tinymeat, or Sex Gang Children. Camoflage Heart was Cindytalk's first album and originally came out in 1984; and it's an album like those This Heat albums which is quite unique in terms of production and aesthetic. The album opens with the militant drum machine of "It's Luxury" setting the stage for an explosion from a monotone guitar riff, coated in amplifier grit, distortion, and detuned heaviness that comes across as a mix between late-'80s Skullflower and The Cure's Pornography. At this moment, Sharp's voice also erupts into the mix crooning with a downtrod beauty to this industrial dirge, spitting and swooning at the same time. The next track "Instinct (Back To Sense)" is more of an ambient interlude with distant heartbeat rhythms, haunted with impressionist piano trickles and Sharp's siren song buried between an atmosphere of smoke and mirror. Two more explosive tracks -- "Under Glass" (featuring Mick Harvey from the Birthday Party for a disjointed stutter of abject rock) and "Memories of Skin and Snow" -- are examples of loud / quiet / loud dynamics, later embraced by the likes of Slint and Mogwai to equally profound effect. "Everybody Is Christ" is often viewed as the pinnacle of Camoflage Heart with its harsh arpeggiation of electronics cast against Sharp's heavenly voice. Soon after, the album disintegrates in a cascade of delicate piano, voice, and grim drones.
As Cindytalk had suffered through the fate of several record companies going out of business (first Midnight Records then World Serpent), their work might have been forgotten had it not been for this reissue. Thankfully, that oversight can now be remedied with this long overdue reissue."

CINDYTALK In This World (Wheesht / Scratch) CD (with 20 page booklet)/Gatefold 2 LP WHITE VINYL printed inner sleeve

"So the rumor goes that Gordon Sharp was invited to join Duran Duran after Sharp dissolved his Edinburgh glam-punk band The Freeze in the late '70s. He turned them down. Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie also put out the request for Sharp to join the Cocteau Twins. After a brief stint accompanying the Cocteau Twins for a Peel Session in 1982 and a guest spot on This Mortal Coil's It'll End In Tears, he opted for his own project -- the obscure, yet majestic Cindytalk.
In This World is an opus in every sense of the word. Originally, In This World came out in 1988 as two separate albums under the same name, each with slightly different artwork. One album, a masterpiece of abject post-punk that in all honesty is the closest parallel to Swans' Children Of God; the other, a delicate ambient construct of melancholy piano scarred with surface noice prognosticating pretty much everything that Type Records has released (e.g Machinefabriek, Jasper TX, etc.). It's a very good thing that both of these albums have been repackaged into one self-contained object, as the only half of In This World that seemed to be floating around was the piano-laced ambient one. As good as that half is, you need the grit and dirge of its companion album to complete Cindytalk's ideas of grand dualities: heaven / hell, pleasure / pain, holiness / transgression, etc.
While billed by Sharp as the 'disgusting' part of the In This World diptych, the first half begins with a lovely tonefloat of scratched violin drones and painterly piano notes. Yet, with the crushing rhythm and noise attack of "Janey's Love," Sharp does not disappoint with his disgusting tag. This is a monstrous industrial dirge with huge monotone slabs of distortion and atonal drones counterpointing Sharp's soaring falsetto. The punk poet Kathy Acker supplies a brief spoken word interlude as the coda to this incendiary number. Immediately hereafter, Cindytalk continue their turgid rhythmic marches with an angular distorted rhythm, slippery bassline mired in audio rust, and twin guitars spitting acid, fire, and brimstone on such tracks as "Gift Of A Knife" and "Circle Of Shit." As the first half of the album progresses, the songs steadily disintegrate as rhythm, song structure, and noise all collapse into a blur of smeared grey that is eerily reflective of William Basinski's Disintegration Loops. The piano which opened In This World becomes the dominant sound in Cindytalk's soundscapes, also marking the delineation between the two halves of In This World. Yes, this is the beautiful side of Cindytalk, coated in ash, snow, bruises, and rust. Gordon Sharp's piano playing comes from Brian Eno's Thursday Afternoon, which in turn came from Erik Satie; and that impressionist sentiment continues forward amidst subterranean drones and field recordings of barren spaces. Sharp's voice is mostly absent from these tracks, although the eponymous finale to the album showcases one of Sharp's most emotive croons. They really don't make albums like this any more, with such attention to detail and dynamics between rage and beauty.
Fortunately, both of these records were concise enough that they could both fit onto one CD; and if you've not had the opportunity to hear Cindytalk, please do not let this album and its predecessor Camoflage Heart pass you by!"


Anonymous said...

it's just dawned on me... we was just compared with this heat in that there CH review.praise don't come much higher (eno maybe... oh the ITW review mentions him as well - jeez)... flabbergasting...

cindy said...

reading through what's written here about abraxas and with particular regard to being "bruised" again (midnight music & world serpent),it's important to point out that for all the problems cindytalk encountered with midnight,we couldn't have completed those four albums without the help of nick ralph.he gave us loads of studio time and despite his desire to help with the production,he backed off when he realised that wasn't applicable... he took on the role as executive producer and he should be remembered as an integral part of the cindytalk family during those years.we might never have been paid for our music but the albums cost a fair amount of money and he let us get on with our ideas without too much interference.compared with abraxas,midnight music were absolutely brilliant.we thought at the time things would only get better... another life lesson learnt the hard way.halcyon days indeed.(huge respect to nick ralph.)

anonceymouse said...

yes! it's great to see such cool reviews for these records... which they duly deserve, have deserved for years and with glimpses of new cindytalk releases, that seem to waiting like an avalanche, that praise should come well into the future.

cndr said...

i'm not holding my breath...