Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WRAPPING UP 2012 with The Eccentronic Research Council

This is the North, the fantastical North, home of proud, hard graftin' bastards..." Some records are steeped in a particular location or thick with geographical reference points but "1612 Underture" - created by Sheffield duo The Eccentronic Research Council and Lancastrian actress Maxine Peake - is one of the richest, most atmospheric, most authentic evocations of a - partly mythical - place you will hear committed to tape. And much of it is set in the 17th century as part of its re-telling and commemoration of the Pendle witch trials of 1612. “Part psycho-geographical field-trip, part history lesson and part contemporary state-of-the-nation address” I said writing about it a few weeks ago but maybe The Quietus put their finger on what makes the album a success: "On first glance, the cover art of "1612 Underture", the preponderance of vintage synths – patched to sound as if they're being played by men in white lab coats - and the subject matter (the Pendle Witch Trials) all point towards one thing: hauntology. But this excellent record on Manchester's Bird label isn't some generic late adopter's attempt to take on the Moon Wiring Club, rather a genuinely unhinged, unique and deliciously weird pop album".

Council member Adrian Anthony Flanagan gives us his take on 2012 - emotions and facial expressions indicated in brackets.

What I will remember most about 2012 is...
Our Government’s psychological war on its own People. Mother Nature flexing her muscles. The surprise that people were surprised about Sir Jimmy, not being surprised what people will do to keep their precious jobs, justice for the Hillsborough 96; 2012 does seem to be the year where everyone you’re supposed to trust or rely on for protection has been revealed to be a crook, a liar, a charlatan. The Genocide on Syria. The endless Tory attempts to steal the NHS. Jessica Ennis winning her Olympic Gold. Man City's league winning game against QPR and the goodwill & kindness shown towards our album '1612 Underture'.. I'm very proud of it..If I was to never write another word or note I'd be happy if that was my final word and note...but...over my dead body (laughs)

What should be forgotten about 2012...
That Boris Johnson still lives (serious face).

The best gig we played was...
Festival Number 6 at Portmeirion for the atmosphere and location and a Spiegeltent in Sheffield for the performance. There was a bit of a eureka moment in Sheffield where the live group really gelled and sounded pretty special/unique.

The best gig I saw was...
I can't watch live bands without feeling I'm facing the wrong way but the most enjoyable stuff I've seen this year has been at tiny D.I.Y nights around 'non venues' in Sheffield. New groups that people should know about/check out are a 3 piece called Blood Sport. They've got that Can & Neu catatonic groove thing going on but with a noise thing that's quite their own over the top, it's both hypnotic but uncomfortable, a winning formula. I also quite like a man & woman duo called Flaming Skulls, heavy Bonham style drums with a lass playing proper rock riffs better than the boys and with a voice that sounds like she's been possessed by a poltergeist. You can imagine her head spinning round 360 degrees as she sings... it's good. There's loads of good music beavering away in Sheffield that on the whole will be forever just Sheffield's, that's not a bad thing though.

A record from 2012 that will be still be played in 10 years time?
I love the Mary Epworth album 'Dream Life', inventive but melodic witchadelia. I'm a sucker for weirdos with big ideas. I Also like the BEAK and Pye Corner Audio LPs. Some people think it’s a crime to have an album with lots of different styles and sounds on it, these kind of people tend to like stupid records. Like this year’s ‘Birdie Song’, ’Gangnam Style’ (laughs).

Overlooked in 2012?
The 200 bowl cut toupees sported by 40 somethings in the first few rows of the Stone Roses reformation concerts.

And what can we look forward to in 2013 from The Eccentronic Research Council?
We may do a couple of live events between now and the start of the New Year but after that the live thing will probably take a break for a while. Maxine's got quite a bit on with TV and film through Spring and Summer so it's going to be hard to fit live shows in... but you never know maybe the odd sporadic last minute appearance where we are not welcome (laughs).

I'd like to start writing and recording another ERC album in late Winter/Spring and get that out late Summer, to be honest I've not really thought hard about it but we've all said we'd like to do something but how that manifests itself and when I'm not too sure. There's never been a plan...The ERC isn't a predictable beast it's a few pals who come together occasionally whilst doing other things to do something out of the realms and constraints and rules of their usual things, to let loose like a great big sexy demon. (Laughs).

There's still one chance to catch the big sexy demon that is The Eccentronic Research Council live this year: in a secret location in Preston this Sunday as part of the Frozen North Weekender. Excellent support is provided by Emma Tricca and Paper Dollhouse all for the bargain ticket price of £10. Plus look out for two January shows to be announced this week: 18 January at Queens Social WMC in Sheffield and 19 January at Hebden Bridge Trades Club. And regardless of your affinity to the North of England or not, "1612 Underture" is an essential purchase.

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