BOURBONESE QUALK Preparing For Power
Bourbonese Qualk were an experimental music group from England who where active from 1979 until 2003. The group were always obsessively and uncompromisingly focused on controlling their work – they ran their own record label, recording studio, tour organisation and music venue (the legendary ‘Ambulance Station’) – they refused to integrate into the commercial music racket turning down publishing deals from major labels – stubbornly opting for total independence. Bourbonese Qualk were also known for their political activism which was formed in the crucible of the 1980s Britain: The Miner’s Strike, Falklands/Malvinas war, Anti-fascism, Thatcherism, Moneterism, squatting/housing, local government corruption, anti-capitalism, and Anarchism – which was further re-enforced by touring Europe and meeting like-minded groups and organisations. They saw their music as a revolutionary cultural force – a belief that radical musical forms must be part of positive social change. Despite this position, the group avoided dogma, cliché and propaganda, preferring to let their audience come to their own conclusions – their work was often ambiguous and directly critical of cynical power-politics of any colour – often irritating members of the traditional ‘organised left’. In 1984 Bourbonese Qualk occupied a large empty building on the Old Kent Road in South London which they turned into a base for their activities and a co-operative for artists, musicians and writers as well as a centre for radical political activism – specifically as a co-ordinating centre for the ‘Stop The City’ anti-capitalist riots of 1984-1986. They never recorded in a ‘proper’ studio (not that they could ever afford to), choosing instead to work with their own extremely basic equipment (at a time when home studios were very unusual – the unique raw sound of these recordings is the result of their choice – which now, ironically, is in vodue due perhaps to the overwhelming obliquity of ‘clean’ audio digital production tools. If Bourbonese Qualk have a legacy, it is that ‘culture’ should be reclaimed, re-defined and owned by the people, wherever they are, however small and not by the state or the market and that ‘culture’ is a vital vehicle for debate and radical change. The last recorded album at their South London squat, The Ambulance Station on the Old Kent Road, and again released on their own Recloose Organisation, saw the band develop further beyond the limits of the post-punk / industrial scene where genres increasingly became redundant. Ethno, jazz, funk and EBM are all buried deep in the album as it seeks independence. The title, a critique of the Labour movements ineffective and limited call to arms against the prevailing Thatcherism of the mid-80s, encapsulates this wider oeuvre. From opening Return To Order, the acoustic gloom is offset by tight musicianship and countering melody. The switch of Outcry precedes psychedelic anthem, Boggy Creek, with its VU remembrance. Blighted pulses Confrontation, Xenophobia, Backlash and closer, Insurrection, sense the darkness, but the ground has shifted forwards with the legendary 1.51 minutes of man'n' machine that is Lies, the enwrapping symphonic dub vocal of Born Left Hearted and incongruously pretty, Is It As It Was? At times, suffocating, uncomfortable, at others light appears as history progresses. Preparing For Power is BQ at their most uncompromising and essential.
Available on CD for the first time now, with bonus tracks added that were not on the original Vinyl LP. Full tracklist: 1. Return To Order 2. Outcry 3. Boggy Creek 4. Confrontation 5. Lies 6. Soft City 7. Xenophobia 8. Born Left Hearted. 9. Is-it-as-it-was 10. Backlash 11. Insurrection 12. Under Observation 13. Neb Khepri 14. Bethlem. Price: € 18,-/copy incl. worldwide shipping.
Preparing For Power zawiera zaskakująco różnorodną muzykę. Wspomnieniem poprzednich krążków są tu industrialne preparacje, tym razem bliższe dokonaniom Einsturzende Neubauten (Is-It-As-It-Was). Brytyjscy muzycy z powodzeniem sięgają też po electro, wyprzedzając tym samym późniejsze dokonania Nocturnal Emissions w tym stylu (Lies). Sporo utworów ma charakter… piosenek, a raz jest to post-punkowa ballada (Return To Order), a drugi – schizofreniczny funk (Confrontation). Wszystko to uzupełniają psychodeliczne utwory instrumentalne z gitarą w roli głównej, w których słychać przeczucie post-rocka z następnej dekady (Under Observation).
(Nowa Muzyka, March 2021)
The album opens with the cold strutting electro reggae tones, tolling and grim indie rock guitars, layered-yet-muffled vocals, and moody horn work of Return To Order. Moving on to scrubbing violins, buzzing beats & blunt bass lines of Boggy Creek- which is topped by almost rap-like spoken word texts. Through to darting synth bass-lines, piping spacey-ness and muffled vocalising Born Left Hearted which at points has an almost early Coil vibe about it. We have the mellow instrumental indie rock electric & acoustic guitar harmonics of Backlash. With the album playing out with bobbing and throb bass lines, squeaking and squalling electronics, and spaced-out moody guitar reverb of Bethlem. (...) If you enjoy 80s genre-mixing with post-industrial/electronica leanings Id say this will most certainly be of interest to you.
(Musique Machine, April 2021)
The record isnt open to just anyone. Bourbonese Qualk dont want poseurs. They discard conventional niceties, instead toiling with industrial rhythms and discomforting grooves. Their songs are tests of patience instead of musical exhibitions. Choruses and melodies are antiquated currencies here. Dry production and a musty air inhabit most of Preparing for Powers runtime. Its unsettling; it doesnt give a shit if you like it or not; its music made like there was a microphone secretly stashed away at a band rehearsal, bottling the frustration, never to be unearthed. (...) Despite abandoning pleasantries Preparing for Power is remarkable in its coherency. Many of the tracks are hypnotizing, like how Outcry melds synth expressions and strained string samples. Theres an infectious afrobeat underbelly in the violin and funky marriage of Boggy Creek.
(Spectrum Culture, May 2021)