Steve Jones + Logan Sky Take “European Lovers” To A New Level of Ecstacy

Messrs. Jones [L] + Sky [R] don’t do anything by half measures…

It was in the summer of 2019 when we last got an album from Jones + Sky. At the time, I felt that they had reached a new plateau of sophistication and stylish verve. They had begun their pivot from Synthpop to Art Rock, and had even enlisted Jan Linton to add his fevered eBow harmonics to the mix. I said “no more Depeche Mode…JAPAN, more likely.” But I was wrong. In a year and a half marked by increasingly ambitious single releases, the duo have gone further afield from the now obviously transitional “Rotating Angels” project to experiment with an increasingly organic and holistic sound that places them closer to the Talk Talk side of the Art Rock spectrum.

Etrangers Musique | UK | CD-R | 2021

Steven Jones + Logan Sky: European Lovers – UK – CD-R [2021]

  1. European Lovers
  2. Survival
  3. When The Night Falls In
  4. Sons of Hallucination
  5. Awaken From The Dream
  6. The Girl On The 8:45
  7. Lovers + Losers
  8. Cafe Europe
  9. All Her Things Are Gone
  10. Like A Ghost
  11. Past + Future Lives
  12. European Lovers [postscript]
  13. The Shape Of Darkness
  14. Another Hallucination
  15. Politics + Gesture
  16. Lovers + Losers [Extended Remix]
  17. Lovers + Losers [Vandal Moon Mix]
  18. Lovers + Losers [May Be Horizon Mix]

It began with the stunning title track, with piano and subtle synth harmonics that paved the way for the eloquent sax of Gary Barnacle to enter the mix. Choral patches and subtle bass throb enlivened the subtle mix as low key drum machine set the contemplative mood for Steven Jones to probe into the melancholy he was defining so adroitly. The coda where Jones’ backing expression vocals wove a delicate tapestry with the airy synths of Mr. Sky, but leaving room for the gorgeous sax to have the final word.

The subsequent “Survival” proved that the opening track was no fluke. Again, the piano led with backing support from the synths, but the mood built immediately here that supported the elegant emotional thrust of the album with a subtle guiding hand. This was music for adults, not sweaty teens on the dance floor [not that there’s anything wrong with that]. I loved the treatment of the backing vocals. With the key title phrase echoing forebodingly through the song’s space. Mr. Jones’ lyrics here proffered economical haikus of emotional devastation that stuck with the listener like napalm. Matching perfectly with his superb and measured vocal performance. There was no showboating. Every factor here had been pared back to only serve the essence of the song’s theme with the utmost in economy and skill.

Only you talk of revival

Take down the sky

Mortal souls aspire to survival

Orchids blossom

Orchids die


Just when we thought they had got the clubbing out of their system came “When The Night Falls In” to provide an outlier to their dark roots. The hissing synths and growling catlike bass had some subtle 808 added to give it an insistent propulsion even as the synth leads played their cards close to their vest. Jones’ delivery was at his insinuating best here as he worked in his voiceover mode. The grandeur of “Sons Of Hallucination” still managed to thrill, even now as it sat flawlessly in the setting that the album as a whole provided for this dark jewel of a song.

Logan Sky got a chance to add some instrumental magic with the appropriately named “Awaken From The Dream” and showed that he was venturing far from his synthwave roots now. The mood set here led almost imperceptibly to a song that has really stuck with me. “The Girl On The 8:45” is perhaps an outlier to their next destination. The vibe was almost like folk song on synthesizers. Steven Jones’ haunting falsetto BVs were endlessly echoing through the halls of the number as the brief track set an incomparably vivid mood. The lyrics were from the pen of Kevin O’Dowd, who they had co-wrote with on the last album, and he’s blending well with the core duo on these excursions.

The delicate sigh of melancholy that was “Lovers + Losers” was still weaving a captivating spell and was followed by a rare cover version in “Cafe Europe.” This one was a tune from Fatal Charm; a band that I’ve yet to hear but know of their reputation as one of the many intriguing Ultravox opening acts from back in the day. This track slotted into the whole of the album effortlessly, with a slight Moroder feel to the sequenced and delayed synth lines. I had to love hearing Metal Beat from a CR79 rhythm box in there as a rhythmic fillip. The sustain drenched falestto of Jones’ BVs was luxury I was getting used to hearing.

I really enjoyed the melodrama of “All Of Her Things Are Gone” as the song became stuck in my cranium for hours at a time. This one was mostly piano melodramatic stabs of orchestra; being the one point in the album where the band’s developmental Depeche Mode DNA still manifested in a very “Music For The Masses” way. But perhaps that was indicative of where their developmental curve was in that they no longer referenced the sound of “A Broken Frame” and had moved considerably upstream.

The penultimate track was the windswept melodrama of “Past + Future Lives” that viewed the doomed romance of the album theme through a karmic lens that I loved hearing Mr. Jones bring to the game. Such a late-period Roxy Music elegance here. As with many of the album tracks, it was led melodically with more piano and voice predominating. As suggested by several other songs, this time there was no there was no rhythm here at all for a breathless stillness, poised in a single moment in time.

Then the reprise of the title track as a spoken work atmospheric redux brought this perfect album to its conclusion. This was abetted by the sterling eBow stretching through time from guitarist Jan Linton. The organics that Linton and Barnacle brought to the album were pivotal in the shift of direction that the band are aiming at.

The joy of Steven Jones + Logan Sky is that they are growing together in synch with each other. Their ambitions posit them as peers to one another as they mutually up their respective games to dramatic new levels each time out. One thing that occurs to me as I listen to “European Lovers;” the recent notion I had of compiling a career best of would surely get uncomfortably close to the wide continuum of an album like Talk Talk’s “Natural History.”

Their earliest synth bangers would be barely recognizable as the same duo who have released this album which beckons me to hear it immediately again; even as the 12 track album [already a healthy but svelte-sounding 47 minutes] will be fully decked out with the B-sides and remixes from the two pre-release singles in its 75 minute CD-R edition of 200. The full program is what I’ve been listening to and it’s the furthest thing from a slog! What is surely one of the best albums of the year [currently my #1, actually] for a mere £4.00 at Bandcamp is ridiculously underpriced, but I recommend the CD-R hard copy with an extra six tracks [only £8.00] and it can be yours too if you hit that button below. Just do it quickly. All of their earlier CD-Rs are sold out

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Fashiøn “Fabrique De Luxe” Ultrabox Hits The Streets [part 11]

Fashiøn >> Fabrique lineup >> L-R: Mulligan, Recchi, Harriss, Daviss

[…continued from last post]

“Streetplayer” was a very hardy track, since it went under the remix knife here and laughed off all attempts to drive it off the rails with the new elements woven into its sturdy DNA. French sound bites kicked it off, appropriately enough. Then that bass line began; abetted by cavernous percussion effects and Bollywood beat/vocal samples. All within the first 30 seconds and the track managed to impose its essence through it all. New emphasis for the rhythm guitar also shone through the mix. then it began cooking with the essential groove of the track with the vocoded refrain.

New rhythms came and went in the middle of the track, which remained impervious to it all. The difference in the bass EQ at the 4:35 point where a maladroit edit occurred was the only loss of face thus far. The mix was five minutes over before Harris’ vocal manifested. At that point the song played out as normal.

“Move On” was a monster here at over ten minutes in length. Held had fun jamming with the intro rhythms looped and layered for as long as he wanted to into almost something else. Something as hypnotic as ever, but decidedly different. Ninety seconds in it clicked into place and the tease was over. At 4:38 it veered off into new zones of dub with squelchy synths and new beats filtering in, but with the spotlight going to the bass guitar. Then three minutes later it resurrected the slapback frenzy of “Mutant Dance Move” until the final fade, where the track broke down into chaos..

“You Only Left Your Picture” was the least affected cut here, with the mix balance and EQ altered to give the track a more ghostly presence. Heard as if through sheer curtains billowing in the wind. Not quite of this earth. The big phasing into the middle eight was almost carried through the entire track. It took something away from the big climax following the middle eight where the track was still phased in its shroud of psychedelia; robbing the climax of its emotional potency. And there was a split second glitch at 4:38 that jarred my ears.

For the last 20+ years I have been dreaming and scheming to make a box like this; devoted utterly to the best white funk album I’ve ever heard. To that end, I began buying every possible Fashiøn release I could obtain over 20 years ago, when a box like this first became a glimmer in my eye. I got the 12″ singles. Then the 7″ singles. Then the US promo 12″ singles. Then I began eyeing DJ pool mixes and further obscurities. Technically, the sole reason why this box beat my “Re-Fabricated” box was that I still have not gotten the Razormaid issue “Class-X Four” [RM-CX-4] with the track on it. Even now it’s still too pricey for online purchase. I generally tend to buy Razormaid discs in stores at somewhat bearable prices but then it’s down to the luck of the draw, and I need to act sooner than later on this issue. Finally, it was only several years back when I finally discovered the Dave Harris 1987 redux of “Love Shadow!!” Talk about a late in the game shocker.

Having absorbed the new box thoroughly over the last month of heavy listening, it’s a curious thing. The mastering itself sounded excellent. The album was always warm and analog sounding, even where the newly emergent digital technology poked its nose into the picture. That came down to the engineering and production footprint of Zeus B. held and his engineer Martin Hömberg. Their sonic footprint was to make of this album a luxuriant blend of oiled teakwood and black leather styling, with the occasional frisson of chromium to illuminate the darkness.

“Fabrique” really seemed to be more a part of the late 70s instead of the early 80s; an era that tended towards a somewhat brittle sound, owing to the taste for all things shiny and digital. Which is why I probably gravitate to this album so strongly. I have the 2001 Cherry Red reissue of the 1990 Arista CD of “The Height Of Fashion.” It sounded fine. We can see the waveform of the song “Move On” as shown below. There are peaks to the wave at 0 dB but most of the music rarely goes above -6 dB of peak.

The “Move On” waveform from the 2001 “Height Of Fashiøn” CD

This new box was been remastered but is thankfully not aboard the brickwall train. As shown below with the same track from the new box, there had been a light touch of compression to give the music a touch more impact. Note the volume levels of the intro which is no longer as timid as the older CD would have you hear. But not so much that detail is obliterated, and the dreaded ear fatigue sets in. Throughout the box the presence and detail offered up are the best that this music has ever sounded.

The “Move On” wave form from the 2021 “Fabrique De Luxe” box

Do I think any of this has been mastered form vinyl? I don’t think so. The level of detail and presence to this music is too hot to be even a best of breed vinyl rip. Yet, there was a click at 1:22 into the track “Alternative Playback [Full Frame].” Could that point to vinyl provenance? Perhaps. The wave transient looks like a typical vinyl pop, but for any of this music to be vinyl rips, I’m just not hearing the telltale signs. One: it sounds too good for that. There’s simply too much power and detail reaching my ear. Two: while I would say that NR has been used for tape hiss [there’s nothing here to speak of], it has not been used for surface noise reduction.

I do this all the time. I know the tradeoffs you pay for that sort of bargain. NR works by interpolating both in and out of phase information to target the noise and leaves telltale fingerprints at low sound levels; always on a fadeout. When I use NR, I might seek to face a track a second [or two] early to avoid these artifacts manifesting [that is to say, cheating]. I’m hearing none of that tomfoolery happening here. Three: the fact that there’s a new, previously unreleased version of “Something In Your Picture” on disc three means that it had to come from a master tape. No way could it be from an acetate. And if the production had access to that, then it follows that all of this was from a master tape. As for that stray click, that could be caused by static on the master, though I wish that it had been easily attended to during the mastering phase. Alas…

That was a minor hiccup for me. As was the appearance of “Streetplayer-Mechanik [Audio Extra]” instead of “Mutant Mix Mechanik” was the kind of error that always happens when mastering a set like this. I know that from bitter experience. But in my case, I can always fix it and burn a new CD, even as costly as MAM-A archival discs are. At the very least, “Mutant Mix Mechanik” was also on this disc I had, albeit under the name “Street Mechanik.” But that doesn’t help those without the earlier disc. So caveat emptor. As I said early on, for me the biggest nagfactor in this set was the decision to fade “Dressed To Kill [Double Dub]” instead of letting it end on tthe magnificent cold ending as it always had. The presence of almost imperceptibly slight cross fades between some of the tracks on Face 3 was a slight curiosity, but nowhere near a buzzkill. I sort of like having an almost imperceptible flow to it all even though I consider boxes of music like this to be reference objects. The fact that it was used randomly between some tracks and not others was a head-scratcher.

I suppose that the big splash here was the MMXIX disc that was Face 4. This constituted the first “new” material from this project. Apart from the “Something In Your Picture [Alternative Album Mix].” My misunderstanding up front was that it was a “live” CD from a one-off gig that Harris + Held had in 2019, but maybe that would have been more interesting. These were just post-modern remixes of the “Fabrique” tracks. Some decent, but others perfunctory. While I was happy to have this material added to this box on a glass mastered CD since I had missed the 100 CD-R copies sold prior to this box, I was also happy not to have spent the cash on the hard to get CD-R. Harris + Held have said that they intend to make new music going forward as Fabrique Global, and that will hopefully prove to be of greater interest to me. I know that I’m a big enough fan of Held to buy anything with his name on it.

The bottom line for me was that “Fabrique De Luxe” was not perfect, but it is the best there will probably ever be for this album. And Sweet Mother McCree it was actually on CDs! Having dropped three figures on this matte black fetish object for fans of “Fabrique” was invariably a huge buzz for me. I was all prepared to make my version of this box [and may yet do that, having invested considerably thus far] but once I heard from commenter brynstar that this was in the works [four years ago], I awaited the finished project patiently. We know how much time it takes for a project of this scope. Especially since it is “real” one not one of my personal indulgences. Hell, my own projects can take even longer! The last time I checked, I started buying what I needed for my own Fashiøn project 20 years ago.

If you are asking yourself “should I buy this” I can only say that if the idea of a matte black flight case CD boxed set of god [BSOG] with precision cut foam inserts and a Monastically packaged set of four CDs with everything that Arista released for this album campaign quickened your pulse, then you are in the target audience, and should buy. Two 7″ mixes are not here, but “Mutant Move” 7″ was simply a shorter edit of “Mutant Dance Move.” “Let’s Play Dirty” was an edit of “Let’s Play Dirty [Centrefold]” with a few bars here and there clipped from the mix. I can live with just the long, luxuriant mix. The most crucial 7″ mix was definitely here for “Love Shadow.”

But even if you are rolling your eyes at the notion of $112 [plus not insubstantial shipping from the UK] the market has spoken and it is now possible to buy the four CDs ala carte! The single CDs are £12.00/$15.00 per disc [though in the US Face 2 [“Fabrique Cassette Remixes”] is $16.00. That brings the costs down considerably. Any single CD signed by Dave Harris is $35.00 per disc. At the bare minimum, even budget conscious Fashiøn fanatics need the first three discs here! I was happy to get the Full Monty since every Fashiøn record I have bought [apart from the “Height Of Fashiøn” CD] was a used record, and after all of these years in awe of this achievement, I am more than down with sending $112 where it will [finally] benefit the artist. Goodness knows, that this music has certainly benefited me in the last 40 years!

Because ultimately, we are talking [a lot] about an album and its attendant singles that struck a place in the continuum between godlike middle-period JAPAN and the jamming Brit-Funk achievement of Level 42 at their very finest. To me this album really exists at the rarefied intersection that would exist between “Gentlemen Take Polaroids” and the always amazing “Hot Water.” Exquisite synth jazz chops courtesy of the band and producer Held, and the machine funk groove that could last for days that Harris’ songs explored magnificently. I only hope that Covid-19 hasn’t totally scuttled the notion of Harris and Held working on new music as Fabrique Global because I’m very curious to hear what these two might do 40 years later.

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Fashiøn “Fabrique De Luxe” Ultrabox Hits The Streets [part 10]

[…continued from last post]

Finally, Face 3 had one track which was only in this boxed set. “Something In Your Picture [Alternative Album Mix].” The mix had subtly differing balances and slightly different rhythms and synth touches. The backing vocals airbrushed into the song were used in different places in the mix as well. The one huge change in this version was the coda to the song which used a very different performance from Dave Harris on vocals. Instead of the [admittedly dazzling] multi-voice middle eight abstract vocal treatment as on the album mix, this one had Harris belting out a new verse in fortissimo. It proved to be a radically different emotional note to close the song out on instead of repeating the chorus.

fashion fabrique de luxe face 4 cover art
Gonzo Multimedia | UK | CD | 2021 | HST566CD

Fabrique Global: MMXIX Extended Remixes Face 4– UK – CD [2021]

  1. Dressed To Kill [Extended Remix] 6:36
  2. Something In Your Picture [Extended Remix] 6:33
  3. Do You Wanna Make Love [Extended Remix] 8:16
  4. Love Shadow [Extended Remix] 6:25
  5. Streetplayer [Extended Remix] 8:16
  6. Move On [Extended Remix] 10:18
  7. You Only Left Your Picture [Extended Remix) 4:48

Finally, I had been under the impression that the fourth disc, the “MMXIX” disc which had briefly surfaced in 2019 as a hard-to-get CD-R from Dave Harris and Zeus B. Held had been a live recording of the two gents revisiting the material decades later, but that was my misconception. Instead, the disc was Post-Modern remixes of seven of the ten “Fabrique” tracks. But in this case, done by the original artist and producer of the material. Making it a rarity in the Post-Modern remix world.

These re-works were also home to new overdubs my the artistes, making them halfway between remixes and new material. The name Fabrique Global was the name of a new partnership between Harris and Held, so we’ll see if they manage to create new music after the disruption of the pandemic. Hopefully, one day in the next few years we may have a full album of new material by these talents, but until then, there are these remixes to consider.

We now have an extended remix of “Dressed To Kill” that began with a completely new conga/drumstick percussion movement that ended with a synth drone before the familiar bass line came into the mix. Percussion loops and watery clavinet by Held led into a new mix of the classic tune at the two minute mark. The balances and EQ were different for this re-edit. The EQ was sharper and less bass-heavy until the coda, where the squealing tire foley effects were [thankfully] still present. The overall effect was not a disaster, yet it was not definitive, either. Like any Post-Modern remix, it had a lot of legacy to overcome and was not quite up to the task. That the ending was [again] faded instead of the cold bracing ending I prefer from the original version was a disappointment.

Self-Released | UK | CD-R | 2019 | MMXIXCD

“Something In Your Picture” had new synth bleeps and blips in the intro, which was closer to the album mix of the track. All of this struck me as perfunctory and inessential. Not unlike the “Party Mix” overdubs on the B-52’s EP I never bothered buying. The multi-voice middle eight was fractalized even further and longer, which was the best thing that could have happened to it. It always struck me as the most dazzling moment in the song and more is better, though this mix had the overdubs in the intro to overcome.

The hip-hop beats and clavinet added to “Do You Wanna Make Love” were about as far as possible from the bedroom vibe of the original mix. This one eventually folded in the “Do You Wanna Make Love [at 5:00 A.M.]” rhythmic treatment for more dub hijinx. But the further away that this track got from the silk sheet seduction of the original LP version of this song, the less I liked. Eventually the shimmering synthgasm of the LP version got some love about halfway through. As did the new emphasis on the bass playing. I think that the clavinet overdubs might have worked but the mix here was too sprawling for me to ride it all the way.

“Love Shadow” was more of a re-edit of all of the various mixes out there. But the intro still had dope drop beats® that might have been better had so much of the original mix not already manifested. There sounded like new guitar from Harris figuring in there. I would have preferred a completely new version of they wanted to move in a hip hop direction with this one. The EQ was wildly divergent in a distractive way. The ending incorporated a remix of the heavy dub workout of “Smokey Dialogue.” As this stood, it lacked integrity for all of the stabs at invention. It was too much of a kitchen synch mix [up].

Next: …Wrap It Up, I’ll Take It

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Fashiøn “Fabrique De Luxe” Ultrabox Hits The Streets [part 9]

fashion - something in your picture 12" label art

[…continued from last post]

The fourth single from “Fabrique” was a little scarce. While the first three had been issued worldwide, “Something In Your Picture” only seemed to get a release in the UK and Spain. The “Motor Drive” remix was the most radical overhaul of the singles on 12″ format. While the dubs could venture far afield from the A-side template, the 12″ A-sides largely stuck to longer takes/arrangements that had been edited down for eh album tracks. Not this time.

The “Motor Drive” had been extensively remixed by Zeus B. Held with a completely new rhythm track that was clattering and methodical. It was far more complex than the simple 4/4 pulse on the album track. Harris’ backing vocals sounded like a sampling keyboard was processing them though there was no credit for such in the extensive technical credits. Believe me; if there had been a Fairlight [or competitor] on the album we would have known about it. The 12″ arrangement was more dreamy and psychedelic than the album track. The dubby movement before the coda had a nice breakdown of the call and response vocals while foregoing the complex multi-voice arrangement that was so arresting in the LP track [and even the 7″ B-side “Alternative Playback [Half Frame]”].

fashion - mutantmechanikUK7BThere was a shocking brief segue to the next track that was only present here. All of these A/B sides were separate entities on vinyl, but not necessarily here. There was about 1-2 seconds of cross-fade into the next track, “Mutant Mechanik 7″ Mix.” This was a brief, but furious dub of “Streetplayer-Mechanik” with emphasis on the rhythm guitar and popping bass lines. With the dubbed out synth brass lines dancing among the big beat Simmons drums.

fashion - loveshoadowUK7AThe much more direct “Love Shadow” 7″ mix then next appeared with the briefest of scene settings in its twelve second intro. The track was only 17 seconds shorter than the album track but seemed to be even briefer. At the end of this cut was another 1-2 second segue into the heavy extended dub mix of “Alternative Playback [Full Frame.]” This radical re-imaging of “Something In Your Picture” was all down to the dubbed out drums with the other primary emphasis down to the bass playing [never a sin to these ears]. There were still strategic jets of synth washes bled into the mix at odd angles, perpendicular to the drums.

Played adjacent to the album source track and there’s precious little crossover. Snatches of the processed backing vocal only appeared at the five plus minute mark as the ferocious bass riffs got some slapback love in the coda. The serpentine fade on the bass and cymbal rim hits ended things on a jazz note as the track ended. While there had been occasional clicks that barely registered here and there, this track had a clear transient click that could not have been master tape static at the 1:21 mark in playback. Thus the vinyl provenance of at least some of these tracks was indicated. I wish they’d consulted me first. Removing noise of that variety by hand is a Monastic specialty. I’d have repaired it gratis. The annoying thing was for vinyl mastering, this track sounded exceptionally good! There were no destructive Noise Reduction artifacts anywhere. The actual mastering of this music was excellent. I’ve played every track’s fade in the headphones at high volume and none of the telltale signs manifested. Which made that microskip all the more tragic.

Next came the one non-LP B-side to the album campaign; the ferociously cooking “Let’s Play Dirty [Centrefold]” extended version. A sequencer loop set the driving pace for the slamming beat and taut guitars to formulate an astonishing groove here. The vibe was still high tech, but streamlined. This felt like the band playing with a minimum of overdubs.

You don’t have to tell me that you love me

I just want to feel your weight above me [oh yeah]

Let’s play dirty…

Let’s Play Dirty

This was one of the all time great B-sides, but it really had a smoking hot vibe at odds with the chilled funk of the rest of the album so I can [grudgingly] see why it was set aside for B-side status. I have to wonder if this was from the “Fabrique” sessions of was from a later session when the “Love Shadow” single was being prepared. I would have loved to have heard a next album from this lineup that had this fire. The 7:40 of the song simply flies by.

Arista | US Promo | 12″ | 1982 | SP 145

The next track was a rarity that I had on my racks for years without knowing that the US edition [promo only] of “Love Shadow” featured a vastly different mix of the track for US clubs. Again, the last 1-2 seconds of the preceding track and this one were [barely] cross faded. The difference is apparent immediately when the slamming, somewhat aggressive beat made this mix of the song sound closer to what Cabaret Voltaire might be doing in a year’s time. The sensual pillow talk vibe of the UK mix was completely replaced. This sounded almost proto-industrial!

The guitar was emphasized together with the drums. The pizzicato string patch has been mixed into oblivion. The pacing of the track was also altered with the middle eight with Gina Kikoine intact, but the second half of the song dispensed with 90% of the spoken word give and take between Harris and Kikoine; reducing the latter to a cameo on the second half of the track. Then came what sounded like the point of the coda fade which circled back to repeat the chorus to fade. A very different “Love Shadow.” Not the ultimate
Love Shadow” by a long shot. The 12″ [in my Record Cell] had no remix credits on it, but I can’t believe that it’s the handiwork of Zeus B. Held and not some anonymous Arista US personnel.

Next: …Buried Treasure

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Fashiøn “Fabrique De Luxe” Ultrabox Hits The Streets [part 8]

[…continued from last post]

While Face 2 replicated [in intent, if not execution] the B-side dub mixes of the “Fabrique” cassette B-side, the third disc here was about rounding up the seven and twelve inch single mixes. We had a little over an hour here of material and this time the disc was salted with Monkbait of the strongest stripe; a previously unreleased version of a song from “Fabrique.”

fashion fabrique de luxe face 3 cover art
Gonzo Multimedia | UK CD | 2021 | HST565CD

Fashiøn: Fabrique [Single Remixes] Face 3 – UK – CD [2021]

  1. Move On [Audio Extra]
  2. Streetplayer-Mechanik [Audio Extra]
  3. Love Shadow [Smokey Dialogue]
  4. Something In Your Picture [Motor Drive]
  5. Mutant Mechanik [7″ Mix]
  6. Love Shadow [7″ Mix]
  7. Alternative Playback [Full Frame]
  8. Let’s Play Dirty [Centrefold]
  9. Love Shadow [US 12″ Promo Mix]
  10. Something In Your Picture [Alternative Album Mix]
fashion move on 12" label art

“Move On [Audio Extra]” was the pre-release twelve inch that was actually released in the holy year of 1981. I don’t think I had an awareness of this single at that time, but I wish I had! “Move On [Audio Extra]” was a steamroller with an “impeccable groove” that anticipated the ultimate Level 42 jazz-funk jam that would happen two years later with “Hot Water.” The mix was nothing radical. In fact, the LP cut was most likely an edit of the full length jam as used here. most of what constituted “Mutant Dance Move” in the previous disc. The extended buildup to the big drop. Minus the heavy dub effects used on “Mutant Dance Move.” In this the 12″ mix was decidedly definitive.

fashion - streetplayer-mechanik 12" label artThe slipstreaming motorik monster that was “Streetplayer-Mechanik [Audio Extra]” sounded like the exact same file as used on Face 2/track three, but the EQ applied to the track differed greatly here. Otherwise the two clicks in the first 30 seconds were identical. The mix was like the last one, a full length take from which the 3:47 LP track had been obviously hacked down to become. Whoever came up with the vocal hook “no one is unique – everything is mechan-ik” was a genius. I have not heard if it was Harris, Held, or a band member who suggested this one, but the whispered chant can play off the powerful synthet-ik rhythm all day long in my world. The dubbed out synth brass in the coda were like matching tire squeals to the Maserati piston-rhythm of the song.

fasjion - love shadow 12" label art

Next came the first Fashiøn record I bought back in 1982. I had been smitten by the few airings of the “Love Shadow” video I’d seen on MTV and the 12″ mix was more sensual and luxuriant as it strove for the vibe of a Barry White track yet viewed through a darker, noir lens. Harris’ surgical funk guitar licks drew blood with every riff, and coupled with the dry Simmons drums and the rushing, organsmic synth riffs formed a recipe for hedonic overload. The 12″ mix was filled with a lot more Gina X presence as in the song’s second half,she traded lines with Harris as they dissected this doomed romance.

This half of the mix functioned as “Smokey Dialogue”on the last disc, but the mix was smooth and elegant here; in keeping with the original track and missing all of the bracing dub effects added to the mix to suggest the disorientation of breakup. The bass clarinet solo of got more time in the spotlight and the chillout coda of the bass line and the gossamer guitar solos overdubbed in dubspace were elegant in the extreme.

Next: …Playing Dirty

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Fashiøn “Fabrique De Luxe” Ultrabox Hits The Streets [part 7]

Arista | UK | 12″ | 1982 | ARIST 12456

[…continued from last post]

It was track three of Face 2 [“Fabrique” cassette remixes] that an error manifests in this box. It lists a track called “Mutant Mix Mechanik.” That was a B-side dub mix from the “Streetplayer-Mechanik” 12″ being 7:13 in length. The third track on the cassette was called “Street Mechanik” as it was also called on the “Height Of Fashiøn” compilation. All of these instances were the same dub track. Except on Face 2 of this box. In this case, the 12″ A-side of “Streetplayer-Mechanik [Audio Extra],” which is an 8:23 vocal mix, has been placed in the flow of tracks by mistake. It will also be the second track on Face 3 of this box; albeit in a very different EQ treatment.

So that means that the box was fallible. It’s not surprising as most of them are. By comparison, there’s the typical Edsel Records Box that often comes with handfuls of error-prone discs in them. I make these sorts of boxes myself and can vouch for how difficult it is to keep the plot straight. Let’s leave the song until it’s turn comes on the next disc.

“Dressed To Kill [Double Dub]” [as it was known on the cassette remixes] was such an immaculate stone groove that it’s now fantastically exciting to me, even though it was a brief dub mix of under three minutes. The same track was called “Dressed To Kill [mix]” on the 12″ B-side. The six note bass loop was naked up front for two bars before Harris’ insanely funky guitar kicked in. The bass loop gets stuck in my cranium for hours on end [like today] and was followed by the drums and the heavily processed vocal hook of “dressed to kill!” which joined the [very intense] party. Then synth stabs and the squealing tires [in dub!] of the LP mix got much more of an airing here. The bass riff, run through a Mu-tron filter to end up sounding like a Chapman Stick, piled on at the end but the cascade of Simmons fills in dub and the cold vocal only ending that I loved so much from the 12″ B-side was inexplicably faded down her for the last 15 seconds of the song. Say whaaaaa?? As much as I’m mildly disappointed that the previous track was included in error twice instead of the correct dub mix of “Streetplayer-Mechanik,” it’s this factor, more than anything, that is my big disappointment about this set.

The brief “You Only Left Your Picture [Reggae Reprise]” at a little over a minute long, couldn’t help but to leave one hungry for more. It posited a Fashiøn that was a halfway point between the knockabout Post-Punk of the first album and funk of the second album incarnations of the band, minus the high technology, for a brief funky reggae party. “Alternative Playback [Half frame]” which was the 7″ B-side to “Something In Your Picture,” was also the same cut as “Something In Your Picture [Alternative Playback]” on the remix tape. It came right up front and delved deeply [in dub] into the phased, multi-harmony bridge breakdown, which had been extended far beyond the scanty tease of the two bar length it had been in the album track. Meanwhile the rhythm had been cut to a fraction of its original BPM for a heady, lurching psychedelia as imagined by Zeus B. Held as if possessed by Adrian Sherwood. The phased backing vocals got plenty of love here too. Tracks like this are why dub was invented.

fashiøn with walkman decks
Walkman units at the ready… Fashiøn in 1982.

I have once said that “if cocaine were music, this album would be the result.” Never more was that true then on the cut “White Stuff [The Unfinished].” A track that only appeared here in its 8:45 full length while manifesting in a 5:30 edit on the NME “Mighty Reel” tape and a 5:00 edit on the US promo “Love Shadow” 12″ single. What was a teasingly brief three minutes was expanded dramatically here in a version of almost three times that length. And this was no dub mix but what would have been an epic 12″ mix. The bass cut straight to the heart of the funk with only cymbal taps to tick like a stopwatch before the Simmons rolls and vocoders began the jam in earnest after a minute in buildup. A buildup almost twice as long as on the LP mix. The jamming had plenty of room to breathe here with running time being no object to the development of groove.

At almost five minutes in, the jam expanded with new rhythm guitar figures and keyboard solos, the latter likely at the hand of Zeus B. Held who co-wrote this track in the studio with Harris. Through it all, the rhythm section just kept moving like a steamroller of funk, coming down the boulevard slowly and methodically. Casually crushing cars left and right. When the middle eight finally happened instead of ending the keyboard solos really started taking off. Then at 6:30 the drop happened and only the relentless hammering of the synthetic drums coupled with the pulse-gated and phased synth chords began cruising at high altitude. Then drum fills and metallic synth bleeps and occasional guitar joined the clavinet for a dissolute breakdown following the song’s manic phase.

The final track was only on the remixed B-side of the “Fabrique” tape but was also included on “The Height Of Fashiøn” CD. “Do You Wanna Make Love [At 5:00 A.M.] was a clattering dub mix of a radical stripe. All of the spherical, orgasmic essence of the LP track was swapped out for phased, dubbed drum tracks and synths, often doubled with slapback echo. Only the guitar cut angular shapes through the barbituate murk, until at the 4:30 point the song’s spellbinding synth hook finally appeared briefly, before the phased middle eight. The only vocal throughout all of this was the ghostly remnant of the refrain “do you wanna make love” mixed into the track like a distant fog. Then it faded out on Harris’ solo at a very different 6:45. I’d still have to give the massive edge to the original track, though this was decidedly different.

Next: …»Face 3«

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Fashiøn “Fabrique De Luxe” Ultrabox Hits The Streets [part 6]

Arista | UK | CASS | 1982 | TCART 1185

[…continued from last post]

Back in the early 80s, the Walkman® portable tape player was a very popular way to enjoy music [but not with me…that’s another story for another day]. Arista was working that pre-recorded tape action with some of its artists by including all of an album on side one of a tape with remixes filling out the second side. The Thompson Twins were a high profile example of this with their “Quick Step + Side Kicks” album but labelmates Fashiøn got there first, with “Fabrique.” Some of the remixes on the tape B-side were later issued as 12″ single bonus tracks, but more were unique to the tape. These cassette bonus tracks constitute Face 2 of this box.

fashion fabrique de luxe face 2 cover art
Gonzo Multimedia | UK | CD | 2021 | HST564CD

Fashiøn: Fabrique [Cassette Remixes] Face 2 – UK – CD [2021]

  1. Mutant Dance Move
  2. Smokey Dialogue
  3. Mutant Mix Mechanik
  4. Dressed To Kill [Double Dub]
  5. You Only Left Your Picture [Reggae Reprise]
  6. Alternative Playback [Half Frame]
  7. White Stuff [The Unfinished]
  8. Do You Wanna Make Love [at 5.00 A.M.]

Fans familiar with the cassette version may see different titles used here and here’s the original track listing below as printed on the 1982 cassette. Don’t worry. I’ll explain everything as we go along.

B1Mutant Move5:51
B2Love Shadow Smokey Dialogue4:59
B3Street Mechanik7:21
B4Dressed To Kill Double Dub2:54
B5You Only Left Your Picture (Reggae Reprise)1:11
B6Something In Your Picture (Alternative Playback)3:08
B7White Stuff (The Unfinished)8:44
B8Do You Wanna Make Love (At 5.00 A.M.)?6:48
fashion move on cover art

“Mutant Dance Move” was the B-side to the “Move On” 12″ single. It was the same as the “Mutant Move” on the tape. This was a muscular dub mix that had a gradually ascending series of circular chords, punctuated by Simmons fills and reversed white noise percussion in the place of hi-hats. Through it all, vocalist Harris repeated the “move on, move on, move, on, move on…” lyric mantra until after three minutes, the synth singularity appeared and then the relentlessly chugging bass riff took the song into high gear.

Harris’ vocal on the first verse was heavily dosed with slapback echo that made it syncopate with basically everything else in the song! Then the bass solo was pushed into the spotlight as huge, clanging synth and drum elements were dropped into a huge dub space against the flat, dry drum track for several bars, before circling back to the circular energy that was the song’s raison d’être. The vocoded scatting in the outro coda was yet more badass posturing that was totally at home on this album. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“Smokey Dialogue” was the same as “Love Shadow [Smokey Dialogue]” as it was known on the tape as well as the “Height Of Fashiøn” CD, which featured “Fabrique” and 5/8 bonus cassette tracks. This was a dub mix of what was basically the second movement of the “Love Shadow” 12″ single version; which [confusingly] was also called “Love Shadow [Smokey Dialogue].” This track gave focus to the bass clarinet of Pete Willman and the taut, funky guitar of Dave Harris. It was a different stage upon which to spotlight the call and response vocals of Dave Harris duetting with Gina Kikoine [or Gina X, as she was billed].

Their give and take was based on the middle eight of the album version but was far more elaborate in painting a picture of the schism that had occurred. At the track’s halfway point, the vocals were gone for a deep dive into the dub pool with Syndrums drums coasting for days on subharmonic bass overload while clattering, metallic percussion and undulating waves of synth white noise jumped back and forth in the stereo spectrum. High frequency synth trills and drum machine loops eventually broke the track down into its chaotic and thrilling climax. The smoothest track on the album had been ripped apart and crudely stitched back together into a kind of Frankenfunk’s Monster for our pleasure and excitement.

Next: …Error In the system

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