Monday, 25 April 2016
Oliver: 70 Gwen Party - The Psycho Beat (25 January 1992)
I'd never heard of 70 Gwen Party before I started on this blog. I missed their session when Peel included it in one of his Best of 1991 shows. A look at their page on the John Peel wiki seems to confirm that their opportunities for wider exposure never really took off. Peel stuck with them for the duration of their 8 year career which ended circa 1997-98, a time when I was listening to Radio 1 all day religiously and the period when I discovered Peel's show, but I never heard them anywhere. They are in many respects the definition of a "Peel act", I can't say "band" as there were only two of them. Now that was no disbarment to either The Black Keys or The White Stripes, but 70 Gwen Party's mix of punk and electronica went into considerably more interesting territory than either of those duos managed. 1992 era contemporaries like Curve come out sounding more lumpen than they should otherwise have seemed, as well.
Regrettably, I'm not the first person to have conjured up images of horror movie soundtracks when listening to their music and The Psycho Beat sounds like it should be an alternative soundtrack on The Driller Killer for the most part. But it also put me in mind of Lee Perry in that while one sound predominates, in this case - the black storm cloud of a compressed synthesiser - the shards and offcuts of other sounds (Clanger like whistles here, a harp/finger piano melody there) keep breaking through and pulling the listener into the cloud and up into the skies. Their low media profile was apparently a matter of huge resentment to 70 Gwen Party, but they promise to be that best of things which the Peel Show sometimes served up: A late night secret, known only to those select few who were happy to sit up from 11pm till 2am, taping their brilliance. I'm very happy that I've been able to chance upon it, 24 years too late. Nice sample of Paul Morley at the start too.
Video courtesy of voldinvein97.