GUARDIANS OF THE ANCIENT WISDOM POST-PUNK INDIE GOTH 1981
After discovering live, rehearsal and studio recordings the GUARDIANS OF THE ANCIENT WISDOM music from 1981/2 needs to be heard!
THE BACKGROUND: THAT WAS THEN...
Back in 1979-80 along with my musical partner (AKA Dark Zolan), I released 3 cassette only albums under the names of Distinctive Drone, Clockwork Addiction and the Black Druids. These were listed in Sounds music magazine and we sold about 20-30 copies of each LP in the UK. These albums were recorded, mastered and dubbed on rudimentary tape recorders but as we grew more competent and musically serious we paid for one recording session - as the Black Druids - in 1981 at Ariwa Studios in South London, where we recorded one track called The Count. This was produced and mixed by Neil Fraser who is better known as the Mad Professor. Despite our track being very Goth sounding, Neil did two dub versions!
At this point wanting to play live we changed our name to the Guardians Of The Ancient Wisdom and recruited two other musicians. The line-up was Dark Zolan (Vocals), Fred Previous (bass), Rob Clayton (guitar/casio keyboard/drum machine) and myself Ian Shirley (synth/backing vocal).
Musically we were a mix of our influences which ranged from Joy Division, Wire, Bauhaus, Killing Joke to Chrome with a sprinkling of our own ideas. We had no drummer and so the sound was quite unique, dominated by Fred's bass playing which ranged from melodic to throbbing, Rob's shards of guitar and my own contributions on synth that ranged from from effects to synth pop melody. All underpinned by a drum machine. Zolan took care of vocal duties.
The Guardians had many rehearsals, got tight and promoted and played our first gig at Four Corners in Roman Road, East London on 28th November 1981. This concert was recorded directly through the mixing desk by an engineer we hired to do the PA and sound for the night. A pretty good deal for £50! The gig went well.
More rehearsals followed, now with a drummer called Rob 'The Major' Maidens and our second self promoted gig took place in Windmill Hill, Upminster on 26th January 1982. After 5 numbers in front of a very hostile audience we were bottled off by followers of the support band Vertical Hold, who had been Fred's previous band (you can now see how he got his nickname...)
Before a third gig could be arranged and promoted in Shenfield the band split up. We all went our separate ways and Fred - now had more Previous- moved onto his next band, The Screaming Babies taking 'The Major' with him...
BUT THIS IS NOW...
I have had various cassette tapes of the first gig, rehearsals and other recordings for years. I recently found, however, a late rehearsal tape with the full band including 'The Major' on drums. This really rocks. Through the good offices of Fred (thank you Facebook) I also tracked down a holy grail cassette tape of the Windmill gig, recorded by Fred's mate Jon Attwood (later to be the Screaming Babies guitarist), where we were bottled off...
AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT...
For the last four years I have had the fantastic task of running the Record Collector Rare Vinyl series which has brought a number of rare and unheard gems to the ears of music fans worldwide. So, I know what it takes to clean up old tapes, remaster music and get vinyl albums pressed up. I also know that there is great interest in bands - like the Guardians - who never made it onto vinyl but who made some recordings before fading into obscurity.
So, it seems a great idea to actually put this material by the Guardians onto vinyl some 32 years after it was recorded. Now, this music won't make Thom Yorke, Jack White or even Peter Murphy quake in their boots or bring Universal music, XL or iTunes to my door but this is, to my ears, music that needs to be made available to give people the opportunity to hear it!
I have already started this project and paid to transfer the original cassettes of the live concerts and rehearsals into a digital format.
This has been professionally done by the same sound engineer and producer whose expertise and skills have helped make the Record Collector rare vinyl series sound so fantastic. In the past he has taken music from worn acetates, 40 year old master tapes and even 40 year old vinyl records and produced sparking sound that does not lose the integrity of the original music. Now he gets to work on 32-year old cassette tapes and do any necessary audio restoration work as well as master, sequence and cut the records.
As well as the two live concerts and rehearsals from the Guardians there are the studio sessions that were recorded just before and after the band formed and split. These will also be included on what will be a 2-LP set.
The second studio session was recorded by Rob Clayton and I. Both this, and The Count are actually on a master tape, which I have somewhere in my house and am still looking for. I have found a cassette version of what I did with Rob Clayton but as yet The Count still lies in his tomb and I cannot find the master tape of the first session recorded at Ariwa Studios. I am searching high and low for this.
SO WHAT DOES THIS STUFF SOUND LIKE?
One reason why I wanted to transfer the cassettes into a digital format was to give you the opportunity to hear what the Guardians sounded like. Below is an edit from our first live gig of a track called Shades. The full length version is 6 minutes long but this edit will give you a feel of what we sounded like and also illustrate that the sound quality is very good.
With the tapes cleaned up I want to release the live and rehearsal material as a 2-LP set on vinyl. Simple as that.
So, if you help me hit my funding target I will get the sound cleaned up and then master and press up 300 copies of the Guardians music as a 2-LP set. 300 copies is the minimum I can get pressed up.
LP 1 will contain the first gig.
LP 2 Will contain some tracks from the second (and final gig), rehearsals and material laid down in the recording studio.
This album will come to you in a hand-made sleeve. Why hand-made? Well, I think that the personal touch is important and it will make each record unique and give the project an authentic DIY flavour, so typical of the post-punk period in which this music was recorded, when many bands made their own sleeves. The records will, however, be pressed on heavy audiophile vinyl and each 2-LP set will contain an insert that will contain a full history of the band and photographs. Each copy will also be hand-numbered and come with a certificate of authenticity signed by myself and - I have twisted his arm - Fred Previous. I have already made a mock-up of sleeve artwork for you to feast your eyes upon.
DON'T HAVE A RECORD PLAYER?
If you don't have a record player don't worry! I also plan to manufacture finished CDs. Of course, each vinyl set sold will contain a free CD but if you just want the CD only there is a reward button so that you can order your Guardians in a digital format!
If this project is funded I will get the tracks remastered, sort out the running order and get the LPs cut by September/October 2014.
It will take a further 4-6 weeks to get test pressings made. I should have test pressings by the end of October or in November.
Once the test pressings are approved (barring any issues that would require a re-cut) the LPs will be manufactured and assembled.
During this time I will also get the CD mastered and manufactured.
This will take 3-4 weeks from the approval of test pressings. So I should have the records by the end of December 2014 or in January 2015.
Upon receipt, I plan to start shipping the LP straight away.
These dates, are, I believe achievable and if everything goes according to plan you will have your Guardians Of The Ancient Wisdom LP by Christmas or shortly afterwards.
An ideal gift for a Joy Division or a Goth fan who needs a new 'aural' challenge or a vinyl collector - like me - who needs to fill a gap between GUANA BATZ and GUARDIANS OF THE RAINBOW.
Or a Vertical Hold fan who stormed the stage back in January 1982!!
Risks and challenges
RISKS AND CHALLENGES
This music is taken directly from cassette tapes.
Thus, the audio fidelity will not equal anything that was professionally recorded as these recordings were made at live gigs or in rehearsal rooms - as well as a recording studio for some tracks. Everything will be done, however, to restore the tapes to a standard that will be a pleasure to hear. I have transferred the tapes already and can assure you that quality of the audio is fine for this project. I wanted to hear the tapes before launching the project an be satisfied . I am.
The challenge will be finding that pesky master tape that has The Count on it and making sure that the pressing plant gets the record pressed on time.
I do, however, have a very good working relationship with the plant I intend to use and am confident that they will press the record on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (37 days)