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 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 Previous (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 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 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 Fluid Mastering and 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. The first was recorded with the Mad Professor and you will not only hear The Count but his dub version of it as well! These will also be included on what will be a 2-LP set.
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 the Guardians. Below is an edit from our first live gig of a track called Shades.
Enjoy that? Well, the full length version is 6 minutes long but this edit gives you a feel of what we sounded like and also illustrate that the sound quality of these tapes is very good indeed.
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. The package will also contain a CD copy for you to play on your computer or import into your iTunes. Each LP 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, as stated above 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 October/November 2014.
It will take a further 4-6 weeks to get test pressings made. I should have test pressings by the end of November/December 2014.
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 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 early February at the latest.
Risks and challenges
With a strong wind there should be no problems at all. My only concern is the length of time it will take for the pressing plant to complete the test pressings and once they are approved press up the vinyl order. As vinyl sales are very strong these days - and there are no new pressing plants opening - they are very busy. But I have a very good relationship with the plant i intend to use and my point of contact there also plans to be a backer which will help!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)