Bristol Archive Records Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Animal Magic’


Monday, June 14th, 2010


Fishfood – weird/strange/fun post-punk from across the pond

19 November

Posted by Eric

The Bristol RecorderI enjoy discovering good music that I’ve never heard before. Most modern music just bores me, so I usually dip into the late 70s/early 80s for this enjoyment.

A few months ago, I bought a compilation record/magazine called The Recorder. I found it for $2 at Jive Time in Fremont, noticed that there were three live Peter Gabriel songs on it (including a cover) and figured that those alone would be worth the two dollars.

I finally got around to listening to it an while the Peter Gabriel songs were quite fun, the real gem was the three opening songs by a band called Fish Food.

I’m not so good at reviewing music, so I’ll let the band introduce themselves to you…

Fish Food are a band are an aid, first to be the second coming round the mountain Diagram fingers spiced with many flavoured fingers from dressing gown chord sequences, aluminium crayfish savim, monkeys leap from limb to limb for five pence in the RSPCA jungle sale. Step lightly down the street, you don’t know who you’ll meet cleaving an enormous crevasse in a broken heart from which a flower grew, with metals soft as velvet and a colour so rich, deep and beautiful that the insects dared not land on it.

And honestly, that does sum them up rather well.

Fish Food (or Fishfood) was formed by four fellows from Bristol, England (about 100 miles west of London). It features Howard Purse on guitar, Doug White on Bass, Danny Duck on drums, and a local poet, here named only Andy (but it’s really Andy Fairley).

The three songs on this comp are all they ever wrote and recorded. They played a few times around Bristol, opening for the sort of legendary punk band The Slits.

“Dry Ice Hot” starts us off. It’s been described as “Talking Heads gone in a wonky post-punk direction” and I guess that’s sort of true. The thing that struck me with both are the vocals. Andy sounds nothing like David Byrne, of course, but he is … distinct. You can’t really hear all that’s going on vocally, I think my mind shut out a lot of it – only bits seeped in. “Kind of pinched or squeezed at the corners and edges” was repeated a lot at varying urgencies. I think somewhere in there I fell in love with it.

The second song “Seventeen Eels” is a short piece about seventeen eels in a red barrel. It describes the scene very accurately. There are seventeen eels in a red barrel. They squirm and bite, etc.

But the real genius hits during the sarcastic “Modern Dance Craze.” Where the music in the other two songs was chaotic and harsh, there’s a jangly guitar and soft drums over Andy’s urging for us to “do the modern dance craze.” His urging does grow more frequent and you really do get the feeling that he wants us to be “grooving and be-bopping, getting with it and staying sharp, being cool on the scene” while we do this modern dance craze. As we acquiesce and give into this modern dance craze, we are rewarded for our triumph: “Oh that’s lovely, you’re really grooving it and digging it and loving the music. And we’re really having a lot of fun here tonight because we’re doing the new modern dance craze.” Andy even gives suggestions, “Oh that’s lovely, the modern dance craze, shake your butts, yeah.”

AndyI don’t really have much to compare this to. Maybe TV Personalities if they weren’t so influenced by early Pink Floyd would have done something like this. And what’s more is I’m not sure who would like this. I do, of course, but this is something you either think is total crap or you love it to death and wish there was more.

The band broke up shortly after this recording and Howard Purse (who seemed to be the driving musical force in the group) put together a band called Animal Magic. After their demise, Purse got back together with Andy the poet/vocalist, forming the band Birth of Sharon.

I’ve not been able to find anything on them, though a reviewer says they sound like “Gang Of 4 trying to have fun.”1

ITunes seems to have both The Recorder and a split download compilation of Fishfood and Birth of Sharon. Being on Linux, I can’t really access the iTunes store and really wish people would either stop using it or provide an alternate, cross-platform and nonrestricted way to legally download songs.

These were put up by the (digital only?) label Bristol Archives Records, which plunders the vaults of the old Bristol scene, releasing the gems they find. It’s a great service, so thanks bunches, but what’s with the iTunes only thing?

Get Fishfood ripped by me right here.

Technical Information:
Media Used:
Vinyl LP from my personal collection.Hardware Used:
Turntable: Audio Technica PL-120A
Cartridge: ATP-2XN (Stock)
TCC TC-750LC Audiophile Phono Preamp
Soundcard: Roland Edirol UA-1EX USB external soundcard

Software Used:
Audacity 1.3.7 on Linux Mint 7
-Digital recording from soundcard
-Editing and splitting of tracks

Gnome Wave Cleaner 0.21-10
-Manual and automatic click/pop removal

SoundConverter 1.4.1
-Converted WAV to 320kbps MP3

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