11 May 2005
Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element - 'Techno Self-Harm'
Since the death of John Peel and the disappearance of all manner of outré music from the radio, I find I've been buying more and more records on spec, unheard. Fortunately I earn more money than I used to - just as well because records are expensive and it costs me an absolute bloody fortune to keep up. How much easier and cheaper it was in the days when you could hear stuff, find out you liked them and go out and buy them. These days I follow hunches, read reviews, hack my way through record shop e-mails, then listen and sift. The crap quickly sinks to the bottom of the pile, never to be heard again. The good stuff stays on the top. The weekly e-mail from the great Norman Records of Leeds (the best record shop on the web, bar none) is a more reliable guide than most. Refreshingly honest, if they really think a record stinks and you’d be a fool to part with your cash for it, they'll tell you, which makes a change from most record shop e-mails that clog the in-box, which like to pretend that every single thing they sell is fantastic.
And so to this one, which I bought from Norman Records purely on the basis of their description. Never heard of these buggers, although according to their website they've been around for years, making ‘improvised electronic music’. No, don’t go, this is actually good. Norman Records said it would appeal to fans of 65daysofstatic, and it’s an observation that’s hard to fault. This is more in that 'glitch rock' / post-post-rock vein, but going much further than the abstracted and pretentious meanderings such a description usually bring to mind. Basically, as the title track demonstrates, Sunnyvale know there are few records that can’t be improved by collision with a filthy great guitar riff, as happens about one and a half minutes in. Once that happens, there can be no looking back. Truly this is the new wave of moody fucked-up techno rock you can shake a leg to. The only complaint can be that, at just over five minutes, I wouldn’t have minded a bit more of this.
Techno Self-Harm is the best song on this five track CD, which also boasts a longer live version. Despite their stupid name, not all elements of which I can hold in my head at once, Sunnyvale also prove they know how to make a good title with There Are Already Enough Photographs of People and Doors. And how right they are. It’s on Field Records – no, me neither – and you can buy it on their website. This one’s staying on the top of my pile.