BOURBONESE QUALK Laughing Afternoon
Bourbonese Qualk were an experimental music group from England who where active from 1979 until 2003. The group were always obsessively and uncompromisingly focused on controlling their work – they ran their own record label, recording studio, tour organisation and music venue (the legendary ‘Ambulance Station’) – they refused to integrate into the commercial music racket turning down publishing deals from major labels – stubbornly opting for total independence. Bourbonese Qualk were also known for their political activism which was formed in the crucible of the 1980s Britain: The Miner’s Strike, Falklands/Malvinas war, Anti-fascism, Thatcherism, Moneterism, squatting/housing, local government corruption, anti-capitalism, and Anarchism – which was further re-enforced by touring Europe and meeting like-minded groups and organisations. They saw their music as a revolutionary cultural force – a belief that radical musical forms must be part of positive social change. Despite this position, the group avoided dogma, cliché and propaganda, preferring to let their audience come to their own conclusions – their work was often ambiguous and directly critical of cynical power-politics of any colour – often irritating members of the traditional ‘organised left’. In 1984 Bourbonese Qualk occupied a large empty building on the Old Kent Road in South London which they turned into a base for their activities and a co-operative for artists, musicians and writers as well as a centre for radical political activism – specifically as a co-ordinating centre for the ‘Stop The City’ anti-capitalist riots of 1984-1986. They never record in a ‘proper’ studio (not that they could ever afford to), choosing instead to work with their own extremely basic equipment (at a time when home studios were very unusual – the unique raw sound of these recordings is the result of their choice – which now, ironically, is in vodue due perhaps to the overwhelming obliquity of ‘clean’ audio digital production tools. If Bourbonese Qualk have a legacy, it is that ‘culture’ should be reclaimed, re-defined and owned by the people, wherever they are, however small and not by the state or the market and that ‘culture’ is a vital vehicle for debate and radical change. Laughing Afternoon was the group's first long player, released on their own Recloose Organisation label in 1983. It features Simon Crab, Julian Gilbert and Steven Tanza. It's a masterpiece of early DIY Electronic/Industrial music and is available on CD for the first time now. Full tracklist: 1. God With Us 2. Idiot Pain 3. Barcelona Telephone Exchange 4. Freefall 5. Blood Orange Bargain Day 6. Behind Closed Doors 7. Qualk Street 8. To Hell With The Consequences 9. Building Jerusalem 10. Feast Of Trumpets 11. Virgin Ears, Virgin Eyes 12. Spanner In The Works 13. Mystery Dance 14. White City 15. Work Rhythms In May 16. Succubare. Price: € 17,-/copy incl. worldwide shipping.
I am digging the grooves here, its like a clash of jazz, funk, punk and other. If you remember Was (Not Was) and certain instrumental embellishments and the rootsy island influences in PiL you may experience similar inflections here. I also hear some resonances that lurk in the shadows of work by The Lounge Lizards or Romeo Void, also contemporaries of the time. From the start its off to the races. Dont let the tough cover fool you (it may have me subliminally back in the day), this has a laidback side thats quite groovy ala 70s era Miles Davis even. Yeah, these guys are eclectic to say the least, blending in radio transmissions to an otherwise upbeat folky melody at times – developing a split narrative. This may be my favorite record-resurrection this year (by far). (...) Only word, seminal.
(Toneshift, July 2019)