The Shriekback Blueprint

Some copies of Shriekback's «Hand On My Heart» 7" single included an insert known as the 'Shriekback Blueprint'. As well as including the lyrics and release dates, it also included this write up which nicely summarises the band's history up until that point (mid-1984). The lack of capital letters is as per the original...

shriek ahoy

greetings from shriekback, jam scientists and arista recording artistes. you will find most of our coloured information in the form of records and tapes containing rhythmic music. the following is offered as introduction or enhancement. here goes prose.

shriekback was originally conceived as a sort term project by dave allen after a traumatic departure from the gang of four. through a network of mutual friends he met barry andrews, moonlighting from (or rather around) his own group 'restaurant for dogs', and myself, carl marsh, stepping from the wreckage of chic squatsters 'out on blue six'. in a lengthy test of endurance, we set about recording the mini-lp 'tench' in emi publishing's demo studio, kpm in denmark st. although originally a six piece, with drummer brian nevill, singer emma burnham and singer/manager linda neville, the filtering trinity of art and laziness and committment eventually left the three of us with a shriekback of enormous potential. at a historic meeting on 28th july 1982 we coalesced our intentions to raise shriekback to its next level of life.

recording 'tench' had established certain working methods, with some new filters: the facts (what is), curiosity (what if) and chance (what the hell). in practice, this meant building upward from a rhythmic base (tape loops, drum loops, live drums and - most frequently - linndrums), adding overdubs until a vocal gave line and structure enough for the completion of the track. in conjunction with the enthusiasm of our record label, dick o'dell's y records, the dynamic refinement of such structural spontenaiety enabled us to write, record and mix our second album 'care' in 19 days, still in the 16 track kpm with the spirited support of engineer ian caple. would that the world could run as this, i sigh until today...

and then, shrieks? the only way out is up. we accelerated through 1983 with the additional catalyst of public performance: from a nervous and private start in a charing cross cellar in late '82, the three of us and the formidable rhythmic base of martyn barker (drums) and pedro ortiz (percussion) put the shriek on london's ica on new year's eve '82. britain in general, new york in particular, most of europe, a stinky trail across america to l.a. and back to g.b. by early summer, all shiny and hungry for a new lp.

the artifact that is 'jam science' was originally conceived as both a tighter harnessing of and an expansion from the forces that shaped 'care', with an end result bigger and brighter, less diverse perhaps but more clear and physical. "so much for lucid theory". the short term result of such hard focus was the collapse of the existing structures! internally, the essence of shriekback had outgrown the minimal consumption of time and technology that had previously supported it in the studio, and the external manifestation of this was y record's inability (as an independent body) to support shriekback in the world. in short, we'd outgrown the framework we'd built ourselves to function within...

which is why this concise conceit reaches you on arista's manilla. however obvious, this step has not been easy. it has cost time, money and more. it has also confirmed the resolve of july 1982 that shriekback's music is... ours and yours. completely. shriekback is moving faster but is simultaneously more open! harder! streamlined! a major label, management (great ltd., who also handle blancmange)... all their resources are ours and ours theirs, from the drums to the sky.

talking of which, shriekback is proud to announce that long term drum collaborator martyn barker is henceforth and forever a shriek proper; the geometry alters as of now.

and so we shriek into summer, preaching 'jam science': heady rhythmic swirl polished by 12" remix and reggae man paul 'groucho' smykle... and the drinks are spiked with 'hand on my heart': trust not to innocence with Shriekback biting your ear and popping your shrit buttons...

build a radio and be a battery

© P Hetherington 2001-2005.
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Phil Hetherington
Last Modified: 28.04.05