The idea of releasing a session is nothing new. I’m sure that many of us have a ‘Peel Session’ by one or more of our favourite bands tucked away somewhere in our collections. Sessions usually allow bands to give their songs a raw, more live feel, and kind of act as a halfway between the spontaneity of the gig and the more planned and forgiving nature of the recording session.
Fuzz Club Records have latched onto this idea and started a series of sessions of their own, beginning with The Night Beats, and also including The Entrance Band. It was, however, the session from 10000 Russos that particularly caught my ear. The Portuguese trio produced an amazing, self-titled, debut album which certainly made my ‘best of‘ list in 2015; and I also had the good fortune to catch them live that year and thought their performance was as brilliant and it was unexpected. Not only did the band rock out, but they went well off their own sonic beaten track playing massively strung out and exciting versions of their music.
So I had high expectations coming into this session, but also wondered the extent with which the band would go for it. Well this session is certainly not as out there as when I saw them live in 2015, but it certainly does meet the criteria for a session that I described above. Side one consists of two tracks from the debut album (‘Karl Burns’ and ‘Baden Baden Baden’) and, for me, they are sufficiently different to warrant a separate release. The playing is more immediate and there is definitely a far more live and upfront feel to it, without losing the dark and brooding nature of the album versions. Recorded live to tape on analogue equipment, the sound also has a warmth to it that is noticeable throughout the session. In fact, while I have only heard the tracks on mp3 so far I have heard enough to suggest that the vinyl sound will have a real clarity and punch to it.
There are two tracks that are new to me on side two. ‘One Second Yugoslavia’ begins like a transmission from outer space, sent from some deep dark corner of the cosmos. From there emerges a dim (post-)industrial soundscape that is bleak and fuzzy. Here the clarity of the recording somehow underpins the opaqueness of the sound…you hear everything but still as if it is being played through the smog of decay.
Finally comes ‘Policia Preventiva’ with it’s false start that finally breaks out into a lo-fi motorik beat that is relentlessly pursued throughout the track. While it starts simply the band gradually add layers to their playing, no overdubs here. Indeed, as the tension of the track builds it is easy to forget that the track is being played live, and by just three people. In the end, though, you forget all that and just submit to the deep and stark desolate picture that the track paints.
These recordings do just what a session should do, and that is partly due to the great care and attention that has been put into the recording and mixing of these tracks. They show the band playing in a live and visceral way, without being quite as ‘out there’ as they are when they are live. As a result it is both a must for those who dig 10000 Russos, but would also act as a good introduction to the band for those new to these guys.
The album is available now to pre-order at Fuzz Club Records.