2CD with 8 page poster booklet
Cover by Clive Graham, poster by Gus Coma
A word from dear Gus (0:53)
Güt mörning (2:40)
Very smart (it was) (1:01)
Are you Swede? (0:28)
Meet our employees (3:13)
The cup is clean (0:17)
New broom (0:42)
The Infiltrators (5:50)
Sonar too good (0:44)
The boss's terrible handwriting (2:13)
Avril shower (1:24)
Topic of cancer (3:23) mp3
It's 09754 (1:14)
Say aaah (2:29)
Advice to the elderly (1:18)
Bak seat driver (0:27)
Gus Coma expands (0:58)
No more shoes (2:22)
Shopping list (6:23)
Mr. West today (1:15)
Stay at home housewife (2:17)
'on 99 oooh (0:21)
His own 2 feet (3:06) mp3
Lemonade 'n' beer (1:47)
His master's vox (1:29)
The wrong guy (2:53)
Revlon torturo bunnies (12:25)
Solid soul Gus (2:29)
Good morning (2:05)
Television off (0:54)
Broom broom (4:20)
Terrible hand (2:29)
Climate change (3:10)
The revenge of 09754 (2:10) mp3
Aaah diddums (2:11)
The Old Ones (1:33)
Bak seat driver (Ford Anglia mix) (1:53)
Elastoplast futures (3:42)
Gus Coma disco virus (2:15)
No more shoes (save our soles mix) (1:57)
Shopping list (Panic mix) (1:24)
No more, please! (2:11)
Ambient dullard (0:41)
Artificial intelligent (3:21)
Different directions (1:50)
HMV RIP (2:14)
Smart guy (3:56) mp3
Disco monster (4:18)
Muzika conkretti lachrymosa (14:37)
total time 2hr 22:44
The first CD in this set is a reissue of an obscure cassette release from 1983 that was originally released in a small edition on the London based, It’s War Boys label. This C60 consisted of 2 distinct halves. Side 1 was formed around several mixes of an experimental track, constructed from a room-sized 24 track loop. A version of this track first appeared on the LP Flagellation by The Just Measurers (who were C. D. Greyt, Yakkö Banovic and Narki Brillans).
Side 2 is a collage of mostly unused (and some remixed), excerpts from what became the title track of the Milk From Cheltenham LP, Triptych of Poisoners. This LP track consisted of a tape collage of the live mixdown of 17 cassette recordings of locked record grooves, simultaneously, with stray radio and an infernal matchbox. The full Milk LP is now available on CD via Alga Marghen. Both these LPs were also originally It’s War Boys projects.
As with other releases by these guys nobody worked under the same name twice, but if you are familiar with their soundworld then there will be no mystery. Nearly all the session material here was engineered by Chris Grey, best known for his work with The Homosexuals.
No production master was ever found for CD1, so one of the actual cassette edition had to be used in its place. However, whilst looking through the archive for the master tape, an alternative version of the tape was found, which although it followed a similar blueprint to CD1 it also contained some very different music, some primitive disco drum programming, and a somewhat more sophisticated sound quality. It was difficult to choose which version to release, so both versions appear here, the second disc thrown in for free.
Each CD also contains an additional much longer bonus track at the end that was originally intended as working material for the unfinished second Milk From Cheltenham LP.
The guest musicians on this CD set are many and varied, but it’s all put together by Gus Coma, Lepke B’s dwarfish cousin, who renounced show-biz to work as a Heavy Goods Vehicle driver. All in, the material here is the strangest and most experimental music to come from the It’s War Boys scene. Expect gigantic tape loop symphonies, sundry plunderphonics, lo- fi Sparks and the voice of JFK, a William Burroughs interview (on one track), and a worn out teach yourself English tape. Color Him Coma !REVIEWS
Latest from Paradigm Discs (who first presented that vital Daphne Oram retrospective) is the reissue of an obscure and outstanding plunderphonic concrète/turntable cutup from 1983 on London's It's War Boys label - plus plenty of previously unreleased material. This imprint was a hub for the likes of Narki Brillans of The Homosexuals (check his surreal LP on Alga Marghen), and Milk From Cheltenham, a group who would inspire the naming of Nurse With Wound's United Dairies imprint, just so you know what territory we're about to enter. Well, actually only the first disc is a reissue, of sorts. The label couldn't find the original master so what we get is the salvaged original cassette, a mind-warping, wax-nudging collage of locked groove samples morphing from spidery jazz drums, through spoken word snippets from teach-yourself-English tapes, dilapidated orchestral swells, etheric voices, dubbed-out brass bleats and truly f**k-knows-what else, all fed through a "Room sized 24-track loop". The arrangement is so musty and intuitive you can imagine the guys sitting there in the dead of night with stacks of wax, fried on something cheap and nasty and locked into a fractal, tactile frenzy of temporal strafes. The second disc is in effect an alternate take discovered when hunting for the masters, but augments the original agenda with some primitive but ace drum programming and a rearranged mesh of mottled samples, all at the mercy of blind pitch shifts and Burroughs-ian edits. Apparently the label couldn't decide which version to release so you lucky sods get them both for the price of one, like some daytrippers Woolworth's special from the hidden concrète section. Ultimately, it's a must for fans of anything from LAFMS to People Like Us, Philip Jeck, Joseph Hammer, Otomo Yoshihide etc. Invest.
Take note fans of Midnight Voicejail / Brion Gysin / People Like Us or closer to the bone the more frolicsome side of Alga Marghen (evidently Milk from Cheltenham is joined at the funny bone to Gus Coma. 1983 when cassetes were not a fashion statement, but a necessity. The more you listen, the more you buy in and a sort of symphony of cacophony emerges. Reused samples become motifs, a series of excerpts from some sort of English lesson set is a recurring character. The lesson’s male and female voices exude a strange quality that makes you want to hug them and slap them at the same time. Two discs here, that feel like two dress rehearsals at the asylum. The first has more “story” (and was once released in hyper limited fashion), the second a tad more meaty with the beats & ambience. Longer pieces on the latter platter. Flock of drunk jingle singers intoning “In-fillll-tra-tion” will either have you drooling for more of foaming in fury at the mouth. Either way, you drool and we can color Gus Coma cool. Bonus track “Revlon Torturo Bunnies” hijacks elevator music. Dream machine scene, clues found on “Elastoplast Futures” Burroughs burrowed beneath the oxide. Maybe let some shorter cuts run in a row than just jumping for the chunkier ones. (Thurston Hunger)
Another pseudonymous production from the late, great It's War Boys svengali (famous for L Voag, Just Measurers, Milk from Cheltenham, Amos and Sara &c). CD1 is a reissue of an obscure cassette release from 1983, half of which contains variant mixes of a musically heterogeneous room-sized 24 track loop (not that you'd really understand that from listening, so deviously is accomplished) and half a collage of live mixes made from 17 cassette dubs of vinyl locked-groove recordings, and some radio. The free!!! Bonus!!! CD 2 is a recently discovered variant, very different, with additions, extractions and changes - and a better overall sound - of CD1. In addition, both feature long bonus tracks collecting work-in-progress that would have formed the basis for the second Milk From Cheltenham LP, which never saw the light of day. People think the '80s were boring because they never stumbled across this highly eccentric - and highly productive - musical mini-community. This two-version release gives an especially useful insight into a precious but hardly noticed pocket of creative eccentricity that was deeply rooted in the social decay of the '80s; a situation neatly summed up at the head of track 21. Their strategy was to aestheticise it. And own it. More power to them. For what it's worth, I prefer CD 2. (Chris Cutler)
The Sound Projector
Another piece in the jigsaw puzzle of the It’s War Boys label has been reissued in the form of Color Him Coma (PD 27) by Gus Coma, in a double CD reissue package from Paradigm Discs. This UK post-punk freakoid label was, for a brief period in the 1980s, the home to some of the most extraordinary de-produced fractured pop-dub music ever produced. It’s virtually impossible to get a handle on its machinations, as all of the releases were put out under pseudonyms, with the band personnel changing false names between records with all the gleeful abandon of a false-faced master of disguise outwitting the Sûreté (although it is known that some of the musicians were also involved with The Homosexuals and Black Noise Records). Plus, a lot of the music only existed on cassettes, and those in small runs; the hand-made LPs, such as Milk From Cheltenham, command high collector’s prices now. Thus, what a blessing to get our hands on this, a comparatively late entry in the It’s War Boys catalogue (£17 in the series, perhaps the very final release?) which on CD1 rescues all 31 tracks from the original 1983 cassette release, and on CD 2 give us the complete Disco Coma suite, a hitherto unreleased compositional monster-werk. The sonic experience on this set is just short of indescribable; mostly very short fragments, many of them about 60 seconds in length, and constituting a jumbled grab-bag of aural delights: the fag-ends of brilliant studio constructions, resulting from the inventive dub-like antics behind the mixing desk that characterises these creators. Sluggish, weird improvisations made on the horn, percussion, or piano. Episodes of absurdist cut-up voices dredged up from the most obscure TV and movie segments that the tape-splicer could find in his musty collections of esoterica. Hideous and unsettling tape-loop compositions fashioned from multiple layers of unknowable source material. It’s all here, on one of the most extreme and subversive art-rock records that Paradigm has ever admitted to its roster, even giving the LAFMS CD I.D. Art #2 a run for its money. You will note I am being rather cagey about which creators hide under the Gus Coma mask, and I have some vague idea who it might be, but to reveal this information simply engages us all in a never-ending chase after a false trail of pseudonyms and misinformation. Aye, these artistes are taking the anti-celebrity stance about as far as it can possibly be taken, and doing so in a brilliantly playful manner. All original cassette artworks are printed in the package, plus a colour spread of what I take to be a more recent collage, shewing movie monsters, cartoon characters, the comic strip antihero Bizarro, and space travel. 27 years have not dimmed the hideous power of this music. If I may I would like to recommend this glorious reissue as an essential purchase. (Ed Pinsent)
Color Him Coma is a CD publication of recordings that were created between 1982 and 1985 and in part previously released on cassette. Is it necessary to hear yet more from the 1980s brought out of the swamp of oblivion?
On the foldable cover there is no attempt to answer this question, in any case the information there is sparse. For good reason: For one, the music can very well speak for itself and in any case the original publication of Gus Coma contains everything you need to know “Gus Coma is 6 or 7 years old but with a brain and stomach ulcers of a 34 year old xcekutiv"
One does not need to know more, because this description holds what it promises. Above all, this fits well with the first CD. This was originally a cassette from 1983 reissued and sprayed over with childdlike experimental joy, but which has been entirely arranged by grown ups. So sound the 31 predominantly very short pieces with much love of sounds and of detail brought into a musical form. Amazingly Gus Coma managed to find a spoken voice recording for almost every piece, which are at least appropriate, if not wonderfully strange. This shows a childhood that was spent collecting sounds and voice snippets. So the music itself consists mainly of rhythmic sounds skillfully arranged. So skillfully that they become pop songs. Though very idiosyncratic pop songs. What we also have here in addition to the use of ‘tapes, tapes’ is the skillful use of whatever Gus Coma could find to drum on in his childhood bedroom. There was even an electronic drum kit (Syndrum) that probably also served as a synthesizer replacement in a few places. Other rhythmic structures come from a drum machine or the loops of an early digital delay.
However, the second CD is something of a direct comparison. On it, among other things is the recording of the first CD, heavily reworked with longer versions. But sometimes the tape recordings now have a different character: instead of the 1983 version using sound snippets to create a musical context, now the longer recordings have been given a musical character, which is how these pieces are filled. A working method that I like less. Was it worth Gus Coma pulling a vast amount of largely forgotten cassette releases out of the swamp? In any case, it nevertheless strikes me as a 1980s take on the expression ‘Kinderlärm ist Zukunftsmusik’ (Ingo Techmeier)
“A lot of material gets put under wraps and, well, never heard from again… They said to me, Gus, we hand it over to you, and I put the bits and pieces end to end, and this is it,
" says Gus Coma, by way of introduction. Color Him Coma emerged under the banner of It's War Boys.
Founded by ex-Homosexuals member Jim Welton (the mysterious ‘Amos’, aka L Voag, aka Xentos ‘Fray’ Bentos), it was not so much a label as a loosely knit collective of artists and musicians working in and around the London post-punk squat scene. Best known for their brilliantly twisted and intentionally amateurish pop records, attributed to various personas and sung in an assortment of goofy voices and accents, they also dabbled in sound collage, and this 1983 cassette by one Gus Coma, actually mixologist/turntablist Lepke Buchwalter, is one such release.
This was an underground crew that fed off the rock aristocracy. The raw material for these releases often came via recording engineer Chris Grey, another part-time Homosexual. Working by day in the recording studio Surrey Sound, used by The Police, 10cc, Roxy Music, Sham 69 and any number of lesser groups, the tapes from these sessions would from time to time find their way into the hands of Grey's co-conspirators (the album's introduction gives the game away). As if pilfering this expensively produced material weren’t enough, Amos, Lepke and co would often sully it further by editing and remixing it at home on a cheap beatbox. The adapted recordings provided, at zero cost, a source of high-end sonic clay to work with, and a means to surreptitiously use the weapons of Sting and Brian Ferry against themselves. This transgressive audio repurposing was, when you come right down to it, not very different from the physical squatting the group practiced in in their daily lives.
Playing with identities was central to the It’s War Boys MO. Their obsessive anonymity and hyper-obscurity were a nose-thumbing gesture toward the then-omnipotent record Industry and the cult of the 1970s rock star, and fabricated identities would provide the launching point for many It’s War Boys projects, with musician credits attributed to an ever-changing list of implausible pseudonyms. Lepke Buchwalter is itself a nom de guerre, lifted from a Prohibition-era gangster. For Color Me Coma, the trigger was an old family photo (reproduced on the cover), a made-up name, and a persona woven around it. “Gus Coma is 6 or 7 years old,” runs the text on the original tape, in ransom-demand newspaper cut-outs, “but with a brain and stomach ulcers of a 34 year old executive”.
Harking back to such early experiments in collagism as The Faust Tapes, this music is a close cousin to that of contemporaries the Flying Lizards and John Oswald, and it foreshadows more recent recordings by mash-up operations like Vicki Bennett’s People Like Us. Gus/Lepke uses film-dialogue snippets, language-instruction records, oddball found (or poached) sounds, and even recordings by his own early 1980s group Milk from Cheltenham, contorting and juxtaposing them in hilarious ways.
But while Color Me Coma’s connection to the cut-and-sample movement is unmistakeable, it feels less like the work of a multimedia hound with access to microprocessors and infinite source material, and more like an improvisor – more Los Angeles Free Music Society, say, than People Like Us. While strictly speaking this is a tape work (as emphasized on the accompanying instruments list, which includes “tapes, tapes, tapes”), but it revolves around musical riffs, themes, and melodies. The final product suggests a live performance rather than a pastiche with the recycled material cut-up and processed to the point of unrecognisability. On “The Infiltrators”, for example, I hear six minutes of pure early-1980s basement-squat glory, the sound of genius noodlers like This Heat trancing out. I can picture the scene exactly – except most of this sensitive comprovisation was actually constructed on a Sharp 555 double cassette player.
Apart from the occasional appearance of blaring horns, electroacoustic shards and small, whirring gadgets cloaked in reverb, Coma is surprisingly tranquil. The musical passages, with certain themes and vocal phrases bubbling to the surface again and again like a surrealist dream sequence, are sparse and minimal, dominated by simple three-note figures on piano, hypnotic percussion rhythms, and short bursts of muted trumpet, recalling some of Adrian Sherwood’s wilder post-punk remixes. Sprinkled liberally throughout, and serving as comical introductions to most of Coma’s tracks, are decontextualised-to-the-point-of-silliness snatches of stilted dialog from the aforementioned language records. (“Are you Swedish?” “No, we are not.”) And then there’s the bonus track “Revlon Torturo Bunnies”, which includes a couple of loungey Easy Lstening records, disrespectfully audio-graffiti’d with overdubbed noise, bagpipe recordings, and Lepke’s purposely bad vocal accompaniment. Your move, Burt Bacharach.
The second previously unreleased CD Disco Coma contains no actual disco, though it does include violently mangled spy music on the track “No More, Please!”. The music is a drastic reworking of the material on disc one, and a few tracks with abused drum machine beats can almost be heard as mutant disco or proto drum ’n’ bass. The disc’s title is clearly ironic – a nonsensical take on the disco mixes that were ubiquitous at the time.
Lepke now says that he can’t remember many of the details surrounding the Color Me Coma sessions, and that’s probably a good thing. With age, some of the It’s War Boys crowd have relaxed their once unbending stance on anonymity, revealing their real names and even giving interviews, of all things. But the mystery surrounding this work is what give it its aura; it would be a shame if its cover were completely blown. (Dave Mandl)