WARNING! Any Abba fans who disliked The Smiths because Morrissey & Marr didn't write proper tunes, please stop reading now. This is not your cup of tea. And those of you who preferred the Beatles before they grew those silly moustaches, stop right there as you won't like it. Or, to put it in Radiohead terms if you like, should you wish Thom Yorke and his band of merry men would stop messing with all that sqiddly electronic shit and sing proper songs about fake plastic trees, then it's fair to say one this isn't for you. Because, ladies and gentlemen, THIS IS SCARY SHIT!!
I mean it. Don't go complaining to your shrink that you've been having nightmares since you played this, because it won't wash.
Still with me? OK. You have been warned.
Malpractice is a compilation of material that has previously been released in cd-r form on the Fflint Central label (US readers please note the all-important 'ff'. This is the Flint in North Wales, not that in Michigan). I'd checked out their website some time ago where I'd experienced the pleasures of the exquisitely named Berkowitz, Lake & Dahmer and rapidly come to the conclusion that this was what can only be described as hardcore. It was relentless and uncompromising, but in this sanitised society it was hard not to admire it.
Of course, before I first played this album, I did wonder whether I was just being a lightweight and whether it really was as difficult as I had remembered. You know how age can play tricks with that memory. So it was pleasing to discover that, though there are definitely a few grey hairs making their presence known, the memory is still intact, because these boys at Fflint Central show they mean business from the first moment. The opening track, which is titled - wait for it - The Invocation Of The Demon Budgie, features a drill-like noise that definitely sorts the men from the boys.
Burra Folly 2 by The Gideon Leeches follows and, with its lovely chiming guitars, is probably the most accessible moment here. After this there's a lot to get through as there's twenty tracks in all on this album, and most of them are spiky little beasts that you really need to get to know for awhile before they truly become accepted as your loveable pet. Indeed, there are moments when it almost becomes too much; after all, you're reading a review by someone who thinks Everlasting Love is one of the greatest pop songs ever. There's definitely times that a track ending brings with it a sense of peace that you had forgotten still existed when it was playing and holding you in its evil grasp. But repeated plays really do pay dividends and the amount of highlights increase per listen.
Pendro's Flip sounds like some weird update on a Scottish jig. It's like The Skids gone electronica, which isn't something you could say about his Tazoa Torture Temple with its "I will impregnate you" mantra and fairground noises. That's disturbing...
Then there is Warlock Hill by Cousin Silas, which has a sense of beauty in its eeriness. Locate And Cement by the aforementioned Berkowitz, Lake & Dahmer has an altogether more rhythmic feel than a lot of material here and is possibly my favourite track on the album.
And I must also give a special mention to Cavendish Sanguine's Helium Veneer, which opens like the soundtrack to the scariest movie you will ever see, before it climaxes with what sounds like the death scene. But it holds it, and holds it seemingly forever. This death scene just won't end. It's harrowing. It truly is the sound of Armageddon. Cavendish Sanguine also provide two other of my favourites. Botallack is lovely, and should go on for much longer than the mere minute or so here, and Azeotrope is...well, it's just plain creepy. Leave that light on, kids.
Indeed, I reckon this album should come with a warning. This is what I think it should say on the cover:
Do not play this when your parents pop round on a Sunday afternoon, unless you want them to go.
Do not play this after a hard day at work unless things are getting on top of you and you want to kill your boss.
And do not sing your kids to sleep with this album, unless they've been little gits all day (and guess what kiddies, it's payback time!).
Of course, if you hate your parents, your boss, AND your children, then this could well be the album you've been looking for. On a more serious note, it's definitely one to get if you want to hear one of the more interesting releases of the year.