Sunday, 16 December 2012

It Never Ends: Voigt/465 - A Secret West 7" Unanimous Weld Enunciations E594, 1978

An extensive history of Voigt/465, authored by keyboard player and vocalist Phil Turnbull, can be found spread across several pages at his No Night Sweats website. A comprehensive firsthand account, it even offers some mild It Never Ends action to entertain us record collector subnormals, via its description of multiple pressings of the Slights Unspoken LP. Rather than parrot those details, we'll focus today on our own minor contribution to the story: welcome to the fascinating world of variations on Voigt/465's A Secret West / State 45.

The single is housed in a great sleeve, the murky, ambiguous imagery complementing the sounds within and reflecting the Voigt/465 mindset - i.e. one eye on the rear-view mirror but always surging forward, even if the final destination isn't clear (or, in Turnbull's words, "Post-Punk Rock, Krautrock and Prog rock combine to form a sound unlike any other"). All copies are hand-numbered in a variety of locations on the back cover, which conveniently allows us to trace how construction of the sleeves (and the accompanying insert) evolved over time. Enlightening in some respects but head-scratching in others - we'll get to that in a moment.

Early copies are assembled in marvelous DIY fashion, being two photocopied sheets, cut and pasted onto blank cardboard sleeves; the dimensions of the artwork are smaller than the blank sleeve, creating a white border. Over time, the glue has tended to become discoloured - even on the most well-preserved of copies - characterising the initial batch with brown-ish stains or "foxing". This version is numbered in black pen on the bottom right-hand side of the back cover:

#21

An insert is included in all copies of the record. Early examples - the first 100 or so - feature lyrics to both songs, a dictionary definition of "Whodunit?" with non sequiturs apparently authored by our mate Fat Lenny, and a statement that there were "500 copies pressed":

"500 copies pressed"

Anyone who has ever assembled and numbered record covers can attest that it is about as tedious as a Puritans B-side. At some point, even counting the number of records dispatched from the pressing plant seems like a preferable activity. Whoops! EMI Custom overshipped the order by 10%. Time to re-do that insert. This version, found in the remainder of the run, retains the layout of the song lyrics but inserts a new batch of nonsense below, with a more precise description of the pressing size:

"One of 547"

The earlier insert was most commonly printed on white paper, and the later version on fluorescent coloured stock, but note that the paper colour isn't convenient shorthand to differentiate them - white and fluoro examples exist for both.

The tedium of record cover assembly inevitably leads to band members hitting the pub, never to return. The remaining copies are circulated naked, dooming OCD-afflicted, pic-sleeve-obsessed record collectors to untold sleepless nights. Some examples have even forced us to install padded walls in our record rooms. Voigt/465, ever-determined to tread their own path, took a different tack. Later copies are housed in a professionally printed sleeve on textured cardstock - a less labour-intesive solution, individual numbering notwithstanding. On this version, the print job is somewhat darker, revealing more detail in the reflection, and the artwork extends to the edges of the sleeve (though a white edge remains on the left side of the back cover, where the number appears, again in black pen). Oddly, this appears to be the less common variation:

#285

That all seems like a cogent story, right? So what are we to make of this tail-ender, a return to the cut-and-paste style? The road ahead must seem especially bleak after assembling 500 record covers. This copy differs from the others in being numbered in blue pen, on the top left of the back cover, and in what the Wallaby Beat forensic handwriting department has concluded is different penmanship.

#500

And so last, but by no means least, we come to the music itself. In turns melodic, arty and aggressive, State delivers on all of the promise of Phil Turnbull's above-quoted description without succumbing to its obvious pitfalls. The sublime descending bass run alone shoots it to the top-tier of Australian art-punk. Voigt/465's subsequent LP is also well worth hearing, but though the band would become artier, they would never be as "punk" (a change in drummer seems the likely culprit). The CD compilation One Faint Deluded Smile is sadly out of print, but can be found archived at Mutant Sounds; individual tracks are also included on the Can't Stop It and Inner City Sound CDs.

State [Download]

1 comment:

Clinton J said...

My DIY constructed white sleeve is number 189. The insert reads 547 pressed. Another variation.