earthly delights archive



Spanner Thru Ma Beatbox
Earthly Delights EARTH003 LP (1987)

There was a time many moons ago when everybody from Throbbing Gristle to the Wurzels was claiming to have invented House music. Genesis P-Orridge is notable for having shot himself in the foot with both barrels on this score. This became apparent when Psychic TV released their "house" albums and everyone realised that the innovation was not so much the creation of "house" music as "outside bog" music. Nocturnal Emissions are also amongst the numerous inventors of dance as we know it, though as 1983’s Viral Shedding album is probably the funkiest thing made by whitey up until that time, they can probably be forgiven. Spanner Thru Ma Beatbox is a collaboration between an Emission and (as I’ve been given to believe) some chap from 400 Blows – another group who invented House music. 400 Blows in their days were the authors of some mind-bogglingly fine stuff. Sadly these musical gems comprised about 15% of their output, and the rest was a little disappointing. Or fucking awful, if you will. So I approached this, over ten years after the event, with a degree of trepidation. It might be crap, but worse still it could be painfully dated crap.

So, what a relief that it is neither. The "house style" anonymity of the cover, and the statement that the tracks purportedly run at 111 and 113 beats per minute, are slightly misleading. This is dance music that you’d have great difficulty dancing to. I was expecting Psychic TV style embarrassment, but thankfully there is no resemblance. Spanner Thru Ma Beatbox is closer in composition to early Tackhead, Keith LeBlanc and Mark Stewart, which should at least indicate what is meant here by dance music you can’t dance to. Mark Stewart in particular has been vaguely lumped in with the groovy- assed-move-busting genre, which is odd because tracks like "Hell is Empty" could probably clear a floor as fast as anything by Merzbow. Which is sort of what we have here. There’s a lot of BAAD rhythms here, starting, stopping, breaking down, nipping out for a fag, blowing up, and falling over each other. If you tried dancing to this you’d probably break your legs, although that’s not a criticism. Spanner Thru Ma Beatbox is a well chosen name. It implies what this sounds like: crunchy, dangerous and fascinating. I wouldn’t like to say whether or not the authors invented House music, but on the strength of this I think they probably invented The Prodigy.

War Arrow
Sound Projector 4 1998

back to Reviews index

Site Map





Network News