Eric Random

Subliminal 1980-1982

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One of the LTM label's more ambitious efforts, Subliminal pulls together much of the early work of Manchester-based Eric Random, covering a variety of single and compilation efforts plus his first full solo album, Earthbound Ghost Need. Turning the focus away from Random's more relatively well-known role as collaborator and bandleader to his solo work is both a sharp way to recontextualize his work as well as a good excuse to reissue some intriguing songs. His actual solo debut EP, That's What I Like About Me, starts the first disc -- it's practically an album in and of itself, consisting of four lengthy tracks, three studio and one live. The nearest point of contemporary comparison might be the Durutti Column in that it was Random, his guitar, beatboxes and multiple effects, and nothing more, but instead of Vini Reilly's reflective work, Random is far more direct and unsettling, distorting and slowing his vocals and other spoken snippets, adding dub-heavy basslines and creating auras of nervous tension throughout songs like "Fade In" and the live "Call Me." The remainder of the first disc covers much shorter tunes in general, though working in the same vein, from the extremely murky and dub-heavy "Subliminal" and "Skin Deep" to noisier arrangements on "23 Skidoo" -- the mostly percussionless drone/dub mayhem of "In Cassette Conference" is especially compelling. Earthbound Ghost Need, meanwhile, continues the partnership with Cabaret Voltaire done on the first EP -- where there only Stephen Mallinder helped on production, here both Mallinder and Richard H. Kirk, as well as a number of other performers, contribute to the collection of six songs. Dub again is central to the woozy, haunted feeling of the half-dozen efforts -- the opening song is not called "Rubber Dabble Dub" for nothing -- but additions of Asian and Middle Eastern instruments and arrangements hint strongly where his musical goals would turn next. As is to be expected from LTM, the liner notes are exhaustive while the various photos of Random from the time suit the music very well.

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