Kim Harten has been involved in the
underground network for something in the region of a quarter of a century
now, going back to the Bliss tape label in 1993, on whose compilations a
fair few MMATT tracks found their way, ta kissy kissy, and the Aquamarine
zine in 1994, in the pages of which many an encouraging word about both
MMATT and Music & Elsewhere oft appeared. The tape label is, like most of
the others, just a memory these days, but its name is kept alive with that
of the paper publication's on the website, which Kim describes more fully
as an "online fanzine dedicated to underground / independent music,
focusing on folk, psych, indiepop and related subgenres."
Earlier in the year, she was kind enough to
feature our UWU Collection, and this is what she had to say;
VARIOUS ARTISTS - THE UNITED WORLD
UNDERGROUND COLLECTION VOLUME 1
(MUSIC & ELSEWHERE)
A bumper collection released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Music &
Elsewhere, perhaps the biggest and longest running tape label with a
catalogue of over 600 albums, which has now expanded into digital
releases. This set comprises a data disc with 30 albums of 320kbps mp3s,
50 bonus tracks, 3 pdf books, a 64 page illustrated pdf booklet, and a CD
of the first United World Underground compilation originally released in
2001. You get 33 hours of music and extra visual material for just Ł15,
including P+P worldwide.
Music & Elsewhere celebrates eclecticism and underground creativity. There
are no genre boundaries here, and fans of most non-mainstream styles will
find something they enjoy on this album. There's the kitsch, quirky and
fun DIY electropop of X-Ray Pop; the angular and manic art-rock of Ir Visa
Tai Kas Yra Gražu Yra Gražu; the film score-esque electronic composition
of Artemiy Artemiev; the ambient spacerock of Mick Magic and Chris Carter;
the gothic psychedelia of The Flowers of Romance; and the spiky
experimental prog rock of Zartipo.
Trespassers W's Carmen Miranda is a kind of lopsided cabaret-folk-pop with
a Latin American twist. Glass make darkly atmospheric music that straddles
the boundaries between gothic rock and dreampop. Rotton Kidz sounds like
the name of a punk band, but their Southeast Asia Peace Circle Dance is
actually a very lovely world music piece with a ritualistic tribal feel.
Karg's Himmel is a bizarre though effective mix of doomy, sludgy
drone-rock, scratchy fiddle and death metal screams; despite my usual
aversion to metal, I found this an engaging listen. Magic Moments at
Twilight Time bring together experimentation, spacerock, punk, and rock
'n' roll in their medley Introduction/Trois/Blitzkrieg! Toshiyuki Hiraoka
combines frenetic 1990s video game-like electronic music with plaintive
acoustic guitar, creating a listening experience that is both brooding and
fun all at once.
Three of my favourites from M&E's days as a tape label are included here.
Mana ERG's Another is a true classic of the label, combining lilting
psychedelia, ferocious noise-rock, and a free thinking creative attitude.
Pornorphans' Innocent is dark, intense and emotional alt-rock with a
strong memorable melody. The Witches' Bliss is brilliant folky, dark-edged
pagan rock sure to appeal to folk-rockers and goths alike.
Over on the CD there's Into the Abyss, whose
brand of underground rock takes on board goth, spacerock, prog, classical
and Middle Eastern influences; Grass Harp, with a floaty, Eastern-tinged, proggy / psychey
number; the laid-back country-rock of
Blacklight Braille; cassette culture icon Lord Litter with a slightly
off-centre take on US-style folk-rock; The Stinking Badger of Java with
their brilliant bendy choppy-changey quirky rock; the dark and frenetic
electronica of Cosmic Dance Society; and Steve Andrews, another icon of
the cassette underground who more recently went on to bigger things with
an appearance on Britain's Got Talent, teams up with Ned Zero for a
dance-rock reworking of Steve's classic track Real Love and Communication,
in which intense psych-rock guitar is effectively interspersed with
thumping electro beats and vocoder.
We actually thought we were going to lose
her from the network completely a while back, that would have been a
really sad day for us all after her being an integral part of it all for
so long, so I can't tell you how pleased we are that she's decided to keep
fighting the good fight. Though it comes at a cost. Kim explains; "In an
effort to keep my review backlog under control, I only accept promos in
physical formats: CD, CDR, vinyl, and cassette." So if you're not in a
position to provide those, you may find you have to work much
harder to get her attention in the first place! Contact can made via the
website or via her Facebook page.
Necessarily, Kim has had to limit her work
to reviews only (for the most part, there are occasional features on bands
or labels), she says; "I don't really cover news / what's happening type
stuff but do have a newsletter with a roundup of recent website
additions." And you can subscribe to that via the website's homepage,
should you so desire. That's where you can also find news of Kim's own
musical projects (yes, this was the first I knew of her involvement too!),
she actually sings with a rather kitsch folk-pop outfit called Fly Away
Sorrow, who knew? We all do now, and if you want to take a listen, here's
Right: Kim Harten, stalwart of the
global underground scene, a classic 'back in the day' pic from the mid
90's, dutifully nabbed from the 'United World Underground' photo album on
the M&E Facebook page. Et voila!