It seemed as though we were going to lose another long term networker too, but it's looking like survival now for this noble project by the hardest working girl in the underground, one Kim Harten. We've been friends with Kim now for over 20 years, when first we made contact with her then printed zine and tape label, all lovingly manufactured in her old home in Redditch, Worcestershire. She'd already been at it for a couple of years before we knew her, the Bliss label starting in 1993, followed by the Aquamarine zine a year later. She was always an immense support to M&E, reviewing dozens of our releases over the years, not to mention including us on a couple of her compilations; "Carnelian" (Bliss 026, 1995) and "Tourmaline" (Bliss 047, 1997), and a lot of other M&E bands on many of them as well. She was a bit ahead of the game when it came to the internet, converting to a web-based zine as early as 2000, back about the time I was still too scared to open the box the PC came in. It just used to sit in a dark corner of the room, mocking me. I wonder how we all managed without them now. Kim published a huge review of "Decadion 2" (M&E 601) when it came out in 2013. Anyone brave enough to review a 12 hour megacomp like that deserves all the credit we can give them. And while we're at it, let's reprint it here for your joyful perusal, along with her more recent review of our "Flashbax Ω Ultimate" CD...




mp3 disc (MUSIC & ELSEWHERE)

When I first started exploring the world of underground tape labels in the early 1990s, I found that the labels fell into two main camps: one being focused on the type of indiepop prevalent at the time, which was inspired by the likes of Sarah Records, C86, and/or other forms of late 80s/early 90s indiepop that eschewed a macho rock image and overly polished commercialism, earning itself labels like 'twee', 'cutie', or 'shambling' - insults that would in some quarters be reclaimed as badges of pride. This was a resolutely underground genre, not to be confused with mainstream 'indie' music, and was the genre that first made me aware of a whole world of music existing outside of the charts. (There has of course been a fairly recent upsurge of interest in this genre, and something of a reappraisal, with bands who were dismissed as twee wimps at the time of their existence now being hailed as musical geniuses, but I digress). The other type of tape label was one I had no time for at all, being all about harsh experimental noise, which was not only impenetrably brutal but often extremely amateurish (in the worst sense of the word) and unlistenably lo-fi. There was, however, another tape label in existence that was operating from a somewhat different angle from the others I was aware of. Founded in the 1980s and existing until 2003, Music & Elsewhere was a tape label which released a massive 600 albums by around 250 artists in a vast variety of underground music genres, making it surely the biggest and longest lived tape label ever. As well as being far less genre-specific than most other tape labels, M&E was known for incorporating more of a professional business-sense than was the norm for tape labels into its operation, whilst simultaneously remaining staunchly committed to the underground ethos and championing styles of music that were not remotely mainstream. Label founder Mick Magic, also of the spacerock band Magic Moments at Twilight Time, resurrected the label in 2013, moving it into the digital age with this MP3 disc compiling 147 tracks from the M&E back catalogue. There are of course way too many tracks here for me to describe every one, so I'll just focus on those tracks that grabbed my attention the most. There's a lot of songs here that I loved at the time though haven't heard for years, so listening to Decadion 2 has been something of a blast from the past. There is also much here that escaped my attention at the

time but has been an enjoyable discovery. Magic Moments at Twilight Time appear with Blitzkrieg!, a combination of spacerock and rock n' roll, with a punk energy and a playful pop sensibility. Christ! play DIY pop with jangly guitars, lo-tech drum machine, and quirky humour. Solanaceae Tau appear with an evocative mix of darkwave and medieval-style folk. X-Ray Pop's DS was a favourite of mine around the time I first heard it, mega-catchy underground pop with spacey synths bleeping and whooshing away in the background. The Folkoffs play a bizarre mix of folk, calypso music, and the kind of prog that emphasises absurdity rather than pomposity. L'Edarps A Moth combine the jangly and tuneful aspects of old-school indiepop with a sense of surrealism. Blue Velvet had a jangly, melodic and melancholic sound that was in many ways in keeping with the classic 80s indiepop style, whilst adding to this a harder-edged, rockier, and perhaps more sophisticated sound than was the norm for this genre. Siegmar Fricke makes a kind of music based on cut-up samples, beats and riffs, which resembles a more undergroundy and less dancey version of 1980s house music. Who Moved The Ground? play noisepop with a punky snarl. Wobble Jaggle Jiggle make excellent melodic psych-rock. Opera Multi Steel play synthpop with a dark and dramatic atmosphere. Stormclouds were perhaps mostly known for their kitsch sci-fi inspired pop, as heard on their album on Elefant Records, but they also had a psych-rock side that was just as fantastic, and it is this side of the band that is represented here. Their track Nightmares in the Sky comes across rather like a female-fronted version of The Bevis Frond. Cerise Eclipse effectively combine the whimsical/quirky and the wild/heavy forms of psychedelia in their song The Magnificent Bubble Machine. The Conspiracy bridge the gap between laid-back late 60s style rock and the more forceful side of early 90s indie music, whilst also adding a sophisticated atmosphere with piano and synthesised orchestration. The Invisible Band take in aspects of prog, psych and spacerock, along with melodic motifs reminiscent of folk and classical music, in their delightfully pigeonhole-resistant instrumental piece That One. Jaws of the Flying Carpet play instrumental psych-rock with an improvisational jam quality, that incorporates aspects of world-fusion and jazz. Uncle Id, an offshoot of The Original Mind Band, play laid-back and jazzy psych-rock. Zartipo appear with an improvised instrumental best described as experimental psych-rock. Mana Erg's Another was one of my favourite M&E tracks back in the 90s, a creative mix of dreamlike and woozy psychedelia and harsh guitar noise, which is both atmospheric and addictively melodic. Twister appear with a great energetic and melodic indierock track, Bloodrush. Barra are another favourite of mine from the original M&E days, playing top quality folk-rock with very strong melodies and mystical lyrics. Their material was later reissued as the Eternal Magus CD on Hi-Note Music's English Garden offshoot, which is well worth tracking down. Long-running Dutch band Trespassers W make artsy and off-kilter underground pop with additional elements of accordion-based folk. Trelkovsky play angular art-rock with prog aspects and some effective use of violin. Scrooge make impressive underground prog with harsh and angular qualities, and are another band using violin to great effect. Robin O'Brien makes well-crafted acoustic singer-songwriter music with harmony vocals. Moonpump appear with a slightly off-centre indierock track. The Rabbit's Hat are no strangers to the pages of Aquamarine; here they appear with Menage A Trois, a classic and timeless slice of melodic rock. Rabbit's Hat vocalist Terri-B also appears with the solo track Ephemeral Fire. The song has elements of mainstream pop, soul and jazz, but is constructed with enough genuine talent that it avoids the sort of blandness that generally comes with mainstream music. Mr Quimby's Beard, like The Rabbit's Hat, were another band associated with the Stone Premonitions collective. They appear here with an atmospheric yet strongly melodic spacerock track, Within the Mind (Part 2). Zerobranco combine the angular nature of prog with a harsh and ranty punk spirit. The Now play a powerful and intense variety of garage/psych-rock. Mother Goose are a band with an interesting history: they started out as a very noisy band with an album on Blast First, then developed a more melodic sound which I personally found more enjoyable, a really fantastic, distinctive brand of off-kilter noisepop. They appeared on a number of underground labels, their support for the underground extending to contributing