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Contrastate

Contrastate

Contrastate


Contrastate were formed in 1987 by Stephen Meixner and Jonathan Grieve. Their initial musical ventures were of a more improvisational nature, based on noise and volume (not to be confused with power electronics). Sounds emerged, sub-merged and re-emerged at varying painfully low frequencies with extremes of treble tonality. The idea was physical confrontation through sound. Nothing was ever released by Contrastate in this form, although some influences from this era are present on the first Lp “Seven hands seek nine fingers”. Read more on Last.fm
Contrastate were formed in 1987 by Stephen Meixner and Jonathan Grieve. Their initial musical ventures were of a more improvisational nature, based on noise and volume (not to be confused with power electronics). Sounds emerged, sub-merged and re-emerged at varying painfully low frequencies with extremes of treble tonality. The idea was physical confrontation through sound.

Nothing was ever released by Contrastate in this form, although some influences from this era are present on the first Lp “Seven hands seek nine fingers”. There were also a couple of live performances, one in London and one in Geneva. The London performance had a planned duration of 15 minutes, but instead lasted only 3 minutes as Contrastate were thrown off stage after waves of feedback had blown one of the amplifiers. Towards the end of 1988 Contrastate's music became more subtle and considered, concentrating on the atmospheric rather than aggressive content. Two live performances were done in Belgium in 1989, but these were frankly awful and very unsatisfactory for the band.

This led to a four year break from live performances in order that the band could re-think their direction in this sphere. In that time Stephen Meixner and Jonathan Grieve recorded the albums “A thousand badgers in labour” and “i”. Both releases helped Contrastate gain favourable attention from the critics and an audience for their music, which was moving forward becoming more purposeful and defined. 1992 saw the release of “A live coal under the ashes” which was inspired by the events leading up to the changes across Eastern and Central Europe during 1989. This release marked the change conceptually in which the group's ideas became more specific and more focused on contemporary political issues.

“A live coal...” was critically acclaimed not just for the music, but also for the artwork and packaging: - a CD placed in the middle of a 12inch clear vinyl record. Stephen Pomeroy joined the group for these recordings and became Contrastate's third member. There was also another side to the groups music, namely their penchant for dark surreal humour. “I'm a clown collecting moments (and other chocolates)” was the groups debut single released in 1993.

Both the cover, music, and title are reflections of that humour found locked inside the grooves of this particular single waiting to jump out at you as the needle hits the record. Three more singles were released between 1994 and 2000. All were very different, showing an alternative side to their music. 1993 also marked the return of Contrastate to the live scene with their performance at Festival Karlsruhe. This show was extremely well received and a spontaneous ten minute ovation followed the 35 minute concert.

With three people now in the group the majority of the show was live with hardly any reliance on pre-recorded backing tapes. This was far more satisfying than was previously the case. Another change concerning the live performance is that from 1993 onwards rather, than try and re-create studio material (which would have been virtually impossible), new material was specifically written to be performed live at the show(s). It was also seen as a practical matter of attempting to move on each time. “Throwing the baby out with the bathwater”, Contrastate's fifth studio album, was simultaneously released in 1994 as a CD and a limited edition picture disc Lp and 12“ set on the labels Functional and TESCO respectively.

The album deals with the vacuum in society created by the lack of new alternatives and new ideas, the lack of critical thought and the push to fill this vacuum with an unquestioning subservience to tradition. This release was developed over a long period and so consequently it is a lot more careful and precise in relation to previous releases, yet at the same time also challenging. There followed three more live performances in 1995, one in London (their first full length concert in the UK), in France at the Deadly Actions II festival, and a live radio session for VPRO (Dutch National Radio). The session was subsequently released by Staalplaat as part of their ”Mort Aux Vaches“ series and remains a document of Contrastate's 1995 live shows. ”Goodbye great nation“ - the classic release of 1996 A collaboration with The Tiger Lillies, described as an anarchic castrato blues trio, producing a release blending Contrastate's sweeping electronics and sound manipulation with their passionate accordion driven blues.

The Tiger Lillies have since gone on to produce a numerous excellent releases and toured extensively across Europe and America. The artwork for most of Contrastate's releases were created specifically for the group by the artists Ben Hughes and Stone. Their artwork, often surreal, gave the releases a recognisable identity, which was far removed from the usual artwork and packaging within the experimental genre. Both artists were in effect Contrastate's fourth and fifth members.

The sixth studio album was entitled “Todesmelodie”. Part inspired by the book “The Mysteries of Algiers” written by Robert Irwin, the 1965 Pontecorvo film “The Battle of Algiers, and part by events in the Middle East. This release turned out to be Contrastate's final full length release.” Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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