Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Digits - Dog Wrestled To Ground By Underarm Combat Flea (1981)

What a peculiar delight! DIY garage psych from 1981 Wellington, like The Godz and Chrome had a high school basement supergroup jam-band. An unexpected gift from contributor Mick, this record is rare as -- only 200 copies pressed, and probably most of them totally forgotten. Unfair dismissal! Until now, dear listener...

Side one starts reasonably songy-song conventional with 'Friend Who Sits Beside You' -- though not without naïve charm plus some scungy background lead guitar -- but it just gets weirder and better from there. 'Night Time' and 'Vege Man' are wistful acid à la Syd, 'A Throw Away' and 'Modern Viewee' are munted budget Hawkwind ft. Helios Creed, while 'After Sausage' gets all nut-gone flakey. 'Mental Blanco' raw powers its punk roots with angle-grinderish soloing, and 'Perfect Evolution' power pops with filtered white noise, thereminny howls and moog-y bloops. 

Side two is presented as one long piece (though some -subtle and not-so splices are evident) albeit with eight different track titles -- Faust Tapes-style! The linked files include the option of either one long complete side two, or individual best guesses for separate named tracks. It starts strong and there are truly some great bits, but as a side of long-playing vinyl it's maybe slightly omphalosceptically circumlocutory -- and just a wee bit familiar: the sort of smoky jamz I've heard in warehouse gigs from mid-90s Philly to mid-10s Dunedin. Not bad if they're your friends and you've got some cheap beer! I fully dug the whole dang thing though so see how you go, yo.

A long drive and a ferry ride from the FNun releases of the same year: it's post-punk (I guess?) and homemade but unafraid of (admittedly cheap-arsed) studio techniquery: expect hard-panning as stereo-tremoloing (or clumsy psychoacoustic headfuqz), skilsaw fuzz, flanged vocals and/or drums, cheap reverrrrbbbb and whoop-whoop-delays.

Gary Steel interviewed prime Digit Malcolm Pickup and wrote a few reviews at the time. Have a read here.

Source vinyl is quite crackly, but in a warmth-adding rather than hifi-snob-snubbing way. Includes three bonus tracks: The Digits' two songs from 1981's Wellingtonzone comp, plus the sole release from singer/guitarist Pickup's previous group Smashed Executive, 'T.V.' released on the 1979 Radio Windy Home Grown Volume One comp.

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