14 April 2005

impLOG - Holland Tunnel Dive

In-Fidelity Records
12 inch JMB-231

I can know almost nothing about where this record came from, and I find that to be part of its allure. I'll tell you what I do know.

I was living in Southport in the mid 80s and knew an effervescent scouser called Steve The Busker. He, like me, was a keen jumble sale and charity shop trawler with a particular penchant for records. He was the only person apart from me and my brother who loved disco at the time. More than that, we were the only people who saw disco as a form of soul music. Everyone else saw it as pathetic cheesy nonsense. A big part of that is because it belonged to a time that had become unfashionable, a time of flares and wide lapels.

The 80s was a time when individuality was breaking out. Sure, part of it was the selfish Thatcherite vision, but a positive part of it was the shedding of uniformity. Before the 80s there was a compulsory element to trends. To wear flares in the early 80s was to be a laughable buffoon. Flares were, in and of themselves, seen as comical. In the mid 70s, the same was true about drainpipe trousers.

But the 80s made great strides (couldn't resist the pun, sorry) for the freedom to carve out your own style and path and not be seen as just stupid and square. There are deeper implications of this in the freedom it granted to be different in other ways, to shed other kinds of conformity without being utterly ostracised.

This shift, which has continued apace to this day, obviously has many causes. But I reckon a key one is the ageing population. In the 60s and 70s we were overrun with under-20s so consequently there was a great cult of youth, things that were old were thought to be bad simply for being old. As the young are less of the population, so their vision holds less popular sway.

Also, as the last two or three generations have enjoyed a similar lifestyle they can relate to each other well and so appreciate each other's styles and creative expression. But in the mid-late 20th century, two or three generations back had been the World Wars, the Great Depression and suchlike; no wonder they couldn't really communicate with kids in the 70s and there were inevitable canyonesque generation gaps.

Anyway, so, there we were in the 80s, me and Steve The Busker listening to disco. He'd put me on to numerous records I'd never have found otherwise. Natural High by Bloodstone, which is quite simply the most beautiful record ever made. A gorgeous soft 70s soul slowie, listening to it is like sliding into a warm bath of chocolate duvets.

Actually, that's quite an unsavoury image if you think about it too long, but you get where I'm coming from. Like the Delfonics only much more so. These days you can find Natural High on the Jackie Brown soundtrack.

And Steve The Busker also put me on to some fucking weird shit. Top of that list would be Holland Tunnel Dive. A relentless cold electronic beat, a sharding tannoy vocal listing things that have died or run out or ceased in some other way... no bridges to burn, nothing to learn, no soul, no love, no dinner tonight, no woman, no cry, no respect, no equal rights, no garden to hoe, no seeds to sow, no food in the fridge, no TV shows, no emotion, no devotion, no trips to the ocean...

And then ending each verse - if you can call the segments that - with 'leaving for the other side, going to take a Holland Tunnel Dive' and a noise that literally sounds like a hoover kicking in, overpowering all other sound on the record. This was even weirder before I knew what Holland Tunnel was.

And on it goes. Until, once you've thoroughly entranced by the bleak metronomic quality punctuated by turbo vacuum cleaner, straight out of left field comes an absurdly chirpy bright bouncy sax break.

This was a favourite record to listen when I was first into smoking dope, it really stretches your head and makes you get your money's worth out of your drugs. One time the sax break caused a caned friend to have his mental scales tip and he ran out of the room with his hands on his ears shouting 'no trumpets! no trumpets!'.

Music reflects its environment. Runrig are the most tedious band on earth if you listen to them in London, like Big Country on mogadon. But trust me, if you're living on a Scottish island, Runrig sound fuckin great.

In the same way, Holland Tunnel Dive is a very NYC record, from the only place that could give you John Zorn, Sonic Youth and other things that sound like filing cabinets full of powertools being dropped down stairwells.

So who were impLOG? I've no idea. The label, In-Fidelity, is one I've never heard of before, its address is just a box number at Grand Central Station. I love that, it makes it feel a lot more exotic.

[MP3 deleted to make way for newer ones. Sorry!]


Martin said...

Well...that was pretty fucking incredible. Cheers for this, along with the classic 'Hoots Mon' (I like the idea of some Japanese guy picking up the SE Asian equivalent of one of those Sublime Frequencies compilations, and telling his mates, "You've GOT to hear this 50s Brit pop stuff, it's mental!") this blog's put a massive grin on my spotty mug.

John Eden said...

More on this here:


Anonymous said...

It has been 25 years ago, since I last heard this 12 inch rare American import stuff. There was a warning on the sleeve, telling this record could damage the tweeters of your speakers.

Thanks for the lost memories, coming back now.


Anonymous said...

thx, this is a weird record and brings back the Crash Course in Science days ...
Great stuff

Anonymous said...

Blimey - although I know that it plainly isn't, right now & for the past couple of weeks, this is the greatest record I've ever heard. Heard it recently on a mix by a DJ called Brennan Green, & I've been on somewhat of a mission to establish its identity ever since. Once discovered the usual "sources" were combed for copies but alas, to no avail. And now you, you generous old thing, have it available for download *sighs*
Mille Grazie.

PS You lived in Southport? *sharp intake of breath* Never mind, it could be much worse - you could still live there.

merrick said...

Thanks for your comments folks - it what makes me realise that it's worht doing the blog.

Yep Barnie, I lived in Southport, for seven years. It was the late 80s, and most of the old hotels were either nursing homes or bedsits for smackheads and bikers. I was unsurprisingly with the latter which made for an interesting time. But really, it is the kind of town that you have to leave.

Anonymous said...

Longtime favourite on a 'mix' C90 now defunct so it was a lucky break hearing the record again on Daniel Millers' Happy Hour

Anonymous said...

...and you can still hear the show here;

Anonymous said...

Implog's Holland Tunnel Dive and Sea Creatures are on the new Soul Jazz compilation New York Noise Vol 3, along with stuff by Dominatrix, Snatch, Judy Nylon, James Blood Ulmer, Ike Yard, Dark Day, Martin Rev, Boris Policeband and UT. Listening to it now - "No food in the fridge...." Yeah!

Anonymous said...

In case no one has filled you in, impLOG was a project by Don Christensen, founder of the legendary no wave band DNA, and Jody Harris was the original guitarist for James Chance and the Contortions, another groundbreaking no wave band from New York. Along with New York Noise vol. 3, you can hear more from then on the No New York compilation, produced and recorded by Brian Eno.

Anonymous said...

its not a vacuum cleaner...from what i understand its a recording of some indistrial drill.

Anonymous said...

holy shit that is cool.

Anonymous said...

damn. i was listening to that song here in germany in the legendary graffitti show on wdr / cologne. tried to get the 12" but failed. still a hammer song.

Anonymous said...

Last week my girlfriend and I were listening to this on our way to Brighton in the car. As she'd never heard it before I warned her, I prepared her, I offered to stop and let her out of the car for the 7 minutes 43 seconds of joy this record is. She was stoical and she got through it. Liked the sax break. This is a mammoth record that always delights (me anyway).

Anonymous said...

Please check my vid for this track


Anonymous said...

This is on the Hacienda Discotheque collection released a couple of years back on 2 x cd. I think its the first track on the first disc. It's an effing belter. I'm not really one for drugs, never have been, but if I was I would never ever listen to this song whilst 'mashed' (as the kids call it these days). It would just send you under. Brilliant record.

Anonymous said...

Don't know how rare this 12" is, but, I recall hearing "Holland Tunnel Dive" on a Boston college station way back in 1980 or early '80's and thought "what a cool tune!". Bought the EP at Rockit Records in Saugus, MA back then. Just downloaded the Amazon.com mp3 and reliving a neat piece of my music collection. Enjoy!