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23 Skidoo \ The Culling Is Coming [BOUCD 6604]

First released by Les Disques du Crépuscule and Operation Twilight in February 1983, The Culling Is Coming flagged two radical new directions for Skidoo following funk-inflected indie chart-topper Seven Songs the previous year. Drawn from two live performances, Culling combined a collaboration with the Balinese Gamelan Orchestra recorded at Dartington College of Music in October 1982, together with extracts from a more extreme, improvised set at the first WOMAD festival in July 1982, using scrap metal and tape loops. Both sides of the album were exactly 23 minutes long, side one signing off with a stylus-hostile lock groove.

Digitally remastered, Culling is now expanded with the inclusion of a complete (and equally extreme) 26 minute loop performance at Tielt, Belgium, on 8 October 1982, recorded on Crépuscule's short Move Back/Bite Harder tour with Cabaret Voltaire, Tuxedomoon, Antena and Pale Fountains. The extended CD runs for 76 minutes. Booklet features the original artwork with contextual notes by Skidoo's Alex Turnbull.

Tracklist:

1. G-2 Contemplation
2. S-Matrix
3. G-3 Insemination
4. Shrine
5. Mahakala
6. Banishing
7. Invocation
8. Flashing
9. Stifling
10. Healing (For the Strong)
11. Move Back/Bite Harder

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Reviews:

"A damn fine piece of work - the perfect non-chemical cure for a headache" (The Wire, 11/2003)

"A genuinely esoteric and intriguing reissue. The ambience remains one of menace rather than ethno-tourism" (Record Collector, 12/2003)

"The mixes are diamond sharp. The Gamelan music drifts serenely across great canyons of nothingness, fairybell tinkling and enormous booming which disregards all forms of rhythm, ideas elongated into an immense drip-feed of sound" (NME, 1983)

"Culling is a densely packed, closed and clenched fist of a record" (Sounds, 1983)

"The WOMAD side offers tape-looped phrases segueing in and out of focus, electronic twitterings and squalling ethnic wind instruments all clawing at each other like an orgy in an abattoir" (Melody Maker, 1983)

"Twenty years on, The Culling Is Coming remains dislocated and disconnected from anything remotely like western rock n' roll, and remains one of the strangest stylistic U-turns out there. Best approached with a similar zeal to finally seeing A Clockwork Orange at the cinema for the first time" (Whisperin' & Hollerin', 9/2003)

The Culling Is Coming
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Sleevenote by Alex Turnbull

Undoubtedly Skidoo's most unorthodox and misunderstood release to date. The original record separates into two distinct and very different sides.

Side 1 is a recording of a live performance at the first W.O.M.A.D. Festival in July 1982, which featured among others the Burundi Drummers, Les Musiciens du Nile and a whole host of musicians from around the world. Skidoo elected not to use traditional instruments but instead to improvise a performance with instruments made of scrap metal and tape loops (at this time, literally looped sections of tape). The ritual of banishing, invocation and healing mirrored the changes that had occured within the group. Indeed this cycle of renewal is something very basic to the concept of 23 Skidoo.

At 11 am on a sunny summer morning skidoo, heads shaven, faces camouflaged, took to the stage. The bleary-eyed festival crowd, expecting a trendy funk band, are greeted by a wall of noise. Some flee. Those that remain witness Skidoo at their most confrontational. Expectations are shattered.

Side 2 shows the other meditative side of Skidoo, recorded at Dartington Music College in October 1982 using traditional Gamelan instruments. Skidoo travel to Devon for the weekend with a mobile 8 track studio. They spend the next three days and nights improvising and recording rhythms which are later taken to Jacobs Studios to edit together and mix, with the assistance of Ken Thomas.

Although intended as a one-off experiment, and no way reflective of the material the group were playing regularly, the album was universally condemned by the press as too off-the-wall and left field. Skidoo in typical fashion were totally unconcerned, though this was to make it difficult for them to find labels willing to release such varied material and to deal with artists perceived as being so unpredictable.