Friday, May 17, 2019

the sham men

(via Alex Petridis)

They did some good stuff, though, The Shamen - I enjoyed them around En-Tact

Credit where it's due - more than any of the other indie-dance crossover artists of that era, they managed to master the new musical language - and they did it by themselves. (Primal Scream needed Andy Weatherall's help).

Almost by chance - without intent, certainly -  I have seen The Shamen play live as many times - possibly more times - than any other band I can think of.

They were on a lot of bills in the late Eighties when they were pure psychedelic revivalists: Op Art imagery, liquid lightshow projections,  phased and flanged guitars, Electric Prunes-y kinda vibes, fey monastic vocals. They were sorta kinda fellow-travelers with C86, and in a different way, with the Loop tendency - but slightly too professional and clean sounding.

Closer to Porcupine Tree than Spacemen 3.

Saw them once in their uneasy transitional stage going from acid-rock to acid-house, when the results were bit clumpy and didactic.

And then a couple of times during the full-blown techno-rave stage.

Interviewed them too, for a piece that never came out. What struck me was the seriousness, even piousness, with which they talked about psychedelics as a tool of consciousness-elevation.

Then they became pop stars, with this imperishable bit of period kitsch.

Oh dear

Dearie me


Ian_s said...

Most of their pop tracks are obviously not the best, but they provided a gateway for lots of kids into rave - especially those outside of London without access to pirate radio. I wonder how much Will Sin's untimely death in 1991 affected their sound and direction.

Being slightly pernickety, I also struggle with what style to list Move Any Mountain in my MP3s. Is it house? techno? Calling it just "rave" or "dance" doesn't really satisfy.


I don't know what you'd call it really, there was a sort of UK dance sound of the early 90s that wasn't really house or techno - but drew on both - and it might have a vocal element but it played in the rock press as well as in the dance magazines. The Shamen, but also The Beloved, but also The KLF, but also Underworld. I guess usually people with a rock / indie / postpunk background would be the commonality, then.


But you're right Ian, and in fact I forgot to mention by own debt to the Shamen, and insofar as going to one of their regular events - Synergy i think it was originally called, by the time I went it was Progeny - with a combo of DJs and techno acts playing live - that was literally a gateway, a threshold, for me - it was #1 in a two part rave conversion experience. I went down the Brixton Academy and had my mind blown by Orbital and even more so by the audience - it was like hearing techno had been like reading the screenplay but now i saw the full movie - the dance moves, the rituals, the frenzy. And then a few weeks after went to another rave-type multi-band revue and had the full-blown entactogenic conversion.

i think a lot of indie kids were pulled in through those events, and also the Primal Scream gigs where they had deejays instead of support bands.