All of your favorites, in one place.
Leven Signs' Hemp Is Here came and went in 1985, as both a cassette release (Unlikely Records) and vinyl release (Cordelia) in the blink of an eye. The duo of Peter Karkut and Maggie Turner managed to craft one of the strangest, most affecting albums of new wave experimentalism of the era, but due to the album's impossible-to-find status, it's been largely forgotten and continuously overlooked ever since. A chance encounter with the cassette version of Hemp Is Here led Brad Rose of Digitalis on an internet scavenger hunt before tracking Karkut down. Through the years he has continued developing his various artistic pursuits, recently having his short film Sunflower Supermodel shown at the London Short Film Festival. Turner's path is a bit foggier, though her collaboration with Karkut continues. But what is it about Hemp Is Here that makes it such a special record? At times it feels like a modern, electronic take on gamelan music with crashing rhythms and modal melodies corrupted via bewildering sonic processes. Karkut layers organ sequences over and over, constructing songs that have more in common tonally with music you'd hear in gothic cathedrals than any sort of school of electronic music. Think of a more diverse, Eastern-tinged Flaming Tunes and you might be getting close. On the surface, Karkut's complex compositions seem at odds with Turner's often-detached, stunning vocals, but it's the dichotomy of those two disparate elements that latch on and don't let go. All new artwork by Pete Karkut. Remastered from the original tapes by James Plotkin, cut at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin.