A re-release appears momentarily amidst the global blizzard of output from our Stakhanovite cultural workers……

I used the above as a social meeja header recently to announce the reissue of Red Square material from the ‘70s.

I like this sort of tone much more than the too often seen ‘really excited to share’, or the really, REALLY horrible ‘This’.

It sidesteps the breathless faux-excitement of ‘brand ambassadorship’, but contains an often-shuffled-off-into-an-unregarded-corner kernel of truth. Namely that there really IS a blizzard of creative output that has been made apparent by the arrival of self-publishing platforms.

However, in almost every way this is (a) good and (b) only to be expected, given what clever little monkeys we are.

Let’s face it, creativity is about the only thing we’ve ever been any good at. There have always been things out there with bigger teeth, faster limbs, greater strength, or a pair of fangs brimful with venom. What we’ve lacked in those departments, we’ve had to make up for by combining together, and asking questions such as ‘what can we do about those big buggers out there with the massive teeth?’ Instantly, creative solutions would be proposed; ‘Saaay, what about dancing round in the manner of one of the massively toothed ones in order to become a massively toothed one in spirit oneself. Would that help…..?’

‘Well, it might just distract the massively toothed one long enough for the rest of us to make a run for it…. So, yeah, why not? Give it a go’.

Once the creative dancer had been satisfactorily consumed, the rest of the ancestors would once again put their heads together, and come up with some new creative ideas…….

Anyway, the result of so much stuff being produced by so many people across the globe means that your particular bit of stuff is likely to appear and be gone in the blink of an eye. One mote amongst billions….

Having a few archival things to upwhaft to Bandcamp at the moment, I just couldn’t resist using the Stakhanovite trope again for another release, this time with a jolly Photoshopped illustration:

On hearing of the release of ‘NeverNeverLand’ by Red Square Electric, the global battalions of cultural workers briefly pause their ceaseless toil in the culture mines to hold a 15 millisecond March Of Comradely Joy’.

By the bye, if you happen not to be a Soviet-era Kremlin watcher, you might be unfamiliar with the term ‘stakhanovite’. Here’s a bit of useful Wiki regarding the celebrated Soviet worker, Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov, and the movement that he inspired.

Re-releasing ‘Circuitry’, Red Square’s live album from 1976.

To complement the recent re-release of our 1975 album Paramusic, we’ve also re-released our 1976 second album ‘Circuitry’ in full too.
Like Paramusic, Circuitry was originally a self-released, self-recorded cassette album, sold only at Red Square gigs.
This is the first and only complete re-release of Circuitry in over forty five years*.
The album is a recording of our set from a 1976 arts festival concert in Southend, where we supported Henry Cow and Lol Coxill.
This complete re-release has been newly edited and mastered by me from digital transfers of the original stereo reel to reel master tapes.
The front cover of this release is a facsimile of an original 1976 Circuitry cassette.
The original order of tracks has been preserved, but I’ve edited out all of the between-tunes applause apart from after the very last track, where you can hear a bemused local radio compère, clearly totally at sea with the kind of music he was hearing, say ‘well there we are, ladies and gentlemen; Red Square’. The term became a favourite catch phrase of ours; the common expression, ‘well, there we are’, once spoken being inevitably rejoined with ‘ladies and gentlemen; Red Square’.

By 1976 Red Square was probably at its zenith as a power-improv trio. We had retained our commitment to total improvisation, but the violin, soprano sax, toys, bells & whistles that were present on Paramusic had all been discarded. I was by this time playing (amplified) bass clarinet exclusively. It was still a pretty unusual instrument in 1976. There was a very small roster of well-known players (John Surman, Eric Dolphy), and there was me. I frequently spent some time post gigs explaining to interested parties that, no, the instrument actually wasn’t a really unusual sounding, weird-looking type of sax, but was, in fact, an unusual sounding, weird-looking type of clarinet stuck through a very big speaker via a Reed-mounted Barcus Berry transducer.

The first piece in our set that evening, Circuitry 1, began with a taped playback of Paramusic 1, into which we planned to gradually interweave our live instruments. However, the sound engineer took some moments to get the levels balanced, so please note that there is a distinct increase in volume around the 2:50 mark!
One of my favourite things about these recordings is that every so often you can hear children’s voices in the audience talking (and facing-off!) in the quieter sections. One of the children is Roger’s son, Jake, who grew up to be a much in demand, London-based sax player. He also regularly guested with us in a much later project called Single Field.

Circuitry is available as a digital download or CDr from Bandcamp.

*Five of the six tracks (2, 3, 4, 5 & 6) have been included on either the ‘Thirty Three’ (2008) or ‘Rare & Lost’ (2016) compilation albums. 

credits

Re-releasing ‘Paramusic’, Red Square’s 1975 first album.

We’ve decided to re-release our very first ‘statement of intent’ – the now impossible to find Paramusic tape – back out into the public square again after an absence of many decades. This is the first and only complete re-release of Paramusic in some forty five years*.
Paramusic was originally a self-released (because no record company at the time would touch us with a barge-pole), self-recorded cassette album, sold only at Red Square gigs between 1975 & ‘76.
This complete re-release has been newly edited and mastered by me from digital transfers of the original stereo reel to reel master tapes.


The original order of tracks has been preserved, as have many of the original album’s audio idiosyncrasies.
For example, towards the end of track 10, you can hear a friend of the band who was keeping an eye on the tape recorder shouting ‘stop, stop!’ as the tape reel began to run out. On track 8 the sound of me unknowingly treading on the microphone stand, and a door opening and closing as family enter and leave the room, add a nice ‘field-recording’ ambience to proceeding.
There are many others – including Roger casting aspersions on the band’s personal grooming regime of the day, and a guest appearance on vocals by Ian’s dog – which I’ve left in for you to discover along the way.


Some of the original tracks had bizarre fade-ins, others ended abruptly. There is amp-hum aplenty, and the occasional scribble of tape hiss. I’ve preserved all such infelicities in this release. They add a nice element of period charm.
The recording technology we had at our disposal in 1975, and our mastery of it, was pretty rudimentary. There was Ian’s Akai 4000 sound-on-sound reel to reel tape recorder, two mismatched microphones, and one microphone stand, so one of the mikes had to be propped up on a fireplace or on a pile of books on a chair. Unsurprisingly, the stereo imaging of some of the recordings is pleasingly non-textbook. I’ve slightly re-balanced some of these, but sought to broadly retain the feel of the originals.


Part of the determinedly DIY Red Square aesthetic at the time was a reaction to the then-current vogue for interminable, lavishly-expensive, over-produced concept albums. Red Square music was totally improvised and in, and of, the moment, (and so took as long to record as the length of each track took to play), and any shortcomings in our recording techniques added a layer of extra audio interest that was as welcome to us as an expensive new keyboard was to Yes.
Whatever happened in the room went to tape. Oddities of the recording process were retained. Capturing interesting music did not (and still doesn’t) depend on the length of the equipment list in a studio or on the cost of the drums, guitars or saxophones.


The tracks on Paramusic mark the transition from Ian and myself working as an experimental multi-tracking duo (1972-74), influenced by the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Terry Riley and dada, (tracks 4, 7 & 8), to our development as a more focused free-music power trio following the addition of Roger’s free-jazz drumming (1974 onwards).

Paramusic is available as a digital download, a facsimile cassette or as a CDr from Bandcamp, or as a facsimile cassette from Discogs.

*Four of the eleven tracks [1, 3, 6 & 10) were included on the 2008 album ‘Thirty Three’, a compilation of Red Square recordings released by FMR Records.