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mixtape (detail) - sakura snow

Although this time last year I relented to the whole end-of-year list thing, through a combination of laziness and principle I’ve decided to retire from that and instead focus on more practical list-making (e.g. “Top 5 Ways To Thread The Shoelaces Of My Work Shoes” or “Top 10 Items I Discovered In My Stool This Morning”). This is not to say I don’t very much enjoy trawling the various End Of Year Best Ofs that populate the interwebosphere every January – they are a great source of new listening inspiration, and can be a useful nudge in finally going ahead and procuring that ‘buzz’ album that you’ve been meaning to check out but haven’t yet got around to (but no, that Bon Iver chappie is not for me). Particularly those lists that attempt to add a little bit of context as to why a particular recording is worthy of attention, as opposed to those un-annotated lists which I myself was guilty of. This is one I like, or this… (and for group-compiled, consensus-based lists you could do worse that check this one out).

But this does not mean I’m above trying to foist my questionable tastes on others…

Each year I make myself a “Best Of…” compilation, trying to encapsulate the best of that year’s listening (and live) experiences over the course of a couple of mastered CDs. And so in a rare act of magnanimous generosity, I’m making that compilation available here for your listening pleasure.

NarcoAgent – Best of 2008 volume I
NarcoAgent – Best of 2008 volume II

If you’d like an aurally-tangible run-through of the releases that caught my ear in 2008, right-click, ‘Save As’ and put ’em on the portable music player of your choice . Hopefully you make some enjoyable discoveries (or at the very least supress those sociopathic thoughts for an hour or two – it works for me!).

mixtape (detail) - sakura snow 

This first NarcoAgent ‘podcast’ also marks the launch of the Mixtapes page where I’ll occasionally upload other collections for your listening pleasure.
Tracklistings & associated info to be found there too.

mixtape (detail) - sakura snow


Something of an obsession for me over the past few years has been tracking down recordings by a long-defunct Dutch band by the name of Gore. Gore first came to my attention in the mid- to late-80s when bigged-up by the self-styled “Arsequake League” (the Stud Brothers, Simon Reynolds, David Stubbs et al) at Melody Maker (check Reynolds’ Blissblog for a brief reminiscence on Gore). The Arsequakers’ recommendation (they had after all turned me on to the “New Sonic Architecture” of the Young Gods) coupled with supposed citings by the likes of New York noisemongers Swans, Foetus, and Sonic Youth, and Steve Albini involvement (he co-recorded third album “Wrede (The Cruel Peace)”), convinced me that Gore was something that I absolutely had to hear.

The closest I’d come to laying my hands on some Gore was finding one of their albums in a second-hand record store in London several years ago, taking the cover to the counter, then waiting patiently (but with a growing sinking feeling) only to be told that the disc couldn’t be located. Scouring record stores in Amsterdam proved equally unsuccessful. Now, thanks to the good people at Worm in Rotterdam and Armageddon in Providence, I have my grubby paws on Gore’s first three albums – “Hart Gore” (1986), “Mean Man’s Dream” (1987) and “Wrede (The Cruel Peace)” (1988).


Gore was formed in 1985 by Rob Frey, Danny Arnold Lommen and Pieter de Sury in Venlo, a Dutch town close to the German border. Frey seems to have been the Gore ringleader, orchestrating the band’s sound, designing the artwork and playing bass under the assumed name of Marij Hel. Drummer Lommen was previously the bassist in Venlo punk bank Pandemonium and went on (post-Gore) to add his muscular playing to Caspar Brötzmann Massaker.

Gore’s sound is a monolithic one, uncompromising and seemingly singular in its vision – reminiscent of an instrumental pre-“Children Of God” Swans, albeit with the juggernaut moving forward at a more urgent pace. Although the music is exclusively instrumental (there are some vocal samples on the later “Mest / 694’3” but nothing that approaches singing) those first three albums all contain lyric sheets – ostensibly meant to add a “horrorshow” element to the music and make it all the more ominous and hardcore. While Gore isn’t quite as heavy as I was hoping for (they were apparently vastly more formidable in a live setting), “Hart Gore” still successfully bludgeons the listener with its relentless riffs & rhythms (and with its interesting time signatures it is not surprising it found favour with the proto-math rock (abacus rock?) scene in the USA). “Mean Man’s Dream” essentially just recycles the ideas on “Hart Gore”, but to similarly purposeful effect. For “Wrede (The Cruel Peace)” Pieter de Sury had been replaced by two guitarists – Joes Bentley & Frankie Stroo – and the previously compact songs are extended to 14mins+, with the more spacious sound unfortunately losing the impetus & immediacy of the earlier recordings (album closer “Death Has Come (De Dood)” is crushingly heavy though). Gore broke up following “Wrede” but were resurrected by Frey (the only remaining original member) in 1992. Further albums “Lifelong Deadlong” (1992) and “Mest / 694’3” (1996) followed but apparently couldn’t hold a candle to Gore’s 80s output.

I can certainly hear elements of Gore’s aesthetic in Melvins, Helmet, the Jesus Lizard, Godflesh, and most recently Pelican, and although I’m in no position to attest to Gore having had a direct influence on those bands, it seems wrong to me that they warrant barely a mention in the annals of alternative rock.

The sleeve notes to “Wrede (The Cruel Peace)” exhort the listener to use Gore’s music “only for a positive purpose: the cleaning of your house, beating off, praising the gods, self chastisement, angor (sic), hate, during loving, fucking the hard way, and so on…” I’m slowly making my way through the list…

“Call Me” is taken from the first album “Hart Gore” (now long out of print).

Gore – Call Me

“Wrede (The Cruel Peace)” has been made available for download by Dorfdisco Braunsfeld here. Chart (weekly)

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