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Crispy Ambulance \ Random Textures + Compulsion [FBN 81 CD]

Factory Benelux presents Random Textures, a new instrumental album by cult Manchester group Crispy Ambulance, now issued as a double CD set with 2015 album Compulsion included as a bonus disc.

Random Textures features material written by the band for a series of multi-media events in Manchester during 2015/16 and billed as the Subliminal Impulse Review. The producer is longterm collaborator Graham Massey of 808 State/Biting Tongues. "After a few years of playing our Factory back catalogue it felt like time for a change," explains frontman Alan Hempsall. "The best way to force a change in our composing methods and move forward was for me to stop singing. We've always liked doing material that could be used as soundtrack music - albeit for fairly disturbing films. Random Textures is the sound of us spooking ourselves in our cellar studio."

Companion disc Compulsion was originally issued in a limited edition of 500 vinyl copies to mark Record Store Day in 2015. In many respects it's the second album Crispy Ambulance might have recorded in 1982 after the release of seminal debut The Plateau Phase, with seven of the ten tracks written and performed live at that time. To these are added Rain Without Clouds, an outtake newly restored from the original multitrack masters, and remixes of Four Line Whip and WMTP.2 by producer-cum fifth member Graham Massey.

Almost uniquely, Crispy Ambulance has retained the same line-up since the group was originally founded in 1978: Alan Hempsall (vocals, keyboards), Gary Madeley (drums), Robert Davenport (guitars), Keith Darbyshire (bass).

Cover image by Paul Normann.

CD tracklist:

Disc 1

01. Integra
02. Allegro
03. Prostis
04. Four Bank Man
05. Drifter
06. Baku
07. Peripheral Vision
08. Karpadia
09. Bastion
10. Leviathan
11. Red Texas

Disc 2

01. Rainforest Ritual
02. Say Shake
03. Nightfall Ends the Ceasefire
04. At the Sounding of the Klaxon
05. WMTP.2
06. Rain Without Clouds
07. Lucifer Rising
08. Open, Gates of Fire
09. Choral
10. Four Line Whip Remix

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Random Textures [FBN 81 CD]
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"An intriguing double pack. Whereas Compulsion is angular, urgent and angsty, Random Textures is an altogether more subtle and supple trip. There's still plenty of jeopardy, mind, especially with the longer tracks, like the sultry Integra and the clanging Karpadia. And full marks to Graham Massey of 808 State and Biting Tongues, whose production on both albums ensures that, whatever their differences, they neatly complement each other" (Electronic Sound, 09/2016)

"The sleevenote points to Random Textures as having a 'soundtrack' quality, and whilst this is true it is difficult to discuss the album's individual tracks as they seem to make much more sense when taken as a whole. Instrumentals bleed into each other, sharing elements of the same theme before veering off in another direction entirely. The lack of vocals accentuates the verve of the instrumentation on show as Crispy Ambulance go right back to the early days of post punk but also manage to mash in Eastern and folk influences. This LP ebbs and flows, dodging down one musical alley, sometimes staying with a particular theme for a while, sometimes quickly moving along to something fresh. On occasion they do sound a little like PIL, but less bass heavy, like on Karpadia where shards of guitar noise bounce off milk can percussion, with some kind of unsettling wail in the background. This is the perfect meeting point to what the band are pushing on towards and their original values."

"The title Random Textures is a bit of a red herring for me, as Crispy Ambulance carefully select rhythmic ideas and melodies from a wide palette which dovetail perfectly with their core values of repetitive and addictive musical motifs. Going wholly instrumental probably isn't everyone's thing, but if you have an adventurous ear and are well-disposed towards post punk you will find a lot to love here. Random Textures proves to me that the Ambulance are back in a business they have a monopoly on - weird sounds from outer space, outta Manchester. Compulsion is a lovely bonus and a quality record in its own right. Take this trip underground, soon." (Louder Than War, 08/2016)

"Comprising new readings of several tracks recorded three decades ago, plus outtakes from another age, Compulsion is the likely follow-up album to the band's debut The Plateau Phase, released in 1981. There are certainly elements of that album's era present here - the musique-concrete intro of Rainforest Ritual recalls Simon's Ghost or Death From Above, the power-rock of Say Shake that mirrors Travel Time and the blistering Lucifer Rising that takes its energy from the likes of Sexus or The Wind Season. The trusty ARP synthesizer gives the eerie WMTP.2 a toeing, while thunderous basslines create pivotal moments in the previously unheard Rain Without Clouds. And although Compulsion is mainly instrumental, there is plenty to satisfy - this is beyond simple jamming or copping out, this is compulsory mood-music for anyone with a love of The Sound, The Chameleons and, natch, Crispy Ambulance. Coupled with The Plateau Phase, one could make a seriously triumphant double album with this kind of choice" (Flipside, 04/2015)