ABRIDGED PERVERSION: A Shrimper Compilation Of Shrimper Compilations
Back in the early 90s, when I was still signing on & holed up Assault On Precinct 13-style in my dodgy (but cheap!) council flat on the edge of town (& civilisation it often seemed like) with approximately 47 English pence per week of disposal income at my grubby fingertips, I managed to accumulate a rather large hoard of cassettes. Many of them I traded for my own humble offerings - I operated a tiny, very hands-on tape label of my own at this point (I had nothing else to do FFS) so I had hours of poorly recorded, badly dubbed aural vom of my own to offload - but there was a handful of labels whose releases I'd always manage to scrape the dosh together to actually buy. My life was so bereft of cultural & social stimuli at this point that the prospect of stuffing a few dollars into an airmail envelope & packing 'em off to other skint misanthropes overseas held as much excitment as your average night down the pub, I 'spose?
The cassette label of all cassette labels 'round about then was Shrimper, run out of Upland, California by the almost legendary Dennis Callaci. Already documenting the scene there via his Crump 'zine, Shrimper essentially developed out of Callaci's dubbing cassettes for his friends' bands Nothing Painted Blue & WCKR SPGT, & through several mega-budget tape compilations of musicians he initially came across while working the counter at the neighbourhood record shop. It was these compilations that I heard first - scratchy, hissy little missives titled Pawnshop Reverb, Back To The Egg Asshole or Hardcore Acoustic, all of 'em jampacked with oddly named "acts" such as Goosewind, Simon Joyner, Bugskull, Diskothi-q, Messengil, Ah Bus, Primordial Undermind, Secret Stars, The Extra Glens, Buzzsaw, Shoeface, Junket, Will Simmons Guitar Army, Soul Junk, Fishstick, Amps For Christ, The Goblins, Oar, Furniture Huschle, Folk Implosion, Creeper Lagoon, Paste (Callaci's solo project), Guffey (actually Callaci's wife, Catherine) & literally dozens of others. Most comps included Callaci's own band, the consistently great Refrigerator, alongside The Mountain Goats (whose Shrimper recordings I much prefer to anything they've done since) & Lou Barlow's Sentridoh - a solo companion act to the emo-indie behemoth, Sebadoh (meh!). However, whereas Sebadoh's full blown angst pop has long since descended into dispicable xerox mediocrity, his off-the-cuff Shrimper recordings remain relatively untainted & listenable (almost). A handful of these Shrimper-endorsed weirdos actually went on to release "proper" records & attain a degree of extra-curricular (i.e. post-Shrimper) recognition but most disappeared straight back to whence they came. Shrimper, inevitably, moved onto vinyl & CD releases too, notably this excellent round-up of their roster circa 1993. Stylistically, it runs the gamut between lo-fi indie, Dada-inspired cabaret & beligerent experimentalism but retains a throwaway &, yes, "lo-fi" charm throughout. Dig in (or don't).