14.4.11

A CERTAIN RATIO : Knife Slits Water 12" (1982)

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Sit me down in a pub, ply me with gassy lager & get me rambling on about Factory Records, & it'll only be a matter of time before I'm drunkenly arguing the case for The Durutti Column & A Certain Ratio being the label's definitive acts, rather than youknowwho.

Though the majority ACR's records were, in retrospect, actually rather patchy, I'd still put forward 1982's Sextet LP as one of Factory's finest releases EVER. An uncanny hybrid of grainy xeroxed ethnicity, oddly detatched Chic-isms & ghostly Miles Davis inferences, it's without a doubt the band's masterpiece. This subsequent 12" release features a totally re-recorded version of that album's highlight, the opiated sub-zero funk of "Knife Slits Water" - a noticeably gentrified rendition that extends the running time to 10 minutes, with a far slicker backing track (pre-empting the uninviting academic self-absorption of their "lost" A&M period perhaps), & a brand new Donald Johnson vocal replacing the recently departed Martha Tilson's earlier, eerier attempt (does anybody know what she's done since?). Though I'll always prefer the original LP take, there's no denying that this drastic revision sounds terrific, & that ACR were way ahead of New Order & the like when addressing the dance floor (at The Hacienda or further afield). It's closer, in fact, to contemporaneous chart worriers like Pigbag or early Lynx, though far, far superior. B-side is the disembodied 11-minute mutant disco suite, "Kether Hot Knives". Unknown pleasures indeed.

Link removed: Both sides of this single have since been reissued - on Les Temp Modernes' extended edition of I'd Like To See You Again, & Universal Sound's Sextet CD.

11 comments:

  1. And plonk me down next to you with a glass of Tizer and some bud and I would be loudly interjecting that Section 25's 1984 classic 'From The Hip' is easily in the top five of all Factory releases...the kind of heretical views that would have you stripped of your long grey oxfam coat by a Factory orthodoxy that demands that JD are the transcendental signifier around which all other Factory acts and releases revolve.

    Unfortunately my awareness of ACR emerged at the same time I read an NME article pointing out the fascist/nazi themes and origins of the name Joy Division as a concentration camp brothel and that 'A Certain Ratio' was a reference to 'a certain ratio of jewish blood' (I still have no idea if the latter is true while it amuses me that very few people today seem to have a clue where the JD name came from!)...

    So as was fitting of a teenage black and white reality tunnel I went from worshipping Factory records to been highly critical of them as closet fascists no doubt in the space of 24 hours!

    So it was a few years before I would give ACR a listen and while it has to be said much of their output sounds like Level 42 with an "edge"...did someone mention Lynx?!? *shudders* their brief shining moments are dazzling..

    ...the cover of the Banbarra's Shack Up for example (though the Bis cover of the cover does come close!) and the two tracks from this release (Kether Hot Knives still sounds like it could have been produced 29 seconds ago never mind 29 years..imo this is the sound Cabaret Voltaire were searching for at the same time circa 'Yashar') really do show along with Liquid Liquid and the Pop Group/Pigbag & Y Records axis that occasionally white boys can indeed play the funk!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, if ACR's name IS of Nazi derivation it'd suggest Eno is as prominent a closet fascist as Manc's foremost white funksters - it's his song they stole it from after all? Though I've always assumed ACR & JD's occasional S.S. references were merely misguided punk wickedness, I have to admit that To Each's inner g/fold has always puzzled me... Having said that, I can't imagine Donald Johnson tolerating any pseudo-NF shite, can you?

    ACR's rejection of Factory ideals (i.e. allowing to frost to thaw, as it were) is one of the great post-punk tragedies I think? Imagine how good the follow-up to Sextet COULD have been if they'd not bottled out & gone "pro"?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love love loooooove the pictures. Great post!

    www.marleeindebt.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Haha, thanks... there aren't enough photographs of Tili on the 'net are there?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great record and a bloody good band in their early days, (somewhere I still have their first cassette release in that orange sleeve)true their A@M period was a bit too smoothe for me, befoe donald starting drumming for michael jackson no less...
    definitely no nazi stuff going on (yes there are references but i think its more a fascination with the 1930s - check the haircuts and shirts of them and early joy division, lot of young black kids hung with them via donalds younger brother, and was never any mention of it.
    regards

    ReplyDelete
  6. Did Dojo play with MJ? Wow, I had no idea...!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey thanks for this one! My fave ACR song AND album (Sextet) and I'm in total agreement with you about their greatness. I had no idea this version existed and can't wait to hear it ... Had the good fortune to see ACR do this live in Washington DC just as Sextet came out --- words cannot describe the bizarre atmosphere of dread that this particular tune had, as Johnson came out from behind the drum kit wearing his basketball short-shorts to play the thumb-popping bass line next to Martha and the boys in their white-boy schoolkid short-shorts. One of those things that just seems so wrong but it so RIGHT :) Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  8. PS --- didn't know that Johnson played on Michael Jackson either! Sad what happened to ACR post-factory. I recall at the time everyone hoping that Miles Davis would call on ACR as his post-retirement back up band, as ACR could have benefited from an actual trumpet player and Miles could have used their spacy Hammett-period funk and haze .... if you close your eyes while listening to side one of 'TO Each ...' you can almost hear it .....

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well now I've heard the Knife re-mix, and now I know where it all began to go wrong with ACR :) What was the chronology here ---- I would have assumed that the immortal 'Waterline' single came out AFTER this did, but it doesn't sound that way ...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Waterline 12" - FAC 52
    Knife Slits Water 12" = FAC 62

    ...though chronology was never Factory's strong point, of course! I can't make up my mind which I prefer - To Each or Sextet. Though the first is, essentially, ABSOLUTELY FUCKING PERFECT, there's something oblique & wonkily beautiful about the Martha era, isn't there? Two fantastic albums, what's not to love?

    p.s. Cheers for your comments btw.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous10.6.13

    STFU! we did it for you, thankless!
    [Heinrich-Luitpold und Joseph-Paul, for a New World Order]

    ReplyDelete