SPK : At The Crypt (Sterile Records 1-sided C-90, 1981).

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Though arguably responsible for more unintentionally titter-worthy sub-T.G. codswallop than most Industrial acts in the early 1980s - i.e. viscera-encrusted sour-faced Antipodeans barking in die Muttersprache over looped recordings of Der F├╝hrer & camp Bobby O (...if only they'd known!) sequencers & ultimately sounding about as frightening as Freddie Starr's farcical Hitler-in-gumboots - on a good night SPK were still more than capable of engendering a venally thrilling typhoon of blood-tinglingly brutal white noise & depraved synth corruption, providing the planets aligned & the drugs kicked in on time, as this tour-de-force London performance-cum-assault demonstrates. It's an profoundly oppressive din.

"In 1980 we were performing in a squatted railway arch in Atlantic Road, Brixton. There were riots going on at the time, a response ti Thatcher's racist policing operations. The street outside was strewn with rocks & the burned-out shells of cars, the end of the road was blocked by rows of policeman. we'd seen SPK perform a few weeks earlier in Heaven, a gay nightclub, where they'd turned strobe lights on in the face of the audience. Whether this was an SPK stunt, or Heaven's usual policy, I never found out. But we knew they were coming to see us in the railway arch, so in homage we'd turned the strobe lights on the audience. I remember Graeme (Ravell, aka Operator, aka Oblivion) complaining in the pub afterwards that he thought he was going to have a fit. We became friendly & they invited us to play with them at The Crypt, a youth centre in North London, at the height of their noisy period. I recorded the show on my Walkman, & I think it's the only live recording they ever allowed to be released. If you listen carefully you can hear me & my brother arguing over the Walkman's switched on or not" - Nigel Ayers, Nocturnal Emissions.

A 1-sided cassette, At The Crypt was recorded at the venue of the same name in Paddington (also known as the Cryptic One Club) on 25th April 1981 & was released later that year on Sterile Records, a label founded by that evening's support band Nocturnal Emissions. SPK's line-up on this occasion was Operator (synth, tapes, metal, & vocals), Tone Generator, aka Dominik Guerin, (synths & visuals) & Mike Wilkins (guitar & bass).

By 1984 it was all over. Signed to WEA on the back of a Neubauten / Test Dept.-led metal-banging music press fad, the by-then hopelessly watered-down SPK (complete with a newly-instated "sexy" female vocalist) secured an appearance on The Tube & managed to make themselves look not only completely ridiculous, but also pitifully ineffectual. Machine Age Voodoo, their debut major label LP, arrived & departed without anybody really noticing & shortly thereafter they were discreetly dropped.

Ex-frontman Revell disbanded SPK in 1988 & now makes a mint composing scores for big budget schlock in Hollywood.

Set-list: Berufsverbot / Emanation Machine R.Gie 1916 / Ground Zero : Infinity Dose / Stammheium Torturkammer / Serenade / "John" / Victim.

●  SRC 4


  1. Anonymous18.8.15

    thank you for this tape, i'm anxious to listen to it. Very accurate comments too.Greetings from argentina

  2. You're welcome, Anon. :)

  3. Reimer7.9.15

    They could have been bigger than Blancmange but they blew it in the end...

    Mr Revell, (a graduate in both Economics and History IIRC) sounds the sort who was going to do well by hook or by crook - a very capable/driven chancer. He designed his own swanky pad off the back of his Hollywood work, and he describes himself as an anarchist concerned about his daughter dabbling with drugs.

  4. There's an illuminating recent(ish) interview with G.R. here: