Between exoticism and melancholy, dream and nostalgia, autumn lights and shadows and hidden joys, The October Country is the land of delicacy, of sensibility, of elegial lyricism, but with an element of detachment and nonchalance in the appearance and fading of colours, the anxiety of not immediately perceptible things. (from Viva Los Angeles II booklet)
This record was released in July 1988 (that means almost 20 years ago!), on Native Starkman & Son, and contains 8 tracks from 4 L.A. groups. It's the same scene and same time asViva Los Angeles IIcompilation, but there are some differences: while Viva LA tried to present the wider selection possible, October Country concentrated in four only bands, fairly new at the time, with a similar approach. That means that you should expect an atmospheric, passionate music, with touches of 4AD and dark wave (LA style). The concept goes beyond this: Philip Drucker is responsible for this album, as he chose the bands and he produced the tracks of it. To emphasize on the unity of the music contained here, at the back cover are only the titles of the tracks, while on the front are only the names of the bands (no mention of Philip Drucker either!). This caused a minor confusion, as in the KZSU's excellentdatabase, a Marnie's song is credited to the Soul Brothers and vice versa.
A few words about the bands: Dark Arts are (yes! they still exist) the band of Stephanie Payne, their two tracks presented here are dark diamonds, full of passion and their great first mLP, A Long Way From Brigadoon, was posted by Mystery Poster. Autumnfair were the group of Thom Fuhrmann (Savage Republic) and Val Haller (Jayne County, Flying Lizards, Lords of the New Church), with a sound closer to 4AD than S.R. Recently Mobilization records released Autumnfair 1986-1989 CD, which contains remastered version of their sole release and other tracks. As for Marnie you can search the 100 Mirrors for her first LP, "Songs Hurt Me" and, if anyone's interested, there's a lengthy feature on her first LP here. I'll add that here are early versions of "The Courtesan" (instrumental version) and "Shanghai My Heart", which later appeared in her "Songs Hurt Me" LP (the Courtesan with vocals) and are, in fact her first recordings as a solo artist. The Soul Brothers are really brothers and they were the "veterans" of the 4 bands: they had already released three cassettes before "October Country". Their output varies enough (from radio collages to SST heaviness) to forbid putting any tag on their music. The tracks compiled here remind me the Insight bands (Glorius Din, Spahn Ranch) - just another proof of the concept thing: both of them were from their "we were rhythm gods" cassette, but they re-recorded them for this album.
If you want a conclusion, this is a fine dark, melancholic and seductive record.
a1 Dark Arts - Egeria
a2 Marnie - The Courtesan
a3 Marnie - Shanghai My Heart
a4 Autumn Fair - Naomi
b1 Dark Arts - These Are Made Of Love
b2 Soul Brothers - Tuesday Morning
b3 Soul Brothers - I Buried Paul
b4 Autumn Fair - Black Spring
P.S. - Savage Republic will be in Greece Jan. 18 (Athens) and 19 (Thessaloniki), begining their short European tour.