Friday, August 21, 2009

earthman supersmell: sand and sod

A time to reap, a time to sow

August is fallen upon us and the hour is ripe for harvest. Several months back as winter settled in, I exhumed 1991's "Earthman Supersmell" from Eindhoven collective, Alabama Kids, a group justifiably lauded in their native Holland at the time as deserving of major league status. I pondered:

"Not a lot of information is available on the Kids. From Eindhoven, they were touted as the Dutch Dinosaur Jr. and built their reputation on sprawling live performances attended by a small hardcore in and around the Netherlands in the early 90s. As a guitar band - think Neil Young snagging picks and overstepping licks with Peter Laughner; an uneasy alliance somewhere between Cleveland and the other side of Lake Michigan - the J Mascis comparisons are certainly valid, and to my ears Alabama Kids should have been truly huge.

'Stadium' rock played out in countless church halls connected by equally endless stretches of anonymous motorway; and not a stadium in sight.

Flatlands and Skunk. Crates of Amstel."

Feloniously, the album - released on Schemer, a subsidiary of Semaphore - has been out of print for longer now than is seemly. Their sound, contrastingly sparse and dense and earthy, quite perfectly evokes the peculiarly Dutch landscape; mile after mile of conspicuous flatland and the odd marriage between arterial freeway and quietly flourishing pockets of agriculture. And in the south, near the border with Belgium, the squat spectacle of one of the world's first panopticon prisons. More like a botanical hothouse than a holding centre for violent offenders.
And closer still - stagnant canal water and the ruinous wasteground of a derelict hospital where I exercised a pair of snarling dogs. A return favour for a friend.

I roomed overnight with an Irishman who had come just to photograph that gaolhouse. Not for nothing is the first port of call for newly released inmates a bar named after New York's Bellevue.

Michel Boekhoudt: bass; Jacco Van Rooy: drums ;
Rob Geerings, Stefan Vermeeren: guitar;
Djie Han Thung: guitar
, vocals.

Mixed by Pidah; recorded by Pieter Kloos.

Thanks to Milo, whose recent comment prompted me to dust this one off before it spoils.

ALABAMA KIDS: DON'T ASK ME from "Earthman Supersmell" LP/CD (Schemer) 1991 (NL)

ALABAMA KIDS: THE LADDER from "Earthman Supersmell" LP/CD (Schemer) 1991 (NL)



Anonymous said...

SO nice to listen to the kids again... i just have their albums on vinyl and a broken record player for ages :)

ib said...

Glad this hit the spot.

For years I had this LP on a disintegrating C-90 cassette, then even that eventually gave up the ghost... My decks are washed out, too. Maybe the stylus needs replaced.