Turquoise Coal is a new independent record label established at the start of 2012 by Alan Holmes of Ectogram/Parking Non-Stop/Fflaps. The first release is a vinyl LP by Manchester based Irma Vep, who is in fact the alter ego of Klaus Kinski drummer Edwin Stevens.
Turquoise Coal’s debut release, HAHA is in fact the tenth full length Irma Vep album, although the first to appear on vinyl. HAHA bears little relation to Klaus Kinski’s fearsome “broken glass dipped in napalm and rammed up your nostrils” sound and is a stark, stripped down and intimate affair, achingly personal and uncompromising. Edwin plays everything himself… through amps… onto tape. The record was recorded in two days last November and the resolutely lo-fi result radiates an unpolished warmth seeped in melancholy, guilt, humour, sex, disgust and other stuff.
HAHA is no single-gear ride though ”â tracks like ‘What’s That in Your Mouth’ and ‘All People Are Poison’ see Edwin rocking out with abandon, perfectly complementing the affecting poignancy of songs like ‘There’s Nothing Wrong with Feeling Wrong’ and ‘Be a Mother’. Edwin reckons that HAHA is the most normal thing he’s ever done ”â happily on this occasion, ‘normal’ has no connection with ‘mundane’ and it turns out to also be one of the very best things he’s ever done.
You won’t hear a more human record this year. HAHA’s understated magic stands alongside the likes of the Velvet Underground’s 3rd album, Skip Spence’s “Oar”, Big Star’s 3rd, Neil Young’s “On the Beach”, Leonard Cohen’s “Songs of Love and Hate” or early Palace Brothers… without sounding at all like any of them.
The record comes as a numbered edition of 200 copies in screen printed sleeve by Dylan Hughes with exclusive art print insert by Alexandra Humphreys together with a CD of the album so you can also groove while on the move.
The record was launched at a special live event at Cob Records, Bangor on Saturday 24th March 2012 as part of the shop’s final day’s celebration before closing. Irma Vep played live in the shop and HAHA was the last ever new release on sale at this legendary shop, which tragically closed after 33 years of supplying the finest sounds to the people of north Wales. A second launch party is planned for Wednesday 27th March at the Night & Day Cafe, Oldham Street, Manchester, alongside The Doozer and Sun Electric Band.
In addition to releasing interesting new acts, Turquoise Coal is also building an online archive of recordings of north Wales underground music of the past. Further information can be found here.