Wednesday, December 24, 2008


(Note: this post was originally on Detailed Twang on August 20th, 2007 and is being re-posted today)

Nearly three years ago the first official PRIMITIVE CALCULATORS CD came out, packed with a crateful of lost extras (live tracks, home recordings) that in many ways outshone their officially-released stuff. I love it when that happens. Here’s a meta-meta-meta post, one that references both a 4/20/05 post I did on the band, and then a 1/23/04 post I did as well:

“…Taking the lazy man's approach to review-writing this time in order to herald the release of the official PRIMITIVE CALCULATORS CD. A year+ ago I reviewed a CD-R that had their live album + debut 45 on it -- this one takes out the 45, but adds an incredible batch of unreleased bonus tracks that are leagues better than their official stuff. In particular, a piercing indutrio-punker called "Glitter Kids" from 1979 rules the roost here, & sounds like everything you wished THE SCREAMERS had been, with a cranked-up metronome keeping time over scattershot guitars and screeching keyboard blips. Moreover, there's this hot, metallic, shards-of-sound number called "Casualty Ward" (1977!!) that approximates the URINALS' "U" and SPK's "Mekano" in barely over a minute. You'll flip. Here's what I said last year about the live album:

"....Among the lost artifacts of the late 1970s Australian underground that are now beginning to surface are recordings from Sydney’s
PRIMITIVE CALCULATORS, a polyrhythm- and experimentation-heavy synth-attack outfit who probably tilted closer to their outré countrymen SPK and the SLUGFUCKERS than to similar combos in the UK and US. After being wowed by their berserk “Pumping Ugly Muscle” on the Australian post-punk CD “Can’t Stop It”, I then had the fortune to become privy to a CD-R containing their debut 45 from 1979, “I Can’t Stop It / Do That Dance”, as well as tracks from their 1979 live album (recorded supporting the BOYS NEXT DOOR, aka the nascent BIRTHDAY PARTY). The whole package is decidedly not for the faint of ear; there are not a few moments where the band’s funky, African-influenced slop-rock breaks down into a maelstrom of raw electronic chaos and pure gibbering idiocy. And yet it’s not so messy that you couldn’t stack it next to New York’s leading “no wave” of the day and have it compare quite favorably. A little bravery, patience, and love of well-crafted, ultra-savage electronics will go a long way here. Aficionados of early industrial racket, the aforementioned no wave, or those still bitter over what PiL should have been should check out the Calculators...."

That sentiment has now been multiplied by the discovery of these lost tracks, with the aforementioned caveat and strong warning of bravery & patience. The live album is still not an easy nor consistently pleasurable listen, but the outstanding bonus crap certainly makes up for it…..”

Here’s some of that outstanding bonus crap!

Play The Primitive Calculators - "Glitter Kids"

Download THE PRIMITIVE CALCULATORS – “Glitter Kids” (1979 home recording)
Download THE PRIMITIVE CALCULATORS – “Casualty Ward” (1977 home recording)

1 comment:

Dave said...

Hey Jay,

you may be interested to know that the band are playing a gig in Melbourne next week, and have also been chosen to play at Nick Cave's All Tomorrow's Parties festival, alongside the likes of Michael Gira, Saints, Necks, Dead Meadow, James Ulmer, etc. That's being held up in the mountains 3 hours outside of Melbourne in a week or so (I ain't going, though I'll see a couple of sideshows).