Originally scheduled for release on Halloween 1985 this privately pressed all female post-punk/broken-folk collective concept LP was resurrected from the ashes of the original line-up of The Fall and Velvet Underground singer Nico’s Blue Orchids backing band at the command of pioneering Manchester female punk icon Una Baines before disappearing into the annals of UK punk purgatory.
Comprising all the DIY traits and snarling attitudes of Manchester’s smartarsed punk retaliation, with haunting mechanical folk, pastoral drones and a back story that unites sleeve artist Linder Sterling (Ludus), Spider King, Martin Hannett, Tony Baines, Martin Bramah and John Cooper Clarke with the 16th Century Pendle Witches, this virtually unknown LP is a vital missing piece in Manchester’s self-help anti-pop industry. Lost in the ether, lauded by collectors and likened by Mark E. Smith to the Third Ear Band this unclassifiable arty-fact renders tags like Pagan punk utterly redundant.
I had heard of this LP but until I discovered Baines online I didn’t know it was getting a new release. What a pleasure! As the Quietus covers in their far-ranging review-cum-history, the death of Baines’ mother had a huge impact on the recording, including the song ‘Brigit of Ireland’ which cements the link to the mythic that runs throughout the album. The Fates manage to draw on the two major figures from the past — both Mark E. Smith and Nico cast heavy shadows — without ever feeling derivative. You can hear echoes of the Velvets in ‘Ceaseless Efforts’ and elements of the Fall’s earlu Casio-fueled repetitions in many of the tracks, but the voice of the new band, while at times tentative, is strikingly definitive. Like the invocation of a ritual, Furia develops organically from pop to more outré experimentalism. The influence of Graves’ White Goddess is strong in the musical evocation of a lost pagan past (liner notes of the original LP apparently also made more of a link to the Pendle Witches). The track actually called ‘Ritual’ receives its power from “our will so strong it shapes the nature of things” and the persistence of this ‘lost’ recording suggests that power itself.
Pagans will definitely enjoy the album, but it works as chill music too, sort of experimental folk. What’s truly amazing is how contemporary it sounds. Yet also ripe for some interesting remixes, too — I can almost hear them in my head already. Incredible grace and power here. Check it out. Click the image below to listen/buy: