Vinyl-On-Demand kick off a keenly anticipated Zoviet France reissue scheme with Garista, the sui generis Geordie unit’s 1982 debut slab of cranky, atavistic expression. Industrial-not-industrial, ambient-not-ambient, and so on, Garista gave the first glimpse of Zoviet France’s sprawling, organically freeform soundworld on a self-released tape in 1982. Like cracking open Hellraiser’s puzzlebox, all the variegated, phantasmagoric hallmarks of their sound began to emerge from their debut side; from warped tape loops to bestial vocals, pebble-dashed percussion and genuinely unidentifiable, what-the-f*ck?! acousmatic sound and primitivist dubbing. Perhaps best framed as a sort of pseudo-ethnomusicology or a recce of the early ‘80s post-industrial wastelands - both sonic and quite literally the wrecked industry of England’s long-neglected North East region - their music spoke to everything and nothing simultaneously, and did so in an alien, made-up musical language, accent and syntax that’s never quite been fully deciphered or broken down, despite many journalistic attempts. Then a trio revolving co-founders Robin Storey, Peter Jensen and Ben Ponton (the sole constant member since the band’s conception), Zoviet France married art school sensibilities with a strong knowledge of the psychedelic music that came before them - krautrock / kosmiche, punk, noise, industrial - as well as a natural outsider and DIY attitude identifiable to North East folk and culture. But even still, Zoviet France were out on their own, listening to the wind, scavenging sea coal and having a very unique form of craic that may seem like an inexplicable in-joke to those looking from outside in. However, their uncompromising resolve, inimitable fidelity and persistence would prove their efforts to be utterly singular and a crucial part of the musical-artistic landscape of the early ‘80s, both at home and abroad among a rhizome of tape collectors and swappers. Garista is essentially the group’s ground zero, and has been out of print on all formats since a 1990 LP + CD reissue. If you’re diving into the Zoviet France catalogue, it’s an important listen in order to grasp the group’s Cilice-like texture and acclimatise to their gravity.
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