Lost gems? We got ‘em by the chestful. Glittering musical prizes lost in the mists of time. This month, we clap our ears around Global Communication’s ‘Blood Music: Pentamerous Metamorphosis’
In 1993, Reading shoegaze four-piece Chapterhouse, whose 1991 debut ‘Whirlpool’ is widely regarded as something of a genre-definer, released their second long-player, ‘Blood Music’. Listening back now, it sounds… very much of its time. Perhaps not the best album of the period? It wasn’t even the best album in its own CD case.
‘Blood Music’ came with a limited edition free bonus disc, which a sticker on the cover helpfully explains is a “64-minute ambient retranslation of entire album”. ‘Blood Music: Pentamerous Metamorphosis’ was the handiwork of Global Communication and appeared in October 1993, mere months before their own debut album, ‘76:14’.
The story goes that Chapterhouse frontman Andrew Sheriff was a fan of Tom Middleton and Mark Pritchard’s work. And clearly an early adopter as there was but a smattering from the duo in 1993. One EP as Global Communication, a couple of Pritchard early solo outings as Reload and Link. Chapterhouse and Global Communication did share a label, however, Dedicated Records (home also to Spacemen 3, Spritualized and Cranes), which might explain matters. Call us old cynics but, hey, let’s go with the tale that Sheriff called up and put a proposition to Middleton and Pritchard – how would they like to remix the entire Chapterhouse album?
Whatever went down, the result is a right royal stunner. Five tracks, nothing under 10 minutes, each new version a universe away from the original. The reworkings were based around one or two samples from the initial tracks, which at the time was only hinted at in tiny print on the sleeve that read, “composed from the cells of blood music”. Nor was it apparent which Chapterhouse track was used in most cases, as they were just labelled in (Greek) alphabetical order. ‘Alpha Phase’ to ‘Epsilon Phase’.
It’s a truly breathtaking piece of work. Picking a favourite track is tricky as it sits as one deliciously mellow, complete 64-minute piece. ‘Alpha Phase’ is the most curious because it seems to be derived from not one note of Chapterhouse. If pushed, ‘Epsilon Phase’, the most obvious reworking as it features the gentle vocal from the excellent ‘Love Forever’, would be our pick.
The remix album was highly sought-after in the light of the success of Global Com’s ‘76:14’ and was given a release in its own right in 1988, but it wasn’t quite the same record. Unbelievable today, but they used an uncleared C-3PO sample (“I am fluent in over six million forms of communication”) from ‘Return Of The Jedi’ right at the start of ‘Beta Phase’. It was promptly whipped out of the reissue, as were eight bars of ‘Delta Phase’ for some reason.
As a footnote, we like how small our world can be sometimes. Former Chapterhouse drummer Ashley Bates now plays in the British folktronica outfit Tunng, alongside Phil Winter… who in turn plays alongside Benge and Stephen Mallinder in Wrangler.