Monday, February 8, 2016

This Heat : Reissues


Marking the band’s 40th anniversary Light In The Attic has reissued 1979’s ‘This Heat’, 1980’s ‘Health and Efficiency’ and 1981’s ‘Deceit’.  The LP’s are in gatefold package including a booklet detailing not only the lyrics but sources of the songs and how they came together – a really nice touch.  This Heat’s timespan as a band was very short, but the impression the left was lasting.  What started as an experiment out of the heads of some kids in Camberwell with homemade recordings comprised of looped tapes, clarinets, violas, bass, keyboards and lots of manipulation became some of the most vital improvisation led recordings of its kind.  John Peel’s radio show was the yard stick to reach for when gauging the calibre of new underground bands, and when This Heat joined the esteemed list of artists who performed on ‘Peel Sessions’ their fate was sealed.  

A vast amount of ground got broken when This Heat started writing and playing music, going live almost immediately they wasted no time trying out and refining their ideas.  Despite the forward reaching approach This Heat were never popular, I’m not entirely sure ‘popularity’ is what they were even after, but you’d think this innovative kind of sound would turn more people on than it did at the time.   I don’t think they even set out to be revolutionary, the mindset focused on creating their own language – which would be teased out in eight hour rehearsals, documented in meat lockers and various other South London spaces.  This Heat abandoned technique for something they considered more important; using intuition to guide what was played and how to play it, crossing the line from inventive to radical.

Drummer Hayward had been playing in a prog group called Quiet Sun featuring Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera in 1970 but split up two years later, briefly reforming in 1975 to record ‘Mainstream’.  This recording featured Hayward’s first vocal track ‘Rongwrong’ revealing a Robert Wyatt/Soft Machine influence.  A Quiet Sun tour was scheduled but Manzanera had his hands full with Roxy Music.  A new line up was assembled of Hayward, Bill Mccormick and Charles Bullen who previously knew Hayward from playing in Dolphin Logic and Radar Favourites.   By the time the Quiet Sun London show came around only Hayward and Bullen were available to perform, they were joined by Radar Favourites manager Gareth Williams, and in Hampstead 1976 that was it, their first gig and they were called This Heat.  

Gradually moving away from Quiet Sun’s sound and eschewing punk and prog which was booming at the time, This Heat took on something more isolated and avant garde.  Williams - not being particularly musical, was the spark plug that initiated all the unusual elements of This Heat’s song-writing, he had the advantage of following gut instinct completely uninhibited.    In their lifetime as a band they released three records, the first a self-titled album, the second a superbly experimental piece with one long track on each side of the LP, and the band’s best known and universally loved ‘Deceit’ is where they ended.  Hayward continues to play in Camberwell now as Massacre, The About Group and as a solo artist; Bullen performed in Lifetones and Circadian Rhythms whilst he's active today in Ground.  This Heat did reassemble in 2001 but Williams became terminally ill with cancer and they wouldn’t perform again together again.  

These reissues were produced along with the surviving members of the band.  Not only are these available now but a cassette (made in collaboration with Mario Boyer Diekuuroh) will be on sale at the Not This Heat show at CafĂ© Oto later in the week.