Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy: a journey to planet Creeping Bent
by Anna Battista
A sanctuary. A haven. That's what we all need. A place where we can run away. From whom? From the prophets of negative vibes and bad rhythms. A place where we can fly away from. From what? From the mediocrity which haunts hundreds of records, tracks and albums. A place where our hearts can beat at a faster pace and our minds can finally plunge into the astral sonorities that were once exclusively mastered by Sun Ra, that parallel universe of sounds, that galaxy of rhythms. Bet you're wondering where's such a place, right? Metaphysically speaking it's just in our imagination, practically speaking it's in all the releases marked by the Glasgow-based record label Creeping Bent.
By now, quite a few years have passed since the event that launched the label, "A Leap Into The Void," held on 12th December 1994 at Tramway Theatre in Glasgow. "Essentially The Creeping Bent Organisation has ploughed a lonely furrow since inception in 1994," Douglas MacIntyre, MD at Creeping Bent claims: "I suppose our early influence as a label was Postcard and Fast Product, two independent labels from Scotland circa late 1970's early 1980's. I'd say musically our non-genre-specific policy has gone against us. We're resolutely non-scene and have always kicked against the pricks. We dig The Archies as much as we dig Albert Ayler. The Leopards were the first band signed to Creeping Bent. I knew Mick Slaven from our days in the Jazzateers, when he played me some early Leopards tracks it gave me the reason to finally start a label, something I'd always wanted to do."
Since 1994 the label enlarged, releasing stuff from various artists and bands, from groovy Nectarine No9 and punky The Leopards and noiseniks Mongoose, to electroniks Scientific Support Dept, Transelement and Tog, from pop-rockish The Secret Goldfish, to raw and arty Alan Vega & Revolutionary Corps of Teenage Jesus, to the latest novelties, such as ex-Pop Group Gareth Sager and ex-Thrum Monica Queen. With such a catalogue you wonder if the main reason why the label was founded was to bring a fresh perspective to music. "We just wanted to have fun," Douglas points out, "My favourite artists, from painting and music, have been people like Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart, The Velvet Underground, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, etc. Artists who didn't give a fuck about the prevailing orthodoxy of the period in which they created their work. I love all the artists on Creeping Bent, they're all as groovy as fuck."
So groovy indeed that the story of Creeping Bent might even be transposed on the big screen. "Yes, 'The Creeping Bent Story' would be a magnificent book and film, that should be scripted by Truman Capote, with stage sets designed by Salvador Dali, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. I'd be played by Lubo Moravcik." Hmmm, not a bad cast really, after all it includes a writer, a painter, a director and a random football player, but which qualities should a band possess to get signed by Creeping Bent and therefore make history? "Talent, good looks, an ability to master the Ruy Lopez chess opening and an undying love of ornithology," Douglas jokes.
Though pretty unique in its cast of associates, can we compare Creeping Bent in its spirit and intent to record labels such as Postcard, Creation, Warp, Matador or Geographic, labels famous for having spawned a number of great artists and memorable bands? "Yes, I think so. Most of those labels don't adhere to market forces and are driven by something far deeper." And since we mentioned Postcard records, the Scottish label that brought to life bands such as Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and the Fire Engines, we must also remember that Douglas was a member of the band Article 58, a band that used to tour with Postcard artist Josef K. "When Article 58 toured with them, we were massive fans of Joseph K so it was great seeing them playing live at that point," Douglas recalls. "I remember being about 16 years old, it was the first time I'd been in England so it was very exciting. Josef K were so great at the end, you felt they could explode on stage at any point. I sometimes bump into Malcolm Ross if I'm through in Edinburgh. Malcolm and I in fact played in The Nectarine No9 one night when they were a bass player and guitarist short; it was a great event 9.9.99. I also jammed with Edinburgh poet Jock Scot. We will probably consider to release a Jock Scot album in the future as Jock is a true artist. I'd probably not like being in a group full time. I still play with Vic Godard, The Secret Goldfish. and The Nectarine No9, if required to do so. I'd join Tog, if asked!"
With such a passion for music, there must be an old album by a particular band that Douglas would like to re-release on Creeping Bent, "No, not now. Motion Records released their Vic Godard compendium, 20 Odd Years, which everyone should have in their CD collection. Vic Godard has actually a brand new track on our Nouvelle Vague compiler. He recorded 5 tracks with The Leopards, and played gigs with them in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow. I don't know when these tracks will be released. Vic also co-wrote a track with The Secret Goldfish on their last album, Mink Riots, and has a song on the forthcoming album by The Secret Goldfish, Petal Split. As far as The Creeping Bent Organisation is concerned, Vic is God! Vic is currently finishing a new album, tentatively titled Sansend."
Just like Vic Godard, the heart of punk band Subway Sect, who was absent for a while from the music scene, before being rediscovered by Motion Records, Creeping Bent has recently resurfaced after a period of silence. "I manage The Nectarine No9 and signed them to Beggars Banquet," Douglas explains, "so I wanted to concentrate on that for a while. I also needed a break, running Creeping Bent is incredibly exhausting. Everyone has been very complimentary about our new website. I urge all your readers to check it out, www.creepingbent.org.
And after the new website, there are also new exciting things in store for Creeping Bent "The festivals we tend to be asked to perform at are art events, which works best for us to be honest, because we're nothing to do with the music industry, we never get invited to play at any rock festivals. We occasionally do events, in fact we're doing a show in Edinburgh with The Nectarine No9, Piefinger, Gareth Sager and Scientific Support Dept, next week. We're going to do something with Monica Queen, Transelement, and Bill Wells in Glasgow in late May. For what regards our new releases, keep checking in to our website for information. Monica Queen's album Ten Sorrowful Mysteries is already out, while the new releases include the compilation Nouvelle Vague, featuring The Nectarine No9, The Secret Goldfish, C.C. Sager, Monica Queen and many more, Scientific Support Dept's album Cabbageneck, Bill Wells & Isobel Campbell's Ghost of Yesterday, C.C.Sager's The Last Minute of Normal Time, Transelement's Rural Tunings and The Secret Goldfish's album Petal Split."
"Music can be used as a weapon, as energy, " Sun Ra once declared in an interview, "The right note or chord can transport you into space using music and energy flow. And the listeners can travel along with you." Watch out, because Creeping Bent have quite a few artists who have the "right notes" and the "right chords". Rocket number nine is taking off to the planet Creeping Bent. Second stop planet Creeping Bent. All out for planet Creeping Bent.