Sutcliffe Jugend - OffalOffal is just one of three new releases from Kevin Tomkins and Paul Taylor as Sutcliffe Jugend spread across three different labels. Following the depravity of Pigdaddy and noise experimentation of With Extreme Prejudice Sutcliffe Jugend return to Cold Spring with Offal. After the filth of Pigdaddy it's clear that the meaning of Offal hasn't anything to do with animal feeding but more to do with the waste material and garbage of humanity. Offal offers four lengthy tracks ranging between 11 to 16 minutes allowing Sutcliffe Jugend to go about their business. Even though the titles are reduced to one word verb and/or noun titles the complexity is in the lyrics, and in the vocal delivery that veers from calm spoken words to howls of torment laced with shrieks and the occasional phased treatments more akin to a power electronics vocal delivery. The accompanying music is deftly performed with a clarity and definition, reining in their more extreme tendencies to create a claustrophobic almost looped sound space to which Tomkins lays down his wordy monologues and diatribes of hate expanding on his twisted bitterness, littered with references to violence and torment. Offal isn't an easy album to digest but it is direct and you only need to scan the lyrics in the booklet to feel Tomkins disgust with mankind; its self-imposed constructions and restrictions, its failures and even the failures of the deranged protagonists that inhabit these songs.
Sutcliffe Jugend assume a surprising position for the opener. The sustained organ drone and buzz of 'Cleave' ascends and descends the scales, against a backdrop of squealing noise effects and sinister treated electronics. Here Tomkins', as he did on much of Pigdaddy and With Extreme Prejudice, adopts the persona of a sexual predator transgressing imposed societal norms and restrictions. At first haranguing and then acting on impulse the words delivered in phased outpourings are as brutally unflinching as the acts they describe.
The blustery revving tones of 'Howl' are set against background elements of controlled guitar noise and whipping synths, as Tomkins' cuts loose with some intense aggro vocals. As it gets more chaotic and free-form, unfurling against the looped electronics, Tomkins breaks into a breathless delivery constantly repeating lyrics like "You don't know me" and "breathe me in, breathe me out". Unlike Pigdaddy and With Extreme Prejudice the vocals on Offal aren't subject to treatments and processing, relying more on emotion and aggression and here as they get progressively more manic he implores "Are you listening?" over the mammoth looped noise shudders.
Sutcliffe Jugend have an assured place in the lineage of power electronics: they formed part of the first wave and outside of Sutcliffe Jugend, Kevin Tomkins spent time in the Whitehouse ranks in the early eighties recording and performing in live actions, alongside William Bennett. But even after the progressive noise of Pigdaddy and With Extreme Prejudice Sutcliffe Jugend still continue to push the boundaries with their music on Offal. The blasts of rhythmic cuts that open 'Slice' have Sutcliffe Jugend toying with something that is almost a dance track. Why you never became a dance track, is something you might ask as it eventually breaks down and reappears with a restless intent and relentless intensity, with Tomkins' joyous rhythmic delivery skipping from maniacal shrieking to piercing tones. There are some choice quotes in the lyrics of this one: "a sexless liberal, Intellectual elitist art fag" as it pounds along to a banging rhythmic thrust. Vocals aside, 'Slice' more than any other track on Offal sees them operating in something approaching a conventional musical style. That is if you think rhythmic cuts which seem to evoke the screeching violins from Bernard Herrmann's seminal score to Hitchcock's Psycho can be regarded as conventional. It goes some way to explaining the title - 'Slice', though.
'Crawl' is looser and more wayward. Its skittering tones, droning electronics and processed cut-up noise offer up another rhythmic entity for Tomkin's angry oration on 'Crawl' as he rails against liberals and conformists and the gaping chasm between their deluded understanding of normality, intent, ego, personality and taste with that of the singular mind of Sutcliffe Jugend and the moment of their action. "Simple pleasures make simple minds" they argue. "You transcend stupidity with your flaccid cock politics", they further. 'Crawl' is a defining moment in an album of powerful thought. It careers out on a blistering cascading wall of harsh noise before it reappears and bows out on ambient drone experimentation.
With Tomkins' vocals at the forefront the four tracks on Offal are direct and confrontational. The diverse and experimental harsh noise of previous releases is put aside for a more streamlined all-consuming noise offering from Sutcliffe Jugend allowing the lyrics and philosophy to filter through untamed and unabridged. You might not agree with it but there's no denying the power, clarity and intensity of Offal. Offal, released on CD and double vinyl, is another solid release from Sutcliffe Jugend. For more information go to Cold Spring