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We Be Echo - Ceza Evi - Compleat Edition

We Be Echo Ceza Evi Compleat Edition coverConfession time, up until this reissue from Cold Spring I had never heard Ceza Evi from We Be Echo. Sure I'd heard We Be Echo on various compilations (The Elephant Table Album, Rising From The Red Sand) but never this album originally released on Cause For Concern in 1982 and a year later remodelled with new tracks and a fresh running order under the title Ceza Evi - Special Edition. It's a pity as with its DIY approach combining rhythms and electronics with elements of post-punk Ceza Evi, the debut album from We Be Echo, captures the sound of the experimental industrial scene of the early eighties to great effect. Ideas easily usurp recording quality and while there's no coherent core sound beyond the use of tapes and sampled voices there's a lot to like within its enthusiastic if primitive sound.

We Be Echo was and is still today Kevin Thorne. Ceza Evi was recorded by Thorne soon after splitting from Third Door From The Left, as he wanted to maintain complete control over his musical output. Firing synth squelch with a sped and cut-up voice synched to the drum machine. 'Sexuality', the opening track was one of some 7 tracks carried over from its original release. The whole albums evokes the possibilities of the time covering sound explorations, rhythmic electronics while touching upon the nascent post-punk sound.

Those sound explorations on Ceza Evi veer from the primitive moody 'No Going Back' to the squalling electronics of the frenetic 'Breakdown' and the harrowing experimental assemblage of processed tapes and frequencies found on 'Communication'. The most memorable comes with the cold atmospherics of 'Dawn' where soft rhythms pulse and ricochet amidst ambient recordings of bird song. Unfortunately, its a singular example of an evocative atmospheric sound which We Be Echo didn't really follow up on elsewhere on Ceza Evi. Not that there isn't much else for those attuned to homespun recordings will find of interest.

Thorne was a TG acolyte and was one of the invited audience to the recording of Heathen Earth, and a TG rhythmic influence seeps into 'Dull Day' along with soft hazy, murmurings of lyrics almost echoing TG's 'What A Day'. TG undoubtedly had an impact on Ceza Evi but it seems Cabaret Voltaire may be the greater influence on their music. In fairness, avoiding straightforward vocals, much of Ceza Evi is saturated in samples and found voices but with that and the rhythms of tracks such as 'Punish You', 'This Hour's Mine' and 'I Do' you can see what I mean. Launching a series of samples over electronic sequences and quick fire rhythms 'This Hour's Mine' is especially good, as is 'I Do' where the title is repeated mantralike against swirls of samples and ominous harmonies.

Other tracks take on a post-punk experimentation approach relying on a bass heavy sound such as the driving 'Who You Are' and 'Cave Dweller', where bass tones meander against rhythms and a clipped hammering beat. Steeped in tape experiments 'Paranoia' hints at a movement into post-punk, best exemplified by 'House Of Punishment' which is underpinned by booming bass creating an unruly marriage between primitive sampling and crunching and wiry guitar lines. Would I be wrong to say that it even sounds a bit like Joy Division?

Thorne's other collaborator on Ceza Evi is Bobbie Harding who sings on a couple of tracks. Over the frantic electronic whips and running bass tones of 'I Want' she lays out masochistic fantasies, while on 'Bright Sheets' wrapped in shivery electronics, synth melodies and a thumping crisp rhythm in slightly processed tones her fragile tones relate words on death and dreams and perhaps reincarnation. Elements reminiscent of Chris and Cosey surface within this one - Thorne was the graphic designer for Chris and Cosey / CTI releases during and after this period - but the following 'After The Battle' is something else again. Here, Bobbie performs some free-form mouth organ over tinny marching rhythms and metallic pummelling. The whole thing comes across like a mad fusion between Western and World War 1 film soundtracks.

Genesis P-Orridge guests on Ceza Evi, along with Iham aka Dave Farmer (Nanavesh publisher, and a big TG/PTV fan) on 'Inside Life's Wire', but if truth be told it's P-Orridge's voice recorded from television that is spliced and stretched over the opening track, 'Sexuality'. On 'Inside Life's Wire' the two of them add droning Tibetan thighbone trumpet to the chugging electronics, frequency squelch and scattered crisp rhythms. Iham also appears on 'Thee Shout' another worthwhile track reminiscent of early Cabaret Voltaire smothering the electronics and rhythms in scraping, scratchy guitars.

This Cold Spring edition is a double CD set with the above relating to the "Special Edition" tape issued in a limited run by Nanavesh featuring 18 tracks with only 7 from the original Cause For Concern release. The inlay to that edition stated that it included the best of the original together with newer tracks. You can be the judge though as Cold Spring's Ceza Evi - Compleat Edition also includes the missing tracks from the original, along with additional material recorded between 1981 and 1983.

Despite its lo-fi origins - recorded with multiple playbacks on a dual cassette recorder - Ceza Evi sounds like a forgotten classic of the original industrial era. Inspired by Throbbing Gristle and released when cassette culture was at its peak it is an inventive and diverse release which would sit nicely beside the Thomas Leer and Robert Rental album The Bridge, Chris and Cosey's Heartbeat and Cabaret Voltaire's Voice of America. Ceza Evi - Compleat Edition is available digitally from Cold Spring bandcamp and as a double CD set from Cold Spring