Love this sleeve – two thick squares of corrugated cardboard housing the record, with a couple of colour printed inserts forming the front and back imagery. The weirdo, distorted style, and freaked-out geometry of the typography, may remind you of some of Wolf Eyes’ artwork, and there’s a reason for that. The Dead Machines are (or were) Wolf Eyes’ John Olson – who provided the artwork for this and many Wolf Eyes releases – and Tovah O’Rourke of Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice. A right old US-folk-noise-underground love-in, then.
I imagine that this release is some kind of limited edition, based not only on its somewhat hand-assembled artwork but also because it’s out on Ecstatic Peace! Records. Not so much these days, but certainly a few years ago and beforehand, that label were infuriatingly confusing in their release ‘strategy’ – one of those labels that it’s very tricky to comprehend in terms of their entire roster or release list, because of semi-random catalogue numbers and a (perhaps intentional) shadowy nature in terms of self-promotion and marketing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. They are not, after all, Universal Music Group.
Ecstatic Peace! Records (that exclamation mark is annoying; it makes it seem like the sentence is over almost before it’s begun) was started by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth in, I think, the very early 1980s. I have a cassette tape that may be their first release – as I said, it’s hard to tell – a spoken word double-sider featuring Lydia Lunch and Michael Gira. I don’t know if Moore is still involved in the running of the label – y’know, what with being an international mega-indie-hipster and all – but he’s certainly involved in as much as a lot of his own work coming out through it. If he is still involved, congratulations to him – in my (limited) experience, running a record label is a lot harder work than it might seem, if you try to do it properly. Ecstatic Peace! are nudging up on their 25th anniversary, which is pretty significant. I’d love to tell you how many releases that means they’ve put out – but, well, you know, I can’t. I’m not sure that even they could.