Jakarta Records & Uno Loop are thrilled to announce Bowes Road Band's LP "Back in the HCA." In 1972, four design students at the now defunct Hornsey College of Art (HCA) in London decided to make a record; neither the result of nascent dreams of stardom nor of fastidiously developed musicianship. Bowes Road Band's sole LP was simply the result of an impulse to create. With only fifty copies originally pressed, the LP's Berlin flea market discovery revealed a foray into a delicately balanced world of psycho-trip meltdowns, rich jazz improvisations, & tuneful folk stylings. Hear echoes of Mark Fry's "Dreaming With Alice," Donovan's honeyed folk, the Kinks's blistering blues rock & more on "Back in the HCA," out September 1st.
In 1972, a foursome of design students set out to make a record. This was, in many ways, a strictly creative endeavor. The quartet — composed of Dave Pescod, Alan Lewis, Phil Rawle, and Ted Rockley — were all trained, not as musicians, but as creatives. Art school heavyweights, the four were well-versed in the methodology of intentional experimentation, in the delicate balance of pushing the limits without completely unmooring oneself from a guiding creative intention. Emboldened by a high-brow familiarity with thoughtful experimentation and all the non-conviction of non-musicians, Bowes Road Band's stint in the world of popular music yielded a record that is as much mind-melting as it is a direct product of its time. Their sprawling LP "Back in the HCA" embodies the exigence "art for art's sake," but it is for art's sake that this record, however off the deep end it seems to travel (hear: "Doctor, Doctor"), remains a unified, and stunning, body of work. The LP's do-ityourself garage rock noisemaking meets highfalutin creative processes. "Back in the HCA" is warbling psychedelic freakout ("Two Fingers," "Doctor, Doctor"), Donovan-esque English countryside folk stylings ("Inside My Head," "Goodbye to Rosie"), and avant-garde jazz improvisions ("Grass is Grass," "Tomorrow's Truth") in one luminous release.
Originally an 9-track LP, Jakarta, Uno Loop, and Bowes Road Band decided to mine the six most cohesive tracks for the reissue, though the extras may be released somewhere down the line. Cohesion efforts aside, "Back in the HCA" stands alone in its singular conception of a genre-bending continuum — it evades definition. That said, the LP can easily be situated in the sonic environment in which it was conceived. By the end of the 60s, England was crawling with blues-based rock outfits that were starting to venture into prog rock territory. You can hear this popular dint cast over the folkier side of the LP. But Bowes Road Band was armed with their non-musicianship: they existed completely liberated from the motivating yet ultimately paralyzing lust for stardom. Enjoying this liberation, Bowes Road Band was utterly free to make noise. This freedom meant drawn out sax interludes amidst sweetly folk stylings ("Grass is Grass") and Shaggs-like fuzzed-out freakouts that spiral into a void (Doctor, Doctor). This freedom also meant straight-forward tuneful cuts like "Goodbye Rosie" that conspicuously introduce heavily distorted auto-organ accompaniment mid-track amidst poignant lyricism. Bowes Road Band crafts a unified sound and then cracks it open.
With a completely off-the-radar status, Bowes Road Band could only press 50 copies of the record — 10 for each of them and 10 for the school. The band's lifespan was to end there, or so they thought. "Back in the HCA" was the accidental fruit of a Berlin flea market treasure hunt by Jannis Stürtz, DJ and co-founder of Habibi Funk and Jakarta Records. After finding and sharing the LP with a few colleagues, Stürtz managed to get in touch with the band, get ahold of the master tapes collecting dust in Ted Rockley's attic, and start the reissuing process. The record is still adorned with its original cover art designed by Alan Pescod, both reminiscent of bygone school days and the Zoom calls of yesterday — in short, reunion. Its re-discovery was happenstance and ought to be listened to as such. That is, "Back in the HCA" was not made to be listened to on a broad scale, or, at least, was not made with this goal in mind; it is neither in its time nor of its time. Of course, the group explicitly cites the folk tunes of the English countryside, the distorted rock groups that reigned during the record's conception, and the fringes of psychedelic music that only the uber-underground might recognize (e.g., "Dreaming of Alice"). Yet still with these obvious influences, "Back in the HCA" always existed beyond the domain of both traditional musicianship and conventional commodification. Bowes Road Band's DIY musicality beams through in technicolor across "Back in the HCA." The vinyl includes an 8-page booklet detailing the albums creation and interviews with the band.
Lead single "Grass is Grass," out July 14 along with album pre-order, encapsulates the record's range: the track unfurls into a sprawling sax-driven trip following a sundrenched, Donovan-esque intro w/ lyrics "naively about parks and gardens, not marijuana!" The keyed-down folk cut "Goodbye to Rosie" is single 2 and elevates stripped-down acoustics with golden tinges, out August 4th. Focus track "Tomorrow's Truth" constructs the fuzzed-out underbelly of acid folk. Listen for echoes of late Beatles, Mark Fry, and Donovan (if they were armed by an unshakabele willful naiveté). Like Sgt. Pepper's on a shoestring budget—take a trip to the underground with LP "Back in the HCA," available everywhere physically and digitally on September 1st via Jakarta Records and Uno Loop.
Besides online promotion from label profiles, the album will be further promoted by external agencies within the UK and US.