Press My Hungry Button

by Cultural Amnesia

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    Download includes the video for 'Hot In The House' and an 18-page PDF booklet of lyrics.

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about

'[T]his album shows what a daring, innovative and smart unit Cultural Amnesia were.' - The Sound Projector

'At their finest, the group conjure up some exquisitely basic tones as building blocks for satisfyingly wonky tunes. They also manage to squeeze stranger rhythms out of a cassette deck with a built-in beatbox than much of today's more derivative dance music.' - The Wire

'Released and unreleased tracks alike, Press My Hungry Button is a must-have for post-punk and minimal electro enthusiasts ... this is a cracking release featuring a whole host of gems in the raw - mined straight from the New Wave seam.' - Hi-Fi World

'Cultural Amnesia are characterised by strong (and sometimes wonderfully twisted) lyrics, a perfect musical backing and a unique and distinctive vocal style... More people need to hear this music and experience the weird and wonderful world of Cultural Amnesia. 10/10' - Side-Line Magazine

'[A]n essential purchase for anyone investigating the 80s DIY cassette culture.' - Terminal Boredom

'[T]his double album digs up further gems of elliptical synthpop and post-punk weirdness. ... The results spark with the boundless energy of exploration as the band test the limits of their - now desirably primitive - gear as much as their creativity.' - Plan B

'The work of Cultural Amnesia is awaiting (re)discovery, what are you waiting for?' - Compulsion.

'Simply extraordinary.' - Drexcode

Following Enormous Savages (Anna Logue Records and Klanggalerie), Press My Hungry Button is a second selection from the archives of Cultural Amnesia, originally released as a double LP by VOD Records in 2007. It contains many of the best of their released tracks and others from their large collection of unreleased material.

CA were a band of young recordists operating for about three years at the start of the 1980s. The recordings here were made between December 1980 and March 1983. Active at the height of British postpunk, at the tail end of early industrial music and amidst the stirrings of postindustrial, they created a large, varied and experimental output, ultimately fashioning a kind of skewed electropop. They had a close associate and champion in one of the key figures of postindustrial music, Geff Rushton, a.k.a. John Balance of Coil. Three of his songs for the band are included here.

CA released three cassette-only albums and appeared on quite a number of cassette compilations, two or three of them amongst the better remembered from the time. The discography below details all their 1980s releases. Year of recording and (where applicable) place of release for the tracks on this album are given with the lyrics.

CA were prolific. They pressed the ‘hungry button’ compulsively. Almost all their work was recorded as it was composed, ranging between pure improvisations to carefully constructed multi-part pieces that made the most of their limited technology (see the Credits for a list of equipment). They played live, but not often and had mixed feelings about it. Not only did they record a lot in their limited time, their output is marked by proliferation – of styles, words, stories, ideas… clever, witty, half-baked, heavy-handed, sometimes passionate and serious, sometimes embarrassingly earnest, quite often shot through with self-ironising humour. The material piled up far more quickly than it could be organised and released.

When CA stopped in spring 1983 one of the projects left unfinished was Obscenity, which was to have been the band’s first vinyl LP, with the German company Datenverarbeitung. A significant number of tracks on Press My Hungry Button were intended for that album, so it seems appropriate to reproduce the blurb prepared for its cover by the ever-supportive John Balance.

"Q: Why has waking become painful?
A: We are propagating catastrophes with our able hands.

What does one say? Cultural Amnesia have never ceased to amaze me with their finely honed songs of innocence and insecticide. Each gleaming tune a button on their hair shirt. There is a raw spirit of experiment, of mis-adventure with emotions, that is almost awkward to listen to. Time shifts and personal twists reveal a complex web of older children, playing with something they know full well is not really for the general public. Using a vocabulary of myths and symbols, along with splintered shards of themselves, caricatures and alter egos weave and parade in drunken ‘night on the town’ scenarios, in crazy-glass-house confrontations with each other. All life is here. Bitter and sweet. Love, sex behind supermarkets, truth and lies, jealousy and an all-pervading earthy magick. And Death. Having lurked in the herbaceous borders of the DIY cassette scene, earning critical acclaim for their numerous releases, this record now marks the edge of that dark, tangled frustration of a country. Beyond... is another day."

– John Balance, the Ides of March 1983

credits

released June 5, 2016

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about

Cultural Amnesia UK

Part of the post-punk/industrial tape scene of the 70s and 80s, Cultural Amnesia released three cassette albums and, since the late 90s, have begun recording once again.

All digitally available music can be found here. Biographical information is at the band’s website.
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Track Name: Hot In The House
It was mere folly… I didn’t mark it
there’s more here than there seems… I don’t like it

50,000 wild flutes blow up a storm
there’s someone within us, someone amongst us
someone who knows what frightens and thrills us
there’s laughter behind you and someone is crying
wild dogs are running through dry riverbeds

Go down to the town, down to the town

Go down to the town, down to the town
where they never work all their lives
so they just lie about
lost until knives cut the skins from their backs
the butchers, the bakers, the nightmare makers
all lost till they stammer out there’s answers for life

Go down to the town, down to the town

He loves his little children, he waits in their bedrooms
merging with furniture, hiding in playthings

He comes down, he comes down
the father of fear with a family to feed
collector, reactor, collator, relater
sheds tears, he sheds skins… he is here
surrounded by wild men and ghosts and wild boys
he is wise, he is panic, he is fear

We are tense we cannot sleep
we pull wool from the backs of sheep
o hot in your houses and stained by dead horses
situations repeated like films of your past
like babies in baskets, like rats in the rushes
Bou Jeloud is searching for secrets inside
He loves little children, he waits in their bedrooms
merging with furniture, hiding in playthings

Words by John Balance
Track Name: Dead Men Don’t Talk
You can crawl in the depths
you can crawl in your bloated
you can scream your weak
derisions, convictions, contradictions
because we all know dead men don’t talk
you’re flogging a dead horse my friend
a dead horse

You’d better hope your slick will mask
your dimming streets of vision
and you’d better hope that age will blur
your pretentious moralisms
they’re going to be your epitaph my friend
your epitaph
and we all know dead men don’t talk
you’re flogging a dead horse my friend
a dead horse

Don’t you remember when you
used to beat our guts out
with the promise of a brave new world

We’re going to shake your dry and shrivelled mind
like a madman shakes a dead geranium
because remember
dead men don’t talk my friend
dead men don’t talk
Track Name: The Media Funk
Hype my name till it’s just a noise
and make me king of all the boys
well bless my boots here’s a healthy young mule
drinking deeply from a bladder of vitriol
got the flesh of a prophet on contention’s bones
got a deathwatch beetle in his ideal home
got a tongue that could bruise a grinding stone
and a plastic leech bleeds him when he picks up the phone

Listen good and see what you think
my baby aborted her soul in the sink
she screamed from the bathroom with a potent abuse
my coiffure’s gone crazy and my girdle is loose
complacent saints advertising their gods
and they’ll purge you of your sins with your master’s birch rod
you know his teaching but you don’t know his name
and the lines on his palm are the rules of his game

Excuse him his fist to shelter his virtue
the code of his honour as the cat it may hurt you
all the prophets, the madmen, the saints and the rebels
have forgotten their sayings, but the people keep praying
they traded their history for featureless pebbles
they may cut their knees but the children keep playing
the pebbles that drop on the plains of their grace
an index to measure a space from a space

You’re everybody’s glass demeanour
you’re the pain in every soul
get your ladle out of my mouth
and put it in my begging bowl

[chorus]

Tonight I go down to the dark side
to leave my morals in the lurch
to leave my money in a box by the door
and see an old buddy from a hole in the floor
well I laughed and I cried in all the right places
cheered and I jeered at all the right faces
never could do nothing much I nothing could do well
but I’m the legend of the southern vowel
and brother can I sell

[chorus]
Track Name: Repetition For This World (original version)
So you think you’re unhappy
my well-trodden packhorse
take a look at the tiles
you’ll see the cracks on them are fading
your eyesight’s not as good as it was

So you think you’re unhappy
my sweet little one
o count the hairs and the hands
growing much too older
you’ll see that the time for repression has come

So you think you’re unhappy, my Odysseus
of your dying underground
just look down the tramlines
and the broken siding
you know they’re of no use now

It’s just a repetition for this world
it’s just a repetition for this world
Track Name: No Hidden Extras
Words and music: Cultural Amnesia
Track Name: Scars For E (alternate take 2)
A severe endeavour to sever the past
a stone cast by darkness to shatter the glass
and scars remain to stain the pain
white stains remain remain
bloodstains remain remain
pain stains darkest can’t explain
the scars for E that infest me
the scars for E that infest me

Scars for E, o weeping sadness is blurred
flesh and memory, steel blades and tears
and scars remain to stain the pain
white stains remain remain
sweat stains remain remain
pain deepest can’t contain
the scars for E that infest me
the scars for E that infest me

A trust from me, a thrust from E
stained by dead horses, smeared with blood voices
video violence watch towers of silence
video violence watch towers of silence
fall, crush the sadness I feel
and scars remain to stain the pain
white stains remain remain
bloodstains remain remain
pain stains darkest can’t contain
the scars for E that infest me
the scars for E that infest me

Words by John Balance
1982
Track Name: Greencage Cabaret (original version)
Green cage cabaret
green cage cabaret

I'm biding my time by the edge of a skull
spending days of my time by the edge of a skull
and I'm plucking my boots and I'm pulling my bootlace
there's silk in my eyeholes, soft music's my earholes
it's beats on a hollow drum at the green cage cabaret
where flowers and good things might grow

There are paper scraps in my head down by the edge
the chalk skull pulls my mind in tune and around
pulls me surely with the tide betide me
high betide me and woe betide me
by the daubed skull I'll abide me

chorus:
At the green cage cabaret
where flowers and good things might grow
they'll not pierce mind through eye not ear
the short slaves of our eyes are our tears

Our eyes are dry they'll not dissolve
the fence what is provoking me
why stitch me up, they stitched me down
why play with me, they played me around
dancing the pastures of the chalked cranium

chorus

There is a small locket
that I'm keeping my scraps in
things that are valuable
knowledge and the like

chorus

Green cage cabaret
green cage cabaret
they stitched me up, they stitched me down
they played with me, they played me around
dancing the pastures of the chalked cranium

Green cage cabaret
green cage cabaret
Track Name: Fingertip Testing
Is this the first time, is this the last time
give me a penny and we’ll do it again
is this the first time, is this the last time
well that colour it don’t stain

Reality’s just an index of pleasures
sing happy birthday to our new appliance
that quaint shire your innocence leaks from your eyes
and your new manifesto drips from your thighs
your heart is a plumb bob it swings as you dance
and it snaps as you flounder on somebody’s lance
your body’s my canvas your eyes the occasion
I’ll muck out your stables and then teach you persuasion

What do you say shall we go to the bedroom
shall we go to the bathroom shall we go to the church
shall we go to the kitchen shall we go to the limit
for I’ve been fingertip testing as well
for they all ring the hungry bell

The large size of relief, the sweet smell of excess
and I’ve got your handle and you’re under my press

Out-shout the thunder, outstare the sun
life’s just an index of pleasures when you are young

Don’t ask my meanings they’re all obscene
the opposite sex is just a substitute for jelly and ice cream
here we go…
Get it up get it down
get it off get it on
get it in get it out
yeah in and out
till you just can’t get it no more
yeah

[chorus]

I came, I came with you in mind my dear
I came, I came and what with the drone in my ears my dear
I came, I came and what with the drone in my ears my dear

Sitting in the garden eating bread and horseradish sauce
sitting in the garden in my liberty bodice
sauce, sauce, sauce, saucy horse
sauce, sauce, saucy horse
oeuf de cheval, oeuf de cheval
saddle my baby I’ve got to go
sympathy, sympathy and what of sympathy
locks and keys and people praying
and boys and girls and horses kissing
And what with the drone in my ears
Track Name: Spoilt Children
On a day like today we could all fade away
or act out the story that you saw on Jackanory
about the death that came to stay
and wouldn’t go away
without the contents of your cupboard
and the bones of Mother Hubbard

It’s all so so slow, you know
the feeling you get when your dog dies
on your birthday and everything that comes
through your mailbox tries to kill you

And it’s here come the damp rots to
take away the Woodentops
blood soils the buttercups

It’s all so so so, you know I was talking
to Christ about the view from the Cross
but his soul had flown to other lands
I just felt like throwing the Last Supper up

[Chorus]

It’s all so so so, you know
it’s always almost midnight here
the proles and children live in fear
of when the time will start up here

It’s all so so so, you know
here come the soldier men
to rape and kill your toys again
and whitewash your memories again

[Chorus]

Your eyes are two-way mirrors
that I want to stab with scissors
to stop the future leaking out
so I’ll see the sorry way
that fate will leave me now today

Words by John Balance
Track Name: Shallow Water
Daddy will you buy me a golden ring
Daddy will you give me death on a string
Daddy will you show me three blind mice
all battered by the same white girl
Daddy I’m so hollow today
I lost my money the easy way
Mother’s in a coalmine singing her song
and the girlies have left for the station

All I have left now
are fools and replication

Mother the rich elastic man is gone
Mother I write them when I can
I take each line of golden print
and shove it mad into my mouth
I’ll make all mothers write in blood
I’ll mad and sing my song and sing my song
and won’t you all be entertained

I hope you all drown
I hope you all drown

Feet embedded in buckets of swill
and eyes turned out to the dirty sunset

I hope you all drown
I hope you all drown

[chorus]

And shallow water