Over the last eighteen months, Neu! Reekie!'s monthly Friday nights of what used to be called alternative entertainment has captured Edinburgh's off-piste underground in a way not seen since Rebel Inc lit-zine first broke cover in the early 1990s. Neu! Reekie!'s speak-easy pot-pourri of spoken-word performances seen in-between screenings of avant-garde animations with a live music finale also recalls the ghosts of live-art cabaret night Silencio!, which lit up Edinburgh a few years back, while its spirit dates back to the 1980s post-punk happenings of Richard Strange's recently revived Cabaret Futura nights.
Now Neu! Reekie! Ringmasters Michael Pedersen and Rebel Inc founder Kevin Williamson bring us Neu! Reekie! Records, an aural experience that spreads the night's multi-media inclinations even further. Their first release is a double A-side 7” single, with Pedersen and Williamson overseeing a side apiece. While on one side, Williamson performs the title poem from his collection, In a Room Darkened, for his contribution, a lovely ditty called The Caterpillar Tango, Pedersen has conjured an avant-indie-pop super-group into being.
Jesus, Baby! Are some-time driving force behind Fire Engines, Win, The Nectarine No 9 and now The Sexual Objects Davy Henderson, former Futuristic Retro Champions keyboardist and current TeenCanteenist Carla J Easton, Belle & Sebastian associate Roy Moller and The Wellgreen/The Store Keys dynamo Marco Rea, who gift-wrap Henderson's lead drawl in some delicious harmonies on a lovely concoction mixed and mastered by former Coral guitarist Bill Ryder Jones..
“We didn't want to just put out a single,” explains Pedersen, who drafted in former Coral guitarist Bill Ryder Jones to mix and master a song penned with Henderson's voice in mind following an acoustic Sexual Objects set at Neu! Reekie! “We wanted it to be curated so it reproduced the back-catalogue of Neu! Reekie!”
The nearest comparison with Neu! Reekie! is with Giorno Poetry Systems, the label set up in 1972 by post-Beat poet/artist John Giorno, who released albums by the likes of novelist William Burroughs and chart-topping performance artist Laurie Anderson, as well as Giorno's own collaborations with No Wave composer Glenn Branca. In the UK, poet and publisher Michael Horovitz, whose Children of Albion compendium inspired Rebel Inc's own Children of Albion Rovers, took musical associates culled from the pages of his New Departures imprint on the road. These included jazz pianist Stan Tracey, saxophonist Lol Coxhill and People Show founder Jeff Nuttall, as well as Horovitz himself.
In keeping with Neu! Reekie!'s all-embracing eclecticism, the single's cover art will be provided by Jim Lambie, while the record's launch will be a three-pronged long weekend. This begins with a Friday night Edinburgh show featuring Jesus, Baby!'s debut alongside Williamson, and with appearances from novelist Alan Bissett and ex Arab Strap guitarist Malcolm Middleton. An afternoon in-store appearance at Avalanche the next day will see the record physically available for the first time, while a Saturday night Glasgow grand finale will feature a reading from Scotland's original polymath Alasdair Gray. Each Jesus, Baby! member will then show off their individual band's wares before regrouping in a glorious Jesus, Baby! Huddle.
“We've started a record company as a visceral representation of what we do in Neu! Reekie!,” Pedersen says, “and now we're turning that into a live event.”
Neu! Reekie! Records Unveiled, Scottish Book Trust, Edinburgh, July 27th, 7-10pm, with Jesus, Baby!, Kevin Williamson, Michael Pedersen, Alan Bissett and Malcolm Middleton: Avalanche Records, Edinburgh, July 28th, 2-3pm, with Jesus, Baby!, Kevin Williamson, Michael Pedersen; Mono, Glasgow, July 28th, 7.30-10.30pm, with Alasdair Gray, Jesus, Baby!, The Sexual Objects, TeenCanteen, The Store Keys, Kevin Williamson, Michael Pedersen
A shorter version of this article appeared in The List, July 2012