Year of Release: 1991
I found this particular EP retailing for 25 pence in a junk shop near my house. At the time of the discovery, I had no idea that the Lavender Faction were actually salivated over by various indie kids and shoegazer types on the world wide web, and nor, in fact, did I have any notion of who they were, although the blurry black and white sleeve with matt finish seemed to hint at something decidedly lo-fi.
The early nineties were a peculiar period of time for guitar-based music in Britain. In these scrubbed, polished and Adobe Photoshopped times, it feels quite absurd to talk about a slither of history which involved the heavy promotion of lots of long-haired, slightly greasy looking youths creating droning, effects laden atmospheric rock. As in every music scene imaginable, the "Shoegazing" or "Dream Pop" (as the Americans seemed to prefer to call it) movement attracted chancers and hucksters who should never have left their parent's garages. Chapterhouse and Revolver spring immediately to mind, although at least Chapterhouse had the decency to write one really good single ("Pearl"). Then, below the giants like Ride and My Bloody Valentine, and beneath the cult heroes, lay the bands signed to tiny local labels releasing very rough and ready material - and these have largely slid down the back of the messy, hot-rock charred sofa of early nineties indie history. I mean, who amongst you remembers The Apple Creation? Hands up?
The Lavender Faction were one similar such act from Durham whose "Four Riffs for Joe" EP is so under-produced as to sound close in studio style to that other muddy mess "Kaleidoscope" by the Boo Radleys. The vocals are buried deep in the mix, the guitars sound messy and distorted, and the whole package would make Joe Meek weep. Three decades after he realised the possibilities of home recording, bands were still going into actual studios and managing to walk out with something that almost sounded like it was made on a Fostex Four-track multiplayer with all the led lights screaming into the red. Beneath the mud, however, lie some tunes which with a more sympathetic treatment might have made more of an impression. Originality clearly wasn't the band's strong point and they definitely sound "of the time" - but then so do the vast majority of the bands on this site. I'm also far from being the first person to blog about them, which would suggest that they're having a mini-renaissance at the moment thanks to the Internet.
You can read an interview with Geoff Suggest of the band here, who reveals more about their history and eventual demise.
1. Crawl Down
2. Total Change
4. Was it You