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"IT'S BEYOND OUR CONTROL"
Campag Velocet
CD Album
POINT014CD
Released: 20-Jul-2004
£9.99
"Little short of a classic..." - NME
Instinct-Tension, Motown Clic, Who Are The Trumping Men?, Vindictive-Disco, Metro-Boulot-Dodo, Phantom (edit), Stranded By The Reebox, Sunset Strip Eclipse, Me And A Foe, Obsessed With Gloom, The Silencer, Ain't No Funki Tangerine
» NME 8/10
"Campag return with Shoreditch Blade Runner soundtrack. Sort of.
Rewind. It's 1998 and Campag Velocet are the progenitors of skunk rock, a loose amalgam of bands devoted to the overthrow of doleful balladeers like Travis. They wear fencing gear on the NME cover, play a Brats tour (where Coldplay are the opening band) and release a brilliant, terse debut called 'Bon Chic Bon Genre'. It bombs. Then nothing. Until now. 'It's Beyond Our Control', five years in the making and with legendary Primal Scream knob-twiddler Brian O'Shaughnessy at the controls, is the tale of Campag's voyage into the wilderness put to music. To a soundtrack of Stooges-like astro-rock ('Instinct-Tension'), pumping acid techno ('Stranded By The Reebox') and dream-like pop ('Motown Clic'), Pete Voss catalogues the downside of life in clubland in graphic detail, interspersed with instrumental snatches of ghostly pianos, reggae fills and even snatches of jazz-funk. Dark, delirious and at times, as on the brutal finale 'Ain't No Funki Tangerine', propelled by a vicious streak unparalleled in modern rock, 'It's Beyond Our Control' is little short of a classic. "I've been around/Knocked down/Now I'm back again", sighs Pete on the faultless 'Motown Clic'. Don't count them out yet."
Paul Moody
» Uncut 4/5 stars
"Cycling fanatics return after five years with a darker, edgier but no less eccentric sound.
It's five years since Campag Velocet's debut, Bon Chic Bon Genre, an idiosyncratic blend of surrealist poetry, queasy psychedelia and baggy backbeats. Fuelled by twin obsessions with A Clockwork Orange and professional cycling, it enjoyed no more than marginal, cultish success. With It's Beyond Our Control, however the band are back and very much meaning business. Pete Voss's thuggish, drawled wordplay, part Mark E Smith, part Shaun Ryder, is still central, but Campag Velocet have updated their sound with darkly edgy guitar work and post-techno texturing. Thus, "Sunset Strip Eclipse" appropriates Joy Division's gloomy disco, and engagingly groovy closer "Ain't No Funki Tangerine" segues into an ambient house outro. Curiously compelling, and cleverly controlled stuff."
Sharon O'Connell
» Time Out
Read it here »
Sharon O'Connell cheers on the return of Campag Velocet July 2004 (Click link below for press clipping)
»
» Q Magazine 3/5 stars
"Campag's return. En garde!
Five years ago, Campag Velocet were on tour with Coldplay. Now while Chris Martin sits in his mansion, London's Campag await the release of their long-delayed second album of paranoid urban thunder, probably somewhere less grand. Shame. Here the likes of "Motown Clic" showcase anew the curious thoughts of chairman Pete Voss, his band's funky droning and a group marvellously oblivious to the world outside. Once, the public wasn't ready for a leather-gerkin-wearing, fencing-obsessed version of The Fall. Hopefully, it is now."
John Robinson
» Playlouder
Read it here »
"You nearly shouldn't have heard this. Campag Velocet, back from the dead. Pete Voss, larger than life-front monk who made Liam Gallagher look like an evolutionary miracle. Clockwork Orange obsessed oddities, whose arrival was as fast as their disappearance, victims of the petty hype machine that roared into action post-Britpop, raising then smiting your Gay Dad's, your Terris', your Campags. Post-'Bon Chic Bon Genre' Pete Voss could occasionally be seen lurching around London nightspots, frequently hitting on people's girlfriends (like, um, mine at Trash). Laughing stock might be too harsh a word, but there was a feeling that this was a man whose time had come, and gone. But in the past year or so, there were quiet mutterings about new Campag material. About an album being touted around every label, to no avail. The word was that these labels were collective plonkers, subservient to the feelings of shame and malaise that came to be associated with the words Campag Velocet; marked indelibly or so they thought - with nobody wanting to get their fingers burned again. The word was that some masterpiece was being ignored. And then out and about in London town, a song was heard. A march-refrain. A one-two-one-two. A scratch. A squeezed pig sax. That voice, sneering, insistent London. "We are the trumping men. Who are the trumping men?" The Trumping Men are Campag Velocet. Back from the brink. Back with 'It's Beyond Our Control'. Album of the year? Certainly up there. You nearly shouldn't be reading this. Campag Velocet, back from the dead. PlayLouder called up Pete Voss to talk about the past the present and the future, the resurgence, the lost years. Unfortunately, the lost years are lost. Something went wrong with the technology, dears, and all I can hear on the Dictaphone tape is the Heathrow stack passing overhead, the tosser downstairs playing Hendrix (he's been playing the same three songs for a year now, and still hasn't got any better. When he sings I want to microwave him through the floor) and the hateful sound of My Own Voice. But fortunately a decade of standing in front of speakers on a nightly basis has not killed these lugholes, no sah! So attentive listening brings forth the bare bones. "I've been listening to the Murderdolls soundtrack and have signed a sponsorship deal with Hello Kitty Femi pads." This is Pete's stock response to the 'where have you been?' question. He seems pleased with it, and chuckles. We let it slide. But he comes back to those years a couple of times. "There are a lot of things that I don't really want to talk about. ['Its Beyond Our Control'] was influenced by being in the wilderness, and those dark years of my life." It sits at odds with his otherwise bluster, a self-assured confidence: How is it to be coming back without any of the hype that surrounded you back in the end 90s? "Hype? I'm not sure that I believe in hype." But you were victims thereof. You were built up, smacked down. "Yeah, but it didn't bother me", he claims, "and anyway, half those magazines aren't around anymore, they've gone and folded, and we're still here." So what kept you going? "Belief. Belief that I had a great record that I wanted people to hear." Who wanted to hear? At first, it was Harsh Sharks, a website devoted to Campag Velocet and the Clockwork Orange aspect to their persona. Populated by rabid obsessives whose blood pressure seems to have become worrying in the run up to the release of 'It's Beyond Our Control', Pete says that without them, their constant encouragement through the "wilderness, none of this may ever have happened. And even then, with labels major and minor everywhere sticking their heads in the sand, the rest of us might never have heard this. Bits and pieces could have come out on Harsh Sharks, leaked to the internet, but who would have cared? A record was needed. This release, a sleeve yellow and black and grey, depicting a legless child in Red Cross T-shirt riding a skateboard, this record is what will bring Campag back, this record is what Pete Voss wanted to have out there, to justify his time away. Do you feel vindicated by 'It's Beyond Our Control'? "Absolutely, yeah. I mean, I felt vindicated as soon as we'd finished it, but obviously it's good to give positive reactions from other people. Every single person I've played it to loves it." So why no deal? Why did it take so long? Apparently, hope lay closer to home than Pete could ever have expected, with Andy from Pointy Records, a man who can frequently be seen doing the door at Club Fandango: "I went to the Dublin Castle for the first time in ages, and Andy was there", explains Pete, "I'd been round all these label executives and it turned out the person who wanted to release our stuff was someone I'd known for years." Perhaps, I suggest, he encountered these trials as a result of his reputation for being somewhat of an awkward so-and-so. In the run up to doing this piece, there was much 'ooo, that Pete Voss, he's a tricky one, watch out, etc.' talk from friends and others. "It's something people have always said about me, but I don't see where it come from. I'm always told I'm awkward, but it is strange to have that said about you, you know?" So you've not been running around twatting people? "Well, no more than I should've!" And he doesn't need to. He's got 'It's Beyond Our Control'. He's certainly got it live. Fast forward to Trash on Monday, July 12th. There's Pete Voss, thick and bushy beard, ever-ape. He wears his own band's t-shirt, an off white jumper over his shoulders. He bashes his tambourine, boxes the air with his maracas: "I will bang it in your face/And I will draw blood from your skull/And I will watch you drown in your own vomit" His peculiar collection of a band churn and grug through 'It's Beyond Our Control', taking music and grinding it through belligerent mud and rattling paranoia. It should sound dreadful. But with two drummers, Pete's combination of hint of Nadsat and the scattergatt-psykik delivery of Mark E Smith, the blank stares, the vicious destruction of 'Bon Chic Bon Genre', it's a perfect, awkward, rebuttal to any demons still lurking. Back to the talking. Before that gig, Pete tells me that he feels like he's calmed down in the past few years, through those dark times. "I like going to the countryside, that's for sure. I like to get away from it all. I've had enough London, I think." Are you moving away? "I'd love to, yeah." So now it'd be Pete Voss in a little farm somewhere in Sussex? "I wouldn't mind..."
Luke Turner
"IT'S BEYOND OUR CONTROL"
Campag Velocet
CD Album
Released: 20-Jul-2004
£9.99
"Little short of a classic..." - NME »
"VINDICTIVE DISCO"
Campag Velocet
CD EP
Released: 12-Jul-2004
£5.99
Download from iTunes »
"Super-fuzzed, deliriously addictive cross between a stagger and a strut..." - Time Out »
"WHO ARE THE TRUMPING MEN?"
Campag Velocet
CD Single
Released: 01-Dec-2004
£2.99
"WHO ARE THE TRUMPING MEN?"
Campag Velocet
7' Single
Released: 29-Nov-2004
£2.99
Download from iTunes »
CAMPAG VELOCET
Website »

"We Got The Noise" by Paul Moody

The truth is, great rock'n'roll albums don't come around that often. Cast an eye back over those end-of-year polls in NME and the monthlies over the last few years and you realise that despite valiant attempts-from bands and journo's alike- the fact is that since the turn of the century we've been going through a period of revisionism, where the survival of rock's spirit has been cause for celebration rather than actual progress. Which brings us to 'It's Beyond Our Control'.

Pete: "Rock'n'roll has become a formula and we're the opposite to that. This isn't music for people to listen to at the weekends or when they're driving around in their flash cars. Our music reflects something else. It's confrontational. Anyway, I don't want to make it easy, it's better if it needs to be decoded." Those seduced by the sleazy, enigma-machine rattle'n'roll of Campag's #debut 'Bon Chic Bon Genre' can rest easy: the liquid rhythm section of Barney'n'Lascelles, Pete's scrabble-board lyricism and guitarist Ian 'Arge' Cater's John McGeogh-esque guitars are all still present and correct.

It's just that after five years of false starts and dashed hopes, 'It's Beyond Our Control' (released on the ever-clued-up Pointy Records on Monday 12th July) does what all great albums must: it reflects the times we're living in. And if the music wasn't valedictory enough (don't worry, we'll get to that) then lyrical miracles like 'I've been around/ Knocked down/Now I'm back again/ Coup d'etat/ Pandemonium!' from the gorgeous 'Motown Clic' tell their own story.

Pete: 'It takes a while to write the songs because I piece the words together bit by bit. There's only two songs on the record which I wrote straight off. But they all fit together. People get mocked and bullied for doing things outside the cultural and class stereotypes,but that's all part of what we do. We're never going to fit into the mainstream,ΔΆ.'

As you'd imagine, Campag's roots run deep. Formed by Pete and Arge in late-eighties Portsmouth over a shared love of Schooly D and Public Enemy, the duo lived out their teenage rock'n'roll fantasies in clubland. Relocated to the capital, they hatched a plan to create a rock'n'roll band which reflected their love of everything from Marvin Gaye to Clockwork Orange to Suicide, all burnished with a scrupulous, fashion-hawk's eye for detail. Cue Campag Velocet.

After a stint as clubland cause celebres, they found their nadsat-heavy debut single 'Drencon Velocet Synthemesc' installed as an NME Single Of The Week in November '97 and their splenetic live performances heralded as the saving grace of a stagnant rock scene. Duly signed to Pias, they saw the sublime 'To Lose La Trek' scrape the edges of the top seventy-five whilst debut album 'Bon Chic Bon Genre' managed to cross-pollinate everything from PiL-esque pop ('Only Answers Delay Our Time') to electro sleaze trank-outs ('Schiaparelli Cat') years before either electro-clash or the current Stooges- heavy guitar insurgence. Their reward, an NME front cover, saw them dressed inevitably, in preparation for a fencing tournament. Then, nothing. What happened, Pete?

'I think maybe at the time it was too much for people. We were obstructed from doing what we wanted for various reasons and it got very frustrating. Times are slowly changing. There are signs that people who understood what we were doing then are getting into bands or getting into positions of power themselves.'

Indeed. Anyone who doubts Campag's subversive cachet need only glance toward pop culture to trace their legacy. From the gritty realism of The Streets to the host of urchin-rock bands on the rise (Eighties Matchbox, Selfish Cunt and The Others are all long-term fans) Pete Voss's wayward spirit still holds sway. If other sins of their influence are more insidious- Campag are included on both the soundtrack of terrorist-flick 'Baader' and Playstation's 'The Getaway' (in the lap-dancing scene, inevitably), it's only proof their idiosyncratic vision has never totally slipped out of view.

All of which brings us to 'It's Beyond Our Control'. Recorded at Bark Studio's with Brian O'Shaughnessy (who recorded 'Screamadelica' there) it is quite simply a tour de force. Mixing everything from strip-club funk to pulverising rock'n'roll anthems to Ennio Morricone like electro dream-scapes, it sounds and feels like the perfect soundtrack to life in the capital mid-decade, all with the best song-titles in rock: 'Metro Boulet Dodo' (a French aphorism for the mundanity of commuting) 'Sunset Strip Eclipse'; check 'em out for yourself. If it's by turns bleak and beautiful, then that's because it reflects the thrill'n'horror of going out in graphic detail.

'Some of the lyrics are quite vicious, but I wanted to reflect what I see around me' explains Pete. 'It's not meant to be comfortable, because life isn't comfortable.'

Anyone doubting Campag's capacity to write sure-fire rock hits meanwhile should be directed at once to new single 'Vindictive Disco' which manages to incorporate a black-hearted lyricism Morrissey or Mark E.Smith would kill for: 'Wet myself in a Bugger King/ Slipped a disc by the fag machine/Got chucked down the stairs again/Gone and cracked my head again.'
Campag Velocet. You know it. Those end-of-year polls won't know what's hit them. See you in the speakers.