Press My Hungry Button
Released 31 October 2007, a 30-track double-album of material 1980--1983. VOD-Records subscribers received a bonus EP, Still Hungry, with a further four tracks. There are no tracks in common with Enormous Savages, but there are alternate takes of three songs also on the Enormous Savages LP.
Samples of all tracks from the album and EP are available
at the distributor Juno.
Click on track links to the right for comments and some lyrics.
Please click interviews for a recent interview with the band covering history and current activities for Compulsion magazine.
'All 30 tracks alternate between excellent lyrics and resolute frescoes of moving expressivity, extravagant harmonies and skeletal rhythms, while washed-out watercolour nuances evoke hallucinatory and disoriented states. And this is where their strength lies. Their freedom from any reins, from lavish financial backing, or a targeted audience allows them to express, uncontaminated by commercial constraints, a childlike fantasy, tormented but sardonic: a comprehensive picture gallery of the 80s landscapes. Simply extraordinary.' - Drexcode.net (Italian site. With many thanks to Mariella De Martini for translation)
'More varied than the earlier collection Enormous Savages, this album shows what a daring, innovative and smart unit Cultural Amnesia were. Necessity breeding invention, they utilised the technology available at the time to its capacity, and emerged sounding like a primitivist take on Tubeway Army, Throbbing Gristle and John Foxx-era Ultravox. ... Cultural Amnesia ... never lost their sense of quest - their approach, like that of the early [Human] League, was marked out by an academic rigour that concealed a feeling of pure joy and pleasure in experimentation for its own sake. It's not a bad legacy, as legacies go, and it's one that is amply illustrated by this beautifully made and lovingly compiled record.' - The Sound Projector
'And now we have Press My Hungry Button, a second selection culled from the archives - with a whopping 30 tracks spread over four sides of vinyl. Press My Hungry Button illustrates a far broader scope of sounds and influence than the group [re Enormous Savages] I termed a synth pop post-punk outfit. Press My Hungry Button appears to cover all the bases that were being investigated in the wake of punk, pushing their electronics and whatever other instruments they could lay their hands upon into unique and inventive territories, with idiosyncratic vocals offering lengthy, cynical and often oblique visions. ... The work of Cultural Amnesia is awaiting (re)discovery, what are you waiting for?' - Compulsion magazine. Select 'Album' at the site. Review is followed by an interview with the band.
- Full text also available at the CA interviews page.
'[A] timely reminder that there has always been someone crafting brittle tracks on the most basic equipment for the sheer hell of it. ... 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
'CA perfected a a muscular sparseness that they applied to many different styles within the post-punk umbrella ... Complete with the fantastic and high-quality sound and packaging we've all come to expect from Vinyl On Demand, this nice set is an essential purchase for anyone investigating the 80s DIY cassette culture.' - Terminal Boredom
'Cultural Amnesia are characterised by strong (and sometimes wonderfully twisted) lyrics, a perfect musical backing and a unique and distinctive vocal style... Some of the recordings are lo-fi, as you might expect for material of this age, but it's delivered with absolute belief and conviction that makes every track as strong as the last... More people need to hear this music and experience the weird and wonderful world of Cultural Amnesia. 10/10' - Side-Line Magazine
'Following up on the success of the re-release of early cassette material as Enormous Savages, this 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
'Released and unreleased tracks alike, Press My Hungry Button is a must-have for post-punk and minimal electro enthusiasts, and will prove educational and interesting, if not entertaining, for those interested in early influences on electronic music. It exposes a large range of style for Cultural Amnesia, from ambient to wistful to weirdly disturbing. Having withstood the test of time and then some, this band is sure to have pleasant surprises in store as they prepare to put out not only more unreleased material, but also an altogether new album.' - ReGen Magazine
'An impressive post-punk outfit from the early 80s... if you enjoy that raw period of New Wave which saw many new, creatively naive, bands taking the punk ethic and applying it to emerging synthesiser technologies, then you certainly need to hear this outfit. ... Highly recommended and maintaining Vinyl On Demand's high production standards, this is a cracking release featuring a whole host of gems in the raw - mined straight from the New Wave seam.' - Hi-Fi World
Listing by side & cover blurb
1 Hot in the house - words by John Balance
2 Dead men don't talk
3 Khana kloof
4 The media funk
5 Shiny guitar music
6 Aluminium tubes
7 Where has all the difference gone
1 Repetition for this world (original version)
2 The dialogue of skull and soul
3 For all your needs
4 Dogtooth spa
5 Beautiful song
6 Do you remember the war
7 Magic theatre
8 Secrets of the passive margin
1 No hidden extras
2 The fountain overflows
3 Scars for e (alternate take 2) - words by John Balance
4 The pigs are coming
5 Sinclair's luck
6 Lament (hexagonal cages)
7 Satisfaction - Loosely derived from Jagger/Richard
1 The uncle of the boot
2 Greencage cabaret (original version)
3 High - words by Rose Edwards
4 Being boiled - Marsh//
5 Fingertip testing
6 Spoilt children - words by John Balance
7 Shallow water
8 The man about town
Still Hungry">Still Hungry EP
1 Scars for e (alternate take 1) - words by John Balance
2 Sacrebleu (original version)
1 The uncle of the boot (full version)
Press My Hungry Button is a second selection from the archives of Cultural Amnesia. It contains many of the best of their released songs, along with tracks 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 post-punk, 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 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 a number of compilations, some amongst the better remembered from the time. The discography included here details all their 1980s releases.
CA were prolific. They pressed the 'hungry button' compulsively. Almost all their work was recorded as it was created, ranging between pure improvisations to carefully constructed multi-part pieces that made the most of their limited technology. 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