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“Spookhouse” is a very particular release for the Belgian label EE Tapes. This CD is the 25th album featuring songs that are 25 years old and released on a label which started 25 years ago! Crawling Chaos was a rather weird British formation that was mainly active during the 80s. After a few releases they set up their own label Foetus Products. “Spookhouse” features previously unreleased material from 1987 plus 2 tracks that were released on EE Tapes cassette compilations in 1987 and 1990.
The main point that hurts with this CD is the inferior sound mix. The main problem here simply is that old material sometimes is hard and nearly impossible to improve. Therefore I think it would have been better to release it on vinyl format, which is more appropriated for old productions full of noises.
Musically, Crawling Chaos mixed very different influences, which move from post-punk to punk-rock to experimental jazz to ska. I have to admit that the ska and jazz input only concerns one or two songs, but it proves that Crawling Chaos was an open-minded group. In the end, I think we also can speak about an experimental project trying to build a bridge between different styles. All these styles are constantly evoking the good-old 80s. I here refer to a song like “Scotland Gate”, which is the ultimate mix of rock, pop and a flavor of ska. The post-punk style emerges from “the Box”, which also is one of the most noticeable cuts of the album. A few other pieces (cf. “Memory Loss”, “Creosote Dreams”) are more into evasive vibes, but remain linked to a kind of free-rock style.
Crawling Chaos definitely had their own style, but we have to admit that the 80s was a kind of sound laboratory for the future generations don’t you think? Crawling Chaos didn’t become the most noticeable sonic scientist in the genre, but “Spookhouse” first of all is a kind of lost treasure that now has seen the daylight.
ED. SIDE-LINE sept 2012

Zouden de muziekliefhebbers die nederig hun hoed afnemen als ze de letters FAC in een cataloognummer ontwaren, ook het singeltje FAC 17 kennen? We hebben het over ‘Sex Machine’, het debuut van het Britse Crawling Chaos, dat in 1980 op Factory Records werd uitgebracht. Hun zogenaamde art-rock werd door de Mancunians echter te moeilijk bevonden. Via een kort omwegje langs Factory Benelux/Les Disques Du Crépuscule (waar ze nochtans op hun plaats waren in het gezelschap van onder andere Tuxedomoon eindigden ze in eigen beheer en helaas ook in obscuriteit. Hierbij ook geholpen door de Britse muziekpers die steevast lelijke dingen schreef waarin de combinatie saai, intellectueel en kort haar steevast voorkwam. Uiteindelijk was een meer dan oppervlakkige kennis van de cassetteondergrond nodig om de naam eind jaren 1980 af en toe nog eens tegen te komen op één of andere verzamelcassette (onder andere van EE Tapes). Deze compilatietracks krijgen nu het gezelschap van een heel album onuitgegeven materiaal uit 1987. Vader Tijd heeft zijn werk gedaan, en de oprichter Jeff Crowe is al twee jaar begraven, maar toch is nog steeds te horen waarop de mensen in de jaren 1980 hun tanden stukbraken. Crawling Chaos was nooit extreem, maar wel steeds eigenzinnig: én New Wave songs, én typische jaren 1980 saxpartijen, maar evengoed melige riedeltjes, synthesizerexperimenten en samples. We hopen in elk geval dat deze gelimiteerde (500 exemplaren) een verdiend volglicht werpt op deze ten onrechte vergeten groep. Zeker fans van Dark Day en Minimal Man zullen aangenaam verrast zijn. (pv)

Gonzo (circus) #111 (September/October 2012)

Twice a dive into nostalgia here. One of those more personal ramblings about the good old days I guess. I'll do this in the chronological order. Punk was never a main concern for me. Perhaps it was because the first local punk rock lover was in the class as I was and it learned me a bit on behavior I didn't like, although some of the Dutch punk records were always quite alright. Still are actually. But sonically I was very soon after that interested in a stylish label called Factory Records, first through Joy Division and A Certain Ratio, but I soon collected also the 'other' bands, as far as money allowed me, and of course availability of the records. Durutti Column was one of those highlights, and two 7's were my favorites: 'Electricity' by Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark (although I had the pressing on Virgin, I knew it was a Factory Record) and 'Sex Machine' by Crawling Chaos. I played both on and on and on. That was the record industry of those days: you only had so much money and you needed to play the records over and over again, unlike today where one downloads a ton of music, which then you will never properly know. With OMD I kept up for a while, perhaps because 'Enola Gay' was such a big hit and 'Organisation' a classic LP, but Crawling Chaos I lost out of sight. I couldn't afford to buy their LP 'The Gas Chair' and I am not sure if I ever heard it back then. I did of course later on, when the CD version out, as well as the CD version of  'Homunculus Equinox'. I read stories about the band in books on Factory (I recommend James Nice's book on the subject) and don't know what to make of them or their music. 'Sex Machine' is a great song, synth based, retro progressive guitar solos. I never quite liked the b-side. The LP has more weirdness, this band never could make up their mind about what they wanted. 'Spookhouse' contains their final recordings, from 1987, and some of those pieces were released by EE Tapes on a compilation cassette back then.

But there are no further liner notes and information on the band is rather sketchy, even on the two previous re-issues on LTM. What I seem to notice here on these final recordings is that the band is more together and less sketchy/all over the place as on their first LP. Quite an electronic approach, lots of synthesizers, voices and not really the driving rhythm of 'Sex Machine'. Also saxophone plays a dominant role every now and then, sometimes to my annoyance. I've read 'Status Quo vs OMD', or connection to Joe Meek. All true I'd say. This is true pop madness, true weirdness with 'Memory Loss' being the closest to another great lost pop classic. Not great, but I love this very much, just as I did with the other releases. I can see why so many people hated this back in the day, but its simply sounds so funny/weird/nice/charming. The boys you love to hate. (FdW)

Vital Weekly 838 (2012-07-10)

EE Tapes is a very interesting Belgian label that picks hidden gems from the experimental underground scene and present them for audience of today. Present album was originally released 25 years ago - in fact released by a label that also can celebrate its 25th anniversary. The album titled “Spookhouse” comes from the British band Crawling Chaos. The band is stylishly a hard one to pigeonhole. Many styles are emerged to create this cocktail of experimental rock. Throughout the runtime the listener are confronted with everything from sax-driven ska-music across punk rock to something that could have been born in the age of German Krautrock. Especially krautrock-band Amon Düül II crosses my mind as I listen to the “Spookhouse”-album. The sound production of the album is quite raw and unpolished giving a nice feel of authenticity and improvisation. Yet another pearl from the 80’s experimental scene picked by one of Belgium's premium underground labels. Highly recommended. (NM)

Niels Mark - Vital Weekly #893 (week 32)

Die Postpunk-Szenerie rund um die Labellegende "Factory" wird ja seit geraumer Zeit von den unterschiedlichsten Seiten aus beleuchtet und jedes irgendwo noch gefundene Band wird restauriert und (wieder)veröffentlicht. Der Nimbus tut dann das seinige. Nicht immer ist das wirklich notwendig, schließlich liegen Factorys Hochzeiten 25 bis 30 Jahre zurück und seither ist viel passiert. "Spookhouse" versammelt die zwischen '85 und '87 entstandenen "last ever recordings" der selbst für FAC-Verhältnisse sehr schrägen Kollegen aus Northumberland, die zwischen düsteren WaveSynthJams, psychedelischem NeoKrautRock und sax-durchsetztem AvantFunk unfaßbar blieben. Hört man sich durch diese 3/4Stunde GeschichtsMusik, merkt man jedoch, dass Crawling Chaos immer noch unzeitgemäß klingen. Was also will man mehr?!


Westzeit - CRAWLING CHAOS - Spookhouse

EE Tapes: where legends feel at home...

Remember Crawling Chaos?

Debuting post-punk art rock ensemble on Factory UK with the single 'Sex Machine'/'Berlin' (1980).

They soon got dumped to Factory Benelux (who released their first LP 'The Gas Chair' in early 1982) for being too unclassifiable. Too weird?

What else left but to put up their own Foetus Products for the musical output of Crawling Chaos and their many other disguises....

They reached a modest cult status, especially with the LP albums 'The Big C' (1984) and 'Waqqaz' (1985).

'Spookhouse' is a collection of their last ever recordings from 1987, unpublished so far, except for 2 tracks that were previously released before on cassette compilations by EE Tapes in 1987 and 1990.


Hey, this is CD EE25, these tracks are 25 years old and this label is exactly 25 years old too this year!

Coincidence does exist, let's throw a party!

Jeff, this one's for you!

Filed under: art rock, psychedelic rock, avantgarde, experimental


1   Big Nail [3:46]

2   Spookhouse [4:43]

3   Scotland Gate [3:29]

4   Yes Boss [1:30]

5   Da [1:20]

6   The Box [5:53]

7   Veggie Squad [3:11]

8   Yeti Cometh [1:57]

9   Dave Judgement [3:07]

10 Memory Loss [3:11]

11 The Game [2:27]

12 Creosote Dreams [2:00]

13 Little Prick [2:53]

14 Camera Action [3:26]

crawling chaos - spookhouse - YouTube