Exposé Online banner

Red Square — Rare and Lost 70s Recordings
(Guerssen Mental Experience MENT003 / , 1978/2016, LP / CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-07-27

Rare and Lost 70s Recordings Cover art

1974 saw the birth of the UK avant-rock band Red Square. Consisting of Ian Staples (guitar), Jon Seagroatt (sax and bass clarinet), and Roger Telford (free-jazz drummer), Red Square shared the stage with the likes of Henry Cow, Lol Coxhill, David Toop, and National Health. As their music and sound was too extreme for audiences and record labels alike, the band imploded in 1978. The only documents of their musical legacy are two ultra-rare privately released cassettes, the source of the music on this LP/CD reissue. Side one contains four raucous tracks from their “Nakamichi” Studio live session in 1978 and Side two contains three tracks from a live performance at Lindisfarne Hall in 1976 where they opened for Henry Cow. Listening to these seven tracks I can easily see why they did not connect with people. They were musical anarchists. Their music sounds like they were just playing for themselves, each pursuing his own path, periodically coming together, and careening off in new directions. The result was a chaotic mix of dissonance, free jazz, and momentary progressive-jazz. At times Ian’s fuzzed guitar and Jon’s sax lines would parallel each other. When the three of them came together, the music worked. But then it degenerated back into chaos. The studio session is difficult to wrap your mind around and may be indicative of the impending meltdown. In contrast, the live performance from two years earlier is more coordinated and accessible. However, I still cannot imagine how they were able to keep the audience interested in what they were doing on stage, though each track ends with polite applause. The press release contains a lot of hype about the band, yet it takes a very special ear to identify the quality and skills of the musicians. The best tracks on the disc are the last two “Circuitry #2” and “Circuitry #3.” These two tracks sound as if some thought had gone into preparing and composing them, rather than free improvisation. This music is not for everyone, not even necessarily the adventurous listener. Approach with caution.


Filed under: Archives, 2016 releases, 1978 recordings

Related artist(s): Red Square

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Jade Warrior - Distant Echoes – For the uninitiated, Jade Warrior's recorded history began around 1970 as a three-piece, integrating east Asian themes, introspective jazz-rock ideas, some elements of folk, and a lot more into a...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues