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Artist Profile – 23 Skidoo

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Biography

Contents

With their unique fusion of tribal rhythms and industrial/experimental music, 23 Skidoo became a highly influential band in their own right, although they’re best known for being sampled by the likes of Chemical Brothers (Block Rockin’ Beats) and Future Sound Of London.

23 Skidoo was started in 1979 and its sound was a result of bands interest in martial arts,tribal drumming, writings of William Burroughs and music of Fela Kuti. They were a part of the emerging post-punk wave that also included artists such as This Heat, A Certain Ratio, Cabaret Voltaire and The Pop Group.

Their debut was 1980 single “Ethics”, followed by “Last Words” single, the latter of which was produced by members of Cabaret Voltaire. Their first full-length – 1982 “Seven Songs” was said to evoke the humidity of African forest. “Tearing Up The Plans” EP was recorded without Turnbull brothers, the core of the band, who went to Indonesia.

Their trip resulted in Turnbull brothers exposure to Gamelan, traditional Indonesian ensemble that use such instruments as xylophones and bamboo flutes. 1984 “Coup” single was heavily influenced by Indonesian music and featured horn section, as well as samples borrowed from Francis Ford Coppola movie “Apocalypse Now”.

Both 1983 and 1984 full-lengths “The Culling Is Coming” and “Urban Gamelan” were the most abstract works done by the band and were heavily criticized for those reasons.  Subsequently, the band was evicted from their rehearsal space (Death Factory, owned by Genesis P-Orridge from Throbbing Gristle) and for the next two decades they produced relatively little new material – 1988 hip-hop influenced “Just Like Everybody” and a couple of singles.

Turnbull Brothers created Ronin label in the late 80s, which put out material by the likes of Roots Manuva, who was also featured on the band’s first album in a decade – 2000 self-titled LP. 23 Skidoo LP was followed by a compilation “The Gospel Comes To New Guinea”, as well as reissues of “Urban Gamelan” and “Seven Songs”, the latter of which was originally recorded in 1982.

Band Members:

Alex Turnbull

David Tibet (Aryan Aquarians, Current 93, Dogs Blood Order, Nodding Folk, Psychic TV)

Fritz Catlin (Last Few Days)

Johnny Turnbull

Sam Mills

Sketch Martin (Linx)

Tom Helsop

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