Posted in SHOFT on Saturday 4th April 2020 at 2:07am
What was or is Traumatone?
A long time ago, a bunch of people made some music. Traumatone was the sound of isolation. A sort of outsider-spirit which sprung from the quiet, suburban middle-class heart of a seaside town in South West England. The thing was, we didn't realise we weren't supposed to do this - so as the world opened up before us, we stepped through and probably ended up further from the windy Epslanade than we ever expected. Burnham-on-sea in 1991 was slumbering: the same old musicians circled around the same old bands. Pub rock and blues constituted the scene, such as it was. Into this, a tiny label made a tentative step. Many of us couldn't play, almost all of us couldn't sing. But we realised that all over the world, a tiny convulsion was underway. Inspired by labels like Shrimper, Instigation, Simple Machines and K we began to release a series of home made, photocopied cassette releases. We communicated by mail - waiting a week for tapes to scud across the earth - and played live only sporadically. We released each others bands - a handful of other British labels springing up to carry the torch - Theme Park, Sticky, Bacchanalian Revel. It felt like a little movement in a big world. Naturally, the locals couldn't quite understand - and really didn't care. They carried on plodding away at their pub rock, remembering when the young 'uns used to have a bit of respect. They just couldn't see the point - they can't play!
Traumatone burned brightly for a few years and then I decided that a dull career in public administration needed more attention than I'd given it. I was getting older and I could almost feel myself atrophying into one of those angry old bluesmen who propped up the bar of The Crown until it was unceremoniously demolished. I didn't ever mean this rather strange project to become so serious - but somehow it had. Traumatone took me half-way across the world, cemented friendships I still treasure a quarter of a century later, and divided opinion in ways that still seem to get some people a little steamed up even now. Along the way, we released nearly fifty cassettes, bringing the ebullient power-pop of Brown Tower to the masses, and introducing the discerning to the scattershot poetics of Wizard Ho Ho. I mumbled my way through a few songs as The Bucknalls, and Spacehopper shuddered and funked his way through some dark pop. We introduced the UK to Lambchop and a host of other US acts, and we provided a mutual link with a varied bunch of US, New Zealand and Japanese labels. I'm actually quite proud.
I've quit Traumatone more than once - that first time when I needed to get on with a career, the second time when I decided it was all too much trouble and passed the flame on to others, and more recently when I decided that the Bandcamp site which had done sterling service since 2011 had to go. The thing is, Traumatone has never been about gold-plated connecting leads, high sample rates and high quality dubs. It was resolutely mid-fi. Any sense that people can curate or archive this music is wrong - it doesn't work - I've tried. It is now exactly what it was back then, a record of a moment - almost always just one take.
If you're here, you have the password - and you can download for your listening enjoyment all I've been able to salvage of our output. Anything you find anywhere else is probably unofficial, and likely unsanctioned.
So is all this stuff free now?
Essentially, yes. The copyright has always rested with the artists and any ugly rumour that I was making cash off the back of poor musicians isn't true at all. It cost me a huge amount of cash to run Traumatone back in the day: blank tapes, postage, printing etc. were all paid from my personal funds. I spent much, much more than I ever made. However, if you're feeling like supporting my efforts back then - and keeping this page alive now, you could make a donation below. The tapes used to retail for the lowly sum of £1.50 and that might be a fitting contribution if you feel the need.
Or you could
Enough! Let me at the downloads...
I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.
I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.