Friday, December 2, 2011

Free Music Friday! Martian Martian EP!

Back when SMACM released Vampire9000's Colours EP back in September I gushed about how putting that EP out was such a big deal to me. Today, I'll be doing the same for another EP, although, for your sake, I'll try keep the gush as concise as possible this time.
This story starts back on a Summer's night in October, 2005. At the "Secret Pirate Party" I would be playing what would still have been one of my first DJ sets, alongside Ri, my then constant DJ-companion. At the party I was given a CD-R by a Pretoria kid called Jean de Wet.
I'd met Jean a few times, but didn't really know too much about him, outside of the fact that he also loved the Go Team and the fact that our mutual friends Werner and Johan had taken every possible opportunity to tell me how much I reminded them of Jean and how we'd be best friends if we got to hang out. Now, Jean was handing me a CD-R, full of songs he'd recorded in his bedroom, hoping I could squeeze one of them into the set I'd be playing in a few hours. Unfortunately I didn't a chance to listen to the disc before i started my set and, not having any idea what this Martianmartian stuff sounded like, totally failed to play one of Jean's creations for The Secret Dancefloor.
At the end of the night Jean, and the rest of the Pretoria gang that had come through to the party, landed up coming over to crash at my place. We hung out, got pleasant and slowly one by one, people began disappearing into bedrooms, finally leaving Jean and I alone with cups of tea and coffee. It occurred to me that this could be a good time to play the CD-R Jean had given me, and what followed is burnt into my mind as one of the most special moments of the very special years that were my early twenties.
The early morning light creeping into my lounge and the sound of Martianmartian pouring into my ears for the first time, it felt like my heart was getting crushed in a vice. I don't know if there's a proper word for that feeling, but after close on 28 years of being in love with music, I still don't know how to describe it in any concise way. It doesn't happen very often at all, but from time to time, I'll hear a song, and it's as if the vibrations going into my body are just to much to bear, like the song has placed some kind of creature in my chest and it needs to rip my skin open and burst out my ribcage. This moment where, it's as if soundwaves are resonating at the same frequency as soul, it's rare as hell, but it's the way I felt the first time I listened to The Pixies or Trail of Dead or Godspeed, and in those moments I've felt more alive than I have in any others. Now, at 4AM on this particular October morning, it's the way I felt hearing Martianmartian for the first time.
I quite quickly made up for not playing Martianmartian that night, making his song regular fixtures in my DJ sets in those days. I passed it along to friends whenever I could and worked it into mixes whenever possible. When I started Sovereign Academy in 2006 Jean began DJing the nights as Edward Appleby, and later, dressed as a panda with a stage full of crazy props, Martianmartian took to the academy stage as a full live show. When we first took the parties on tour, Martianmartian was there, playing for crowds between Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Over this time a bunch of great new bands and acts started up between Pretoria and Joburg. Some of them got to record songs, other's didn't and all of them hold their own special places in my heart. But, coming out of that era, I could confidently say that nothing recorded by Kidofdoom, The Tutus, Greenisforturbo, 5 Men 3 Missing, Us Kids Know or anyone else from that community could come close to the Martianmartian recordings that had come out of Jean's bedroom back in 2004/5. The strange thing is that, while he had a whole album of songs recorded before anyone else had even started their band up, Jean had never properly released the beautiful creatures he had brought into the world.
As venues closed, bands broke up, shops went bust and regular parties faded away, our once healthy community, silently crawled into an unmarked grave and died. With everyone enacting this un-written, mass suicide-pact, Jean played his part, leaving Preotira for Cape Town in early 2008. There, he continued to churn out an endless stream of wonderful creations, but now far more focused on illustration than music. Martianmartian became a like strange ghost of some great dinosaur; Once it made the earth shake, but now hadn't left behind enough fossils for any future archeologist to ever hope to know what it had been.
At the start of this year I decided to start up a little record label to release the Eyes Like Mirrors EP. I created SMACM, to try document the awesomeness I hope we'll see coming out of Pretoria and Joburg the next time we have something as exciting as 2006 and 7 happening. But, while I'm still waiting for new kids to start new bands and make things happen, for now it seems appropriate to play catch up and help release some of the greatness that soundtracked some of the best years of my life. With this agenda, my first priority was finally putting out the lost treasure that was Martianmartian. While (in the spirit of analphabetapolothology) I was all for releasing every one of the 40 something gems Jean had recorded between 2004 and 2007, Jean instead picked out 7 songs that he felt complimented each other and (outside of his later, more acoustic numbers) concisely summed up what Martianmartian was all about.
Packed in hand crafted 10" sleeves, adorned with unreleased art drawn in the same era that these songs were recorded, it's safe to say the physical packaging of SMACM004 is the coolest thing we've released in the label's short history.
While Jean has only made 35 of these awesome little things, we're happy to be able to share these seven songs with whoever wants them, free for your ears thanks to the magic of the internet. So, epic gush and nostalgia trip aside, if you still haven't got it:

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