Aggrokulture is a noise/experimental/industrial/avant garde music project formed in 2000 in Manchester, UK. The project is the brainchild of Stockport-based artist and drummer/percussionist Martin Gray who has also performed and recorded under several other guises and local-based bands, namely: street performance-based Latin/Brazilian/African percussion collectives MSS (1996-2000), DrumHeads (1997), Sambangra(1997-2001), Wedding In Rio (1999-2002); ongoing experimental/noise collective !Basher! (1997-present, but currently on indefinite hiatus); community music project StoMP (1999-2000); local Manchester-based punk rock luminaries Gold Blade (2000-2005); and three strictly one-off musical ventures (one soundcheck, one gig, one live track recorded, and then nothing else, ever) Number 1 Blue Murder (2002), Ice Cream Bandits (2002), and spoof US surf/garage/hardcore power trio The Kojak Whores (2003). After a ten-year hiatus he helped out with the defiantly oddball Manchester street-theatre busking act Gaz Stanley & The Piccadilly Rats playing percussion and drums (2013 to 2016), becoming their manager after he ceased performance with them until the band folded in spring 2019.
Aggrokulture's recording process largely dispenses with any traditional studio or band set up in favour of music created at home wholly on computer using unstable analogue software and all manner of wayward samples, most of these being percussion and drum sounds taken from other sources and then digitally mangled and distorted beyond recognition. With the exception of live recorded drums (acoustic and electronic) and occasional keyboards, all other instruments are created from found samples treated and made to sound like guitars, bass, keyboards, etc. Occasionally the artist makes use of instrumental passages and contributions from local musician friends who contribute, usually, members of obscure Altrincham neo-jazz slackers turned offbeat electronic noise-mongers Mo, Larry and Curly and a couple of guest vocalists who drop by to scream a few obscenities that might get used. Recently the project has been augmented by a second contributor, part-time multi-media / audio-visual artist and musician Simon Stokesley.
The recordings since 2001 have been sporadic and few. In fact only four official EPs have been released to date: 2001's Karmageddon! - a hellishly noisy excursion into Brazilian Samba rhythms performed at breakneck speed; 2002's even more intensely brutal industrial/hip-hop tour de force Shit Hits The Fan; 2006's eclectic jazz-influenced CrOcOdiLe JAcuZZi; and the most recent, 2007's ferociously unhinged Demolition Derby. In between these four releases, two one-off very limited print excursions have been issued, 2003's Aggrokulture vs The White Stripes EP (four deranged remixes of their Seven Nation Army smash hit), and 2008's seasonal cash-in Great Balls Of Snow EP, which came in two different sleeves - one shaped like a green Christmas tree and the other a red Snowman. The latter EP was so controversial that there are no longer copies in circulation (there were only ever six made), the artist allegedly having erased the entire master soundfiles from his hard drive.
Aggrokulture's sound is usually described as 'the soundtrack to the world meeting its maker', and casual listeners will fail to disagree when faced with huge squalls of reverb-ed and distorted ear-bleeding noise and bludgeoning rhythmic intensity, on top of which all kinds of sonic shrapnel are simply piled on until the whole edifice strains under its own weight. Occasionally there are diversions into more melodic territory (as witnessed on CrOcOdiLe JAcuZZi), but even here, the sheer earth-shaking drums and relentlessly pounding, over-amplified percussion sounds are never too far away.
Early 2009 saw another very limited-edition release under the one-off band alias Unkultured Aggro, a 3-track EP entitled Oh My God, Not Another 1980s Drum Kit Revival!. This was a relatively throwaway exercise into gratuitous, unlistenable noise and has subsequently been dismissed by the artist as 'totally moronic, meaningless fucking around on a massively self-indulgent scale - it's actually a complete joke: even we couldn't take it seriously.' !
As of late 2010, there is further new Aggrokulture material planned for a future release: an elongated 13-track EP Faster Than The Speed Of Ramonesªª to be issued under the name Aggrokulture vs The World - demolitions of other people's songs done in the same disrespectful manner as the White Stripes EP; and an as-yet-untitled new EP6. There are plans for the first - already out-of-print EPs to be collected together into a 4CD box set and issued under the title Music To Clear Rooms By - The Aggrokulture Platinum Collection, whilst a single CD compilation intended for the benefit of newcomers entitled Popular Supermarket Tunes Volume 2** - containing some alternative mixes and edits of some of the first four EP's selections - will precede this.
Following the aborted 2008 Futuresonic no-show gig in Manchester (which would have been the very first time that Aggrokulture was to perform some of its material live), there are now tentative plans for a performance at the 2011 festival.
POSTSCRIPT: As of post-2015 activity, Aggrokulture has been on extended hiatus but occasional hints of further new material surface every now and again, with Stokesley having long departed to continue with his own multi-media glitch/video venture CrAsH hArRy. Outside of Aggrokulture, Gray has conceived of another new musical venture with the tentative plan to issue a couple of EPs and an album under the name North Polar Vortex. This project was originally going to be called Ice Station Zebra until he discovered two other artists were using that name (one USA, the other UK) but he has nevertheless used that name for one of the actual compositions planned for this project, which is less abrasive and much more ambient, taking as its core influences drone, shoegaze, piano, bass, ambient and field recordings. In the interim, he has however, compiled another short compilation of over 80 tracks lasting less than 30 seconds long and collected under the title 'The Shortest Song In The World, Ever!' with a total running time of barely 10 minutes. This was released in limited quantities in 2018 and has been his only physical output since the very last EP 'Faster Than The Speed Of Ramones'.
**This compilation was finally released in late 2011 as a limited edition but, confusingly, in two slightly differing versions. The first version featured tracks that were in turn omitted from the second version, and vice versa. Similarly, longer edits of some tracks were included on one version, but not on the other. A conventional tracklisting on both initial runs was also dispensed with in favour of cryptically diagrammatic soundwave representations of each of the tracks, with only the running times giving any clue as to what they are.
However, we have managed to decipher the running order of Version 2 of the compilation and the tracks are identified as follows:
1) Demolition Derby Metamaniac
2) Gabba Gabba Ganza
3) Oh Trance, Up Yours!
4) Buckminster Gooseflap
5) Firecrack Windows
6) Twatus Mingus Vulgaris
7) 'Tu The Maxx
8) SHTF - Recrimination
10) Match Assassin
11) Something In The Water
12) 42 SCZ
13) Blow Your Cover (Game Over!)
14) SHTF - Counterattack
15) X Marks The Spot
16) Unhinged Melody
17) Drums Are Evil
18) Unlisted secret track.
Tracks 1, 5, 6, 10, 17, 18 are from Demolition Derby EP
Tracks 2, 7 are from Karmageddon! EP
Tracks 3, 8, 9, 14 are from Shit Hits The Fan EP
Tracks 4, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 from CrOcOdiLe JAcuZZi EP
Version 1 of this compilation was issued in an even more limited run and has a slightly different track listing, omitting a couple of tracks and adding two others….
1) Oh Trance, Up Yours!
2) Demolition Derby Metamaniac
3) SHTF - Recrimination
4) Buckminster Gooseflap
5) Karmageddon Drumquake
6) Firecrack Windows
7) Something In The Water
8) SHTF - Counterattack
9) X Marks The Spot
10) 42 SCZ
11b) Song For Ted Bundy
12) Match Assassin
14) Blow Your Cover (aka Game Over)
15) Deadlegged Hipster Splattermovie
16) Unhinged Melody
17) Drums Are Evil
18) Unlisted secret track.
Only track 4 and tracks 16-18 remain unchanged from the second version!
ªª This EP was finally released in early 2013 (but with 16 tracks running to just over 20 minutes!) and came in two different covers, basically with the inner sleeve and the outer sleeve switched around with some minor details (credits, text)….. the main identifying graphic on this was an orange middle-finger salute backed with a speed sign stating 700 miles per hour!
A limited edition comprised a double CD which contained a bonus compilation of previously released 'desecrations' and went under the title "Aggrokulture vs The Rest". This one was distinguished from the standard issue EP by having a light blue middle-finger salute graphic on its cover!
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