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Echoes, 11th November 1989, "Tongue 'N' Groove"


Dorian Silver takes a chunk out of Biting Tongues

GRAHAM MASSEY of 808 State and fellow Mancunian Howard Walmsley have just released their first single as Biting Tongues. The bubbling slice of techno pop, 'Love Out', issued by the newly established Cut Deep label, has already become a regular feature in the sets of warehouse DJs. The dreamy, 'new age' flipside, 'I Surrender', has also impressed kicker-clad ravers "who need the record to mellow out" after heavy doses of Italo-house.

The partnership started 10 years ago as "a loose amalgamation of people doing a live sound track for a film called 'Biting Tongues'." Howard created the movie for Factory at the logo's premier venue, then named The Russel Club. He describes the musical score as being "a tacky load of experimental nonsense. But," the video maker adds, "that seemed to be the thing at the time and since then things have changed considerably."

After leaving Factory, the duo decided to abandon collective ventures as they wanted to progress beyond the confines of "the art band scene." Consequently, the new single and album 'Recharge' were solely engineered, produced and written by the alliance in an effort to make "a functional album which people can use."

The band have discarded their previous excesses, but still retain a multi-media approach. In addition to creating the video for 'Love Out' Howard is also making a scratch video with former mega-mixer Duncan Smith. The half hour compilation comprised tracks by 808 State and other north western dance troops.

Self-confessed computer boffin Graham points out that "the visual side of music is again coming to the fore with house acts using slides and light shows." Biting Tongues were utilizing similar types of media nearly eight years ago in conjunction with simple sampling techniques. When Paul Hardcastle popularized the usage of triggerable delays with his chart smash '19' the duo were employing the same methods to sample other peoples' records.

The advent of new technology has enabled Graham to fully develop his sampling skills. 'Recharge' combines these computerized advancements with live drumming and Howard's moody saxophone playing to create an atmospheric back-drop, punctuated by funky jazz-rock drums and staccato horns. The long player has similar drum patterns to many house records. Graham, however, explains that "the album is not an attempt at house; instead it tries to capture the expansive outlook of Seventies jazz and jazz-rock". The pressing endeavours to reflect the spirit of albums like Miles Davis' 'Bitches Brew', Graham's favourite waxing.

With sampling now included in chart material Graham and Howard are confident that 'Recharge' will have mass appeal as they believe that "the mainstream has progressed to fit more experimental types of music." Gary Davis has already played 'I Surrender' and with other commercial DJs latching on to new trends, groups like Biting Tongues should do well. 'Recharge' is due for release in November as a 2-by-45-rpm package and will hopefully equal the sales of 808 State's ground breaking 'Quadrastate'.