Exposé Online banner

Red Square — Rare and Lost 70s Recordings
(Guerssen Mental Experience MENT003 / , 1978/2016, LP / CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-07-27

Rare and Lost 70s Recordings Cover art

1974 saw the birth of the UK avant-rock band Red Square. Consisting of Ian Staples (guitar), Jon Seagroatt (sax and bass clarinet), and Roger Telford (free-jazz drummer), Red Square shared the stage with the likes of Henry Cow, Lol Coxhill, David Toop, and National Health. As their music and sound was too extreme for audiences and record labels alike, the band imploded in 1978. The only documents of their musical legacy are two ultra-rare privately released cassettes, the source of the music on this LP/CD reissue. Side one contains four raucous tracks from their “Nakamichi” Studio live session in 1978 and Side two contains three tracks from a live performance at Lindisfarne Hall in 1976 where they opened for Henry Cow. Listening to these seven tracks I can easily see why they did not connect with people. They were musical anarchists. Their music sounds like they were just playing for themselves, each pursuing his own path, periodically coming together, and careening off in new directions. The result was a chaotic mix of dissonance, free jazz, and momentary progressive-jazz. At times Ian’s fuzzed guitar and Jon’s sax lines would parallel each other. When the three of them came together, the music worked. But then it degenerated back into chaos. The studio session is difficult to wrap your mind around and may be indicative of the impending meltdown. In contrast, the live performance from two years earlier is more coordinated and accessible. However, I still cannot imagine how they were able to keep the audience interested in what they were doing on stage, though each track ends with polite applause. The press release contains a lot of hype about the band, yet it takes a very special ear to identify the quality and skills of the musicians. The best tracks on the disc are the last two “Circuitry #2” and “Circuitry #3.” These two tracks sound as if some thought had gone into preparing and composing them, rather than free improvisation. This music is not for everyone, not even necessarily the adventurous listener. Approach with caution.


Filed under: Archives, 2016 releases, 1978 recordings

Related artist(s): Red Square

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Djam Karet - Collaborator – Having followed this band since their 1987 cassette release The Ritual Continues, I've always felt that their strongest suit was their ability to create atmospheres, emotional sonic textures that...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues