Tempertwig – Comfort Blanket / Everything Can Be Derailed

Croydon brothers Ben and Adam Parker were something of a musical lightning storm, ferocious and frenetic and volatile in their output, sparking into life in the early 00s and ceasing not long after. Despite their flash of a career, the pair left behind a small but ardent crowd of wowed witnesses to mourn their passing, people left with a defiant afterimage that remained long after the light went out.

The majority of this came via the project Nosferatu D2, though Ben Parker set out solo as Superman Revenge Squad once the initial outfit wound down and reunited with his brother for The Superman Revenge Squad Band later. The former set out the Parker brothers spirit, a whole gamut of feelings distilled into an instinctive, spontaneous sound. The instrumentation veered between raucous and minimal, Ben’s guitar often loud and erratic and prone to descending into warped cacophonies despite the lack of effects peddle. Meanwhile, Adam’s drums hammered out lines that formed the skeleton for these creations, their insistent drive capturing the fury and furore that made the Parkers’ music so distinct.

The lyrical component was no less ambitious or impassioned, a breakneck deluge of wry jokes, honest admissions and pop culture references. The tone was sad and livid with the way life had turned out and even sadder and more livid that the only recourse is to write songs, as if art ever made a difference. The result was an exhausting and wholly recognisable blend of cynicism and sincerity, powered by a constant rage with the banality of things, to the degree to which Ben Parker suggested he couldn’t play these songs if he wasn’t angry enough. Immediately after playing what was to be their biggest show (supporting Los Campesinos! and Sky Larkin), the brothers found that this prediction had come true, and in that moment they decided to shelve their freshly recorded debut album and pronounced Nosferatu D2 finished.

Only, like their namesake, the band were not so much dead as undead. A fan in London loved their music so much he set up a label specifically to release their album, and the birth of Audio Antihero reanimated Nosferatu D2, giving them a posthumous renaissance. With what has now become the hallmark of the label, Jamie Halliday put out the record (and a subsequent album from The Superman Revenge Squad Band) as a labour of love, letting the music speak for itself while maintaining a healthy discontent with the wider industry—not genuflecting to the bloated cast of publicists and taste-makers in the hope of wider success, but letting a community coalesce around the music. He created a space for the cult albums to germinate and bloom, the roots of the Parker brothers maintaining soil structure for what was to come.

Tempertwig photo

However, the Parkers were writing and recording music prior to these projects, playing under the moniker Tempertwig along with bassist Daniel Debono. The songs from these early days were long thought to be lost, though after some millennial archaeology, a collection was unearthed from hard drives and CDs, and Audio Antihero has teamed up with new label Randy Sadage to release FAKE NOSTALGIA: An Anthology of Broken Stuff.

The record, described as a “time capsule of an uncelebrated town in gloomy South London,” isn’t out until the 29th March, but we’re honoured to be able to share two songs a few weeks early to set expectations. With its melancholic, tired anger, ‘Comfort Blanket’ is classic Parker brothers, the vulnerable honesty balanced with an unceasing self-consciousness, the cost of trying to communicate candidly in a culture that Mark Fisher labels ‘capitalist realism’—where everything has long since been used up and commodified, and nothing new can emerge. “Why is the bedroom so cold etc. etc.?” Parker asks, condemned not only to being secondary and belated to previous generations and their golden idols, but fatally aware of the fact. Ours is a time in which every thought and sentiment is an inane reference to something else, made stupid and empty by the ubiquitous quotation marks.

Opening with a gentler, brighter sound, ‘Everything Can Be Derailed’ is a reaction to this, born of the tension between making peace with the situation and attempting to overthrow it. “It’s alright, we can laugh and smile and keep our fingers crossed,” Parker sings, as though seeking small mercies or miracles in hell, “and hide the sleeping pills up there on the bedroom cabinet, on the left.”

But the refrain offers a different mindset, the insistent repetition forming a mantra that aims to break the spell of complacency and fatalism that marks the culture that came to dominate in the 00s. Everything can be derailed—the tyranny of capitalism, social order, nostalgia, the beatified idols still working from the grave—we just have to remember it, scream it, repeat it slowly beneath our breaths. As Mark Fisher concludes at the end of Capitalist Realism, “the tiniest event can tear a hole in the grey curtain of reaction which has marked the horizon of possibility,” and perhaps a way out of capitalist realism could be charted “from a situation in which nothing can happen, suddenly anything is possible again.”

FAKE NOSTALGIA: An Anthology of Broken Stuff is out on the 29th March via Audio Antihero and Randy Sadage Records. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to delve into Nosferatu D2, Superman Revenge Squad and The Superman Revenge Squad Band‘s back catalogues too.

Tempertwig Tape Art

Artwork by Benjamin Shaw, photos courtesy of Rattail.net