13th Chime: Noir review

A Welcome Return to Form from Cambridgeshire's Finest.

Gothic punk veterans 13th Chime have been enjoying something of a renaissance of late with all of their 1980s recordings compiled by Sacred Bones on the 'Complete Discography' CD. Since then their singer Mick Hand has gathered together some of his old Cambridgeshire pals and started the band again. This new CD album presents an impressive selection of new tunes recorded in 2015, but sounding like its 1979 again. A little more punky than I was expecting but old fans will not be disappointed with this release. There's more than a nod to Killing Joke, The Antz, and UK Decay and even a touch of 60s type psych on the very English 'Albert's Dream'. With a nice pace throughout and the genuinely dark atmosphere of these tracks, fans of gothic punk –as we used to call it – will find in Noir an album that demands some serious rotation.

13th Chime's drummer David Middle talks to No Class.

In 2017, 13th Chime represents a family of friends and musicians. These include Mick, Rob, Jon, Gary, Terry, Ricky, Rupert and myself. Everyone grew up out of the Haverhill and Cambridge punk scene and has played music together from 1979 to today. This group of people have played in groups together such as 13th Chime, Anticx, Wyndups, Final Scream, Clydes Gang, Long Bone Trio and Black Buttercups.

In 2015, Mick Hand wanted to make music again. He approached everyone and then over the next six months or so, it became clear that the songs and the vibe of 13th Chime still worked. With the global internet and new audience, it was clear there were kindred musical spirits who wanted to hear 13th Chime.

Interest by DJs, promoters, DIY festival organisers soon followed. 13th Chime for the first time played in countries including Russia, Poland, Germany and the United States. A tour of Finland is scheduled in April 2017. A live session was recorded with Jason at Old School Studios that was broadcast on Breakthru radio in New York. The live set is always a mix of new and old tunes that we all still adore.

It is wonderful to meet so many new people, young and old, who are still going to live music, creating and supporting their scene and keeping it all alive. It is so refreshing and often reminds me of the punk days when I and the others were young.

After the initial gigs, the band wrote some new songs. They were strong and the feedback positive. Tracks like Albert's Dream, Cats of Toulouse and Witchtree Lane really linked the sounds of the past to today. We had an old live gig recording of Anticx songs and early 13th Chime tracks from 1980. They had not been played for 35 years and had never been recorded. It actually felt really fresh to bring some of these back from the dead and re-work them. The re-birth of old tracks, such as Reality, Memories and Sexual Spasms were part of that.

In December 2015 we went to the Toy Rooms studio in Brighton. This is the home of Pablo Clements who was part of Unkle and now Toy Drum. His studio is used by many including Nick Cave. Pablo is my brother-in-law and he offered us the use of the studio. The tracks on the Noir album were recorded their and were released in a variety of formats mid-2016. The LP has been well received by old and new admirers.

Sacred Bones Records continue to be supportive. Sacred Bones are a really successful record label now and have come a long way since releasing the 13th Chime Singles and Lost Album. Caleb supported the New York gig and it was good to meet him in person. Sacred Bones continue to distribute the Noir LP as part of their discography section and the gigs are always published on their site. The 13th Chime bandcamp page is shared with Sacred Bones.

13th Chime continues to write new songs and it is flattering for all that interest in the band continues. At the age of the band members, we all want to embrace opportunities and build up memories by meeting so many passionate musical people. We are not motivated by money, but by the need to express ourselves for as long as possible to people who are keen to join in.

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