RUDIMENTARY PENI

Formed: Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Grant Matthews - bass, writing
Nick Blinko - vocals, guitar, artwork
Jon Greville - drums

One of the most imaginative anarcho bands of the 80's, Rudimentary Peni were lumped in with the Crass crowd and did indeed attack the status quo with a decidedly left-wing slant, but their slogans were a lot less generic than their peers. Their world view fired by the mental problems and literary leanings of singer/guitarist/former art student Nick Blinko - whose incredibly intricate, spooky artwork was also a constant unique feature - and the more earnest political leanings of bassist Grant Matthews, both of whom were the main songwriters.

Their astonishing and original music was only part of their mystique: they rarely gigged and never toured, they did not dress like punks, they did not have pictures of themselves on their records, they rarely did interviews in the mainstream press, and they left long gaps in between records. The aura of gloom and darkness that hung around them was not helped when, just before recording their first LP, Matthews was diagnosed with cancer (he survived) and when in the early 90's Blinko was detained in a psychiatric hospital under Section 3 of the 1983 Mental Health Act. It was there he wrote the band's third LP.

Rudimentary Peni evolved out of Jon and Blinko's former band The Magits, an experimental keyboard-heavy group which released the 'Fully Coherent' EP on their own Outer Himalayan label in 1979. A second Magits multi-track single (A Pawn In The Game) was recorded in 1980 but never released. Rudimentary Peni formed soon after, taking their name from a science lesson in which Matthews was told "that in the fetal stage the clitoris is a rudimentary penis." They made their live debut in early 1981 at a village hall just outside of Watford, where they played with the S-Haters and Soft Drinks, and their London debut that September, supporting Subhumans and Flux of Pink Indians. Neither gigs were successes for them, with the punks failing to get their heads around their image or their songs.

1981 also saw the release of their first EP, the startlingly manic Rudimentary Peni, also released on Outer Himalayan. Cramming twelve very fast and very short songs into as many minutes and housing them in Blinko's highly distinctive black and white artwork, itself suggestive of an unstable, obsessive state of mind, the record is a classic. Blinko's vocals are mad enough without somebody deciding to master the original single at the wrong speed (too fast), but this makes them seem even weirder and more highly strung. A second EP, Farce, recorded in summer 1982 and released on Crass, sticks to the formula and has a Crass-ier type sound (Penny Rimbaud produced) but sacrifices nothing else. Hilarious scary classics, the pair of them, they were collected on The EP's Of RP in 1987.

September 1983's Death Church varies the assault somewhat, with some songs at a much slower tempo, a handful of longer tracks and better production, but retains the same grey guitar barrage and general weirdness. On the 21 songs the band lay into standard punk subjects - sell-out punk rock stars ('Rotten To The Core'), the government ('Slimy Member'), religious intolerance ('Army Of Jesus'), multinational corporations ('Quarter Dead') - and some very strange ones. What could 'When You Are A Martian Church' possibly mean? The LP was a hit, reaching No. 3 in the Indie chart and remaining in the charts for three months.

Ditching politics for Poe (and Lovecraft), intellectual psychosis and inscrutable musings on the mysteries of life and death, the long-awaited Cacophony (1988) defies criticism with over fifty "songs", many of them bitty noodles that are over and done with in a matter of seconds, some of them deliriously catchy and fervid (e.g. the manic opener 'Nightgaunts'), often descending into utter gibberish. As close to true madness as rock music ever gets, this is funny, frightening, unsettling, infuriating, frustrating and downright fascinating - punk rock's 'Troutmaskreplica'.

Rudimentary Peni - Cacophony - A-SideRudimentary Peni - Cacophony CD Art

ABOVE: Cacophony: label for the original UK pressing (left), cover art for the original CD (right)

Blinko, Brand and Greville took a turn for the ultra-minimal on 1995's Pope Adrian 37th Psychristiatric, a typically bewildering record with just twelve songs, all of them built on simplistic, monochromatic guitar riffs repeatedly endlessly. Written three years before it was recorded, while Blinko was in the loony bin, the subject matter relates to Blinko's delusion that he was "Pope Adrian 37th" — a reference to Pope Adrian IV. The lyrics themselves make early Discharge seem positively wordy: 'Pogo Pope', 'Muse Sick (Sic)', 'Vatican't City Hearse' and the brilliantly-titled 'We're Gonna Destroy Life The World Gets Higher And Higher' consist of the titles being chanted over and over; 'Hadrianich Relique' is an instrumental; 'Iron Lung' is nothing more than coughing noises. Even the band members hate this irritating and boring release.

Further records beginning with 1997's Echoes Of Anguish, continue to be released, more often than not multi-song EP's similar to the first two singles but not as mad.

Nick Blinko - The Primal ScreamerNick Blinko -  artwork 1Nick Blinko -  artwork 1

Blinko has also written a novel, 'The Primal Screamer' (1995). Above - art by Nick. On the left is The Primal Screamer. in the middle is an image from Cult Nation, and the image on far right is from the Henry Boxer Gallery.

DISCOGRAPHY

Subsequent studio albums: Cacophony (1988), Pope Adrian 37th Psychristiatric (1995). And loads of multi-song EPs.

Singles / Albums

Rudimentary Peni - Rudimentary Peni Rudimentary Peni - Farce Rudimentary Peni - Death Church    
Rudimentary Peni
(7", 1981)
Farce
(7", 1982)
Death Church
(LP, 1983)
   

Extraneous Releases

Rudimentary Peni - The EP's Of RP        
The EP's Of RP
(LP, 1987)
       

Bootlegs

Rudimentary Peni - Catastrophe Rudimentary Peni - The Underclass      
Catastrophe
(LP, 1982)
Live
(7", 2001)
     

Various Artists

1984 And All That... UK Tape 1980s (no label): Bloody Jellies

A-Sides (Part One. 1979/1982) UK CD 1992 (Crass): Sacrifice / Cosmetic Plague / Subdued Violence / Only Human / The Bile Ball / Farce

Anti-Capitalism: Anarcho-Punk Compilation Vol. 4 UK CD 2007 (Overground): Teenage Time Killer

Links

PISSING IN A POD - Rudimentary Peni fanpage with discography, interviews etc

GRIND AND PUNISHMENT - High Priests of the Death Church: A Rudimentary Peni Retrospective

OUTSIDER ART - Nick Blinko

BRITISH OUTSIDER ART

 

You can add stuff and make comments/corrections by emailing me at:

jane@punkygibbon.co.uk

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