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British Murder Boys – Live In Tokyo

To say that Karl O’Connor and Tony Childs’ British Murder Boys project was shocking is something of an understatement. For an Irish national, it brings back deeply unsettling memories of Thatcher’s cold-blooded shoot to kill policy in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. For a wider audience it makes reference, either directly or subliminally, to blasphemy, child abuse and state/military-led brutality and oppression.

British Murder Boys - Live In Tokyo
British Murder Boys
Live In Tokyo
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Like the acts that inspired both producers – Throbbing Gristle, Coil – it appears that British Murder Boys was deliberately provocative and drew on taboo subjects to trigger a reaction. After all, O’Connor is Irish, so why did he name an act after a military outfit that killed his fellow countrymen? The duo’s performances frazzled the senses as well and this live recording from last year shows what a visceral experience a British Murder Boys ‘concert’ could be.

“Start” lasts for almost twenty minutes; from the crowd cheering during the opening minute, it moves from dusty synth sounds and murky sound scapes. It takes a few minutes before the first screech of a man in pain is audible, but sirens going off in slow motion quickly drown it out. Gradually, chanting sounds are introduced and with just a few minutes left a slow pulse kicks in, much to the crowd’s appreciation. By contrast, “End” consists merely of looped noise, which gets more and more intense as it speeds up and sends the crowd home on a high note.

But the reason why this live recording is so memorable is mainly due to the track in the middle, “As Above So Below”. Dense, distorted kicks and conveyor-belt style percussive crunches provide the backing for O’Connor to screech lyrics like “As above so below/Did you see her go?/What you don’t want to know..”. Given BMB’s focus on certain subjects, the waves of feedback that engulf the arrangement prevent the listener from finding out what happened to the unfortunate female. We should be grateful for such small mercies.

Richard Brophy


A. Start
B1. As Above So Below
B2. End