Welcome To The APE House.
If you know me, and if you’re reading this you either do or will, you’ll know that XTC has been one of the biggest influences on me as a musician and listener for many years now.
I have followed and devoured every record that Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding and Dave Gregory (not forgetting earlier members Terry Chambers and Barry Andrews) made under the XTC banner. I even bought Colin Moulding’s 7-inch single “Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen” (released as The Colonel) and Andy Partridge’s Through The Hill, a near-jazz odyssey collaboration with ambient pianist Harold Budd.
And of course, I not only bought the Fuzzy Warbles series (8 volumes of Andy’s home demos), I even shelled out for the Collector’s Album to keep them in. This last product was sold to me directly from Partridge’s label, the mighty APE HOUSE, the reason I’m writing today.
Andy is the consummate “artist as curator” at the Ape house and has signed a lot of unique and interesting music to it. He also takes a great interest in the artwork and packaging as well. I asked him about the name last year when I was calling him about another project:
“I wanted it just to be called APE,” Andy told me, “but there are apparently so many other apes that I couldn’t have that so I went for Ape House as in, you know, House of Dior or House of Givenchy. It’s House of Andy Partridge Enterprises or Andy Partridge Entertains or Andy Partridge’s Ego-trip or whatever the E stands for. Maybe that bloke out of the Eels!”
Ape signed my fellow Canadian Veda Hille and put out her album This Riot Life, filled with the kind of idiosyncratic and tuneful inventions that make her amazing. Here’s a link to the video for “Lucklucky” from that disc.
Then I heard about another of Andy’s signings, The Milk & Honey Band, and I gave a glowing review of Dog Eared Moonlight on Crawdaddy.com.
The next revelation came when I stumbled upon the video by the group Pugwash, who had just signed with Ape. This was the video, for their very XTC-ish song “At The Sea”:
Thomas Walsh, the lead singer in Pugwash, has an amazing ear for melody and plays a mean Rickenbacker too. You’ll see Neil Hannon (from Divine Comedy) make a cameo in the “At The Sea” video and last year he and Walsh came together in the cricket-loving duo The Duckworth Lewis Method.
Meanwhile, Pugwash, probably sick of being called “the greatest pop band you’ve never heard” have decided to give us all a second chance as Ape recently released Giddy, a remastered compilation of 13 previously released tracks “handpicked by Andy P and Thomas Walsh.”
Here’s a video they did for “It’s Nice To Be Nice” (which apparently had been on Jollity) a song which neatly combines Brian Wilson and The Lovin’ Spoonful into a NICE slice of pop-fection:
This brings me to an Ape album that I’m eager to hear when it drops on March 29th, Warm Robot by Jen Olive.
Here’s a link to part one of her Podcast at the Ape page, where she introduces herself.
And here’s a weird link on YouTube to some Sims thing that features a Jen Olive song, audio takes a second to kick in so don’t panic if it starts silently.
Looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time in the Ape House.