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In 1994, MTV ran a documentary on the British label Too Pure, which had been founded four years earlier with early releases from Stereolab, PJ Harvey and Seefeel. The 30-minute profile recently traveled through social media circles, and it’s a fascinating time capsule.
Featuring extensive interviews with co-owners Richard Roberts and Paul Cox, it offers brief profiles of and conversations with essential Too Pure contributors Laika, Moonshake and Pram.
The video caught Too Pure at peak influence. It sprinted out of the gate with massive debut indie releases from PJ Harvey, Stereolab and woefully ignored shoegaze band Th’ Faith Healers, prompting bidding wars that found Harvey and Stereolab signing to majors.
Here are some classic Too Pure tracks from those early days.
Stereolab – Jenny Ondioline (1993)
Taken from the band’s album “Transient Noise Bursts With Announcements,” this track typifies the band’s revolutionary re-amplification and channeling of ideas set forth by German bands including Neu, Kraftwerk and Can.
Seefeel – Industrious (1993)
The crucial London band Seefeel was founded in 1992 and nearly 30 years later their records feel brand new. Their debut album, “Quiqui,” was reissued by Light in the Attic a few years ago, and this official video for “Industrious” offers sublime evidence of their influence.
Pram – Last Asronaut (1999)
Seemingly allergic to the sound of guitar, Pram’s earliest music for Too Pure is often eclipsed by the Stereolab stuff, but Pram was just as individualistic (and less beholden to Neu! melodies). After success on Too Pure, the group moved to Domino, and have issued a catalog rich with experimentation.
Laika – Marimba Song (1994)
A rhythm band a la ESG or Konk, Laika was founded by Margaret Fiedler (lead vocals, programming) and producer-musician Guy Fixsen. This track is from the band’s 1994 Too Pure album “Silver Apples on the Moon.”
Th’ Faith Healers – Don’t Jones Me (1994)
Driven by rave-inspired rhythms and sublime repetition, Th’ Faith Healers were a guitar band that thrived on heavy dynamics and huge bursts of distortion.
Moonshake – Capital Letters (1993)
Named for the Can song, Moonshake didn’t hide the influence. Heavy on Liebezeit-style percussion and Pop Group-style political invectives, the band’s first album for Too Pure, “Eva Luna,” is a dollar bin classic. Founded by David Callahan, its early incarnation featured heavy contributions from Laika’s Margaret Fiedler. “We were different people and wrote differently, but came from the same influences – Can, PIL, Kraftwerk, Eric B & Rakim, and MBV to name a few bands,” Fiedler told one interviewer. “Moonshake was a collision. It was supposed to be a collision.”