Originally released as a hand-assembled, very limited run of cassettes for record labels only in 1990, Pitchshifter’s original demo has long been considered a collector’s holy grail—with the few copies in existence being traded amongst collectors for decades but never having been seen, let alone heard, by most of the band’s fanbase. Featuring six cuts of primal industrial fury that would later be reworked for their debut record “Industrial”, the demo stands as one of the most promising starts in British metal. In the words of bassist and founder Mark Clayden:
“It was a snapshot of our lives, and how frustrated we were with everything around us in the military-industrial complex as we saw it at that time (and, newsflash, folks, nothing much seems to have changed in three decades…). I had no idea at that time that a few copies of a C-60 audio cassette made in an attic would be the start of the next 25 years of my life.”
Now, 30 years after its creation, it is finally getting the physical pressing it deserves in its original format. Limited to 100 hand-numbered cassettes (50 on transparent red tapes and 50 clear tapes with full-body printing and new artwork designed by frontman J.S. Clayden), it’s a reproduction of this slice of UK underground music history given another chance to emerge into the daylight, just when we need it most.
Formed in 1989 by guitarist/programmer Johnny Carter and bassist/vocalist Mark Clayden as a response to life in Nottingham—a city that was rapidly losing its industrial clout—Pitch Shifter (written as two words, as it was back then) later roped in Mark’s 18 year old kid brother Jon and helped to establish a sound that fused abrasive industrial metal with drum & bass, breakbeat and punk—a sound that perfectly mirrored the unrest within Thatcher’s un-United Kingdom.
Whilst the band achieved breakout success with their 1998 .com album—most notably with the singles “Microwaved” and “Genius”—they never stopped evolving. Similarly, whether they were working with counterculture pioneer Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys, tearing apart the headlining stage at a now-legendary Reading ’99 performance, or introducing a generation of young metalheads to techno and house, they never lost their profoundly punk spirit.
Touring relentlessly throughout their career, the band went on indefinite hiatus following the release of their sixth studio album PSI in 2002, briefly returning in 2006 with the None for All and All for One EP—a timely middle-finger salute to the ongoing debacle of UK politics and an unjust war in the Middle East. However, it was only much later in 2018 that the band announced their reformation for a run of UK shows.
I love the idea that the end is the beginning; Ouroboros, Pitch Shifter (two words) began with a demo tape. 30 years later, Pitchshifter (one word) is releasing that same demo in the same format. To me, the demo signifies that anybody can make music and be successful (by their own definition of success, granted) with their art. What started off as some rough musical ideas in our heads, combined with some lyrics written out on crumpled pieces of paper, turned out to be the humble beginnings of meeting legends like John Peel, recording multiple albums, being on the covers of magazines, and touring the world. If a bunch of punk kids like us could achieve that, then anybody could do it. I would encourage anyone reading this to follow their passion and see where it takes them.
- Brutal Cancroid
- Skin Grid
- Gravid Rage
- Mark Clayden: Bass Guitar, Vocals
- J.S. Clayden: Backing Vocals
- Johnny Carter: Lead Guitar, Programming