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The group 23 Skidoo has existed in various forms over the years. The core is comprised of Fritz Catlin, John Turnbull and Alex Turnbull, who had been playing together since schooldays, alongside bassist Sketch (from Linx) who they teamed up with in the mid 80?s around the time of "Coup"/"Urban Gamelan". The group were always bucking trends, questioning the status quo, avoiding the clichés.
There are no names or photos on the early Skidoo records (a fact which has enabled a whole slew of phoneys to claim linkage to the group). The artwork to the records was done by Neville Brody and the cover to "The Gospel Comes To New Guinea" is on permanent display at the V&A Museum. Skiddoo have their own chapter in Brody?s book "The Graphic Language of Neville Brody".
At live gigs, an effort was made to avoid repeating sets and audiences were often played music with which they were totally unfamiliar even as fans of the band. At one period they stopped using regular instruments and just used percussion made from scrap metal (their work using metal percussion circa "Urban Gamelan"/"The Culling Is Coming" pre-empts groups such as Stomp and Test Departments).
All this was conducted under a haze of smoke bombs and images projected on the band, "The Last Poets meet Williams Burroughs at the Dolung Bridge" as it was once described. They have been sampled by Ice T - "Peel Their Caps Back" (Punisher LP) and copied by the Chemical Brothers "Block Rockin? Beats", and described by Fab 5 Freddy, who bought Urban Gamelan ?on the strength? after hearing "GI Fuck You" as he walked by a record shop, as ?some next level sh*t?.
Their multi faceted approach to music led the group to become involved in production and setting up a studio, Precinct 23. The strongly independent stance of the group caused them to form their own label, Ronin Records in 1989, as a response to an industry governed by pop sensibility and disposable music.
Roni Records are set to release the entire 23 Skidoo back-catalogue on CD for the first time.
Skidoo have just finished a new album for Virgin Records which is due for release at the beginning of the millennium.
WOMAD Biog July 2000
In between the ancestral pounding of the Drummers of Burundi and the delicate metallic flow of a Balinese gamelan orchestra, patrons of WOMAD?s first ever festival back in 1982 were plied with a breath-taking, gut-wrenching performance by sonic terrorists 23 Skidoo. The 28 years which separate that ground-breaking event and this year?s festival have seen 23 Skidoo continuing to ram-raid preconceptions and keep clichés at arms length.
Their pioneering forays into scrap-metal noises and industrial music pre-dated the likes of Test Department and Stomp by several years and were expertly captured on the ?Urban Gamelan? and ?The Culling Is Coming? albums. In the past decade 23 Skidoo have evolved into one of the most respected hip hop production teams in the UK and their Ronin records is recognised force on the block. 23 Skidoo are used to being plagiarised and copied and the products of their wayward musical genius and have been sampled, bitten off and chewed by the likes of Ice T and the Chemical Brothers.
Their formidable back catalogue is due for release in its entirety soon on Ronin Records and a new eponymous album is imminent on Virgin. This isn?t world music, it isn?t folk or rock or funk or anything that has a simple four letter name. 23 Skidoo do their own thing which has best been described by rapper Fab 5 Freddy as "some next level sh*t".