Click here to read about the covid-19 policies for our Raleigh shop.

Karma Sutra: Be Cruel With Your Past And All Who Seek To Keep You There 12"

Karma Sutra: Be Cruel With Your Past And All Who Seek To Keep You There 12"


Tags: · 80s · anarcho · hardcore · hcpmf · recommended · reissues · UK
Regular price
$20.00
Sale price
$20.00

Karma Sutra were an anarcho pacifist band from Luton, Bedfordshire who formed in the early 80’s after the demise of the legendary the Phallic Symbols. Karma Sutra only had one release at the time – an album self released in 1987 called Daydreams of a Production Line Worker which came towards the end of their lifetime. Sealed Records now release the earlier years of demos and compilation tracks on a 15 track round up. Be Cruel with Your Past and all Who Seek to Keep you There includes their first and primitive demo The New Economy Roast from 1983. It’s very basic and has a Bullshit Detector Compilation quality to it. A few years later came the second demo Shoppers Paradise which is the best material Karma Sutra recorded. Six tracks of well produced classic 80’s Anarcho punk with a driving sound. It’s passionate, tuneful and politically aware. How this wasn’t released at the time on vinyl, is a travesty. Also included is two tracks from the Mortarhate Compilations Who? What? Why? When? Where? and We Don’t Want Your Fucking Law!. Finally the last three tracks were from the final line up of the band and were recorded with Spon from UK Decay adding more post punk elements to the sound.

The LP comes with a 40 page booklet of Lyrics, handouts, fanzine interviews and statements.


Our take: Karma Sutra was an anarcho-punk band from Luton, England that formed in the early 80s (their first cassette, compiled here, came out in 1983) and dissolved somewhere around 1988. I’d seen the band’s name before and never heard their music, but this collection LP on Sealed Records reveals them to be a buried treasure of the anarcho scene. With a long tenure as a band and a lot of lineup changes, Karma Sutra’s sound covers a lot of ground on Be Cruel With Your Past, which takes in everything from the band’s earliest work, which has a heavier sound akin to Amebix’s early singles, to their final recordings, which remind me of post-punk-informed anarcho bands like Zounds, Hagar the Womb, and Chumbawumba. Despite the stylistic shifts, these tracks are marked by strong songwriting, with catchy choruses (particularly on “Intelligent Life” and “It’s Our World Too”), nimble and energetic playing, and more adventurous moments like the flute-infused “Poll Tax.” The more I listen to this collection, the more I’m astounded that something this good has remained under the radar for so long. Perhaps that’s because the band’s best-distributed release was their LP, which isn’t included here, presumably because the members feel it was rushed and was their weakest work. I can’t speak to that, but Be Cruel With Your Past hangs together remarkably well as an album, and if you’re a fan of that old anarcho sound—particularly the more melodic end of the spectrum—you’ll love it. Even better, it comes with a massive booklet that compiles what seems like every scrap of ephemera relating to the band, including photos, flyers, fanzine interviews, the many informational pamphlets, booklets, and inserts that were de rigeur in the anarcho scene, and Lance Hahn’s excellent article from his series of anarcho punk histories that appeared in Maximumrocknroll. With excellent music you almost certainly haven’t heard before, eye-catching packaging, and a booklet that fills out the record’s history and context, Be Cruel with Your Past has everything I want from a punk reissue.