Hailing from Australia and having been formed in 1978 by New Zealand-born psychiatric nurse Graeme Revell and Neil Hill (one of Revell’s schizophrenic patients), SPK set out to expose the ‘cathedral of death’. They did so by incorporating images of medical abnormalities and cruelty and composing the soundtrack to an autopsy movie!
SPK were also known at various times as Sozialist-isches Patienten Kollektiv, SePuKu, System Planning Korporation and Surgical Penis Klinik.
In 1979, SPK issued three independent 7-inch records; the SoliPsik EP (April), and the singles Factory (August) and Mekano (November). The records featured kinetic rhythms and metallic white noise.
Ugly Mirrors members David Virgin (bass) and Danny Rumour (guitar) contributed to Mekano. Both went on to form Sekret Sekret.
In 1980, Revell travelled to London to release a single for the revered Industrial label, and while SPK achieved success in the UK (or sold out, depending on your viewpoint) on Top Of The Pops, Neil Hill and his wife Margaret formed an Australian version of SPK (also known as SoliPsik).
Their single See-Saw, a blast of industrial music, was released in July 1981 in an edition of just a few hundred copies. The fact that SPK fans will now gladly fork out in excess of £100 for this single is a testament not only to its rarity but even more to its musical merit.
Unfortunately, before SPK (the Australian version) could realise their enormous potential, Hill committed suicide in February 1984, just before his 28th birthday.
Two days later, his wife Margaret died due to complications from anorexia.
Revell returned to Australia for a tour which attracted the curious and adventurous. While in Australia he recorded a new album (with vocalist Sinan Leong), Machine Age Voodoo, which produced the most accessible SPK single to date – Junk Funk (1985).
Additional musicians on the album included Mary Bradfield-Taylor (vocals), Sam McNally (keyboards), Jeff Bartolomei (keyboards), Phil Scorgie (bass), Graham Jesse (sax) and James Kelly (guitar).
Revell and Leong recruited additional vocalist Karina Hayes for Breathless (May 1988), a haunting dance-pop 12-inch single which brought SPK even closer to mainstream acceptance. In June, they released the Gold and Poison album.
In 1989, Revell moved into soundtrack work, writing the music for the television miniseries Bangkok Hilton (1989) and the Sam Neill/Nicole Kidman feature film Dead Calm (1989). Enticed by Hollywood offers, Revell and Leong relocated to Los Angeles.
Neil ‘Skorne’ Hill
Vocals, electronics, performance