Manchester rapper helps propel Essex punks to album success 25 years after their previous hit

The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary by Maniac Squat

Maniac Squat were the art punk band from Colchester who had a cult hit with ‘F**k Off’ in the mid-90s – a record which secured them the coveted single of the week slot in Kerrang! no less. Performing over two hundred gigs, including support slots for Babes in Toyland and Zodiac Mindwarp as well as tours of mainland Europe, Maniac Squat made their last record in 1996 and promptly split.

El Zeeko meanwhile is the Manchester-based rapper and producer who was raised in a crosshairs between Old Trafford and Stretford and enters the music scene with a south Manchester confidence and 90’s hip-hop energy. Starting out as a producer at 13 inspired by his brother’s rap group Manchester’s notorious blueprint to Grime RAW-T, he learned the art and craft of production leading him to be signed to a deal with Universal as a teenager.

In an unexpected but utterly phenomenal pairing Maniac Squat and El Zeeko have now joined forces – with the Manchester rapper appearing as one of the guest artists on the Colchester punks’ reunion album. The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary, a stunning concept album of experimental art-rock with heavy jazz leanings has been inspired by the work of eighteenth-century Christian mystic, author and philosopher, Karl von Eckhartshausen.

Released in September of this year the album has already been picking up glowing reviews. The Wire magazine praised the contribution from El Zeeko: “whose hypnotic rhyming slang transports a section of the piece through a subterranean maze of catacombs, before crashing into a wall of improvised piano and re-energised rock blare.”

On working with El Zeeko Tom Wilcox comments: “El Zeeko is exceptionally talented. It’s really been a pleasure working with him. He brought something special to this album and I’m delighted his contribution is being recognised in this way.”

El Zeeko: “Working on this album was at first actually quite a frightening idea. When I heard the beat, I’d never even attempted to rap on anything like it before. However once I wrote the first verse and found my rhythm I was able to make it my own and in the end I quite liked what I did. This experience was completely new and interesting. The hospitality I experienced from everyone involved in the process was pleasantly surprising and refreshing. I was overwhelmed with the response I got from the rest of the band members.”

Joining El Zeeko – and the original Maniac Squat alumni of Tom Wilcox, Scott Pearce and Michael Giaquinto – are legendary Bowie/Iggy Pop sideman, Kevin Armstrong, who also produced the album; Iggy Pop’s drummer, Mat Hector and PJ Harvey’s sax player, Terry Edwards. The release is accompanied by an equally stunning video seventeen-minute video by art director/film producer, Robert Russell, whose vibrant, other-worldly imagery deftly captures the intensity of emotions that the band delve into via their experimental soundscapes.

Tom Wilcox adds: “Our wilderness years were spent stumbling horny from one fix to the next. In the course of trying to repair our complex and multi-faceted personal relationships, Scott, Michael and I were profoundly affected by both the teachings of Karl von Eckartshausen and the key change rubrics of Gustav Mahler. These inspirations provoked us into composing separate elements of a larger piece of music. We gradually brought the disparate movements together to make one work. There is no coming to consciousness without pain.”

The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary was released on 23rd September on all the main digital platforms and in a limited-edition vinyl format, too, available via: http://maniacsquat.com/

About Maniac Squat:

Formed in Colchester, Essex, Maniac Squat pursued their own brand of art punk for five years between 1991 and 1996. They first played at Colchester Arts Centre in 1992 and were immediately banned for using an industrial grinder in their performance and for making a hole in the stage while smashing up a guitar. Maniac Squat persevered and went on to notch up the much coveted ‘Single of the Week’ accolade from Kerrang! magazine for their single ‘F**k Off’. They played over 200 gigs in their career – including tours of Germany and the Czech Republic – also releasing two singles and an album and being the go-to local support act for bands such as Babes In Toyland and Zodiac Mindwarp when their tour itinerary took them to Colchester. After splitting in 1996, Tom Wilcox, Scott Pearce and Michael Giaquinto would later re-appear in the mid-2000s as part of The Chavs, with several of their tracks used as MTV theme tunes, including ‘Nuclear War’.

About El Zeeko:

El Zeeko was raised in a crosshair between Old Trafford and Stretford and enters the music scene with a south Manchester confidence and 90’s hip-hop energy. With exceptional wordplay reflective of his love for English language, El Zeeko graces us with a humble yet raw and honest account of his love life, brotherhood, survival and the road code in his first biblical self-titled EP project as an artist titled 25:17. Starting out as a producer at 13 inspired by his brother’s rap group Manchester’s notorious blueprint to Grime RAW-T, he learned the art and craft of production leading him to be signed to a deal with Universal as a teenager. Working both as an artist and a producer, El Zeeko continues to work with homegrown soul duo Children of Zeus, Tyler Daley, Sleazy F Baby and more due to his musical ear in the Neo-Soul and Hip-Hop space in Manchester.

Media enquiries: Darren Johnson +44 (0)7799 731 682 darrenjohnson@crowfliescommunications.com

Website: http://maniacsquat.com/

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