Monday, 23 July 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #272 - Various Artists, "Strange Passion: Explorations In Irish Post Punk, DIY And Electronic Music 1980-83"

I was listening to an interview on 6 Music with Sinead O'Connor last weekend about her musical upbringing and she mentioned how the Irish charts of her young life were bursting with terrible country & western music. This album belies what was going on away and underneath those charts. I was also listening to Radio Cymru on the way to my brother's house in north Wales and that music is still there. Send help.

I first heard of this collection a couple of months ago. Finders Keepers records up to typical mischief. There appears to be a lass with no clothes on the cover, which is disappointing. Not sure why. I can hear the sweaty intensity of the underground (as Girls Aloud never put it). Chant! Chant! Chant!'s "Play It Safe" could have a contraceptive message going on, perhaps? Looking for culture everywhere, I am.

Virgin Prunes up the ante somehow, and you get the idea that they made more of an impression, which I suppose they did seeing as I've heard of them now. They've composed a tribute to cigs as well, which you never hear enough of - "Twenty Tens (I've Been Smoking All Night)". A skittering doubling up of Johnny Rottens over some paranoid garage guitar.

Operating Theatre were staring out the same window as Ultravox when they came up with "Austrian". There is roughness and readiness, but the last track of theirs, "Eighties Rampwalk" is seriously like early Boards of Canada. There's a Dublin accent that could curdle butter on Stano's "Town", about "walking out into the black maze" of a weekend night out. "No worries," he says. You can't any more Dublin than that. And the guy appears to have a massive lisp; the wet one that sounds a bit like a Welsh ll. Are there two kind of paranoid, nightmarish post-punk themes: the micro- and the macro-. The Peridots are macro, projecting out their unhappiness into the world and planning out the grim, gurgling "No Water". Then others go micro- internalising the chaos around them and reproducing that in their music.

Choice's "Always In Danger" sounds like it's being sung by nuns. As an Irishman by passport, should I really be perpetuating these tired idea about Ireland in the Eighties? I suspect I shouldn't. PH's "Last Days" ticks a fuckload of boxes: homemade electronic instruments, portentous slightly tuneless lyrics, sense of doom. I like it. "Avenue B" by Major Thinkers (great band name!) attempts to persuade me that Devo in fact came from Mullingar and not Ohio at all. Even the lyrics have devolved into singing "Avenue B/It's the place to be" over and over.

SM Corporation do some great tinkering as well, up through the night soldering and waiting by the letterbox for posted bits to arrive from catalogies. Hissy, tinny drum sounds and strident keyboards. Human Leaguing by example. "Discoland" is the sound of Tripper Humane standing next to a cassette recorder with another lad occasionally singing about being drunk and/or plastic. It's the burning urgency to bridge the gap between they sound they hear in the heads and the noise they make with instruments, that's what sucks me into this stuff.

All these unheard pockets of the world and the recent past, lying so close to where I am now. It's drilling for oil, it is.

Rating: Intense Box-Ticking out of No Worries

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