Signals, Calls, and Marches – Mission of Burma EP (1981)


Signals, Calls, and Marches is an EP and the debut release by American post-punk band Mission of Burma. It was released in 1981 by record label Ace of Hearts. The album’s first track is ‘That’s When I Reach for My Revolver,’ which features a singable, anthemic chorus that helped make it one of the band’s most popular songs. Though Mission of Burma’s live performances were characterized by noise and chaos, Signals, Calls, and Marches has a notably ‘cleaner’ sound in comparison to the band’s live performances and subsequent recordings. Marc Masters of Pitchfork called this different sound ‘somewhat misrepresentative’ of the band, as ‘[Producer Richard] Harte’s production cleaned up the band’s brutally loud live sound.’ Guitarist Roger Miller noted that the sound probably helped the band become more accessible, recalling. …”
Wikipedia
Pitchfork
YouTube: Signals, Calls and Marches (Full EP)

Chairs Missing – Wire (1978)


Chairs Missing marks a partial retreat from Pink Flag‘s austere, bare-bones minimalism, although it still takes concentrated listening to dig out some of the melodies. Producer Mike Thorne‘s synth adds a Brian Eno-esque layer of atmospherics, and Wire itself seems more concerned with the sonic textures it can coax from its instruments; the tempos are slower, the arrangements employ more detail and sound effects, and the band allows itself to stretch out on a few songs. The results are a bit variable — ‘Mercy,’ in particular, meanders for too long — but compelling much more often than not. The album’s clear high point is the statement of purpose ‘I Am the Fly,’ which employs an emphasis-shifting melody and guitar sounds that actually evoke the sound of the title insect. But that’s not all by any means — ‘Outdoor Miner’ and ‘Used To’ have a gentle lilt, while ‘Sand in My Joints’ is a brief anthem worthy of Pink Flag, and the four-minute ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ is the best result of the album’s incorporation of odd electronic flavors. In general, the lyrics are darker than those on Pink Flag, even morbid at times; images of cold, drowning, pain, and suicide haunt the record, and the title itself is a reference to mental instability. The arty darkness of Chairs Missing, combined with the often icy-sounding synth/guitar arrangements, helps make the record a crucial landmark in the evolution of punk into post-punk and goth, as well as a testament to Wire‘s rapid development and inventiveness.”
allmusic (Audio)
Everyone Stopped In Their Tracks – Wire’s “Chairs Missing”
W – Chairs Missing
Genius
YouTube: Chairs Missing 42:36

Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie And The Banshees (1978)


“… ‘I used to go along with my friend and just be really upset by the local skinheads that hung out there,’ said Siouxsie after witnessing racist taunts against the staff. She turned her anger into song. The Banshees’ guitarist, John McKay, provided an intro, which his bandmates first heard on a tour bus during 1977.At rehearsals, McKay played the opening bars on an electronic xylophone and Siouxsie added her serrated vocals. The punk-lite ‘Hong Kong Garden’ was first aired on a John Peel session, prompting Polydor to sign the band in 1978. … It wasn’t written as a single, but after waiting over a year to be signed, and with the song established as a live favourite, their manager Nils Stevenson pitched it as their best shot. They were reluctantly booked into Olympic Studios with an American soul producer, Bruce Albertine, using downtime between Eric Clapton sessions. They failed to capture the right sound. Within days they had regrouped with a young producer from the right side of the punk tracks, Steve Lillywhite. It took them two days to re-record ‘Hong Kong Garden’, replicating the earlier version cut for the Peel session, but this time climaxing with the crash of an orchestral gong. Much anticipated in the summer of 1978, following months of music media speculation, it made it to number seven on the charts and was arguably the most important of the early post-punk hits.”
Independent – Story of the song: Hong Kong Garden, Siouxsie and the Banshees (1978)
W – Hong Kong Garden (song)
YouTube: Hongkong Garden 1979 (Live)
YouTube: Hong Kong Garden, Voices (On The Air)

Mars ‎– 3 E / 11,000 Volts (1978)


“Mars was a New York City No Wave band formed by vocalist Sumner (Crane) Audrey in 1975. He was joined by China Burg (née Constance Burg; a.k.a Lucy Hamilton) (guitar, vocals), Mark Cunningham (bass), and artist Nancy Arlen (drums), and briefly by Rudolph Grey. The band played one live gig under the name China before changing it to Mars. They played a mixture of angular compositions and freeform ambient noise music jams, featuring surrealist lyrics and non-standard drumming. All the members were said to be completely untrained in music before forming the band. …”
popsike
W – Mars
YouTube: 3E, 11,000 Volts

Perfect Lives – Robert Ashley (1983)


“‘These are songs about the Corn Belt, and some of the people in it … or on it.’1 That’s what the man in the Perfect Lives Lounge says as you sit down with your drink, served in ‘a fluted plastic glass, sans ice’. Maybe he says it in Spanish, but you’re not sure. After all, even if you don’t speak a language, you can catch its drift if it’s sung. The Perfect Lives Lounge – let’s just call it The Bar – is sparse, but elegantly decorated. Colour scheme: hints of neon against inky black infinitude, here and there a blush of pink and baby blue. Seven vertical neon strips form The Bar’s sign. As your eyes adjust to the light, everything looks soft-edged, like a 1980s video or television broadcast, occasionally flecked with static. Come to think of it, from a certain angle, The Bar looks like a television studio set. Exact dimensions are uncertain; windows between interior and exterior dissolve rhythmically into one another. The man – Corn Belt Guy – is standing in the middle of the room. He has a full head of fine white hair, dusted with glitter, which is neatly parted down one side. His lips shine with gloss. He wears big tan-tinted glasses. …”
frieze: American Opera
W – Perfect Lives
Productions – PERFECT LIVES 1977-83
Lovely: Titles
YouTube: Perfect Lives 1 The Park Privacy Rules, 2 The Supermarket Famous People, 3 The Bank Victimless Crime, 4 The Bar Differences

Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth (1980)


“There really ought to be more bands like Young Marble Giants, which doesn’t mean that there ought to be more bands that sound like Young Marble Giants. They came out of the nowheresville of Cardiff, Wales; they didn’t particularly have a local scene to buoy them up, or a niche to fit into. What they had was an aesthetic that was totally theirs, a sound and style that essentially had no antecedents. Play any six seconds of any YMG song and you’ll know exactly who you’re listening to, and probably be thunderstruck by its unsentimental beauty of tone. In a year when everyone was trying to make a big noise– but isn’t that every year?– YMG switched tactics, forcing their audience to lean in to hear them. It’s not simply that they were quiet, although substituting a drum machine that sounded like it had a thick quilt on top of it for a human drummer was a radical move at the time. They weren’t even all that quiet– they were just in love with negative space, and their lyrics were so much about things unsaid that the space was formally appropriate. …”
Pitchfork
Guardian
W – Colossal Youth
Genius
YouTube: Brand New Life (Live), Colossal Youth (Live)
YouTube: Colossal Youth -Full Album-

Einstürzende Neubauten – Kollaps (1981)


“Includes a large format 12-page booklet. Originally released in 1981, Kollaps is the seminal, form-destroying debut album by German industrial pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten (trans. ‘Collapsing New Buildings’). The band’s use of junk metal, power drills, jackhammers and other surprising instrumentation would come to define their challenging and continually inventive career, making them not only one of the originators of industrial music, but one of the world’s most influential and far-reaching forces at the intersection between avant-garde and rock music. Formed in 1980 in the wave of the Dadaist movement Die Geniale Dilletanten, after a series of devastating live performances and personnel changes (one of which briefly involving electronic musician Gudrun Gut), the band’s line-up cemented itself with core members Blixa Bargeld, F.M. Einheit (previously of Hamburg-based post-punk band Abwärts) and N.U. Unruh. On Kollaps, a violent collision of urban primitivism and punk sensibilities, the trio declared war on every conventional way of listening, combining an intense mess of atonal guitar drones with brutal scrap metal percussion. At a time in Germany in which the wall encircling West Berlin transformed the city into a state-subsidized, near-paradisiacal freak-enclave for artists, Einstürzende Neubauten offered cathartic cascades of noise, employing steel parts, tin drums, drills, hammers, saws and untuned electric guitars, all crowned by Bargeld’s bloodcurdling screams and feverish, apocalyptic texts. Kollaps, with its atonal essence, embodied exactly what the title suggested: decay and destruction, illness, doom and death. Years later, with the fall of the Berlin wall behind it, Kollaps still sounds as radical and extreme an artistic statement as ever.”
Forced Exposure
W – Kollaps
allmusic (Audio)
YouTube: Kollaps (Full Album)