Strange Passion – Explorations In Irish Post Punk, DIY and Electronic Music 1980-83 – album Review

‘Strange Passion – Explorations In Irish Post Punk, DIY and Electronic Music 1980-83’ (Finders Keepers)
Released 17th September 2012

Finders Keepers Records present the first ever compendium of Irish post punk and new wave – featuring extensive liner notes, rare photos with the full participation of the featured artists and bands.

”ËœStrange Passion’ is a collection of rare, and in many cases, previously unreleased sounds of Irish Post Punk, DIY and Electronic music from 1990 – 1993. Compiled by Dublin B Music DJ Darren McCreesh on Cache Cache records, the individual tracks, some more familiar, some unusual home recordings on cassette, are brought together as a movement from Belfast and Derry to Dublin and Cork. The music expresses the mood of urban Irish youth, reflecting their responses to challenging cultural traditions and political action around them, capturing the DIY ethos and fashioning it to reflect their own experiences. There’s both overt articulaton and the huge significance of the unsaid within the Irish experience. Whilst bands such as U2 and Clannad sailed the mainstream, young people took a new direction inspired and fuelled by the independent and wider media such as Hot Press, Heat, fanzines VOX and Imprint, and a commitment to youth programming by national broadcaster RTÉ; they also looked across the water for a fresh direction. This moment in Irish music is a hidden story and the release of ”ËœStrange Passions’ gives a coherent perspective on the power of the Irish experience.

Paul Morley recently commented that ”Ëœthe Curator’ is having his day, be that in art literature or music, the presentation or work selected by a nominated individual is the Zeitgeist, our gateway to previously undiscovered chunks of culture or those now presented in a new light. In the spirit of this movement, I’m giving it up to Darren McCreesh for his inspired collection. Listening to the album is, in many cases a new and invigorating experience but equally one which takes me right back to the early 80’s. The 14 tracks recorded by 11 different bands create a picture of the artists working in isolation yet tuned in to the spirit of a musical era in a disparate unity. It’s got the fun of electronica merged with an angsty, nervy edge and the influences of club sounds creeping in. A sense of experimentation and response, with the synthesiser and the DIY ethos ideally suited to the artists, each doing their own thing, be that in bedrooms, garages or recording studios. From diverse sounds McCreesh has achieved a coherently expressed collective sentiment of the time, and this is a well deserved release for the many artists included.

For collectors, for experimentalists, for music lovers: a vibrant and reflective album. Complete with stylised cover image, there’s a hard copy on vinyl, as well as the digital format. Here’s a snapshot of each of the 14 tracks that comprise Strange Passions

Dogmatic Element ”“ Just Friends
An opening perspective on the many layers of radical, seductive vocal abound in electronica, the cultural context of the lyric is an added element

The Threat ”“ High Cost of Living
Dark instrumental ride of emotions, hard edged, yet fuzzed out rhythm. Kicking guitar surfing the edge of the wave, and fleeting vocal – take it as you chose to.

Chant! Chant! Chant! – Play Safe
Overtly political lyric, the sense of threat ”“ vocal tones localise the sound more specifically. Harmonic phases interspersed with a lyrical sense of imminent danger, aura of limit.

Virgin Prunes – Twenty Tens (I’ve been smoking all night long)
Nicotine edged spiked, fractious tones riding the bridge. Nightmarish, exciting, theatrically exploding sound.

Operating Theatre ”“ Austrian
Choral, clean, ordered, surreal, reportage of ritual objectification into broken vocal against smooth lulled instrumentation and steady beat to abrupt close.

Stano ”“ Town”ËœNervy echoed rhythms and a sense of edgy, emotional ride of the time. Percussive echoes and tribal beat tempered with piano finish

The Peridots – No Water
Straight keyboard driven new wave with glowering vocal.

Choice ”“ Always in danger
Ethereal tones and catchy simple beats create a velvet aura around the lyric ”“ other worldly.

PH – Last days
Masked vocals, rhythmic couching of the sentiment with illusive restraint.

Major Thinkers ”“ Avenue B
Characterised by clubby, dance sounds rhythmic ,high tempo, high spirited, masculine.

SM Corporation ”“ Accentuate
Synthy fun, upbeat, momentary

SM Corporation ”“ Fire From Above
Flames awash with smooth harmonies, glossed up beats,

Tripper Humane ”“ Discoland
Ironic, broken dustbin lid beat, everything that disco is not, better than any Barbie doll satirisation I’ve yet come across, ultimate plastic meltdown sound.

Operating Theatre – Eighties Rampwalk
Perfect end to a great night out or in: the come down track to a mellow dawn.

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