Review : Various Artists - Bustin’ Out 1984 - From New Wave to New Beat
Popmatters1984 proved to be a liminal period for pop music, the first potential break in what had been a relentless period of innovation during the postpunk movement. Independent rock in R.E.M, the Smiths, and a nascent stage of the Jesus and Mary Chain had already begun to push backwards towards an idealized past vision of rock, while the pop present (Wham, Phil Collins, Culture Club) had used the futurist potential of synthesizers to sanitize all the experimental edge of synthpop and dry out the libidinal energy of rock music. The synthesizer was becoming ubiquitous and almost oppressive, the all-digital Fairlight CMI becoming an economic tool for artists looking to compete in a market that was now saturated by a broader-than-ever variety of new acts given legs by a jejeune MTV.
Inventive techniques were still being developed in underground electronic music, but these are historically viewed as transitional elements that allowed for the explosion of house and techno in the ensuing two years, rather than fully formed features of a readymade dynamic. Part of the reason this activity is ignored is because much of it was centralized in industrial dance music (formerly known as EBM-electronic body music), a genre whose entire ‘80s output has been “written out of continuity” (to borrow a phrase from Rob Sheffield) until recently. However, recent trends for minimal wave and dark un-techno electronic music make a 1984 compilation such as this one all too prescient to a backwards leaning 2011.
Mike Maguire’s Bustin’ Out series has charted the course of underground synth music pretty well in the preceding three volumes, balancing well between well-celebrated names (Liquid Liquid, New Order, Man Parrish, Gary Numan) and more obscure ones (Portion Control, Colourbox, The Jonzun Crew, Tuxedomoon), even throwing in the occasional delightfully defiant curveball. Maguire is perhaps best known as a member of the psy-trance unit Juno Reactor, a unit perhaps best known for producing “Control” by Traci Lords, a cut now universally known as that song from Mortal Kombat. It’ll be interesting to see if Maguire’s series will ultimately wind up being a justification for Goa-style progressive trance music, a style that’s perhaps even less fondly remembered than industrial nowadays, or whether it will chart the era’s developments in all their broad-scoped variants. ...full text
Blogcritics1984 was one of the weirdest years in music that I can think of. In addition to Ricky Martin joining Menudo for Menudomania, we saw Michael Jackson's scalp catch fire during a Pepsi commercial, and the launch of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). As dire as the situation was in the mainstream, there was a wealth of great stuff happening in the nascent digital underground though.
With his Bustin' Out: New Wave To New Beat series, DJ Mike Maguire is chronicling the rise of electronic dance music. The fourth edition has just been released, and focuses on 1984. One wonders what George Orwell would have thought of such willing sublimation of the individual to the machine. Would he have decried it, or recognized such songs as Severed Heads’ “Dead Eyes Opened” as the good, clean fun they are?
Maguire has collected a diverse roster of artists to represent the bleeding edge of electronic music for the year in question. Many of the musical movements that became dominant at the end of the decade were in their infancy at the time, and this set deftly weaves the various strands together.
The Flowerpot Men kick start things with "Jo's So Mean To Josephine." This is a heavily Cabaret Voltaire-damaged slab of proto industrial/ futuristic disco that still sounds great. Speaking of the Cabs, they are up next with "Sensoria," from the classic Micro Phonies album. As always, the band were miles ahead of their contemporaries. Their early industrial roots had been left behind long before, and we find them now deeply immersed in rhythm....full text
RecordcollectormagChronicling the new wave to the new beat, this latest instalment in the Bustin’ Out series details some of the music sprayed into your ears in 1984, by which point, the likes of Cabaret Voltaire had fully matured. Factoring together whispered vocals, sequenced rhythms and reduced musical clutter, their Sensoria is a prime questing exploration and still evidences one of the most important bands of the era.
Section 25’s Looking From A Hilltop is well-known for being one of the first Factory outings outside of New Order to make a dent in American dance culture. Saying that, Severed Heads’ Dead Eyes Opened is equally glorious, though we’d prefer a version with no early narrative vocals – which just date the track. The pivotal Front 242’s Commando Mix retains its pleasurable shock (they were also the first band that we recall listing the BPM of each track on an LP), while Skinny Puppy were alongside Meat Beat Manifesto in bringing dance to industrial depth. Ann Clark’s Our Darkness and Jesse Saunders’ On And On retain their freshness, framing early house beats and tempos, while Sherwood’s The Dub Syndicate just grooves to perfection....full text
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