I’ve had this album on MP3 promo for a good while now and it’s a great piece of historical documentation of the underground, DIY electronic movement that took place between 75 and 84. It’s a sprawling four CD set with 61tracks and around 9000 words of sleevenotes by Dave Henderson of MOJO. You’ll know some of the names herein (Human League, OMD and Blancmange) but it’s the other, less well known bands that really make this album the gem that it is.

 

close_to _the_noisefloorThe ethic here is distinctly DIY and there are no big buck productions to be had here. No, what you have is the spirit of Punk Rock with an aesthetic taken from the likes of Cluster, Tangerine Dream, Floyd and Hawkwind. Most of the music on this collection is made at home , in bedsits by bands made up of just one bloke twiddling his oscillator and recording the results to four track tape. My mention of Punk is no accident. The early electronic movement in the UK was underground, lawless, anarchic and full of experimentation and boundary pushing sonic outpourings that sometimes worked and sometimes (often purposefully) didn’t work in the context of what the world had come to expect from what was accepted as being acceptable aural fodder.

Much of what we have here could be termed “lo-fi” (it is) and it encompasses everything from proto synth-pop, embryonic four to floor  techno and avant-garde soundscapes that push the envelope and the machines that make the music to the limit. Not all of this is of course comfortable music, but that usually means that it’s exciting, boundary pushing and attention-grabbing.

A quick look at some of the less well known names and track titles on Close To The Noisefloor will give you an idea of what this is all about: R.A.M, Inner City Static, British Electric Foundation, Final Program, Instant Automatons, Robot Dance, Konstruktivist, Legendary Pink Dots… you get the picture I’m sure.

There’s a lot of good and interesting stuff on this album that deserves your attention if you have any interest at all in electronica, synth pop, techno…well just about any kind of modern music. Yes, at times some of the tunes are a bit much and can be a bit jarring but they show the roots of much of what has come after.

Stuart Smith

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