Close to the Noise Floor: Formative UK Electronica 1975-1984

Close to the Noise Floor: Formative UK Electronica 1975-1984


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During the late '70s and early '80s, a crop of British experimentalists emerged with positions on conventional rock music that ranged from indifferent to hostile. Prompted by early electronic music and the advancements made by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, and Throbbing Gristle -- and eventually their peers -- they plied their trade on equipment with names like EMS Synthi A, EDP Wasp, Korg MS-10, and ARP Odyssey. For many of them, guitars and drum kits were obsolete. Synthesizers, drum machines, and tape delay units, many of them shrinking in size and cost, were the present and future way to sculpt jerking noises or strange pop songs. The fledgling musicians could record in bedrooms and release the results on cassette, or they could ally with independent labels and operate at studios like Blackwing, a haven for Mute and 4AD artists such as Depeche Mode and Cocteau Twins. Released by Cherry Red, one of those original outlets for music of the margins, Close to the Noise Floor: Formative UK Electronica 1975-1984 collects four discs of the alternately thrilling, grim, silly, and just plain bizarre stuff. Some of the groups, such as Blancmange, the Human League, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, went commercial after they released their selected inclusions, while the likes of Wire's Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis appear here with a divergence into sound manipulation that resembles animal calls. Some of these tracks have appeared on widely available albums and compilations. The making of this set must have been an arduous undertaking, however, as the majority of the tracks were originally issued on cassettes and 7" vinyl in small quantities, previously heard by few sets of ears. Among the highlights of the accidentally obtainable and deliberately obscure: Thomas Leer's spangly narrative "Tight as a Drum," Adrian Smith's skeletal and crepuscular "Joe Goes to New York," and British Standard Unit's mutilation of Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" There's also Gerry & the Holograms' delightful self-titled theme song, placed on high rotation by temporary WPIX DJ Frank Zappa. The Mute massive -- Cabaret Voltaire, Robert Rental, and so forth -- are surprisingly absent, though they're represented somewhat by Alan Burnham's "Music to Save the World By," produced by label boss Daniel Miller (aka the Normal, the Silicon Teens). Given that so much scarce material is discerningly compiled here, it's hard to gripe about it and other exclusions. A great essay and a fair portion of the track-by-track notes come from Dave Henderson, who documented the global post-punk electronic underground as it developed, after being lured by "reading dismissive reviews in the weekly music press." Henderson's own group, Worldbackwards, contribute a glum but enchanting ballad that drones and stirs, then fades out to a bit of Sylvia Plath's "Lazy Lazarus." Henderson's assessment? "Man, we were pretentious."

Product Details

Release Date: 05/06/2016
Label: Cherry Red
UPC: 5013929102491
catalogNumber: 5078836
Rank: 78859

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Julian Gilbert   Voices
Simon Crab   electronics

Technical Credits

Chris Carter   Composer
Bruce Gilbert   Composer
Edward Ka-Spel   Composer
Carmine Appice   Composer
Martyn Bates   Composer
Ron Berry   Composer
Blancmange   Composer
John Foxx   Composer
Kevin Harrison   Composer
Thomas Leer   Composer
Graham Lewis   Composer
Carl Matthews   Composer
Colin Potter   Composer
Sea of Wires   Composer
Mark Shreeve   Composer
Adrian Smith   Composer
Cosey Fanni Tutti   Composer
Philip Oakey   Composer
Steve Ball   Composer
Peter Becker   Composer
Basil Brooks   Composer
Malcolm Brown   Composer
Peter Christopherson   Composer
Genesis P-Orridge   Composer
Dave Henderson   Composer,Liner Notes
Duane Hitchings   Composer
Ian Craig Marsh   Composer
Andy McCluskey   Composer
Paul Nagle   Composer
Nick Plytas   Composer
Brian Poole   Composer
Gavin Povey   Composer
Adrian Sherwood   Composer
Ian Smith   Composer
Martyn Ware   Composer
Dick Witts   Composer
Gwyo Zepix   Composer
Ian Sharp   Composer
Paul Humphreys   Composer
Mark Phillips   Composer
Dominique Brethes   Composer
Steward   Composer
Martin Bowes   Composer
Andrew Hulme   Composer
Ashley Niblock   Composer
Andrew Cox   Composer
Christopher Andrews   Composer
Richard Woodfield   Composer
Paul Hood   Composer
Robertson   Composer
Chris "C.P." Lee   Composer
David Elliott   Composer
Bryn Jones   Composer
Philip Sanderson   Composer
Instant Automatons   Composer
Spoon Fazer   Composer,Producer
JP Scott   Composer
Andrew Lagowski   Composer
Julian Gilbert   Composer
Cultural Amnesia   Composer
Alan Burnham   Composer
Peter Wiggins   Composer
Raye Caluori   Composer
Stephen Jarvis   Composer
Suisse   Composer
John Whybrew   Composer
Ian Dobson   Composer
Kevin Thorne   Composer
Dean Piavani   Composer
Robert Lawrence   Composer
Simon Crab   Composer
Claire Elliott   Composer
Roger Horberry   Composer
Alien Brains   Composer
Clare Elliott   Composer
Dave Janssen   Composer
Nigel Lackey   Composer
Dinah Mulholland   Composer
Victoria Gordon Jones   Composer
Martin Croxford   Composer
Andrew Fleck   Composer
Anne Droid   Composer
Glenn Wallis   Composer
Kevin Donoghue   Composer
Michael Wolfen   Composer
Richie Program   Composer
Tim Horberry   Composer

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