Posts Tagged ‘Collective’

SPV Records – 2 October 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s easy to forget just how absolutely massive The Mission were at their peak, packing out headline shows at Wembley Arena, Finsbury Park, and Reading Festival.

There was a time when Wayne Hussey looked like being the new Bono. Or something. And now he’s gone and done Band Aid for goths, with a rerecording of ‘Tower of Strength’ featuring a truly immense roll-call of luminaries from the gothier end of the alternative / post-punk scene to raise funds for covid charities around the world.

The press release reports that alongside Mission frontman Hussey, the project involves Andy Rourke (The Smiths), Billy Duffy (The Cult), Evi Vine, Budgie (Siouxsie and The Banshees), Gary Numan, James Alexander Graham (The Twilight Sad), Julianne Regan (All About Eve), Kevin Haskins (Bauhaus, Love & Rockets), Kirk Brandon (Theatre of Hate, Spear of Destiny), Lol Tolhurst (The Cure), Martin Gore (Depeche Mode), Michael Aston (Gene Loves Jezebel), Michael Ciravolo (Beauty in Chaos), Midge Ure (Ultravox), Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff), Rachel Goswell (Slowdive, The Soft Cavalry), Richard Fortus (Guns N’ Roses, The Psychedelic Furs, Love Spit Love), Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan, Guns N’ Roses), Jay Aston (Gene Loves Jezebel), Steve Clarke (The Soft Cavalry), Tim Palmer and Trentemøller, the latter of whom has provided a remix of the new recording.

Having properly got into The Mission by hearing ‘Tower of Strength’ during the weekly top 40 (I was 11 and my exposure to ‘alternative’ music had been quite limited at that point), the song has a certain special place on a personal level, and the likelihood is that it’s the same for many fans. Reworking a classic is risky, potentially an act of desecration or sacrilege (referential word-choice half-intended).

The EP contains four 2020 versions in total, with the regular single version, a radio edit, and three remixes.

In term of the instrumental backing tracking track, the single-version sound very like the original, only with some additional extraneous details and the meat where the bass and extra layers kick in stripped out. Meaning it’s ok, but while one of the major criticisms of The Mission has ben that they lean toward the bloated and bombastic, the fact is that was always a part of the appeal. But overall, it’s nicely done: the guest contributions, both instrumental and musical weave into one another pretty seamlessly, and there are no instances of any one person stealing the limelight with their overstepping delivery of a line. There’s no ‘tonight thank God it’s them instead of yoooouuuu’ moment, and this feels very much like a collective, collaborative, egalitarian effort, and I almost feel as if I could give it a virtual hug for that.

The nine-and-a-bit ‘Beholden to the Front Line Workers of the World’ mix comes closest to the basking, expansive glory of the original. It’s a song that’s meant to just keep going, and this version does just that.

Trentemøller goes technoambient with his reworking, and kudos for breaking the mould, and double for the fact that it works. It’s all in the strings, of course. The Albie Mischenzingerzen remix is drummy but doesn’t seem to bring quite as much to the party.

It might not quite pack the power of the original, but it’s not far off: the people playing on it are worth hearing, and it would be churlish to criticise a release made with such positive intentions. In bleak times, Hussey and his pals aren’t only a tower of strength, but a beacon of humanity, and it’s a powerful thing.

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ReMission International (cover artwork)

31st May 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Where We Sleep – the supergroup consisting of Debbie Smith of Echobelly and Blindness, Curve and SPC ECO, Beth Rettig of Blindness, and also Axel Ray of United Ghosts – extend their super status on this outing, with Ben Pritchard, formerly of The Fall and currently Manc Floyd contributing guitar work on ‘Control’.

Despite the more indie-leaning backgrounds of the collaborators, Experiments in the Dark espouse more of a post-punk sound, amalgamated with the blurry shoegaze of Curve. There’s reverb galore as the layers of guitar wash over and bleed into one another: ‘What I Deserve’ has one of those classic slow-building intros that’s built around a strolling bass and dual guitars – one chiming fractal, gothy, the other overdriven and set to stun. And from the emerging murk, Rettig’s voice combines sultry and dangerous to strong – yet simultaneously understated – effect.

‘The Desert’ sits between Curve and debut-album era Garbage – and it’s magnificent: rich in atmosphere, dark, brooding, and again centring around a strong rhythmic framework. ‘Control’ is a standout: after gentle start, it bursts into a mesh of guitars colliding over a woozy bass and metronomic mechanised drum sound. And as the track progresses, the icy vocals and treble snap of the snare become increasingly submerged by the squalling noise. ‘Into the Light’ repeats the form, only with the added bonus of a propulsive chorus and a bassline on a par with The Mission’s ‘Wasteland’ overlayed with howls of feedback.

The title track which draws the curtain on proceedings is sparse, stark, and minimal, and owes more to the ghostly, smoky trip-hop of Portishead than anything remotely post-punk or shoegaze.

If Experiments In The Dark is 75% 80s and 25% early 90s, it’s also 100% representative of the zeitgeist in terms of the aspects of the past it draws on. And Where We Sleep’s strength lies in their ability to absorb those elements and draw them together to forge a sound that’s both familiar and fresh, avoiding sounding derivative and instead delivering an exciting set of songs that demand repeat plays.

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Where We Sleep – Experiments In The Dark