Mix: Peculiar and Prophetic Post-Punk

As soon as you attempt to classify (in this case, a more vivid–and fitting–verb might be ‘coagulate’) an artistic movement as fearless and wide-ranging as the mass of eclectic avant-garde rock music that arose in the late 70’s and early 80’s, it begins to break down. While these bands and artists are commonly grouped under the umbrella term “post-punk,” much of it owes little debt to traditional punk, instead drawing from funk, jazz, industrial, surrealist art, krautrock, and many other areas. In addition to looking backward in time for inspiration, many artists arrived at remarkably prescient stylistic cocktails. The often rough, do-it-yourself music foreshadowed things whose full potential wouldn’t be realized until much later, working with anything from collage and primitive musique concrète to tribal rhythms and free improvisation. Here are my picks for the best examples of this awe-inspiring creativity, somewhat skewed towards obscurities that have been lost to time.

Lemon Kittens, 1981 (photo by Akiko Hada)

00:00. Mars – “Helen Forsdale” from No New York compilation (Antilles, 1978)

02:28. Clock DVA – “White Cell” from Thirst (Fetish, 1981)

07:00. A Certain Ratio – “Choir” from To Each (Factory, 1981)

09:44. L. Voag – “Living Room” from The Way Out (self-released, 1979)

12:11. 23 Skidoo – “IY” from Seven Songs (Fetish, 1982)

17:12. Lemon Kittens – “Nudies” from …The Big Dentist (Illuminated, 1982)

20:30. The Stick Men – “Tail Dragger” from This Is the Master Brew (Red, 1982)

22:32. Stutter – “These Are Small Times (Not Good Enough)” from Broken Snakes (Check, 1989)

25:31. D.A.F. – 8th untitled track from Produkt Der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft (Warning, 1979)

28:40. Savage Republic – “Flesh That Walks” from Tragic Figures (Independent Project, 1982)

32:00. Milk From Cheltenham – “Snappy Fingers” from Triptych of Poisoners (It’s War Boys, 1983)

34:31. Alternative TV – “Graves of Deluxe Green” from Vibing Up the Senile Man (Deptford Fun City, 1979)