Burden of Mules
||"Complete and Utter"
||"On the Hill"
Awww...s**t! 4AD finally got around to releasing the oft-slagged,
oft-slept on early albums from Wolfgang Press. Maybe it was that
lame Funky Little Demons record that was the final nail
in the coffin (Dear Beggars Banquet, don't bother re-releasing
that one...) but seriously folks, Wolfgang Press put out some
dope albums in their day.
Fronted by Michael Allen (possibly the only white dude that looked
good in bleached dreads--it WAS only 1983), with production duties
taken up by Mark Cox and Andrew Grey, plus Richard Thomas on drums,
Wolfgang Press were heavily-influenced by the caustic, urban dub
assault of prime Pop Group, the proto-industrial synth dub of
D.A.F., the British beatnik/caveman funk of Alternative TV, plus
the primal art leanings of This Heat. 'Borrowing' ideas from such
seminal groups might not be such a good idea for most bands, but
being a 4AD band, Wolfgang Press played down the 'punk' qualities
and added a layer of gothic/romantic, art-school sophistication
that their main influences barely cared to mess with. To me, they
came across as a moodier, electronic Fall, obsessed with doing
songs like "Bombast," "Kurious Oranj" and
"Paintwork." Well, kinda. Like most prime 4AD bands,
they had impeccable production, full of space, subtlety and cinematic
found sounds. And of course, it was dark.
Burden of Mules is full of that dank, dub business I was
talking about. Like the cover suggests, it's a bit moody; but
as low, slow and dubby as this album gets, it's still marked by
that subtle, artful 4AD production. It's neither as raw as their
early record as Rema-Rema and definitely not as clubby as their
later, not so successful efforts. A great winter album too, by
the way. It's about friggin' time, man, what's up with Standing
Up Straight?? [SM]