‘Strange Passion: Explorations in Irish Post-Punk DIY and Electronic Music 1980-83’ serves as one of the more interesting compilation premises in that– apart from obviously not being a blatant money-sucking cash-in– it works, serves a purpose on two main fronts. One is you can hear what happens when Irish groups produce– almost to the point of mimic– something as a result of hearing, say, nothing but grainy medium-wave late-night music on the John Peel show.
Dogmatic Element’s punk-pop rattle Just Friends is a competent piece that slots perfectly into its timepice, but also sounds like it could just as easily have been made by a bunch of young London upstarts. The group was from Newtonards, actually. The Threat’s High Cost of Living on the other hand demos a similar sorta thing, only this time going for the more aloof machine-may-care electropunk sounds. Chant Chant Chant’s Play Safe is interesting because it seems, despite its grainy cassette err quality, to have a certain C86 clang, and so several years ahead of its time?, while Operating Theatre’s Austrian– again, honestly of-its-time lofi in production, before then, like everything on here, scrubbed down, transferred onto compact disc and new vinyl product for the purposes of this crackingly intriguing compilation– is all in-and-out drifting piano and muffled techno beats to accompany its offcut homeliness.
Compared to some other stuff on here, this track one that sounds more out-of-sorts and hard to pin down, almost as if prone to its unique Irish melancholia, less exposed to the sounds and thus influences going on the other side of the Irish sea.
Avenue B by Major Thinkers is this writer’s comp fav, though; an energetic run-through of post-punk theatrics and fanfare set to a pulsing, clipped-funk undertone.
This 2012 compilation is a winner because of its premise and the way it manages to highlight a lot of good music that many of us would otherwise have not known existed. Maybe it wasn’t a scene as such– perhaps thankfully in which case–, but there was still enough young bands in Ireland at this point in time having a go, and it’s really nice to have the best of it compiled here. And with that we have the second thing the compilation does a rather fine job at.
A big fat ‘cheers, man’ to all behind it.