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V/A - Trevor Jackson Presents Metal Dance: Industrial/Post-Punk/EMB Classics & Rarities, ‘80-’88

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Artist: V/A

Album: Trevor Jackson Presents Metal Dance: Industrial/Post-Punk/EMB Classics & Rarities, ‘80-’88

Label: Strut

Review date: May. 23, 2012

At best, a compilation will always be a singles club, a subjective rounding up of solitary songs. At worst, it’s just another solipsistic memento mori. This is a congenital issue, of course. No matter how choice the cuts, how thoughtful the sequencing, a compilation will forever be less than the sum of its parts. And as anyone who’s ever given a mixtape (or was gifted a Muxtape) knows, an aggregate does not an album make. Most of us, though, are not Trevor Jackson; we don’t have his kind of knowledge, his curatorial taste. Moreover, these 28 tracks — everything from classic lineup Cabaret Voltaire to disco-mixed Jah Wobble to Nitzer Ebb flown dub — are indeed best heard à la carte. They arrived as a one-off or b-side, and divorced from any full-length they shall remain.

True, such forgotten odds and sods from the 1980s are enjoying a certain resurgence. All are interesting, historically, and for the most part, they can be quite infectious. But as much as I’d like to thank expert reissues from Cititrax and Veronica Vasicka’s Minimal Wave, I think much of the present ado for this menschen machine music has to go to that greatest of curators — the Information Superhighway. Regular tunes such as The Bubblemen’s “The Bubblemen Are Coming,” Analysis’ “Surface Tension” and SPK’s titular “Metal Dance” have long been available pretty much anywhere music is pirated. This fact alone left me hard of hearing Jackson’s first disc as especially essential. I realize that’s not exactly fair, but hey, such is the world wide web we live in. That said, the “Club Pressure” remix of the 400 Blows’ “Pressure” 12” might be worth the price alone. Penned by constant Andrew Beer, but reverse engineered here by a young Simon Boswell, this bottom-heavy rendition is more than ready for the floor.

Disc two is where the real treasures — plural — lie. Alongside proper, but harder-to-Google tunes from Naked Lunch, Nash The Slash and Diseño Corbusier, truly deep listening can be had almost every other cut. “Amok!” by Ledernacken? Check. Schlaflose Nachte’s “Move?” Natch. Stateside, who knew a U.K. promo for Yello’s “You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess” even existed? (Bueller...Bueller?) One better: Could anyone have guessed its pre-Beatport chop screwy was far superior? Likewise, I think I dig the “In The Palace” cut-up of “Coup” by 23 Skidoo more so than the original. It gets an exceptional collage treatment here, and be it savage funk or syrupy dub, I can’t not hear this one this way now.

Sure, an LP is forever. Spinning 33.3 times right ‘round the unit circle, its uniformity is borderline pathological — a record of the utmost compliance. The songs collected here, however, are confirmed singles. Shorn of any theme save for place and time, Trevor Jackson’s done exactly what every album ultimately hopes it will. More so than any record I can recall, Metal Dance cuts the widest possible swath through the zeitgeist that was British post-punk. Antichrist, meet then your children’s archivist.

By Logan K. Young

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