Palais Schaumburg

Palais Schaumburg is an eccentric, intelligent pop band of frequently shifting personnel from Hamburg, Germany. While their eclectic records display obvious oddball/new wave influences, they seem to have also listened to their share of jazz and 20th-century European composers. Das Single Kabinett is a six-track mini-LP of stripped-down, danceable electro-pop, with vocals and synthesizer work…

Chris and Cosey

Rising in the very early ’80s from the corpse of Throbbing Gristle, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti (aka CTI, the Creative Technology Institute) infuse their electronic mantras with the beat of the factory to create a desolate industrial vision. Much of the work on Heartbeat follows solidly in Throbbing Gristle’s footsteps, with found voices…

Beastie Boys

Somewhere along the line, the Beastie Boys “progressed” from relentless beer-spewing assailants on good taste to self-appointed arbiters of a one-world youth culture wherein B-boys, skatepunks and art-nerds meet to share in stoopid fresh communion. Sometimes, as in the Beasties’ fluid miscegenation of vintage Afro-funk and the hardcore punk that is their more proximate roots,…

Shelleyan Orphan

Bournemouth’s Shelleyan Orphan, the poetic singer/songwriter duo of Caroline Crawley and Jemaur Tayle, make use of a number of guests for Helleborine, mostly playing woodwinds and orchestral strings (members of Kate Bush’s band provide some bass and drums). Instead of trying to create make-believe classical music, however, the group plays pastoral folk-pop, using the winds…

Einstürzende Neubauten

Part deadly earnest post-musical composers, part boys- with-toys goofballs whipping up a ruckus for the pure joy of making noise, Berlin’s Einstürzende Neubauten (Collapsing New Buildings) have built a distinctive, challenging and extremely imaginative sonic career out of implements generally intended for other utilitarian purposes: power drills, humming power lines, water towers, air-conditioning ducts, plate…

Public Enemy

Just as sages of the hippie era discovered that a shared musical culture had created a fairly cohesive longhaired nation, someone was bound to recognize the political potential of rap for African-American youth in the ’80s. (It doesn’t sound like a revolutionary idea at this point, but the leap-of-faith recognition of rap as a political…

Crime and the City Solution

Although singer Simon Bonney had led a series of groups under this odd name, it was only in the wake of the Birthday Party — when guitarist Rowland S. Howard, drummer Mick Harvey and Howard’s bass-playing brother Harry joined — that the Australian band gained international access and recognition. The Dangling Man, a four-track disc,…

Yeah Yeah Noh

Like In Tape labelmates the Creepers, this Leicester quartet (later quintet) displays some Fall influence (albeit less harsh) and makes things easy for record buyers by combining several releases onto a single disc. When I Am a Big Girl reprises the first three EPs in their entirety and has such highlights as “Cottage Industry,” “Prick…

Zerra I

Todd Rundgren has said that, as a producer, he can make bands sound like anything they choose. Little doubt as to what this client asked for on their first album: they emulate a certain (far more talented) quartet of fellow Dubliners. (It’s a wonder the guitarist doesn’t call himself the Ledge or something.) Zerra I…

Killing Joke

Emerging in London at the tail end of ’70s punk, a time when bands like Wire, the Fall, Public Image and Gang of Four were experimenting with the very structure of rock, British nihilists Killing Joke went a step further, adding noisy synthesizers to the overpoweringly brutal attack. Clearly prefiguring industrial rock of the late…

Quando Quango

A masterful assortment of big-beat grooves helped make this Anglo-Dutch quartet popular on dancefloors (if not record stores) on both sides of the Atlantic. Latin and jazz-tinged funk shares the spotlight with reggaefied disco; orchestration is primarily busy percussion beneath bass, keyboards and horns, with mostly tuneless, chanted vocals of lyrics that aren’t exactly poetry.…

Die Haut

Rising out of Berlin’s post-punk bleakness, die Haut (“the skin”) is a largely instrumental quartet with Beefheartian and psychedelic overtones but possessing a disciplined ferocity that yields a strikingly Germanic sound. Schnelles Leben is a seven-song, eighteen-minute disc that utilizes terse bass and drum rhythms topped with scratchy guitar work, rarely settling into a tonal…

Skinny Puppy

It took Vancouver’s Skinny Puppy several years and just as many albums to evolve a distinct, if limited, voice from a simple reiteration of various pre-industrial archetypes (Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Chrome), but the 1986 addition of synthesist/sampler Dwayne Goettel (replacing Wilhelm Schroeder, who — as Bill Leeb — went on to Front Line Assembly)…

Siouxsie and the Banshees

In 1976, Siouxsie Sioux (Susan Dallion) and Steve Severin were part of the clique of steady suburban London Sex Pistols fans known as the Bromley Contingent. As Siouxsie and the Banshees, the nascent punk rock stars debuted at the 100 Club’s legendary 1976 punk festival; aided by future Ant guitarist Marco Pirroni and the unknown…

Test Dept.

Like that other notable contemporary band of philosophical noisemakers, Einstürzende Neubauten, Test Dept. originally eschewed all musical tradition to play stunning ultra-percussion with an industrial bent. Like their Teutonic soul brothers, this enigmatic British organization uses large metallic objects and power tools to add stark modern realism to the drum overload, but also brings more…

We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It

These four young misses from Birmingham took over-the-top hairdos, colorful clothes and a devil-may-care amateurish attitude straight into the British Top 30 with their five-song debut EP. (All of the songs are one side of a 12-inch; the flip uses the vinyl only as a medium for scratched-in portraits of the group.) Proud of their…

Half Man Half Biscuit

This entertaining Liverpool quintet emerged from total obscurity to become a dominant British indie chart regular in the first half of 1986. Playing low-key garage-punk singalong ditties (imagine a cross between Mark Riley and Jonathan Richman), the Biscuits like to name names — songs on Back in the D.H.S.S. include “Fuckin’ ‘ell, It’s Fred Titmus,”…

All About Eve

This London quartet features the rather lovely (and often multi-tracked) voice of Coventry-born Julianne Regan (an early bassist in Gene Loves Jezebel) and utilizes, of all people, former Yardbird bassist Paul Samwell-Smith in the producer’s chair. With dreamy-looking cover art and songs about children, angels and clouds, one might expect lots of wispy, ethereal music,…

SPK

This Australian band — Graeme Revell and vocalist Sinan — has variously explained their acronym as Surgical Penis Klinik, System Planning Korporation and Sozialistisches Patienten Kollektiv. Their music has likewise varied from industrial metal noise to sophisticated and moderately restrained dance-rock, but always with strange attributes. Ultimately, though, SPK is merely a footnote to the…

Glenn Branca

Many artists have had their music described as a wall of sound, but few have deserved it as much as New York composer/guitarist Glenn Branca. One of the first to realize that a classical-rock fusion need not involve technique-crazed keyboardists soloing away to the accompaniment of rehashed Brahms or Stravinsky, Branca writes music of orchestral…