Although this London trio’s music is not particularly avant-garde, the group does fit in with the uncompromising 4AD family due to their steadfast determination to totally redefine a musical style. Instrumentalists Martyn and brother Steven Young, along with vocalist Lorita Grahame, take soul places it’s never been — and is unlikely to go again.
The eponymous EP — three hours of sessions edited down to a half-hour of hip-hop/scratch and reggae/dub experiments, with a graphic depiction of horses mating on the cover — largely earned its negative reception. The Colourbox LP, however, is a vast improvement, an eclectic display that embraces the entire realm of dance music: reggae, vibrant industrial, hard’n’heavy funk, ’50s R&B. Screeching guitar on the near-metal “Maniac” segues into the highlight, a sparkling remake of the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hanging On.” (The cassette of Colourbox is double-length, adding an LP’s worth of remixes; initial quantities of the LP contained the same on a bonus disc.)
Other than the occasional one-off single, Colourbox remained unexpectedly dormant following the release of its LP. However, Steven and Martyn did achieve notoriety in 1987 due to their role in M/A/R/R/S (the “S” for Steven and the “M” for Martyn; the A and R come from the two members of A R Kane), the studio concoction responsible for the massively influential club smash “Pump Up the Volume.”