Formed in 1981, this post-no wave NYC anti-supergroup teamed Mars refugees Lucy Hamilton and Mark Cunningham with percussionist Duncan Lindsay, whose brother Arto and his Brazilian foil Toni Nogueira would join in time for the group’s lone vinyl outing. Don King topped its mass of post-samba shuffle and ’80s electro-beats with stabbing funk bass, dying-goose clarinet/trumpet and disruptive slices of slide guitar to create an exercise in marked contrasts. The discord and retarded vocals of Hamilton and Duncan Lindsay summon Mars’ “Puerto Rican Ghost,” while the tropical flavors and gibberish chants presage Arto Lindsay’s future in the Ambitious Lovers.
One-Two Punch, an occasionally boring mini-album released on Cabaret Voltaire’s label, is split between “Revelry” (a sidelong piece of instrumental squeals, honks and churning battery remixed into a dull dance-throb by Jim Thirlwell and Roli Mosimann) and four sterling flips, among them the sensual Portuguese spastics of “Tanajura,” the deliciously fucked-up torch-hop of “Never Decide” and the harmonically outlandish chatter of “Marco Polo.” Still, nothing here approaches No New York’s level of innovative of scrap attack, so consider the work a fascinating transition recommended to those fascinated by the participants.
The Atavistic edition, subtitled (Knockout), adds a post-Arto track from ’85 as well as four 1987 recordings of Cunningham, Hamilton, Pere Ubu bassist Tony Maimone and drummer Bill Perry. The later stuff is straighter, with less pitter-patter and the plenty of noir-ish horns, but it’s inventive and dryly malevolent. Additionally, Hamilton bleaches her no-wave roots a far less abrasive shade of cool on an ice-queen cover of Irving Berlin’s “Change Partners.” The onetime mistress of stone-faced noise now sounds downright dapper and sexy — in an avant sort of way, of course.