Instead of the near-illiterate (and proud of it) hedonistic roughneckism of some hardcore outfits, this quartet (originally affiliated with the Crass organization and later the proprietor of the commercially potent One Little Indian label) is one of the semi-intellectual, fiercely political bands who use stripped-down guitar punk as the medium for their strong leftist and/or anarchist views. Besides the bracing intensity of their music, Flux has always distinguished itself for impressive packaging standards — Strive to Survive boasts a snazzy twelve-page booklet and a dignified gatefold jacket.
The band has a good deal of punchy precision to its crisp drumming and distorto-chord guitar. The catch is that it’s all sort of military, as in the way the tuneless vocals resemble the bark of a drill instructor. Like the graphics, these “melodies” and lyrics (not to mention the politics) are all black and white, and aside from the sterility inherent in preaching to the converted, Flux’s monochromatic asceticism is ultimately numbing.
The Neu Smell reissue — solid rip-snorting protest punk on a stylishly dressed, loud’n’clear 12-inch — puts the three horrible drum-noise’n’screaming tracks from the 1984 “Taking a Liberty” single on the flipside.
Eliminating punk and reducing the political content, Flux’s original and often fascinating Uncarved Block leans a bit towards the industrial world, alternating muscular mid-tempo rock (which boasts atmosphere and melody for a change) and bizarre free-form ambient improvisations, in which drums pound as instrumental blasts and distorted sound effects leap in and out of the sparse mix.