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 highly successful film score career Revell forged for himself in the ’90s.
The first two albums are pretty rugged going — the three favorite instruments seem to be drum machine, feedback and a synth set to produce only white noise. Fans of Throbbing Gristle and early Cabaret Voltaire might be interested, as would anybody with hard-to-eject party guests. The Last Attempt at Paradise cassette is a live recording done in Lawrence, Kansas in April 1982. No song titles are indicated; the two musicians’ names are enigmatically given as Oblivion and Jack Pinker.
Auto-Da-Fe is so devoid of information (no track listing even) that it makes New Order records seem encyclopedic by comparison. SPK’s approach is somewhat softened relative to prior work; while hardly poppy, synth melodies and dance beats in a style resembling D.A.F. are present. Lyrics are often vulgar and/or morbid, but the results aren’t half as shocking as they seem to imagine. Machine Age Voodoo might be mistaken for a more adventurous Blondie with Kraftwerkian tendencies; an interesting hybrid of mainstream disco and experimental electronic aggression.
SPK subsequently gained notoriety for their performance practices. One London gig ended in a riot when officials stopped them ten minutes into the show for violating fire regulations. (They were featuring onstage welding at the time.)
Gold and Poison, a bland dance record with Cab Volt-esque sound effects, introduces a second female vocalist to the proceedings without making any noticeable difference. The band’s strongest emotional characteristic is Revell’s obnoxious smugness, which comes across loud and clear.