Various Artists - Bustin' Out: New Wave To New Beat 1979-81
If critical attention gathered around a core of key artists from the post-punk period and a new, new wave of bands took influence from that self-same limited gene pool during the 2000s, this first volume of period archeology seeks to redress the balance, reminding listeners of acts beyond the Joy Division / Gang of Four axis.
Disco runs like a thread through the earlier part of this disc, compiler Mike Maguire pulling in unexpected champions of its hypnotic qualities. Killing Joke utilise a Moroder-esque pulse for 1979's 'Almost Red', somewhat counter to their image as proto-goths and industrialists and Material's 'bustin out' cannot disguise the fact it is an all-out disco track - despite a gruesome, power metal guitar solo outro. And if the beats were sometimes robotic, the mobile Chic basslines of Loose Joints provide a slightly different angle on clubland's impact on the alternative scene.
MOEV were a bunch of Canadians who mixed Kraftwerk-ian throbs with cold, yet emotive pop (a bit like Hazel O'Connor) and while Front 242 mine similar influences, 'Body To Body' is a format that still echoes through the darker corners of industrial and electronic musics. The tribal spookeries of Dead Can Dance and 23 Skidoo are another reminder how artists began to look towards ethnic and - what became to be known as - world music for inspiration, at a time where the likes of Vampire Weekend were probably not even a figment of their parent's imaginations.
We're at a strange point in the development of the compilation album. With services like Spotify and last.fm creating playlists and quasi-mixtapes on demand, the compilation's place as a window into previously hidden worlds is in danger of being superceded by convenience and the notion of everything being available at the touch of a button. But there's no replacement for breadth of knowledge and understanding and Maguire has used his years of DJ-ing to craft an intriguing insight into a music beyond the critical consensus. The challenge is for new artists to up the ante and give us something more interesting than yet another variation on a Peter Hook bassline.