This compilation pulls together the single ‘Entertainment/Arc in Round’, the EP ‘Science’, and in between them the album ‘Open Doors, Closed Windows’, these being Disco Inferno’s first official releases in the early 1990s. Based around a classic set-up of guitar, bass and drums, the music collected here is now heard as a harbinger of so-called post-rock. I prefer to regard it as further proof of how adaptable and malleable rock itself can be, in the hands of musicians imaginative and brave enough to plot their own course.

For it’s not as if Disco Inferno came out of nothing. Tracks like ‘Entertainment’ (itself perhaps a Gang of Four reference, along with the plentiful tom-tom rolls) and ‘Broken’, whose bassline evokes Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’, are proof enough of how they were extending the work of certain forbears. The effect-laden guitar of ‘Emigré’ suggests My Bloody Valentine, while throughout the vocals are generally disconsolate, reticent, in the manner of A Certain Ratio or Wire.

But though it’s possible to pick out such influences, even at this early stage it’s quite apparent that this was a band who were also creating something of their own. It’s at least arguable that, in its often stark but concentrated sound, this is a destination the Joy Division of ‘Unknown Pleasures’ might have arrived at but for their transformation into New Order and subsequent detour into dance music. (And later Disco Inferno, because of their shared enthusiasm for Public Enemy and the possibilities offered by samplers, might even be seen as an interesting parallel to that movement.)

Ian Krause’s guitar is continually varied and inventive in its patterns and tones, and matched in this by the playing of drummer Rob Whatley and bassist Paul Willmott. ‘Glancing Away’, for instance, employs a lovely mellow guitar tone, beneath which bass and drums possess something of the austere power of 'Atmosphere'; ‘In the Cold’ is a particularly fine example of Krause’s melodic approach.

The outstanding track is ‘Freethought’, where the mesmeric repetition of the guitars that characterises several tracks reaches a drum-driven peak thanks to Whatley’s compulsive rhythmic fury, achieving a sort of secular dervish ecstasy.

A little dismissively, Krause today calls these songs “inspired juvenilia” (the band members were between 17 and 21 when they recorded them). Admittedly there is a certain callowness to the vocals, but the confidence and ability to carry through their ideas instrumentally is that of seemingly much more experienced musicians. For an atypical band, their history mirrors that of many others, of critical acclaim and a small cult following, leading to demoralisation and break-up. But this reissue of the initial sparks can still warm the soul.











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