Founded by vocalist and lyricist Simon Bonney in Sydney, Australia in 1977, Crime & the City Solution moved through numerous personnel changes and geographical locations before coming to rest for in Berlin for 20 years, beginning in 1991. For those who saw Wim Wenders' film Wings of Desire, one can see and hear them playing "Six Bells Chime" on a club stage. That performance displayed the sheer cinematic quality of their darkly enchanting sound; it has always hinted at, and often embraced, the epic. In Mute's An Introduction To... series, A History of Crime - Berlin 1987-1991, charts the band's then-thought-final period. But it is also a precursor to the band's re-formation. Bonney, violinist and songwriter Bronwyn Adams, and guitarist Alexander Hacke are part of a new lineup that is, as of 2012, touring the United States and Europe previewing songs from a forthcoming 2013 album entitled American Twilight, and playing many of the songs collected here, as well. The material on A History of Crime here is taken from the group's last four studio albums, and the lone studio cut is from their live album The Adversary. Crime's ability to create intoxicating melodies from haunting rock fragments is evident in its more lyrical songs such as "On Every Train (Grain Must Bear Grain)," or "All Must Be Love," from Shine. These are complemented and expanded upon in the pieces from The Bride Ship and Paradise Discotheque, which are more darkly apocalyptic, communicating a mysterious yet dramatic trajectory from the disappearing footsteps of history to more philosophical questions based on the elemental truths taught by that history and personal experience, to sprawling, dystopic visions that are allegorical and metaphorical tales of near-mythic figures and places that point inwardly and outwardly simultaneously. In spite of the band's size, there is plenty of space, the playing tense and dynamic; it moves from the slow, plodding, and processional to the explosive and chaotic. Check "The Bride Ship," "The Dolphins & the Sharks," and the four-part suite "The Great Dictator," all of which feature inimitable, highly intuitive interplay between tom-tom heavy, near-tribal drums, Adams' swirling, inquisitive violin, and guitars and keyboards that move in and through space, colliding, entwining, and moving off from one another in different directions. Above it all, Bonney's deep, grainy baritone strips the veneer off his lyrics with a narrative elegance and impure poetry that reveal alternately tightly coiled anger and nakedly vulnerable tenderness; it asks hard questions, touches (the often deluded) possibility for transcendence, and reveals the truth about the cost of unchecked desire. A History of Crime is a testament to a band who carved a singular sound out of post-punk's smoldering ashes. At the time, Crime & the City Solution were often misunderstood by those seeking more readily visceral expression. In the 21st century, however, the band proves its timelessness and mystery with a mercurial presentation full of unsettling emotions and intriguing perceptions.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek