A.C. Marias

One of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing)

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Throughout the 1980s Angela Conway was a regular contributor to Wire-related ventures such as Dome, P'o, and He Said, usually as a vocalist. During that time, in collaboration with Wire's Bruce Gilbert, she also pursued her own work under the name A.C. Marias. Following several singles between 1980 and 1989, One of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing) was Conway's debut full-length release. Given Gilbert's contributions to this album -- as a musician, co-writer, and producer -- it's not surprising that his influence should be audible. Indeed, his presence can be felt in the looping, pared-down guitar patterns, synth noises, and sparse repetitive rhythms that give much of the material a mesmerizing quality. But whereas one of those components alone might have been the focus of an entire Dome track, on One of Our Girls they're integrated into more concise, melodic arrangements built around Conway's understated, almost choral vocals. The result is an intriguing collection of minimalist pop songs. Some are immensely catchy, for instance the chugging "Give Me," with its deconstructed rock riff, and the buoyant, up-tempo title track (with its subtly feminist narrative). However, the majority of the tracks are less immediate in their impact, crafted instead with considerable subtlety so that their spare textures reward repeated listenings. With percussion reduced to little more than nuance, "Just Talk" has a slightly hypnotic, ethereal feel, while "There's a Scent of Rain in the Air" is imbued with a more ambient flavor, building tension almost imperceptibly through repeating rhythmic fragments, rustlings of guitar, and layered, echoing vocals. In contrast, an off-kilter cover of Canned Heat's "Time Was" (featuring Rowland S. Howard and Barry Adamson) finds Conway's haunting voice offset with some minor slide-guitar cacophony. This brings the largely delicate, dream-like proceedings to an interestingly nightmarish end.

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