Influential British industrial group Bourbonese Qualk were a fiercely independent operation, recording at their own studio, running their own label and venue, and booking their own tours. They rejected offers from major labels and refused to commercialize their sound. Their prolific run of albums and EPs ranged from industrial post-punk in the 1980s to techno in the early '90s to more ambient textures in the early 2000s. This compilation focuses on the group's early lineup, consisting of Simon Crab, Julian Gilbert, and Steven Tanza. This lineup released five full-lengths from 1983 to 1987, mostly on the group's own label, Recloose Organisation. The group's sound combined shouted vocals, live as well as programmed drums with trippy echo effects, and occasional harsh noise bursts, as on songs like "God with Us." The group's attitude seemed grim, with nihilistic shouted lyrics delivered in the type of snarling voice that would come to be popularized by singers like Skinny Puppy's Ogre, but the group stood apart due to their usage of subtly funky basslines and ethereal violin and other intriguing instruments. Their early embrace of technoid rhythms on tracks such as "Headstop" made their subsequent transition to the techno genre seem like a logical step. Sometimes they abandoned rhythm altogether, as on intensely weird experiments like "Insurrection." And amidst all the industrial raging and dread, there are a few calm moments like the lovely instrumental "Outcry." Mannequin's 2015 compilation of the group's early work provides a much-needed retrospective of a stubbornly autonomous, ferociously experimental group that was well ahead of its time.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson