Attrition

Dreamtime Collectors 1980–2010

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At the time of this collection's release in 2010, darkwave pioneers Attrition had been on the scene for 30 years, having recorded alongside everyone from Crass to Siouxsie and the Banshees along the way, as well as producing 15 or so full-length albums of their own. They paved the way for similarly inclined artists like Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Covenant, while helping to define the nascent sound of industrial music from their home base in Coventry, England in the early '80s. Knowing that about them, newcomers may be surprised by the decorous and almost gentle tone of much of this music: although "Acid Tongue" features the kind of relentlessly marching four-beats-to-the-bar rhythm and gutturally muttered vocal style that has characterized industrial music since the early days of Ministry and Front 242, the beats are wielded softly and the lyrics intoned quietly. Elsewhere, as on the stiffly funky "To the Devil!," those beats and those growling vocals get a bit more traditionally abrasive, but there is another extreme to Attrition's sound as well, and it's nearly classical: a track from Etude (a one-off project with Paris opera orchestra member Franck Dematteis) draws explicitly on classical traditions, and would have succeeded better with a more skillful singer. Elsewhere, the beatless and gratuitously creepy "What Shall I Sing?" comes across as mannered and clichéd (right down to the ominously tinkling piano tritones), but most of the music collected here is unusual both for its boundary-stretching approach to the darkwave/industrial tradition and for its attractive and often complex textures. This album could garner Attrition a whole new generation of mopey and misunderstood fans.

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