"In debt" is right -- as bandleader Ian Crause freely admitted in interviews in later years, Disco Inferno's beginnings were so clearly inspired by such post-punk luminaries as the Durutti Column, early Wire, and above all else, Joy Division, that on first blush it seemed unlikely the band would go further than fine nostalgia. The surprising touch on this compilation of the trio's first single, album, and EP turns out to be how quickly the band started to evolve in its own distinct identity. The first two tracks, "Entertainment" and "Arc in Round," made up the debut single; from the crisp slam of the drums to the intricate, delicate guitar work and non-melodic singing, Disco Inferno's Joy Division fascination hangs so heavy it's almost the work of a tribute band. "Emigre," the original opening track for the first album, is buoyed by a powerful, immediate combination of sparse drumming, digitally echoed riffs, loops, and hints of synth use; the inspirations remain clear but the song itself is much more their own, brought home with a killer guitar solo and drum break at the end. Similarly fine, soaring numbers such as "Freethought" and more ominous tracks like "Bleed Clean" ("...or does your blood flow in a mess?") mesh with intriguing side efforts like the primarily acoustic "Hope to God." The final four tracks, from the post-album EP, really see the band take off; "Waking Up" is Disco Inferno's first total masterpiece, opening with an echoed bass note, astoundingly subtle percussion samples, then the deadly calm lyric "A sky without a god is a clear blue sky." "Fallen Down the Wire" rips along to a sudden, unexpected end after an increasingly fierce build-up. All in all, a striking starting point for what was to come next.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett