Various Artists

Strange Passion

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Conceived and presented very much as the catch-all it is rather than any kind of uniform portrait, Strange Passion's focus on obscure, experimental Irish acts caught up in the original spirit of post-punk is yet another example of the curatorial impulse run rampant in music -- another lost scene to dig up and celebrate in concert with the thousands newly codified around the world. But there's a strong, varied energy that's showcased as a result, with youthful ideas and a sense of trying something different slamming up against a political and cultural atmosphere that was barely welcoming of it. It's only appropriate that the most famous act featured would be the Virgin Prunes, whose chaotic, seething rage and theatricality pretty much define an explosive reaction to said atmosphere, and "Twenty Tens" is a fine slice of just that. Around it is a kaleidoscopic trip through everything from the relative cool calm of Choice, whose "Always in Danger" finds a midpoint between the Passions and Altered Images, to the scraggly "Play Safe" by Chant! Chant! Chant!, perhaps the closest equivalent to PiL on the album when it comes to literal post-punk sounds. Less comprehensive than a sampler that scratches the surface, sometimes Strange Passion shows potential limitations -- Dogmatic Element's"Just Friends" is almost too obviously a product of place and time, a boxy sounding Siouxsie & the Banshees nod. But the full-bodied gang shout synth pop of Major Thinkers is a hell of a treat, while the Peridots' near minimal-synth zone out suggests even further directions for exploration.

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