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Clifford Darling, Please Don't Live In the Past

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Album Review

This double LP, a collection of the earliest Severed Heads recordings from 1979 to 1983, shows them at their most experimental, using a heavy dose of electronics, tape loops, and effects and aligning themselves closely to early industrial groups like Throbbing Gristle and especially Cabaret Voltaire. There are prototypical electro-pop pieces like "Day in the Country," "Power Circles," and "J. Edgar Hoover," with primitive rhythm machine beats and cut-up spoken word that hint at later albums, as well as odd tape cut ups like "Advertisement," collage works, and some industrial noise works, including "Nightsong" and the irritating "Dance," which consists of migraine-inducing distorted synth tones repeated over and over. Fortunately, most of the other material is far more interesting than "Dance." The above-mentioned "Power Circles" evokes a certain old European elegance, while "Saturday Night" chops up an old Judy Garland-type song into a piece of wonderful looped plunderphonics that seamlessly segues into "Man Dat Hip," with more wild looping of pre-World War II jazz music. These tracks set the tone as the rest of side three continues with a further collage of loops of everything from various world musics to found-sound spoken word. Side four strays further into experimental realms with an early take on Since the Accident's "A Relic of the Empire," as well as "Tiny Fingers," where an ambient texture is created from tinkly keyboard notes, and the warped turntable collage of "Play It Again." Though grittier and more lo-fi than the later stuff, Clifford Darling has some of the Severed Heads' most creative work.


Formed: 1979 in Sydney, Australia

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Severed Heads were one of the pioneering acts on Australia's alternative music scene, a group whose work embraced elements of industrial, synth pop, electronic, and experimental music, with found sounds, tape loops, samples, and full-on noise playing as large a role in their music as any conventional instruments. Eclectic and stubbornly refusing to confine themselves to any single genre, Severed Heads evolved constantly from their debut in 1979 to their final retirement in 2008, as they used a wide...
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Clifford Darling, Please Don't Live In the Past, Severed Heads
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