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Fanfare In the Garden

Essential Logic

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Album Review

Consider Fanfare in the Garden another debt paid by Kill Rock Stars, the label that did another admirable thing two years prior with their reissue of Kleenex/Liliput. Just as crucial as that release, if not more so, Fanfare in the Garden takes its own place as an unassailable piece of post-punk history. If there's any group that exemplified the biting lyrics/fun sounds combination that several post-punk bands made their stock-in-trade, it's Essential Logic, a band centered around ex-X-Ray Spex saxophonist Lora Logic. Logic and her bandmates whipped up an alarming squall, made all the more unique by the leader's sax squonks and equally frantic vocals, which are prone to wild shifts of pitch and tone — from chirps to yelps, from swoops to flutters — that regularly find ways to contort traditional pronunciations. Logic's phonetic spelling of "aerosol burns," for instance, would look something like "ayyr-O-sawl burr-URNZ." Like a lot of their peers — early Scritti Politti, the Pop Group, the Slits, Liliput, the Raincoats — they sound incredibly tight one moment and then sound as if they're quickly marching toward the brink of unraveling. Nearly every song is a trebly buzz filled with jerky rhythms and dissonant screeches — qualities bred by an exhilarating form of feral oomph. With all that said, Fanfare in the Garden is far from thorough and picks some questionable material for inclusion. While the bulk of the band's lone album, two EPs, and several singles are provided, this was the perfect chance to put the entirety of those releases back into circulation. And though some of Logic's early solo material is welcomed — particularly the relatively tame but delightful 1981 single "Wonderful Offer" — much of the space on the second disc is occupied by inferior, albeit decent, late-'90s recordings. Regardless, the compilation is unskippable.

Biography

Formed: 1978

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '00s

Susan Whitby was 15 years old and had been playing saxophone for a little more than six months when she joined her friend Marion Elliot (aka Poly Styrene) and formed the great English punk band X-Ray Spex. At this juncture, Whitby renamed herself Lora Logic and brought her honking and squawking to X-Ray Spex's guitar-propelled punk rock, staying in the band long enough to record the seminal feminist-punk single "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!" Prior to the recording of their debut album, Logic abruptly left...
Full bio
Fanfare In the Garden, Essential Logic
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