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Health and Efficiency / Graphic/Varispeed - EP

This Heat

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Album Review

This two-song EP from 1980 showcases what This Heat did so brilliantly, if so far below the radar that it is only posthumously that the groundbreaking British trio gets recognized: somehow they manage to be astronomically influential yet polarizing in the same breath. The eight-minute A-side, "Health and Efficiency" (titled from a bandmember's in-joke about the benefits of bicycling to the recording studio) is an insistent and pulsating Krautrock projectile, hurtling forward anthemically on herky-jerky discordant guitar splatter and a pummeled and abused drum kit. It's an obvious precedent to latter-day experimental rockers like Sonic Youth and Le Fly Pan Am. The 11-minute B-side, "Graphic/Varispeed," is an epic sprawl of barely shifting drone that can just as easily hypnotize the listener as provoke them to rip it from the turntable in a fury. Graciously, the listener was originally encouraged to play it at the speed of their choice, 16, 33-1/3, 45, or 78 rpm. The band's assertion that "it sounds great at all speeds" leaves it up to the listener to agree or rebut.

Biography

Formed: 1976 in Camberwell, South London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Despite their extremely short-lived tenure, U.K. experimentalist trio This Heat left behind a legacy that would open the doors for the formation of forward-thinking genres like post-rock, industrial, and post-punk. The group came together in January of 1976 in Brixton, London, made up of Charles Bullen, Charles Hayward, and Gareth Williams. All three members contributed vocals and played a variety of instruments including guitar, keyboards, clarinet, viola, and prerecorded tapes. Bullen and Hayward...
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