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Test Dept.

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More expressly political than their German counterparts Einstürzende Neubauten, Test Department followed the same tack: A creative use of the ethos in which diverse objects (including large amounts of scrap metal and power tools) can be used as instruments. Formed in London's New Cross in 1982 by Alistair Adams, Graham Cunningham, Tony Cudlip, Gus Ferguson and Paul Jamrozy, the quintet became renowned for the staging of huge multimedia events at obscure venues -- a railway works in Glasgow, a sand quarry, Cannon Street Station in London, a Welsh car factory -- and their political agenda, which has included action against apartheid, the rise of neo-Nazism and Britain's Criminal Justice Act. The quintet signed to Some Bizarre Records for 1984's Beating the Retreat, and outlined their socialist agenda set to music on the following year's Shoulder to Shoulder, recorded with "the South Wales Striking Miners' Choir." After forming their own Ministry of Power label to organize multimedia events, Test Department released two records -- The Unacceptable Face of Freedom and A Good Night Out -- in a MOP/Some Bizarre conjunction, but struck out on their own with 1988's Terra Firma. Test Dept.'s sixth album, The Gododdin, was followed by their most scathing criticism of British politics, Pax Britannica, in conjunction with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Choir. After releasing albums for Jungle Records and Dossier, the group gained a contract with the American industrial label Cleopatra in 1994 and released the fruit of their early-'90s work on Legacy (1990-1993). Signed to Cleopatra's subsidiary Invisible, Test Dept. released the new albums Totality (1995) and Tactics for Revolution (1998), as well as reissuing several previous works. ~ John Bush