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Sweep the Desert

Swell Maps

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Album Review

One scans the eight-page booklet accompanying this release in vain for some clue as to when and for what purpose this material was recorded, and whether it's ever been available before. Just about all the other info you could want is here, including a note that Nikki Sudden was one of the album's compilers, indicating that this couldn't have been done without his knowledge. Still, even a sweep through the label and artist websites listed on this sleeve leaves no concrete details about this recording in its wake. This leaves us ignoramuses without complete Swell Maps discographies to remain ignorant about the sources for these tracks. Like much Swell Maps material, these songs are a mixture of abrasive experimental noise rock and abrasive punk rock (with the odd exception like the pretty, ambient piano-based "Raining Room"), surprisingly short on song structure and accessibility given the subsequent solo outings by Sudden and fellow Swell Map Epic Soundtracks. Those straight-ahead, punkish numbers, like "Full Moon in My Pocket" and "BLAM!!," do have the kind of likable verve associated with much very early British punk. The oddball percussion-heavy and/or clanging, bleak, noisy instrumentals often seem like ideas in need of fleshing out, or ones that weren't too promising to begin with, even if they did anticipate future trends in post-punk.

Biography

Formed: 1972 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Noisy and experimental, Britain's Swell Maps experienced little commercial success during the course of their chaotic career, but in hindsight they stand as one of the pivotal acts of the new wave: not only was the group an acknowledged inspiration to the likes of Sonic Youth and Pavement, but their alumni — most notably brothers...
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Sweep the Desert, Swell Maps
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