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Hull Down

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Album Review

Before the Lines' second and final proper album, Ultramarine (1983), had been test pressed, they began work on material that was developed and modified incrementally over the course of roughly a year. Thanks to Rico Conning's employment at William Orbit's Guerilla Studios, they had access to rhythm machines, synthesizers, effects, and recording means that augmented their own gear. There was intent to release an instrumental version of the sessions through the I.R.S. No Speak series in 1987, but Miles Copeland's label ultimately passed. After Rico Conning concluded the premastering process on the Acute label's Flood Bank and Memory Span compilations in the early 2000s, he revisited the still unreleased tapes. Discovering that he could make a true album's worth of complete material by mixing elements of demos and later versions, he put the final touches on Hull Down, what he considers the third Lines album. Filled with winding and gnashing dance grooves, throbbing electronics, and a studio-as-instrument approach, it's vastly different from what preceded it. Some of the tracks, like "Single Engine Duster," "Zoko AM3," and "Raffle," sound like lost post-punk club classics. They could be inserted into DJ sets consisting of contemporaneous Cabaret Voltaire and On-U Sound and still stand out. "Haberdasher," on the more contemplative end, works a hypnotizing combination of chimes, twinkles, and throbs that seems far too short at seven and a half minutes. A pleasant surprise, Hull Down also marks the end of Dan Selzer's Acute label, which deserves some kind of official commendation for its service to underexposed late-'70s/early-'80s post-punk and experimental music.

Biography

Formed: 1977 in England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s

English post-punk band the Lines first recorded in 1977 and released their last material in 1983, quietly leaving a pair of albums -- Therapy (October 1981) and Ultramarine (March 1983) -- and a handful of singles and EPs in their wake. Fairly indifferent to the press, affiliated with a very small label, and, despite connections to Alternative TV, Prag Vec, and Fad Gadget, not part of any scene, the Lines gained a small and fervent following, and their releases remained obscure until the Acute label's...
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