Boomkat Product Review:
Roger Doyle and co.’s cult Operating Theatre classic ‘Miss Mauger’ resurfaces via All City, highlighting a stage-ready blend of modern classical and electronic themes composed on the legendary Fairlight Computer Music System. RIYL Tuxedomoon/Blaine L. Reininger, John Avery, the amazing ‘Strange Passions’ compilation
Remastered, reissued, and augmented with two bonus songs - ‘The Austrian’ which appeared on ‘Strange Passions’ (Cache Cache, 2012) comp, and the willowing shape of ‘Sir Geoffrey’ (1981) - ‘Miss Mauger’ slots very neatly into the sort of niches recently explored by the likes of Pete Swanson’s Freedom To Spend or Jed Bindeman’s Concentric Circles labels; unfurling a rarified mix of plugged-in modern classical and soundtrack-y works intersected by campy electro rhythms and pop treats.
Named after the theatre company Rger Doyle set up with Irish actress Olwen Fouéré, Operating Theatre arrived some years after Doyle had cut his teeth as a solo artist with his hugely endearing debut ‘Oizzo No’ (1975) and the NWW-listed ‘Thalia’ (1976/78) album. Where those projects were singular and sprawling, Operatign Theatre’s music is cut to purpose as soundtracks and site-specific productions, and as such sounds quite different to Roger’s solo output.
The original ‘Miss Mauger’ was issued in 1983 by Uk label Kabuki during a pause in Doyle’s solo work. It’s practically all instrumental for the most, ranging from wheezy synth pieces to parts that recall current James Ferraro compositions in ‘Elation After Hours’, along with computer game disco vibes in ’Syllable’, until the final trio of highlights introduce Olwen’s proto-Julee Cruise vocals. One of those highlights ‘Positive Disintegration’ also turns out to be an instrumental echo of their earlier zinger, ‘The Austrian’ featuring Olwen’s full-blooded vocal, which was a massive highlight of the ‘Strange Passions’ set, and now appears as a bonus along with the melancholic peal of ‘Sir Geoffrey’.