Boomkat Product Review:
Suicide dynamo and industrial pioneer Martin Rev is subject of a killer early retrospective scanning prototypes for the band’s classic material and wayward solo sketches previously unheard beyond his studio
Among his generation’s influential greats, Martin Rev set the blueprint for so much machine music to come in his duo, Suicide, with the dearly departed vocalist Alan Vega. ‘The Sum of Our Wounds (Cassette Recordings 1973-85)’ pulls focus on the years leading up to, and including, Suicide’s formation in 1977, when their eponymous debut sent shockwaves from the NYC punk no wave epicentre to all corners, and well into their early ‘80s reign.
The 16-part suite drills down into the way he grafted the enduring thrust of ‘50s rock ’n roll onto machine-made templates, adapting its spirit to new purpose in translation. It’s effectively the backroom sound of a genre being born and cultivated, betraying trace soft what would become classic staples in the likes of ‘Baby O Baby’, the wheezing wist of ‘Yearning’, or the electrifying squall and thrum of ‘Laredo’, which all bear the early vestiges of Suicide’s enduringly legendary sound.
“Spanning the period 1973 to 1985, the recordings on "The Sum of Our Wounds" are much more than a collection of demos and outtakes. One has the sense of listening to a rounded album of familiar compositions, now portrayed in a completely new light. The brittle fragility of these cassette pieces reveals a deep-lying sensitivity, like a collection of wounds.
Martin Rev himself remains as transfixed as ever by these recordings, as if he could immediately pick up where he left off and continue to expand on the ideas that came to him decades ago: »They often have a certain freshness or unpolished energy here... and (there is) always scope for new ideas, to be derived from them as a whole or even in small areas.«
The cassette medium proves to be more than a means to an end – the tape recorder itself has a role to play as an instrument, the ideal basis for an artist who understands how to condense an idea into its fundamental elements: »The cassette sound, with its individual peculiarities, many even thought of in terms of inferior sound, can have an interesting dynamic. Maybe especially in certain minimal contexts when they are not being overloaded. Although they often seem to take on a lot of texture as well and with a warm response.«
And so these snapshots can be seen as stages of a ceaseless evolution, one we are allowed to witness as we sit alongside Martin Rev at the tape deck, listening as he captures the sounds of the unquiet city.”