Boomkat Product Review:
Very necessary and long-awaited vinyl reissue of This Heat’s hugely innovative and pioneering anti-rock classic, arriving nearly 40 years since its release. A true milestone in the mutation of pop, rock, avant-garde and electronic music, and arguably the ground-zero of post-punk, This Heat consolidated a wealth of music before its arrival whilst casting irrevocable influence over a generation of musicians, producers and engineers in its wake.
Formed in mid ‘70s Brixton, South London, around the trio of Charles Hayward, Charles Bullen and Gareth Currie, the group drew on and experimented within a flux of sonic disciplines - concrète, pop, dub, and krautrock - to align their mutual ligaments and oppositional structures in a complex, dissonant mass of finely edited improvisations.
Spooling tape noise Testcards jar abruptly with bursts of taut, buzzing drums and metallic guitar squall in Horizontal Hold, before Currie appears as a lamenting ghost, wallowing in the funereal folk drone of Not Waving, and like Damo Suzuki’s shy opposite against the motorik flight of Twilight Furniture.
The album’s definitive moment is still to come, however, with the 2-bar lick of Hayward’s propulsive drums spun thru devilish reverbs and delays in the legendary 24 Track Loop marking a pivotal moment in flux between dub, punk and electro-acoustic music, before the record closes out with Fall of Saigon’s melancholy dirge pop, which clearly set a template for everyone from Hot Chip to Animal Collective or Micachu and the Shapes.
Perhaps understandably, This Heat were never intended as a commercial proposition but, thru the support of John Peel they were able to reach and beguile a national radio audience who probably weren’t ready for them. Thus, their boundary-oblivious virus was planted in the fertile minds of ’79, when punk had already eaten itself and new ideas were definitely required.
By using a minimalist, rhythmically-focussed palette, rent by great minds using the studio-as-instrument, This Heat represents a crucial transition or phase-shift in music from stratified styles toward a union of what might have been formerly perceived as mutually exclusive sounds or styles; boldly following a path out of genre restriction and dilating the dimensions of sonic possibility in the process.
A stone cold classic.