Dif Juz was an early 1980s British band that is unfairly forgotten. Years before anyone else like Sigur Ros or Explosions in the Sky, they were exploring the genre that would come to be called post-rock with their all-instrumental songs. Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins called them hands-down the best live act he had ever seen. Their track "No Motion" on 4AD's classic Lonely is an Eyesore compilation, knocks my socks off.
But I'm not so enthusiastic about EXTRACTIONS, a 1985 release and their only full-length album. The production (by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins) tames what might have been a more savage, in-your-face experience. Some tracks are so distantly miked as to drain them of power. The tunes, which have the complexity of progressive rock without the length or storytelling, will stick in your head for long afterward, but when you finally put the album again on, the flaccid sound comes as a disappointment.
Still, if you can look past the production, there is much to admire here. The standout of the album might be the contribution by divine chanteuse Elizabeth Fraser (again of the Cocteau Twins!) on "Love Insane", the only Dif Juz track to ever have vocals. Richard Thomas's saxophone weaves a sinuous thread through most of the songs, and when he is not playing saxophone, he's providing great percussion.
The CD reissue of this album contains four songs drawn from 4AD releases of four years earlier: "Gunet", "Soarn", "Hu" and "Re" (the remaining songs from these 1981 releases were made available again in the Soundpool compilation). These do have superior production to EXTRACTIONS proper, enough to convince me to stop complaining and push my rating up to 4 stars.