Back in the 80's there was a sound of resistance. It banged on the metal of neglect and shouted through loud hailers something better change. This is the music of anger and rage. Whilst Crass used rock as a format, Test Dept dissected rock and produced another form of sound. The pounding of African/Celtic machine rhythms, the hammering of metal from the scrapyards of New Cross, the sound of the train on the track, it was industrial music literally. They fused it into a new form of rhythmic jazz.
Whilst Test Dept chanelled their rage in reality we were all playing on the beach whilst the tsunami of capitalism, with its cheap never ending credit, low cost quality goods, bargain flights to exotic lands, TV's with multiple channels, bangers on HP, as much booze as your gut can hold at 69p a can, illicit drugs on every street corner,porn at the click of an internet key whirled towards us, the starry eyed kids who envisioned something else, something more wholesome, real with meaning.
Hitting everyone in the late 80's along with gainful employment in came the first rush of hedonism. It even had its own soundtrack.
Test Dept as soothsayers of 80's doom had been proved wrong, or so it seems. Young people never had it so good and it was all there for the taking. Fame, fortune, sex and drugs. It was a pity about the new forms of rock and roll. Fist, F*ckhead, Statement, Crusher and 51st State all seemed too apocalyptic for an acid gestation. Unruly working class oiks, lurching at the techincolor beige acid whirl of never ending box shapes being plied in a Wilstshire farmers field.
Communism collapsed in 89 and for you my friends the war was over. Test Dept the metaphor for some form of challenge within music could also disband and relax. All resistance had snapped like a rubber band, it was the new world order. Everyone could bathe in the trough of post capitalism. Even the people left behind on the social housing estates could live better than medieval kings with hot water, electricity, cheap credit, narcotics, unrestricted sex and cheap booze.
Only it was all a facade, as real as the royal marriage. Now it has all begun to melt, leave a gooey mess and an eternal return to trudgery beckons. Tricia and Kyle hold up a social mirror to human relationship debris. Drug and alcohol agencies in every town testity to collapse in belief and hope. Bursting prison populations, during the good times, are the social monument to failure. Backed with an increased paranoid surveillance state, cameras, Id cards, information exchange. If you have nothing to fear you have nothing to hide, the mantra booms.
Credit existed due to housing speculation, musical chairs where the last on the property ladder gets shafted.
Unnaceptable face of freedom charts the bleak years of Thatcherism as the paranoid state. Thatcherism ensured it fed itself before anyone else could get near the trough. The workers could buy their own houses and speculate on them and join the throng. The others had to make their own way. New Labour the harbingers of the spring thaw increased the paranoid surveillance state in areas Thatcher would never have dared.
For a few years everyone became drenched and saturated in the good times. It just appeared Test Dept were no longer relevant. In reality just like Mark Stewart they were seers. They have paid the price for clairvoyancy; mass neglect and ignorance.
Those who can retrace the steps need to handle the torch to the way back to the younger generations. There was a time when music was vital and had meaning. This is part of that cannon you just need to light the fuse.