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REMEMBERED WITH AFFECTION AND RESPECT
on 4 January 2008
The final album from NEW MUSIK and perhaps the weakest of the three, but WARP is still a wonderful thing of its time.
The most serious negative - when compared with FROM A TO B and ANYWHERE - is the absense of a real drummer. Part-time or otherwise, Phil Towner's presence behind the skins on the first two releases helped to retain that vital element of humanity key to some of the group's best efforts. Cliff Venner on WARP, however, delivers some interesting vocals but, oh, the sounds coming from his drum machine...
And while there's nothing to match the unalloyed elegance of ON ISLANDS and THIS WORLD OF WATER or indeed THIS WORLD OF WALTER and TRAPS, the songs on WARP are still far from substandard. GOING ROUND AGAIN; ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE (a Mansfield original); THE NEW EVOLUTIONIST and THE PLANET DOESN'T MIND all rise to the occasion and bonus tracks (included for the Japanese market) make this album, despite the above misgivings, well worth your time and money.
I passed on the presumably fascinating sleevenotes, however, as my understanding of oriental script sadly extends no further than KILL and BILL.
Unique in sound and vision. Composer, musician and producer. An underrated genius with a great CV. He is the reason why New Musik deserve to be remembered with affection and respect. And to those critics who dismiss his work as twee or insubstantial, I would argue those points every time. Brimming with sharp and shining electro-pop sensibility, Mansfield's compositions also display a longing and wistfulfulness, evident in every 'quiet' moment. As though he were looking out of a window and seeing something better, more desirable, in the distance but always just out of reach. That's why his music will always stay with me and why this album must be seen in context with its superior siblings as an essential part of the whole.
I count myself lucky enough to have seen New Musik. The gig was at the LEEDS WAREHOUSE in 1981 and they were accompanied, quite literally, by this big tape machine. Positioned almost centre stage, it provided the backing bits and pieces that the band were unable to reproduce live. Unfortunately, it broke down mid-set. Apologies were made, but do you know what? It didn't matter, the songs spoke (or sang) for themselves and nothing was lost.
In the end, then, the synths may dominate but - putting WARP's tendencies aside - the strings of the heart beat to the tune of those on Tony Mansfield's guitar.