Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Martin Rev - Martin Rev

Martin Rev

Released 1980 on Lust/Unlust
Reviewed by Lugia, 04/01/2004ce

Martin Rev: "Martin Rev"
Lust/Unlust JMB 228, recorded 1979, released 1980

1) Mari
2) Baby O Baby
3) Nineteen 86
4) Temptation
5) Jomo
6) Asia

The noisemaking half of Suicide...

OK, let me rephrase that...

The ELECTRONIC noisemaking half of Suicide, Rev and his partner Alan Vega created this juggernaut of sonic attack that grafted blues and rockabilly to proto-industrial rhythms and noises, which often had the effect of driving audiences to the point of rioting. In fact, at least one of these riots made it onto record, from a concert in Brussels. The first Suicide stuff was done mainly with a combo organ with a lot of tampering and a beatbox of some type (a Korg MiniPops, I suspect, but also possibly a Roland CR-68 in places judging from the sound of things). Then they got synths...and got slicker-sounding, but still pretty damned interesting.

This solo album, the first of several over the years from Rev, sees the Suicide rig in its state of flux between the primitivism of the first album and the electronic savvy of the second. A very exploratory set, it ranges from poppy to full-on industrial in nature.

"Mari" sounds like it would be right at home on Cluster's "Zuckerzeit". Seriously. A very bright, major-key thing with lots of beatboxing, it's a peppy start to this release.

Then things get strange. "Baby O Baby" has Rev singing (sort of) in a monotone, and the synths come in all over the place, and things turn into this dub-sludge frenzy that sounds like DAF meets Lee Perry. It's sort of disco, but sort of NOT disco, and industrial, but not really industrial. Hard to pin down, very strange listening.

Stranger still is "Nineteen 86", which grafts the bell-bonging you'd likely find on NEU!'s odder tracks (think "Gedenkminute" here) against the grinding Suicide beat/drone/echo-twisto mix. Abrasive, to be sure...but this is the sort of abrasion you've got to expect with these folks. And it's satisfying in a garage-rock meets Klaus Schulze sort of way.

And then "Temptation". God, I love this track. Hammering, propulsive e-percussion, swooshes of cosmic noise, kiddy glockenspiel, and the Suicide repeat-o-drone all whipped up into a Düsseldorfian pogo/disco froth. Now it's Cluster's turn with Mr. Perry here, as the mix just gets wilder and whooshier and wierder and swirls all over the stereo plane like a big swirly mess. Towards the end, you can hear Rev getting busy with what has to be an Eventide harmonizer of some model or another, as the swirlies all start shifting up and down and up and down. You'd swear this wasn't done in NYC. You'd swear it WAS done in, say, Köln or Berlin. On drugs. With equipment stolen from Throbbing Gristle.

Then...YEE GODS!!!!...NOISE!!! "Jomo" is just one impenetrable wall of rhythm-racket, with a droning, Philip Glass-like Farfisa underpinning. This is assaultive...AND kosmische...all at the same time! Man...it's just hard to describe what's going on in this mix, as it keeps getting denser and you SWEAR it couldn't possibly do that! It sounds like...like...words really don't work at describing this hammering, incessant attack of SOUND. This is a damned good example at why Suicide were truly past masters of audience assault!

And then "Asia" gets us on out of here, with banging piano notes, more proto-Kraftwerkian rhythms, and this amazing racket that sounds like a more etherial (if you could have that) outgrowth of the brain-splintering foreground of "Jomo". Drones build, track builds, klangy bits descend like shards of glass raining from some futuristic skyscraper...again, this isn't a piece of music that words are really built for.

"Martin Rev" is truly an amazing document, one of those rare moments where the stream running thru the Ruhrgebiet actually managed to surface somewhere else in those old days before it was so popular to nick bits from Krautrock. Everything has that same mechanistic feel we know from, say, "Ralf und Florian" or "Zuckerzeit", but it's all sped up, harder, faster, more attitude in evidence. It's not music for those calm contemplative times, but if you're punching your way thru city traffic at, say, 75+ MPH, this is just the soundtrack.

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