June saw Barcelona’s finest delivering a second instalment of primary dirty synth from the archives of mid ’80s West Yorkshire industrial troopers known as Son of Sam. If you hadn’t paid much attention to the first volume of The Collapse of Ancient Funk back in 2014, make sure you give this second and last collection of Son of Sam material from Domestica a good listen. What we have is some wonderful grainy synth, hovering angstily on that steel-grey Thatcherist line between industrial and synthpop’s tinges of dancey melancholy. Recorded in Leeds in 1984, The Collapse of Ancient Funk Vol. II breaths with the notion Son of Sam were thinking “let’s just try to keep dancing,” leaving a sense of unease that is perfect for these troubled times (again).
Frontman Chris Bishop sums up the Son of Sam story between the band buying an 808 and ‘logically destroying themselves’ as techno dawned, a timeline that describes the music quite lucidly. The tracks collected here – originally released on the band’s ultra-rare first tape released on Final Image – stage a constant tension between a brutal sonic palette. Driving bass-synths threateningly hovering overhead, voices are vocoded, low-pitched and ominous. Amidst all this, a a barely credible desire for the intelligent but light-hearted pop song is discernible.
Highlights include a gorgeous and off-kilter 8-minute remix of “Not a Second Wasted” inspired by Holger Czukay, the sleeping factory rumble of the sophisticateldy tense “Come Here, Handsome” and a previously unheard piece, “You Got Me”. Older men, newer machines, the track is almost a manifesto for a band that, apparently, nobody wanted to dance to. Whatever our generation is up to, it is at least recovering some of the most interesting dances anybody has ever had.