Song of the day: DISCO INFERNO – Waking Up (1991)

Disco Inferno are one of those bands who seemed to fall through the cracks of history. They started off as fairly dour Joy Division copyists, but quickly developed a style and sound of their own, using samples and electronic processing of the group’s basic guitar / bass / drums format. They were doing ‘post-rock’ as the rest of Britain was caught up in Britpop, house and grunge, and consequently few listened. After two albums, and a third left unissued (it was later as Technicolour), they split in 1995 – a decision reached due to a combination of apathetic audiences and the theft of a van containing all of their (uninsured) equipment. Singer/guitarist Ian Crause recorded a couple of solo singles for a Spanish label, but all has been quiet for six years now. If the band had happened five years later they would have been feted by the underground, but it was not to be.

“Waking Up” was the lead track of the Science twelve inch issued by Ché in 1991. The EP marked a massive leap forward from the Open Door Closed Window album that had come out only a few months beforehand (all the songs from both were included on the CD In Debt the following year). There was a new confidence within the band, and they were moving towards their own unique voice. “Waking Up” is built over a mesmerisingly simple reverbed bass riff (similar to the sound that Rothko would champion years later). The drums are simple tom tom rolls processed to sound synthesised. The quiet, deadpan vocals of Crause are a paean to rationalism, with the unforgettable opening line “A sky without a god is a clear blue sky“. It’s a dispassionate song, but hypnotic and oddly moving. It’s almost as if Crause was foretelling the rise of reactionary fundamentalism that the next century would bring. No wonder it seems so gloomy.

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