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NME, July 15, 1978, by Ian Penman

The Pop Group
This Heat

TWO SEEMINGLY unconventional, superficially 'bleak', jagged modern-music outfits. Both engineer music suggesting radical departure, still somehow quaint.

Their chaos is meticulous but there is a common fault: both seem reluctant to communicate. I refer not to snakeskin-boot 'let's all stomp' rallying calls, nor to the operation of salivation balloons — just the simple accommodation of song titles.

This Heat dummy and hatch volatile, sly music. They hop rather than swagger — argumentative, tenuously rock-oriented noise. It's often pure noise, yes (what isn't?) but 'Industrial' only in the sense that Abba too are 'Industrial'... (both engaged in the manufacture of noise?)

It's a very angry music, anchored with a superficial reliance on a more conventional form — rock-gloss ("Horizontal Hold") — soon to be severed as the barbed, coughing triptych-sound stabs into an ebbing, nebulous caution.

Successive grey zones of mechanical, ponderous aggression; aggression which is detached, drifting, resolute. The three players seem almost to spite their instruments; performance is both obscured and accentuated (Pop Mummers?).

Both This Heat and The Pop Group seem to be in the grip of an almost Cage-like desire to possess noise, to include EVERYTHING, all influence into the confluence of performance (aggro-noise therapy?)

The Pop Group are more 'attractive'... they have gelled. Their implementation of tape, tape machines, hits quicker than This Heat's. Their performance is more markedly the result of experiment, as opposed to the experience (which can be embarrassing, can be mesmerising).

The Pop Group are smart. The pre-recorded sound is disconcerting (that's all we need). Audience reaction runs the gamut, largely disguising fear (of the unfamiliar, or rather, the familiar rendered in a disturbing manner).

The two guitarists also structure their interactive playing like people inside the freedom of Jazz/Experimental music (everyone solos-nobody solos): abrupt, stammering, caustic, clinging like static on wool — a real cliff-hanger.

As for the singer — he is obviously in the throes of a distressing psychological imbalance, suggesting, along with the two guitarists, the instructions of a French author for one of his early plays: "Movements... either heavy or else extremely and incomprehensibly rapid." Genet never exploited strobe-lighting though...

As for the 'bleak' aspect of it all, well, certainly — nobody smiled all evening. But it cheered me up more than anything 'Fun'-fixated, to know that there is still hope of genuinely new music.

Ian Penman

Press Clippings

The Pop Group