Friday, November 13, 2009

Wheel In The Roses EP - (1980)

Rema-Rema's only release was one of 4AD's first, following the four Axis singles and Bauhaus' "Dark Entries" 7". Released post-breakup, Wheel in the Roses hinted where a couple of the members would go with Mass and the Wolfgang Press, while another member — Marco Pirroni — would become an Ant. This four-song 12" eventually became a sought-after curio, aided in part by This Mortal Coil's cover of "Fond Affections" and Big Black's relatively straightforward interpretation of "Rema-Rema." It falls somewhere within the territory staked out by first-album PiL, third-album Wire, and a funkless version of the Pop Group, with wonderfully sludgy rhythms, hectoring vocals, and guitars that stun without catering to rock conventions. A bloodcurdling group-chant of "We are Rema-Rema" opens up "Feedback Song," the first song. Seven minutes in length, it's a funereal march with waves of electronic noise, squalling guitars, and a drunken piano that could've been played with a single finger. (The song would appear on the 1981 compilation Natures Mortes, made available on CD during the late '90s.) "Rema-Rema" is a lot more animated, with hardly intelligible lyrics ("Rema-Rema/Rema-Rema/Rema-Rema/Uhhh.../Rema-Rema/Something in the bathroom/Something in the hall") over a raucous, strident drive that should've made for the post-punk era's own "Louie Louie." The two songs on the B-side were recorded live, but it had to be performed in front of a crowd numbering in ten or less. The murky 4/4 of "Instrumental" isn't an instrumental ("You kicked me right between the eyes/You kicked me/You kicked me"), and if you dig deep enough, the fractured, echo-heavy "Fond Affections" shows all the makings of a torch song. This is hardly an essential or unique post-punk release, but it's delightful in its own darkly merry way, as an energizing slab of lunkheaded artsiness; it's more than a forgotten piece of 4AD history. In 2003, the label pressed up 1,000 copies on CD and made it available through mail order. (

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