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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… A Primary Industry February 20, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Anyone who has heard of Ultramarine will know them as a remarkable English group whose music intersected dance and folk and who had a productive collaboration with Robert Wyatt on United Kingdoms. They’ve released music sporadically in the time since. 

But before Ultramarine there was A Primary Industry, a group remarkable in a different way. I’ve read pieces on how they were influenced by Factory Records and Belgian label Les Disques Du Crépuscule. And there’s no question that that part of post-punk, all expansive and layered atmospherics, is a central part of the mix. 

But listening to their album Ultramarine (natch!), released in 1986, is a strange experience. It starts with a squall of feedback, a sample that sounds curiously like the Jesus and Mary Chain’s earliest efforts when they were at their most experimental, and some very post-punk percussion which is followed by a female lead vocal that is oddly 1990s but then tips into funk with the addition of horns. Beacon Hill sounds as if Seefeel and Stockholm Monsters were jamming together. Shear has a sort of Shriekback atmosphere. Sans Orange is shoe gaze as near as makes no difference. Cicatrice is even more Seefeel in tone, interspersed by distorted guitars, which is some trick given Seefeel didn’t form until the 1990s. Watchword Weal seems to look to Rip Rig and Panic, if Rip Rig and Panic thought to incorporate guitar feedback that surges in quite an MBV sort of fashion towards the end of the track. Gush has an early Cocteau’s feel. There’s more, not least hints of electronica, but you get the picture. 

In a way it’s a strange bridge between the early 1980s and the 1990s – and yet nothing explicit to suggest the route Ultramarine themselves would take. I don’t think I’ve heard a single album quite like it in that respect. I see some have suggested it is a direct precursor to the first shoegaze albums but I wonder is that too limited a definition of this work?

A lot to like. 

Unfortunately, or not, individual tracks, bar Cicatrice aren’t available individually, but the album is below.

01) 00:04 – Body Blow 02) 04:10 – Beacon Hill 03) 07:48 – Shear 04) 11:07 – Sans Orange 05) 15:06 – Cicatrice 06) 20:00 – Watchworld Weal 07) 23:22 – Gush 08) 25:37 – Raw Umber 09) 29:16 – Silesia 10) 33:01 – Rose Madder

Cicatrice (video)

Just by way of comparison here is an earlier track from 1984 which shows that their roots before they added extra noise and textures…


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