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"SECTION 25: SO FAR"

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LTM
Section 25 were always a difficult proposition, because they were really two bands. First, there was the late-1970s incarnation typified by the debut album Always Now, produced by Martin Hannett. At this phase of the band's career, the group wore the Factory uniform through and through, pumping out bleak, claustrophobic noise-rock owing a tremendous debt to Joy Division. This version of Section 25 has not aged well at all, and only record collectors and Factory fetishists actually like the music. The other Section 25 began around 1983-4, after some personnel shifts and a complete 180-degree change in musical strategies. Instead of sour-faced, doomy boredom, the band embraced keyboard programming, synthesizers and the Roland 303, producing excellent, influential early techno that has held up surprisingly well through the years. For those who enjoy charting the connections between the proto-electro of Detroit/Chicago and the more stiff, angular white-boy dance and funk of the early 1980s Manchester scene, Section 25 are ground zero. This DVD contains both incarnations of the band, but leans heavily on the latter phase of their chronology, which is more than fine by me. The DVD begins with a nine-song set captured at London's ICA in the summer of 1980, and it's predictably faceless and largely uninteresting. Then there is a set of clips from various venues dating from 1981 to 1984, and things start to get interesting. A promotional video for "Looking From A Hilltop" is suitably retro and quite a lot of fun, even though the band is just miming to the recorded version of the song. The best material comes from two shows dating from 1985, one at Chicago's Metro Club and another at Prince's First Avenue club in Minneapolis. Section 25 is at the height of their powers here, unleashing addictively futuristic proto-acid techno with dual live drumming, breathy vocals, dramatic keyboard melodies and a galaxy of weird sound effects. Even at this stage, however, Section 25 were still performing more rock-oriented material, though it has now been retrofitted with banks of synthesizers, Human League-style. The video and sound quality varies wildly across the disc, but most of the best performances are watchable and enjoyable. At over two hours, this is a generous package and a must-have for fans of this nascent period of techno.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 July 2005 14:20  


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