Review Summary: Gang of Four’s new and freely distributed EP should only be listened for “Sleeper” because in essence it is what we all want to hear come next January.
Andy Gill and John King are Gang of Four. At least they’re what make Gang of Four so deceptively brilliant. Even though there was an on and off relationship between the two they would eventually re-form twice (the more recent reemergence is the second time since 1991), but it took a while for the two to truly get re-acquainted. There was the dreadful Hard
, where they abashing threw everything that was Gang of Four and dove headfirst into the new wave mainstream heyday of the 80’s. They would only later actually get back on track 2 albums later with Shrinkwrapped
– a dark, if not modern feel that didn’t lack the qualities of both King’s enigmatic messaging and Gill’s sprawling guitar that seemed to take on a life of its own. Later, about decade and then some, we hear the touring of Gang of Four with an apparent album in the works – Content
slated to be released late January of next year. Practically nothing has been hinted or released on the sound, until their free digital release fittingly named Free EP
While in terms of new material, this free 3-track EP lacks much, but we can’t really fault it for anything, after all it’s almost like a small taste on what is to come. The re-work of the classic “Glass” from one of the best post-punk releases ever Entertainment!
is as the band said minimalistic, “Enough! This song needs to breathe!” And it truly does on first listen
. Whereas the original version stayed “too busy and kind of old-fashioned” as Gill states, this newer version matches ultra-minimalism of the song with the sound. While that sounds all well and good, in reality the song isn’t exceptionally different. The original is extremely subverted in its minimalistic tone, but it’s meant to be that way for a reason – it is attached to the sound that made the band so exceptionally noticeable. “Glass (Re-recorded) is really a song with a modern production and that’s all. Nothing is extraordinarily different with this version that makes you believe Gill’s comments.
The next track is what Content
is allegedly going to sound like. The introduction of Gill’s guitar shredding mimics days of their last album Shrinkwrapped
, but it ultimately goes dead, eventually ramping up again after King’s vocals that sound both tempting and restrained. “Sleeper” is what Gang of Four should and hopefully will sound like. A modernized sound that isn’t blaringly produced as Shrinkwrapped
was, but minimalistic enough to make fans of their earlier work like Entertainment!
and Solid Gold
excited. The last track is almost a through and through an odd, if not hilarious excuse for a track, but apparently it was made remixed by their fans; it isn’t terrible, but really what the hell is it doing here? I can’t really describe what King is saying beyond the murkiness and daftness of the whole thing, but here is the band’s explanation, I didn’t buy it do you?
Scene one: After a period of reckless government, the aristocracy has taken power. Despite failing to win an election, a ConDem conspiracy sets out on a ruthless class war. There is an assault on the poor, the disadvantaged and middle-income families. The über-rich and City gamblers are accumulating wealth at a breathtaking rate. So, what's to be done?
Scene two: Our hero realises he's had a hand in these crimes and tries to make sense of his own role. He realises that there's something he can do: Look the other way! There's a song to be sung and a gift in our hearts! We're all in it together! Get Down On It!
Is this really worth checking out? Well if you’re amped for their new material why not take a peek at “Sleeper” because it is actually worthy of listening to, if not probably don’t bother – it is free by the way. You know, you could just listen to Shrinkwrapped
and just pretend the production isn’t so damn brash.