Blancmange ‎– Irene & Mavis

Label:
Not On Label ‎– none
Format:
Vinyl, 7", EP, Limited Edition
Country:
Released:
Genre:
Style:

Tracklist

A1 Disco-A-Bomb-Bomb 2:35
A2 Holiday Camp 3:01
A3 Overspreading Art Genius 2:16
B1 Concentration Baby 2:03
B2 Just Another Spectre 3:05
B3 Modichy In Aneration 3:21

Credits

Notes

Limited edition of 1000 copies.
Recorded in 1979.

Other Versions (1 of 1) View All

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
MW050 Blancmange Irene & Mavis(10", EP, Ltd, Num, RE, RM) Minimal Wave MW050 US 2013 Sell This Version

Recommendations

Reviews Show All 3 Reviews

Add Review

cgogstad

cgogstad

November 11, 2013
10" vinyl new press of this, just around the corner!!!!
Crijevo

Crijevo

September 8, 2010
Interesting how bands from the 'disco-lockdown' era 1977-1979 pursued a pop career later on, scoring sizable top-ten hits. I managed to collect 'Irene & Mavis' years ago from an American gentleman, who mastered it properly from the original vinyl onto the CD. Before that, I read about the EP in their compilation booklet ('Best of Blancmange', released on Connoisseur Collection in 1996), and was intrigued by a tiny description in that text, thinking what on earth might that sound like. While Discogs states the EP being released 'not on label', it actually has a label imprint, called Blaah.

When I finally heard the EP, I was both, fascinated and disappointed - ideologically, 'Irene & Mavis' (the ladies' names refer to the group's core members for some strange reason) is a typical DIY debut of its time, which can be easily put shoulder-to-shoulder alongside Soft Cell's 'Mutant Moments', The Fallout Club's 'Falling Years', The ID/OMD's early recordings, Cabaret Voltaire's 'Extended Play' or very early Clock DVA and The Future/The Human League cassettes. Yes, there are plenty of references which will undoubtedly storm one's imagination in wanting to explore Blancmange at these early stages as well. Especially for the fact, some of the pieces ('Disco-A-Bomb-Bomb' in particular) are additionally much closer to, and can very easily be confused with, a certain Suicide (which Blancmange very probably did in deliberate manner of both, to pay hommage and to rip-off respectively).

Technically, however, 'Irene & Mavis' is at times too amorphous to enjoy from what seems to be good ideas undermined by the clumsy production. Taking 'Disco-A-Bomb-Bomb' under consideration, other pieces of interest are two moody instrumentals - 'Holiday Camp' and especially the chilling, atmospheric 'Just Another Spectre'. These form the basis for a synthesiser duo, Blancmange would become famous for a little later (a beautiful early instrumental version of 'Sad Day' as official start on 'Some Bizarre' compilation album in 1981).

Originally as a trio, expect not much from a drum machine - for it serves the 'melody' rather than the beat, in a fair, crisp hissing sound. The drums and percussion are put more upfront with occasional filtering. Among the weird examples is a truly hillarious piss-take called 'Concentration Baby' (delivered in a ska mode of Madness rather than electro-pop, featuring Neil Arthur at his most de-concentrated). Another strange affair is 'Overspreading Art Genius' which sounds like an ode to the Dadaists. With rotating synth-bass and heavily processed percussive rumble, this could have been a far more groovy piece from what's officially offered on 'Irene & Mavis'. The vocals are so indecipherable, it becomes amazingly irrelevant what's the lyric sheet all about - with only a tiny farewell note ('... you might as well stop it!') which repeats into fade out. The most disturbing piece is the best one on record in all of its abstract glory - 'Modichy In Aneration' which bears another significant style, the 'motorik' drumming (reminscent of pieces like Can's 'Oh Yeah'). To add to the confusion, this particular piece is split into two individual moments, causing a debate whether the second 'half' is actually a hidden, seventh track.

Despite the energy and fair share of synth-ish enthusiasm, 'Irene & Mavis' suffers from experimental pretentiousness (the sleeve even notes interesting ideas can be obtained if some of the pieces are listened at 45 instead of 33 RPM). Many 80s pop bands have had this enigmatic 'dark side' of theirs (Duran Duran happen to have been using tapes and a clarinet at their very early stage while Dead Or Alive for example, were an interesting gothic band with experimental leanings before they ended up being SAW-ed by mid-80s). By some strange stroke of luck, I happened to come across a whole bunch of Blancmange's home recordings (via a close friend of the duo) from the 'Irene & Mavis'/pre-Some Bizarre era (these sessions also include very early, raw versions of 'I Can't Explain', 'Waves', 'I Would' and 'I've Seen the Word') - it turned out, the group had even recorded several different versions of some of the 'Irene & Mavis' tracks prior to the EP's official release; and these versions happen to sound much better in production. For example, 'Just Another Spectre' exists with a live drum in the mix and more upfront synth arrangement, plus 'Modichy In Aneration' which adds a nice synth-drum kick to the drums. There is also a not-that-different version of 'Concentration Baby' - regarding this particular cover, also worth mentioning is that Luscombe's previous band Miru has also made a recording of this song (from their 'Fat Girls Wear Black' sessions, I think). But maybe the decision by the band to put out 'Irene & Mavis' as it is, is justified by the fact all of the six pieces are quite inconsistent in their quality and the moment was too perfect to miss. Which turned 'Irene & Mavis' into a collectible rarity - for those who find it impossible to reach in vinyl form, the Internet offers a number of blogspot opportunities to give this EP a desired listen. Enjoy, for all of its documentary aspects.
simon-gould

simon-gould

April 21, 2010
An excellent and curious disc -if you can find it! The tracks generally recall Cabaret Voltaire singles of the same time: vocals are alien and disembodied, electronic sounds whirl and spew, an incessant synth bubbles along while the drum machine hammers relentlessly. Blancmange are, on the instrumentals, brighter and closer to OMD (though not as crisp). The Dave Clarke 5 cover is hilarious.

A very important electronic record -up there with TVOD and early TG.