I have always said that if you want to know the difference between punk and post-punk then just listen to The Membranes. Punk was the short sharp shock which was never going to last and what followed in the fringes was largely either called New Wave or Post-Punk…at least it has been in journalistic hindsight And if New Wave was a broad camp defined in part by a sort of agitated pop energy and played with a straight sonic bat, Post-Punk was a place of lusher textures, more subversive forms, angularity, erratics and more artistic sonic designs. And although they, ironically, formed in 1978, the year that punk itself took to the national stage, they have come to encapsulate the post-punk sound.
Nocturnal as it appeared on their latest album What Nature Gives…Nature Takes Away sounds true to their late seventies Manchester roots, a dirge disco with a sound which sits somewhere between The Fall’s bleak, northern noir and The March Violets more otherworldly gothic urges. But it is via the remixes that the real nature of the genre is revealed. Post-Punk was about pushing boundaries as much as the genre which birthed it, more so perhaps. If punk was about storming the barricades which lay ahead of it, Post-Punk was about pushing the boundaries in all directions.
The two remixes here are all about exploring the boundaries of that one song. The Kitty Lectro Remix pushing things deep into the throbbing, dystopian territory that Bauhaus used to call home and the intriguingly named Meow Meow Money Mix wandering some fractured and fractious sonic paths, menacing and moody, broken and brilliant, a musical hall chorus line from a production playing on the outskirts of the First Circle of Hell, at a small theatre between a Wetherspoons and JD Sports.
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that, “there are no second acts in American lives.” It would seem that, in British music at least, that sometimes the second act is the more important and rewarding part of the story.