The Electronic Circus Direct Lines / Le Chorale 7″ reissue
This one-off synth-pop single from 1981 is one of your “underground by circumstance, not by design” scenarios, in that the main guy behind the ELECTRONIC CIRCUS, Chris Payne, was a biggish deal in the genre at the time (GARY NUMAN band member with a co-writing credit on VISAGE’s “Fade to Grey,” which I’m guessing has been a decent source of income since). He had a hit on his mind when releasing “Direct Lines,” it seems, but the world thought otherwise. Still, like plenty of other obscure early ’80s synth, it’s picked up an audience via YouTube, including Jensen from IRON LUNG, who’s given the single its second rerelease and first remaster. It’s solid stuff: briskly paced, with self-consciously space-age swirly keyboard FX and vocals erring on the dramatic side of paranoia. “Direct Lines” is of a piece with bands of the time like OMD, even if you can tell it was never likely to push the same pop chart buttons. “Le Chorale,” the B-side song, is a portentous instrumental built around pleasant electric piano.