Second Layer Courts or Wars LP

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Adrian Borland and Graham Bailey of gloomy UK post-punks the SOUND were simultaneously making music as the duo SECOND LAYER, leaving the SOUND’s peacoats-and-clove-cigarettes atmosphere behind to conduct some SUICIDE-schooled, end-times electro-punk exorcisms. Courts or Wars compiles SECOND LAYER’s output up to their 1981 LP/final release World of Rubber (1979’s Flesh as Property EP, 1980’s State of Emergency EP, and five orphaned tracks)—almost everything here was also included in Dark Entries’ expanded 2015 reissue of World of Rubber, so not exactly unturned stones, and the real highs come from the pair of EPs. Borland does his best menacing Alan Vega whisper over Bailey’s sparse, ice-cold synth/rhythm box strobe on “Metal Sheet,” “Courts or Wars” layers fuzzed-to-oblivion guitar and primitive drum machine drone like 39 CLOCKS without the ’60s garage obsession, and “State of Emergency” clatters through a dystopian techno-hell very similar to the one that CABARET VOLTAIRE’s “Nag Nag Nag” stalked just a year prior; “Split Screen” is the unreleased keeper, with a cracked, unrelenting mechanical disco beat and Borland’s echo-submerged vocals wavering like transmissions from a shortwave radio in some bombed-out bunker. Maniacally monochrome as all get-out.