City Paper is not for tourists
Over the past 15 years, the Les Temps Modernes label has put out a fascinating series of archival recordings, most of them associated with the Manchester-based Factory Communications, one of the best labels of the post-punk era. Factory issued countless classics by Crispy Ambulance, The Durutti Column, Joy Division, New Order, the Wake, and others, some of which LTM has reissued as lovingly packaged CDs with bonus tracks, extensive discographies, and biographical essays. Tunnelvision, of Blackpool, England, released one Factory single in 1981the haunting “Watching the Hydroplanes” backed with “Morbid Fear”and then disappeared. Guessing the Way, all unreleased material, offers alternate versions of those two songs, nine more demos, and eight live tracks, all recorded between 1980 and 1982. The band’s sound and lyrics often recall early Joy Division, with driving but melodic bass lines, martial drumming, brittle, wandering guitars, and occasional synthesizer undergirding Chris Anderton’s deeply intoned tales of disaffection and collapse (“The soul is weak, the spirit weaker”). “Guessing the Way” veers between ethereal and harrowing; “The Man Who Would Be King” sounds almost punk in its flailing abandon; “Whitened Sepulchre” is delicate postindustrial anti-folk. Guessing the Way is a satisfying surprise from a band previously lost in record-collector oblivion and a fine release from a label far too little known. The CD is a limited editionbuy it before it’s gone.