Agony Shorthand

Friday, October 03, 2003
THE DOOR AND THE WINDOW : “DETAILED TWANG” CD…..As shape-shiftingly bizarre and crude as it came in Britain circa 1979-81, THE DOOR AND THE WINDOW were leading edge experimentalists from the THROBBING GRISTLE and CABARET VOLTAIRE school, with slightly more punk heft in their later days a la the Desperate Bicycles, Fall, etc. I knew of their association with Fuck Off Records and that Mark Perry (Alternative TV, Sniffin’ Glue fanzine) had been a onetime member, & took a flyer on this CD when it showed up on the shelves a couple weeks ago. Although not advertised as such, this is really a “complete works” CD of all of the band’s early material, including their much-touted, CRASS-inspired “Pay no more than 55p!” EPs from 1979. Those earlier records – the “Don’t Kill Colin” and “Production Line” 7”EPs – strike me as being too harsh and uber-experimental to garner any repeated listening. The band proudly played up their inability to play their instruments and their full-on naivete toward recording – which is fine – but honestly, it’s just a mess of squalling electronics, mumbled improvisational vocals, and the odd guitar line lurking down a dark and distant hallway. Before the term was used to describe clanging dance music, it’s what many people of the day might refer to as “Industrial”. If that sounds appealing, then dive right in. The 1980 “Detailed Twang” LP, on the other hand, is picture-perfect UK DIY, with twisted, loping synth riffage, deep-accented shouting, and several tracks that would be right at home on any Rough Trade encapsulation of the first-wave experimental DIY era. There’s even a drum-&-vocal-only run through the TV PERSONALITIES' “Part Time Punks” (for some reason). This is the record that Perry signed up to drum on, after The Door and the Window had exhausted their “let’s use a different drummer every gig!” approach – the band gradually discovered rhythm, structure, and – gasp – songs. It does not in any way kick out the jams, but it’s got a certain of-its-era specialness. I can’t in all good conscience encourage the reading audience to drop double figures on this CD unless you’re really big on mood over method.