VA – Steven Wilson Presents Intrigue: Progressive Sounds in UK Alternative Music 1979-89 (2023)

Posted by Green on February 12, 2023as

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Curated by Porcupine Tree guitarist Steven Wilson, the four-disc compilation Intrigue: Progressive Sounds in UK Alternative Music 1979-89 tackles the entirety of the 1980s with the mission of exposing the strangest, most inventive, and most abstract sounds coming out of the United Kingdom in a decade where music could often feel sterile or homogenized. That’s hardly the case with the 58 tracks Wilson presents here, all of which are miles away from the blandness of the charts and commercial trends of the ’80s and focused more on post-punk, new wave, art rock, goth rock, synth pop, and all imaginable intersections thereof.
Intrigue offers a fantastic primer for independent music happening at a time when bands like U2 or Tears for Fears were what most people considered edgy. The comp kicks off with an especially moody Wire track, and quickly follows with submissions from Public Image Limited, Magazine, Gang of Four, This Heat, and the like. Wilson includes updated mixes of his own making with tracks like XTC’s “Complicated Game” and Robert Fripp and the League of Gentlemen’s “Cognitive Dissonance.” Intrigue makes space for many different shades of sound that grew out of post-punk, ranging from the haunted ska of the Specials’ “Ghost Town” to Joy Division’s slow-moving funeral march “The Eternal” to Kate Bush’s theatrical Hounds of Love fever dream “Waking the Witch.”

There’s nothing but highlights throughout the several hours of deep cuts and more familiar tracks gathered on Intrigue, and the entire collection flows well regardless of the various wild directions it goes in. If Wilson’s aim was to showcase the excitement and unconventional thinking that existed in the shadows of banal mainstream sounds throughout the ’80s, Intrigue accomplishes that goal and then some.

1. I Should Have Known Better – Wire
2. A Better Home in the Phantom Zone – Bill Nelson’s Red Noise
3. Back to Nature – Magazine
4. Complicated Game (Steven Wilson 2014 Mix) – XTC
5. Careering – Public Image Limited
6. The Raven – The Stranglers
7. Puppet Life – Punishment of Luxury
8. Astradyne (Steven Wilson Stereo Mix) – Ultravox
9. Contract – Gang of Four
10. I Travel (Extended Version) – Simple Minds
11. Sketch for Summer – The Durutti Column
12. Health and Efficiency – This Heat
13. Burning Car – John Foxx
14. Cognitive Dissonance (Steven Wilson 2022 Mix) – Robert Fripp and The League of Gentlemen
15. Fatal Day – In Camera

1. I Can’t Escape Myself – The Sound
2. The Eternal – Joy Division
3. Big Empty Field – Swell Maps
4. Enemies – Art Nouveau
5. The Joy Circuit – Gary Numan
6. The Gospel Comes to New Guinea – 23 Skidoo
7. All My Colours – Echo and The Bunnymen
8. Ghost Town (Extended Version) – The Specials
9. They All Run After the Carving Knife – New Musik
10. The Him – New Order
11. White Car in Germany (Single Edit) – The Associates
12. Hit – Section 25
13. Sealand – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
14. Talking Drum – Japan
15. Faith – The Cure

1. Three Dancers (Steven Wilson 2021 Mix) – Twelfth Night
2. Airwaves – Thomas Dolby
3. Are You Ready? – Crispy Ambulance
4. The Outsider – Rupert Hine
5. Knife Slits Water – A Certain Ratio
6. Memories Fade – Tears for Fears
7. Patient – Peter Hammill
8. Donimo – Cocteau Twins
9. In a Waiting Room – Mr and Mrs Smith and Mr Drake
10. Close (To the Edit) – The Art of Noise
11. Dalis Car – Dalis Car
12. Rawhide – Scott Walker
13. Brilliant Trees – David Sylvian
14. Dream Within a Dream – Propaganda

1. Waking the Witch – Kate Bush
2. Ivy and Neet – This Mortal Coil
3. Beehead (7” Version) – Perennial Divide
4. This Corrosion – The Sisters of Mercy
5. Ascension – O Yuki Conjugate
6. No Motion – Dif Juz
7. Gutter Busting – SLAB!
8. Murderers, The Hope of Women – Momus
9. The Host of Seraphim – Dead Can Dance
10. R.E.S. – Cardiacs
11. Good Morning Beautiful – The The
12. Omega Amigo – The Shamen
13. Night Sky, Sweet Earth – No-Man
14. The 3rd Time We Opened the Capsule – Kitchens of Distinction

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