Stress – “Conspiracy Theory” – [Dark Entries Records]
Stress (formed in 1981) is the West Midlands, England duo of Phil Clarke (editor of the Nuneaton fanzine Damn Latin) and Alan Rider (editor of the Coventry fanzine Adventures in Reality). Integrating vintage synthesizers and drum machines, bass guitar, cut-up samples, programming and vocals…Stress created a austere brand of electronic New Wave synth-pop that is contemporary to bands such as Cabaret Voltaire, Joy Division/New Order, Attrition, Eyeless In Gaza, and Depeche Mode. Conspiracy Theory serves as a “best of” compilation album featuring remastered tracks from their first two cassette albums Help Comes Too Late (1982) and Restraint (1984)…as well as a few tracks that appeared on various compilations in 1984-1985. While catchy and rooted in synth-pop, the songs retain a raw and experimental edge…especially the manner in which the drums are programmed, as well as in their charmingly deadpan vocal delivery. The lyrical themes are rooted in a dour, Orwellian outlook on materialist society…the neuroleptic nature of popular music…and a desire to artistically subvert mainstream culture. Recommended Tracks: The Pulse Thickens…which is a satisfyingly moody instrumental; I Go To Pieces…for it’s tricky, rhythmic impetus; Semi-D Prison…an entrancing vibe and clever arrangement; Tear It Down…a techno-delic journey with industrial leanings; The Prayer Clock…a breakdance circle forms at a political rally (nice use of speech sample).
***Czech out the special “Stress Edition” of the Adventures In Reality fanzine included…which contains press clippings, photos, lyrics, and an amazing list of the equipment used to create their sounds***