Jess Scott’s membership in the under-sung, shambolic trio Brilliant Colors would cement her status around here alone, but she’s doubled down on great bands, heading up the equally great Flesh World. Their second LP is on the way from Dark Entries and it’s an intoxicating mix of brittle, anxious post-punk and dreampop that will undoubtedly convert a few more fans to their cult of sound. As usual with Hidden Gems, I’ve asked Jess to elaborate on an album that she finds underrepresented or overlooked in the halls of musical accolades. She’s dug deeper into the Factory files than most cursory listeners with a dive into Section 25’s 1988 album Love & Hate.
On how this synth-pop nugget found its way into her collection Scott mulls, “I can’t specifically remember how I got into this record. I remember going through a real obsession with S25 when I was about 19 or 20, and getting really annoyed by this slick DJ type guy that lived in the room next to me at the time for always blasting “Girls Don’t Count” – possibly the moral equivalent of “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Sure it’s fine, but the title also means it’s on an inordinate amount of compilations and becomes a weird barnacle on the band’s face.”
“Almost in spite of the housemate I dug in pretty deep on the rest of the S25 catalog,” she remembers. “Then a couple years later I was working in a record store on Haight Street and, as I was in charge of the letter “S,” I was constantly having to pull this record out of the “L” section because the band’s name is, for whatever reason, hard to find on this record/CD. It was always popping up into my consciousness then and I would return to it again and again and was always feeling like I had so much room in my mind when I was listening to it.”
“Section 25 are one of the absolute best gifts,” continues Scott, “when you compare other synth-pop projects out of the North of England at the time it’s hard to find someone who still sounds so current. I like to think of them as definitely coming from behind in a great tortoise and the hare of English post-punk, quietly chipping away at the bedroom and the disco with something to satisfy anyone with good taste. It’s almost impossible to convey how original and influential Jenny Cassidy/Ross’s vocal style was in this band, I absolutely worship her and this group.”
“I think this is somewhat of a “hidden” record because Factory flubbed the release?,” Jess elaborates. “Luckily one of the true sainted labels, LTM, reissued it at some point, and now Section 25 seem to generally have some good recognition among their reissues with the youth of today and continue to record and tour. But I always look back to this particular record, when I guess the ‘original’ group splintered and think about these two people just trying to keep the feeling behind S25 going. I think about what that kind of feat must’ve felt like, to get the essence of a band and keeping going. This record has this kinda of purity because of that, it’s a four-genres-in-one type record and they all have the same spirit…it’s something like medieval electronic?”
As to how the record has influenced her own writing Scott sums up, “None of my groups have sounded like this. I wouldn’t kid myself, but I think it’s had a big influence on me in terms of the feel of songwriting – how a dark feeling in a song can still feel hopeful and like returning to home. How a song can slip in and out so many moods but be totally coherent while creating your own little world in the evil beat. To me, once you get that, genres mean very little.”
These are the editions of ‘Gems’ that I find illuminating. While familiar with Section 25, I’m guilty of not digging that deep. The record is definitely all that Jess describes, a synth-pop gem that’s got more going on than mere gloss that still sounds like it could be relevant today. The record hasn’t been reissued with abandon. There are both the LTM and a later Factory CD issues, but it could probably use another vinyl treatment. However, its not too hard to come by an original. Sometimes that’s the best thing about the hidden ones, get them before everyone comes to their senses. In that regard, Flesh World’s latest is out September 8th from Dark Entries. It’s definitely one of the good ones.
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