After splitting from Deerhunter, Frankie Broyles has taken a tumble through post-punk’s most angular avenues with his band Omni. The band’s debut for Trouble in Mind was a loving run at Television, The Voidoids and Wire, a sound which they only crystallize on their follow-up this year. For the latest Hidden Gems, Boyles takes a run at an album he feels has been left out of the public conversation, the synth-pop debut from Brits China Crisis. If the album’s cover is any indication, they’ve at least lifted a bit of aesthetic vision from the band but Frankie explains how the music has seeped into his own life below.
As to how this gem found its way into his life, Broyles recalls, “I recently discovered China Crisis’ debut album, Difficult Shapes and Passive Rhythms. There’s more to the title but… it’s long. I guess this record is special to me because of the context in which I came to know it and the fact that I truly love every song. I first came across the track “No More Blue Horizons” a few years ago and loved it but for whatever reason, it never occurred to me to listen to the whole record until recently. I had no real expectations when first listening. I put it on in the van one day when no one could think of anything to play. I was blown away. My appreciation for the record grows with every listen.
Frankie goes on to explain the draw of this new wave nugget, “This is where I was going to mention some stand out tracks but I couldn’t choose,” he admits. “To me, each song feels like some small, cool rock that one might find while walking in the woods. I’m not really sure how much of a “hidden” gem it is or how popular it was when it came out in 1982. They were a successful band, but to me, upon discovering this record – I felt like one of those farmers who stumbled upon those hundreds of terracotta soldiers while digging a well in… China… or something. I always listen to it all the way through and for that reason I don’t know all of the song titles. I like that.”
While they made very little impact here in The States, China Crisis did quite well at home with the album as well as in Australia. They sailed in on a wave that was heralded by Echo & The Bunnymen, OMD and Flock Of Seagulls, and though that might put them in a shameless ’80s category for many, the band had their more high-minded hallmarks as well. They’d served as a UK backing band to Tom Verlaine and their third album was (in a sadly timely note) produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan. The LP has not topped anyone’s list of reissues, which makes it a true gem in my eyes. However, a fairly decent condition copy can be hand for relative pennies in the secondary market these days. You’d be wise to take Frankie’s advice and check this one out in its entirety. Also well worth your ears’ time is Omni’s upcoming album Multi-task, which comes out next week (9/22) on Trouble in Mind.
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