Record Review: Data – Blow USP 12″

Sire | USP | 12" | 1985 | PRO-A-2315

Sire | USP | 12″ | 1985 | PRO-A-2315

Data: Blow US Promo 12″ [1985]

  1. Blow [The Blow Out Version]
  2. Blow [The Blow Out Version single edit]
  3. D.J. [The Club DJ version]

data - elegantmachineryUSLPAThis was a record that I bought almost a year ago and it had begun to stick in my craw how I had not yet heard it. I remember seeing Data’s LP in the bins back at the time the group was signed to Sire Records in the USA ca. 1985. Truth be told, I knew nothing about the band and I found the band’s name and cover design [right] rather faceless and uninteresting. And I never ever heard a single note of the music anywhere, so naturally it never registered on my radar. Alas, it was some years [decades?] later when I discovered that the group was the work of Georg Kajanus!

Due to my sensitivity at the dawn of the 80s regarding Peter Godwin, I first encountered Kajanus as the producer of Godwin’s imperial run of material dating from ’82-’85. I would most definitely want to hear records made by the man who put the glorious “Images Of Heaven” down on tape. When I discovered the salient fact somewhere on the internet when researching Godwin that Kajanus had an 80s synthpop band called Data, then it became something in my sights. I should point out that I did know that Kajanus was a linchpin in the glammy band mid-70s UK band Sailor, but that [and $5] would get me a chai latte. I’m not the Glam-Rock Monk!

So at last year’s Harvest Records 11th Anniversary sale, I came across a sweet cache of 12″ DJ vinyl in the dollar basement and hoovered as much of it up as I had cash on hand. One of these discs was the first Data record I’d seen following the revelation that the band was a Kajanus project some dozen or more years ago. The single was a US promo of “Blow” and sure enough, it was as bald-faced a coke tune as I’ve ever heard. The two mixes of “Blow” here suggested a crazy mashup of Kraftwerk and Vanity 6. The track was built up on layered, interlocking synth loops and vocal samples all creating a circular energy that would occasionally peak to resume the same cycle all over again. The underlying rhythms were redolent of those used on “Tour De France” with flute-like arpeggiators firing over the cyclical riffs. Another record it reminded me of was the Tokyo Mix of Dolby + Sakamoto’s “Field Work.” I suspect that both were achieved on the PPG Wave.

Meanwhile, lyrical content was minimal to the point of the ludicrous. Manipulated samples of Kajanus and lead singer Frankie Boutler saying  “Blow – if you wanna get hiiiiiigh/try me” seemed to be the bulk of it, save for the grunts and moans spread across the stereo spectrum like the bluer progenitor of Renegade Soundwave’s “Cocaine Sex” which followed this in the marketplace by two years. All of this would normally be of minimal interest save for the clinically precise sheen that Kajanus imparted to the music which pulsed rapidly in a closed feedback loop approximating a techno/voodoo mantra.

The upside was that any 12 second segment was dazzling. The downside? That it was all very arbitrary. The single edit here was somewhat more focused in that the entire composition was like a repeating loop; broken only by the occasional breakdown riff before going back to the same place, over and over. In that regard, the full blow out mix became tedious. A vibrant riff was achieved that never had any melodic development. When it did end, it could have happened at any four bars into the track. The whole thing had a faceless quality that perhaps accurately reflected the cover art and band name, now that I consider it. The track had the feel of a club track like Microchip League’s “New York, New York.” Something that you’d dance to in a club but never listen to at home.

More interesting was the other track, “D.J.” On this cut, the technology was put into the service of an actual song that seemed almost as relentless, but with greater emotional detail to form bonds with. Maybe if I had been a coke-head, “Blow” would have been the thing 31 years ago. My preference was for the B-side here. I will be investigating Data further in any case. Especially since I am more than familiar with one of its songs, the excellent “Over 21” as covered by Peter Godwin [the savvy producer always nabs extra points by getting publishing for at least one song on an album he produced!] as well as Toyah Willcox. I’ve now got “Elegant Machinery” in my sights as well as the other adjacent single mixes. Join us in seven years [?] when it all comes together in the service of a REVO DLX RM.

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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3 Responses to Record Review: Data – Blow USP 12″

  1. Gavin says:

    “Elegant Machinery” is a superb album,I highly recommend it.
    I have the UK 12″ of Blow and also the wonderful Living Inside Me 12″ and some others.
    Some years ago I met Georg through a mutual friend(Tim Dry of Shock/Tik & Tok) and I mentioned that the only cd of theirs I was missing was the Swedish compilation ” Accumulator”-which duly arrived on my doormat shortly afterwards courtsey of the man himself.A true gent.
    Also check out the album he made with Tim Dry as “Noir”
    Interestingly.Georg had never heard Toyah’s cover of “Over 21”,so I sent him a copy and he really liked it.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – You are a fortunate fellow. “Accumulator” is one difficult CD to get! A few years back it seemed that there were Data CDs available on Georg’s website, but it seems like that ship has sailed. Not unlike the infamous Shock CD/DVD available at Tim Dry’s site. Fortunately, the Noir CD is still available currently. Memo to self…

      Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin: It’s less than a week later and “Elegant Machinery” had just showed up in my Discogs feed the other day from my favorite dealer and it’s now ordered as I was waiting for the wanted items from Philadelphiamusic to reach some sort of critical mass before I ordered. I got 13 records for $24.25 + $5.00 shipping. Toyah’s cover of “Over 21” is one of the best 2-3 things on “Minx,” actually. Speaking of whom, I finally got the first “new” Toyah CD for me since 2001 and “Velvet Lined Shell.” I got the 2nd Humans CD the other day.

      Like

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