(No cutesy conceits. No clever constructs. Just records I can’t currently get enough of.)
Vini Reilly, “Contra-Indications (Album Mix),” from Factory 12” Fac284
I’ve owned a few Durutti Column records in my day. I bought The Guitar and Other Machines as a teenager in the ‘80s, and maybe Bread and Circuses as well; a few years back I picked up Another Setting at a garage sale. They failed to make much of an impression, honestly – the guitars seemed too treated, the atmospheres too murky. (And yes, I realize this may be the point.) Why did no one tell me, then, that in 1991 Vini Reilly dabbled in acid house?
The eponymous A-side of “The Together Mix,” sleeved in an appealing lime-and-silver, TDR-designed cover, was apparently co-produced by Together, the duo responsible for the Star Wars-quoting 1990 hit “Hardcore Uproar;” the tune interjects New Orderish, rimshot- and tambourine-heavy drum and bass programming (circa Technique) with occasional flourishes of Reilly’s guitar. Quite lovely, really, and certainly enough to make me wish I could have been there to hear what it sounded like at the time.
It’s the first song on the B-side, though, that shines. (Entitled "Contra-Indications," it apparently comes from Reilly's album Obey the Time.) The production is even better than on "The Together Mix": brittle, electro-inflected drum programming; contrapuntal arpeggios that jump from mode to mode like kids playing hopscotch; a preference for wonderfully dated synthesizer sounds akin to the breathy “vox” patches of Depeche Mode’s Violator. And then Reilly’s guitar crawls out, a green vine from beneath paving stones. It’s almost morning gloryish in its effect, nearly smothering all the carefully pieced and programmed bars of the lattice behind it. In another context, the casual virtuosity of Reilly’s playing – its emphasis on The Riff – might be offputting, but here it locks into the equation and makes the song perfect.