9.1.10

PORTION CONTROL : I Staggered Mentally LP (1982)

Staggered LP
My abiding memory of Portion Control is of being utterly mystified as to how this band - who neither I nor any of my similarly-minded friends had ascertained any concrete knowledge of - had managed to rack up such a vast, multifarious discography, particularly as nobody actually appeared to be buying any of it (it just seemed to lurk in record shops, smouldering provocatively, etc). Portion Control singles, albums & cassettes had already achieved something approaching blanket coverage by the time of their inaugural Peel session (1983) & flawed crossover LP, ...Step Forward (1984). It's disappointing that the former was commissioned so far (relatively) into their career as they'd already sidelined their earlier, harder-edged approach & were moving into more mainstream - though no less forward looking - territories (it's a marvellous set nonetheless).

I Staggered Mentally was Portion Control's first official album, though they'd issued a fair number of long-playing cassettes beforehand. Released in 1982 on Pat Bermingham's Essex-based In Phaze label (also home to The Legendary Pink Dots), it finds them half way between the purely experimental , Cabaret Voltaire-influenced sound of their formative D.I.Y. period & their later, more refined, EBM-spawning direction. Though pitiless robotic havoc & tough tribal rhythms still dominate there's an evident emerging sophistication, a result of their pioneering use of Roland's TB-303 bass synth & a cautious move beyond the construction of moods & atmospheres towards more convential songwriting forms. That said, I Staggered Mentally remains one of the most brutal & viscerally exciting electronic records I've heard, though it never degenerates into all-out Noise to make it's point. Listening back to them now, I'm pleased to discover that Portion Control's landmark records continue to sound more extreme & more vital than virtually any of the legion of faux Industrial acts they ultimately influenced. There still only seems to be one readily available period photograph of them though - the music press would never fail to fall back on this one whenever they saw fit to reluctantly mention them (i.e. not often enough) & I'm more than happy to cough it up once again...
Portion C
In 2006, two decades on from their Psycho-Bod Saves The World swansong (yes, I'm conveniently overlooking their early 90s sojourn as Solar Enemy here), Portion Control remastered & reissued all of their vinyl recordings as Archive a 5xCD boxset which you can purchase via their official website. Needless to say, it remains an incredible body of work. There's a semi-obsessive fansite out there too (with more P.C. photos than I've ever seen before!).

4 comments:

  1. I always liked Portion Control, even if I thought their growly vocals were faintly ludicrous. Good stuff.

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  2. Yeah, seems like only the Germans could do the "growly vocals" thing without it sounding, as you point out, "faintly ludicrous". Fortunately much of P.C.'s music (still) sounds so great that it doesn't matter! Track down the Archive box if you can be bothered, I was shocked at how good most of it still sounds - the Simulate Sensual cassette is still my favourite I think, an amazing piece of work (if you like that sort of thing)...

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  3. HI nice blog, I've just added you to mine.

    Ultravox in the US part one now posted. More to come. Enjoy

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  4. Excellent stuff, I've been searching for recordings of that final U.S. tour for AGES. Am downloading now, keep 'em coming...!

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