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Doctor Mix and The Remix - Wall of Noise

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Artist: Doctor Mix and The Remix

Album: Wall of Noise

Label: Acute

Review date: Jul. 21, 2004

The Métal Urbain reissue trilogy is complete. The history and influence of French Electro-punk combo Métal Urbain raises questions and invokes discussion fraught with complexity; I’m not going to provide a full back-story here, as Michael Crumsho and Jon Dale have already done so in their excellent reviews of Métal Urbain’s Anarchy in Paris and Métal Boys’ Tokyo Airport. Suffice it to say that Métal Urbain shocked the French and captivated the English with a drummerless brand of psychedelic punk that fuzzed and squealed its way to the attention of Rough Trade, who made “Panic” their first single. After Métal Urbain split up, and with the departure of their lead singer, Claude Panic, Eric Debris helmed two simultaneous projects. Metal Boys was a legit band, while Doctor Mix and the Remix was basically a solo distortion fest, although the other MA members occasionally climbed aboard. Doctor Mix recorded one full-length, one 12" and a couple of compilation tracks, all of which are featured on this reissue along with live cuts, demos and singles.

The LP, titled Wall of Noise, really celebrates the '60s rock to which all manner of punk and post-everything is so deeply indebted. The homage is a literal one, as more than half of the tracks on this CD are covers: The Trogs, the Kinks, Stooges, Velvet Underground, Roxy Music and David Bowie are all given the “Remix” treatment — not to mention some earlier tunes, like a blistering live version of “Hey Joe.”

The Doctor Mix disc brings us back, at least for the Wall of Noise LP, into the grinding industriality of “Panic,” which was actually an unreleased Métal Urbain take on the Stooges’ “No Fun.” We are treated here to three versions of that classic brain-melter, each radically different than the others, and their driving work-out of “Sister Ray” is very faithful (I can’t help but smile, hearing Débris's heavily accented “busy suckin on a ding-dong”).

Doctor Mix dives headlong into the avant-garde with Roxy Music’s “Gray Lagoons.” They take a soulful pop tune and turn it into an early Cabaret Voltaire psychodrama, with menacing synths and heavily distorted monster vocals. It was the track I’d been waiting to hear — the apex of this loose collective’s genius — all tonal reference gone, a true wall of noise! “Six Dreams” is not too far behind it, a military drum-machine program supporting nightmare Débris invocations.

The Psychedelic Desert 12" material is not nearly as strong, even though the sound pallet is more varied. I get the unsettling impression that I’m hearing Gary Numan doing R&B covers (“He was a Man,” “Brand New Cadillac”), and I really miss the drum machine, which the liner notes lament was abandoned on some obscure London sidewalk after a gig. The disc ends in fine form however, with the good ol' rock of “Heat” — but who’s that playing saxophone? I could have done with a few instrumental credits.

All and all, a fine disc, probably the most satisfying of the three as a complete listen, despite occasional weaknesses. This is the completion of a wonderful historical trilogy, and hats off to Acute for reissuing it.

By Marc Medwin

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