Mission of Burma - The Obliterati (Cover Artwork)

Mission of Burma

Mission of Burma: The ObliteratiThe Obliterati (2006)
Matador Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: AubinAubin
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Over the past few years, the "art-punk" triumverate of Wire, Gang of Four and Mission of Burma reunited after lengthy absences. Wire regrouped after a ten-year absence in 2003 and Gang of Four returned after a decade just last year, each bringing reissues, tours, retrospectives and the occaisonal re.
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Over the past few years, the "art-punk" triumverate of Wire, Gang of Four and Mission of Burma reunited after lengthy absences. Wire regrouped after a ten-year absence in 2003 and Gang of Four returned after a decade just last year, each bringing reissues, tours, retrospectives and the occaisonal re-recorded track. Mission of Burma, however, took a different approach, returning in 2004 with a triumphant new recording, OnOffOn. It was especially striking because the band seemed to have lost almost none of their sound or energy after a two decade absence.

The album was a spectacular return, and retained that curious mixture of experimental angularity and MC5-influenced punk rock, but it barely compares to The Obliterati. While OnOffOn assembled songs written over the band's lengthy hiatus -- and sounded like it -- The Obliterati is as cohesive as their earlier classic, Vs., and reigns among their best. While there are no instantly memorable tracks like "Academy Fight Song, " Obliterati is rapt with tracks that plumb unseen depths and reward repeated listens.

"2wice" is relentlessly aggressive, all pounding drums and guitars; it's such a brilliant opener that it could have upended a weaker selection of songs. The most obvious comparison is Fugazi, not just in the sound itself, but in the sheer mastery of sound and dynamics. Fugazi is certainly an apt reference point, even as they were undoubtedly influenced by Burma; wildly experimental, but still firmly footed in the language of classic punk, with vocals that bounce between Ian ("Birthday") and Guy ("The Mute Speaks Out").

Later songs are no less impressive than "2wice" albeit less aggressive; "13" incorporates strings while maintaining an atmosphere of dirty ambience. "Nancy Reagan's Head" is bizarrely catchy with a vocal and guitar line that swirl around each other sounding first harmonized than discordant. "Period" is straight-up angular punk rock that would make Hüsker Dü proud.

Despite the wonderful performances, it's unfortunate to have to have to admit that the recording quality isn't quite as stellar as the songwriting. A raw recording would befit Burma, but unfortunately this one is a tad muddy and some of the more esoteric sounds are buried underneath the small dynamic range. Considering the effort that was put into every note on this record, it's disappointing to strain to hear all of it.

The weaker production aside, Mission of Burma have assembled a strong, cohesive album that is almost unbelievably progressive for a band nearly thirty years after their debut. Fans of angular and experimental punk like Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Hüsker Dü and Wire will find much to love about The Obliterati as will fans of creative, forward-looking music.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Osloboditelj (September 12, 2006)

Though it doesn't quite reach the level of Vs. (which needs a review, I see - that can be solved), this is a flawless album in its own right. "Man In Decline" might be my personal favourite track, but it's a tough call. #2 of the yer, I think, after World/Inferno.

testy (August 21, 2006)

The Obliterati and On Off On are 2 of the best records I have heard in the last 10 years. These guys still "get it."

Good, Not Great from The Obliterati is a dead ringer for a Warsaw era Joy Divison song.

If you get the chance to see them live, DO IT!

Anonymous (July 23, 2006)

Thought I'd be the FOURTH person to say THEY RIPPED OFF SAVES THE DAY'S ALBUM ART!!!

plaidical (July 19, 2006)


Anonymous (July 19, 2006)

I want my album cover back !

-Chris Conley

Anonymous (July 19, 2006)

fagit music

recordtheory (July 19, 2006)

i just picked this up and it's really impressive. way more coherent than ONoffON, but also much more rockin.'

very awesome.

theOneTrueBill (July 19, 2006)

This is such a great album. It's by far my favorite Burma release. I wasn't sure when I listened to it the first few times but it just keeps growing on me more and more each day.

Anonymous (July 19, 2006)

obviously you didnt understand...there is infact a germs reunion tour taking place....and it is lame

SAT AUG 5- THE GERMS (Pat Smear, Lorna Doom, Don Bolles, Shane West) $15 mainstage 9:30

thats from the black cat schedule page (the way i found out that a bullshit germs tour was happening)

now do you get my joke lolxZ?WCe

Anonymous (July 18, 2006)


Darby is dead, you might not have heard.

Anonymous (July 18, 2006)

OMG@#$!! They stole Saves The Day's album cover ! ! ! ! ! ! 1 1 1 1 1 one one

Anonymous (July 18, 2006)

good album and strong live show........LETS SEE THE GERMS REUNION

NoUse4aScnName00 (July 18, 2006)

Did it really take this long for this album to get reviewed by Punknews.org??? I'm putting this on my top ten list so far. It rips.

TheYoungInfluential (July 18, 2006)

I didn't like the album as much as OnOffOn until I saw them with Antelope at Black Cat a couple days ago. Since then, this album has been playing nonstop. I love it.

Dante3000 (July 18, 2006)

So with the reunion and a great new album is it safe to say, Mission accomplished?

Anonymous (July 18, 2006)

Usually, alot of indie hype means pitchfork media need to pay off some college loans, or nostalgia is kicking in, but this record is mind bogglingly good. Great. Easily one of this year's best. I don't think any of the reunion bands, pixies included, have pulled a new record off like this, or shown they're still relevant.

"The weaker production aside"

I think the production sealed it for me. It sounds like one of the older era records, but done on purpose, not to sound 'old' or 'retro'. The songs and the energy match that production.

You can't take some rehashed songs and give them 'raw' production and think they will slip by as the genuine article. They just happen to have the goods on this record to do whatever the fuck they want.

The guys voice is amazing. Biggest suprise this year. The record prior to this showed they could still cerebrally play their instruments, but I hardly listen to it, this one was spun in the car, at home, and hummed in my head.


sxenester (July 18, 2006)

Score is for "nancy reason's head."

Seriously, Kim Deal =/= Kim Gordon.
Nancy Reason =/= Nancy Reagan.

Easily album of the year, five stars. C'mon, "Donna Sumeria'?

youwinalemon (July 18, 2006)

Fantastic album.

Aubin, I think Wire's reunion came a couple years before 2003. I know they put out those two "Read and Burn" EPs in 2002.

Anonymous (July 18, 2006)

This is probably the gratest record realeased this year.

Took a while for that review, though...

Anonymous (July 18, 2006)

not sure how i feel about this one yet. the material hasn't really been sticking with me. but then again, neither did Vs when i first got it and now it's a favorite. so we'll see.

rkl (July 18, 2006)

mission of burma can do no wrong, seriously.
thank god they didnt go the gang of four route, though. because that wouldve been, well, wrong.

Anonymous (July 18, 2006)

This album cover looks like the new Saves the Day cover.

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