Various Artists - [Cease & Desist] DIY! (Cult classics from the Post-Punk era 1978 - 82) (Cover Artwork)

Various Artists

[Cease & Desist] DIY! (Cult classics from the Post-Punk era 1978 - 82) (2015)

Optimo Music

The first track of this compilation, the brief and breezy (but not unsubstantial) "Break the Ice at Parties" by Tesco Bombers, offers some insight into the origins of Post-Punk. Punk wasn't the sole influence of course, as a good amount of rockabilly, Jazz and pure avant garde weirdness pervaded the sonic space as the genre was in it's unwieldy infancy. This comp makes the case that the rattling lunacy of The Residents and the smooth, but bombastic grooves of Lee 'Scratch' Perry were just as important (if not more so) to the genre as The Ramones. While it's easy to remember that giants of Post-Punk like Joy Division and Gang of Four paved the way for New Wave, let's not forget that others like This Heat and The Pop Group were pushing things in a much more sinister and strange direction.

If one were to make a brunt cosmetic sweep through this compilation, they would understandably find other groups that these lesser known bands echo. Those with ears half cocked and distracted might find shallow similarities to the likes of The Raincoats, Tubeway Army, The Cure and other larger luminaries. But, it's in the finer details that these groups establish themselves as lesser heralded, but still deserving beasts. Nancy Sesay and the Melodaires gear shift halfway through "C'est Fab," creating a sense of rushing wonder that would otherwise seem ugly and jarring in more crude and simple hands. Closer "Disco Pope" may seem amateurish, but it's childlike charm brings the compilation to a warmhearted and energetic close. "Private Plane" by Thomas Leer may have the same approach as The Normal, but it's bedroom intimacy is matched only by it's menacing background synthesizers.

Not everything here is from some sort of "far out" technical sphere, however. Visitors do their best to make a mess within fairly strict boundaries on the raucous "Electric Heat." The track has a chugging energy with an odd pulse courtesy of the simple, but infectious keyboard line used throughout. The middle section of the comp, featuring works by The Murphy Federation, The Distributors and The Cro-Tones, takes a sticky detour into dub territory. The tracks may seem formless and flowing, but those familiar with Dub Reggae won't be off put by this. "How I Lost My Virginity" by Spunky Onions might seem like a throw away curio going by name alone, but the track keeps things simple by playing with a Kinks-esque storytelling mode. Even the vocals match Ray Davies' quiet cadence.

Compilations often have a platter or buffet style offering; the type where the listener simply cherry picks the tracks that appeal to them and leave the rest to rot. With DIY's relatively short run time (just under 45 minutes), the comp leaves no room for filler. This is the type of carefully curated compilation that fires on all cylinders without losing your attention. It's a well thought out collection that revels in the varied leanings of Post-Punk, whether it be the dub vocal delay, the world music influenced bass lines tucked under a shattered guitar attack, or the warped sensibilities of the avant garde. Optimo's JD Twitch has put together an eclectic group of songs perfectly sequenced so not one track, no matter how eccentric, feels anything less than at home.