Review: For Against – In The Marshes

Minneapolis’ Words On Music label may release only a few albums a year but they always lovingly package their CDs. ‘In The Marshes’, the third in a series of reissues for post-punk/pre-dreampop act For Against, is no exception. Although released originally in 1990, this EP was actually recorded before the first album and it shows a group experimenting with the tools at their disposal and hoping to make their mark. The record itself has aged rather level with the three-piece creating a haunting, primtive noise.

 For Against EP Cover

At times the sound is comparable to those other 1980s experimentalists Eyeless In Gaza, with frequent shards of noise breaking up a forest of mumbled vocals, rumbling bass and searing guitar. Jeffrey Runnings’ vocals are a world apart from the youthful clarity heard on 2002’s ‘Coalesced’; in wordless mourning for opener ‘Tibet’ and even his bandmates do their best impression of particularly troubled monks for the title track. On ‘The Purgatory Salesman’, For Against plunge towards their darkest moment before reaching their lightest moment for ‘Amen Yves’, where – even though the keyboards threaten to drift into Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ territory – Runnings’ ethereal vocals and Harry Dingman III’s chilling guitar shapes take the listener away to another place entirely. Otherwise it’s a doomy yet fascinating record which epitomises 4AD Records circa 1986.

Web Sites:
Words On Music Label Site
For Against MySpace

Further Listening:
Eyeless In Gaza, Breathless, Pale Saints, Modern English, The Opposition

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