‘It’s a Sunday there’s a cricket match outside on the village green, it’s sunny. Everyone is happy or totally confused’
Hot on the tattered heels of ‘Terminal Tokyo’ - the reissued cult UK DIY single by Garage Class and the inaugural release on Outer Reaches - arrives ‘Flight & Pursuit’, another overlooked revelation of provincial post-punk, this time by Indifferent Dance Centre. A four-piece from Chichester, a quiet Cathedral city in West Sussex, the group consisted of Lizzy Dowling (vocals / lyrics), Christopher Binns (guitar), Ashley Barrett (bass) and Douglas Barrett (drums / guitar & bass when required) with added contributions from known associates including the artist & musician Alexander Johnson (melodica)
Without, as Dowling declared, ‘Martin Hannett, Paul Morley, Postcard or Factory’ to lend credibility to their venture and without the means to splash out on studio time this was a line-up that came together on one Sunday in August 1981 at their local Lavant Village Hall to capture ‘Flight & Pursuit’ and ‘Release’, two recordings of beguiling, impeccably restrained, reclusive music that possess a discretely epiphanic and timeless quality.
In their expression of a self-contained world they reveal a group that rests within the same self-made, economical and rarefied continuum as the Marine Girls, Young Marble Giants, AC Marias, Anna Domino and The Raincoats. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine both ‘Flight & Pursuit’ and ‘Release’ holding their own on something like the epochal Cherry Red compilation ‘Pillows & Prayers’ released a year or so later. In many ways they could’ve improved it. However, beyond points of comparison and in speaking of greater significances they stake their own claim.
Although both songs are drawn with the same plain and pure freehand as many of their DIY-inclined contemporaries, IDC were an ephemeral force unto themselves. On ‘Flight & Pursuit’ a lowercase impetus of softly insistent, regulatory drum machines and alternately agitative / poised runs of guitar and bass revolve around one another, combining to form something elegiac and introverted yet strangely driven and ridden with angst. Dowling’s vocals have an air of grace and assurance that betrays traces of small-town ennui and jaded nihilism (‘We’re neither here, we’re neither there, following a path that’s leading us nowhere…’) yet they’re as stoic and beautiful as any of the more florid luminaries found on 4AD et al.
The sense of space that lies between everything is striking too, a mark of expanse that comes to the fore on the fierce and funereal skulk of ‘Release’, where a monochrome, haunted permutation of dub is accentuated by sounds of wind, noir-ish eviscerations of guitar and thumped percussion. Passages of melodica resound in the thickets of it all too, invoking Augustus Pablo if, instead of ‘East of The River Nile’, he were caught between reinforced concrete and overcast skies.
All the signs then, of a record made on its own terms, are here. Both ‘Flight & Pursuit’ & ‘Release’ were made in the midst of a ‘happy chaos’, on a day which IDC recount as one where demands for ‘more echo!’, the sound of whirring black effects boxes – courtesy of their producer Alan Williams - and of offhand laughter all ran across one another. Recorded live in only a few takes they both indicate a level of modesty, candour, independence and intuition that proved to be the defining traits of both the music IDC made and the outlook they adopted.
With only ‘Flight & Pursuit’ compiled on the Hyped To Death CD compilation ‘Messthetics #108: South Coast D.I.Y. '77-81’ back in 2011 the original 7” vinyl has begun to command inflated prices in the usual places. With this reissue on Outer Reaches that state of play is thankfully redressed. Alongside this restored material comes an ‘Indifferently Humble Refix’ by Ransom Note Records / Kill the DJ affiliate C.A.R., a floor-fortified reinterpretation that reshapes ‘Flight & Pursuit’ as a lustrous and heavyweight minimal wave voyage, taking IDC from their former enclaves of interiority into the kind of lurid discotheque that’s soundtracked by Gina X Performance, Cómeme 12”s and the early works of Johnny Jewel.
As it goes the ‘Flight & Pursuit’ 7” was the only physical release Indifferent Dance Centre put out into the world on their own appropriately named Recluse label. Nevertheless, as a solitary piece of output, it’s a stunning accomplishment that has only improved with time. One record is all they needed.
Mastered by Keith Tenniswood
Manufactured by Curved Pressings