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Cultural Amnesia - Enormous Savages

Enormous Savages is a retrospective vinyl LP from Cultural Amnesia, an English group comprising Gerard Greenway, Ben Norland, and John Peacock who were active between 1980 - 1983. Cultural Amnesia were part of the burgeoning cassette culture milieu of the early eighties, contributing to various short-run cassette compilations and releasing three cassette albums - Video Rideo, Sinclair's Luck, The Uncle of the Boot - via homespun tape labels. Original cassette versions have increased in value, largely due to the involvement of a teenage Geff Rushton - soon to renamed as John Balance of Coil. John Balance's involvement in Cultural Amnesia ranged from releasing their second album on his Hearsay and Heresy tape imprint, to supplying lyrics - three of which are included here, with permission from the Estate of John Balance.

There's a peculiar charm to the work of Cultural Amnesia - a vivid concoction of cheap casio and bontempi organs, primitive electronic rhythms with jolts of abrasive guitar. Cultural Amnesia work well within the limitations of their primitive recording set-up. 'Kingdom Come' is pure electro-pop; it's oblique wordy images set against tinny synth sounds, which pales against the heaving synths and rudimentary processed rhythms of 'Materialistic Man' with its deadpan distorted delivery offset by the simple casio melody. The electro-throb of 'Sacrebleu', meanwhile, picks at the festering scab opened by Throbbing Gristle. Then there's the head rush of 'Repetition For This World', all pumping synths, electrified buzz chords and aggravated lyrics. It's post-punk and positively thrilling as its soaring guitar lead spirals over casio beats. 'The Wildlife of the Tranquil Vale' has a haphazard vocal floundering over loose organ chime and incessant Suicide-esque electronics. I'm very much taken with 'Blind Rag', a scintillating combination of cold electro pulses, clipped distorted guitar with the mythical Michael figure featuring in a story delivered in an Ian Curtis vocal. The whole track sounds like it's been taken from Bowie's Low.

The John Balance penned lyrics are fairly typical of the industrial culture period. The sadistic violence and Ballardian nightmares of 'Fetish For Today' are set against a bleak electronic score and lashings of guitar distortion. Whipping tones and incessant hammering beats form the backbone to another Ian Curtis-lite vocal on 'Scars For E', with its obvious reference to Psychic TV. 'Here To Go' lifts the cut-up text of Brion Gysin and a snippet of Keats, against rapid fire rhythms, revving synths and clipped guitar stylings. It's clinical structure more than a match for the disoriented text.

Listening to Enormous Savages you're presented with an electronic group whose influences take in Cabaret Voltaire, The Normal, Suicide as much as they do Gang of Four and Joy Division. If the thought of a synth pop post-punk outfit excites, you should seek out Enormous Savages. Until now Cultural Amnesia have been a minor footnote in the history of Coil, with Enormous Savages, the first retrospective from their vast archive of recordings, Cultural Amnesia can rightfully stake their place in the history of post-punk cassette culture.

The first 125 copies of the vinyl album include a mini-CD with three tracks from the regrouped Cultural Amnesia. For more information go to or