Published May 01, 2019There's a difference between over-examining and re-examining; the latter is useful for better understanding an artist's starting point, with time and context. That's exactly why the reissue of Protomartyr's 2012 debut, No Passion All Technique, which also includes three songs from their Dreads 85 84 seven-inch, should be seen as an opportunity to look back and appreciate what was, with the added knowledge of what will (or has) become.
In 2011, with only four hours of studio time to spare and "a case of beer between them," the group tracked 21 songs. Most made their way onto the an album that is now recognized as an unlikely collectors item. The ironically titled No Passion All Technique is fairly harsh and often sloppy. On it, the band are captured for the first time developing their own flavour of hyper-literate post-punk with garage rock undertones. The focal point is, of course, the man with the megaphone himself, vocalist and lyrical aficionado Joe Casey.
Looking back, his phrasing has become increasingly enriched over the years; his philosophical ponderings, augmented; his existential views more devastating; his brand of satire, all the more idiosyncratic. But that isn't to say his earlier lyrics weren't still commanding in their own right.
There are a handful of moments on this first effort that seem like a bedrock foundation, sonic blueprints for songs to come. The fractured drumming on "Too Many Jewels" shares the same rhythmic ideas as Relatives In Descent's opener, "A Private Understanding." "Wine of Ape," has a dance-y pace similar to "Don't Go To Anacita."
In the years since they debuted, Protomartyr have grown from every angle. Deeper into the rabbit hole, per se. This reissue should remind us that one thing, so casually punk, can quickly become another. All you need is time. (Domino)