THE FACE : 1983

Recent television appearances by Eurythmics and the Thompson Twins, and the cover of Depeche Mode's "Construction Time Again" have all included the image of men with hammers - facilely indicating a new form of percussion, perhaps. Or, more accurately, showing that the pop mainstream is never slow to pick up references from rock's outposts, in this case from bands such as Test Department, Einsturzende Neubauten and SPK. To anyone with one half of a functioning brain this Metal Innovation, or Phenomenon, does not have any inherent artistic merit but is merely one more frill on rock's frock. "If you make claims, like certain other bands, that you're drumming to the demise of Western civilisation then it is patently ridiculous," opines Grame Revell. Along with the other two-thirds of SPK, Derek Thompson and Sinan, Revell has recorded their first self-confessed stab at commercialism - it was "the expedient thing to do" - with their "Metal Dance" single. What SPK have to offer the audience of Top Of The Pops is, they will tell you, energy. The problem is that their ideas are so much more attractive than the music produced. There must have been a great deal of rationalisation behind SPK's decision to pursue the cash register with this single; the last four years has seen them proving the point that it is possible for a band to exist without the comfortable cocoon of media publicity, record support et al. Now they hope to combine both courses: "Usually bands come from the extreme and go in a linear direction, becoming increasingly poppy, or there is the Brian Eno option where you start in the middle and go uniformly outwards. What we're hoping to do is to run in parallel streams at the same time and hope we can pull it off." It does sound as if the recording of SPK's music is actually more exciting than the finished product: the firing of shotguns, the act act of thowing teaspoons,at Chinese works and dropping red-hot knives in fat. Fun! - and this could be their downfall. For, although their ideas and projects are sound, they have yet to match their pretentions with their achievements.

Chris Burkham

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