Fanfare in the Garden
Consider Fanfare in the Garden another debt paid by Kill Rock Stars, the label that did another admirable thing two years prior with their reissue of Kleenex/Liliput. Just as crucial as that release, if not more so, Fanfare in the Garden takes its own place as an unassailable piece of post-punk history. If there's any group that exemplified the biting lyrics/fun sounds combination that several post-punk bands made their stock-in-trade, it's Essential Logic, formed by ex-X-Ray Spex saxophonist Lora Logic. Logic and her bandmates whipped up an alarming squall, made all the more unique by the leader's sax squonks and equally frantic vocals, which are prone to wild shifts of pitch and tone -- from chirps to yelps, from swoops to flutters -- that regularly find ways to contort traditional pronunciations. Logic's phonetic spelling of "aerosol burns," for instance, would look something like "ayyr-O-sawl burr-URNZ." Like a lot of their peers -- early Scritti Politti, the Pop Group, the Slits, Liliput, the Raincoats -- they sound incredibly tight one moment and then sound as if they're quickly marching toward the brink of unraveling. Nearly every song is a trebly buzz filled with jerky rhythms and dissonant screeches -- qualities bred by an exhilarating form of feral oomph. That said, Fanfare in the Garden is far from thorough and selects some questionable material. While the bulk of the band's lone album, two EPs, and several singles are provided, this was the perfect chance to put the entirety of those releases back into circulation. Though some of Logic's early solo material is welcomed -- particularly the relatively tame but delightful 1981 single "Wonderful Offer" -- much of the space on the second disc is occupied by inferior, albeit decent, late-'90s recordings. The compilation is unskippable nonetheless.