Deceit | This Heat: Vinyl Review

Artist: This Heat
Album: Deceit
Release date: 1981

The seminal record Deceit, the second and last full-length album by This Heat, was released in 1981. Though this album came out at the tail-end of the height of art-punk and during the earlier stages of post-punk, Deceit subverts all conventions of punk. With wild percussive beats laid down as the blueprint of each song and droning electric strings, This Heat bridges art-punk and experimental electronic music by creating a collage of math-y prog-rock, avant-garde jazz, and textured soundscapes. Deceit was the band’s second and final album not counting posthumous releases, including the excellent BBC session release Made Available.

The record begins with the song “Sleep,” a mystical drone that sounds like The Magnetic Fields set in the Mediterranean. Later on, songs like “Makeshift Swahili” hold a more jarring, textured sound that most certainly influenced the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. “Triumph” is a messy collage of various noises, musical and otherwise. There’s a brief accordion intro, leading to what sounds like a kazoo lament accompanied by someone scraping a few pieces of metal and wood together. The vocals by Charles Hayward, the lead singer, help push it into still a stranger realm. Hayward mentions something about the angles being reversed, and the garbage symphony makes its grand conclusion—all in less than three minutes.

This sounds like a prologue for the track “S.P.Q.R.,” which throws out any abstract noodling in favor of pure rock expression. The high-speed beat threatens to overpower the droning vocal line. This track doesn’t run through a myriad of stylistic changes; it makes its case via sheer persistence. Kinetic drum orchestras, ancient rain forest flutes and strings lend the music an otherworldly quality which further removes it from recordings by This Heat’s angrier peers.

“Radio Prague” features more electronic trickery and what sounds like someone actually tuning in and out of a Czech radio broadcast. There’s a steady pitter-patter underneath, and some dark drones in the background, along with a haunting cello; all these elements come together in an ethereal transformation on vinyl.

In a way, the entire album seems removed from typical musical happenings, even the underground scene. The overall feeling from this album is revolution and a very creative form of protest. Crashing drums, wailing group vocals, and very precise, discordant guitar lines are all signature to This Heat. There have been very few bands that have been able to rise as aggressively or even as strangely to create music so distinctive and inspiring as This Heat. Maybe that’s why it’s taken so long for This Heat to start receiving their due recognition.

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