Modern Fix


back to album reviews home cdmission Title: ONoffON Label: Matador Purchase at: Interpunk Purchase at: Amazon
First: how about a little history on Mission of Burma. Perhaps one of the most heralded and influential groups in the history of rock music, Mission of Burma was the epitome of what underground punk was supposed to be in the eighties. MOB’s ‘time in the sun’ however, was more like ‘time in the shade.’ During the best years of their brief career during the early to mid-eighties, it seemed that only fellow musicians such as Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Big Black, The Minutemen and a small sporadic fan base were appreciating Burma’s extremely unique brand of punk rock. It was MOB’s outside the box thinking that garnered them the attention of like-minded people and the underground media. Mission of Burma was a power trio with an added twist; and that was one of things that separated them from most of the other punk bands at the time. Unlike many of the fast, angry and undecipherable punk bands in the early eighties; Mission of Burma was still very much an amplified/distortion and feedback group. It was just evident in their sound, as it is especially now – that their music just seems to have a much more thoughtful center to it. With Peter Prescott on drums, Clint Conley on bass and Roger Miller taking up guitar duties, Mission of Burma was a complete and functioning entity that spewed-forth pure, rocking creativeness. However, it’s extremely undeniable that the brilliant nuances of tape manipulator Martin Swope was an extremely important factor as to why Mission of Burma is, and will be one of the most important bands in the history of American music. Having only released a couple of seven-inch singles, one EP “Signals, Calls and Marches”, one LP “Vs.” and their final recording, “The Horrible Truth About Burma” which was a compilation of live recordings from their final tour in 1985; Mission of Burma called it quits and went their separate ways on good terms. All of the members have stayed in their native area of Boston, MA – except for the enigmatic Swope. Having recently regrouped in the past couple of years; what was supposed to be a couple of one-off reunion shows has since turned into a full-blown documentary, subsequent album and tour. “ONoffON” is Burma at their best! It’s like these guys walked through a time warp direct from 1983 and haven’t skipped a beat. Absent from the line-up this time around is the ever elusive tape manipulator Martin Swope. Having retired from music, he now lives on an island in the Pacific Ocean and is probably enjoying the hell out of life. Taking up duties as tape manipulator and recording engineer for “ONoffON” is none other than producer/engineer/musician extraordinaire (*and active member of Shellac) Bobby Weston. With sixteen amazing new tracks from the innovators of what has now become “indie rock,” Mission of Burma’s highly anticipated album “ONoffON” has definitely been worth the 22-year wait. Mission of Burma: even better – and always ON! Keep it real kids*

Gordon Downs