Glorious Din - Closely Watched Trains LP


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Label: Onderstroom

Onderstroom present a reissue of Glorious Din's Closely Watched Trains, originally released in 1987.

How a boy from the Sri Lankan jungle formed the greatest post-punk band you've never heard. Fronted by an intense singer with an oblique songbook and a mysterious past, Glorious Din was unlike any other group to emerge from San Francisco's '80s underground. With singer Eric Cope, the chosen persona of a Joy Division-obsessed Sri Lankan boy who travelled halfway around the world to follow his punk dream.

The multifaceted nature of the '80s scene can seem baffling to outsiders, encompassing everything from three-chord thrash punk to garage-band pop, experimental art rock and atonal noise. Glorious Din mesmerizing sound instantly gets under your skin via their non-standard drum patterns, Eastern-sounding guitar melodies, a melodic bass in pole position and a dissociative singer. The enigmatic group helped total unknowns gain recognition and were the uncommon glue linking Faith No More, the Dead Kennedys, and Michael Franti, as well as R.E.M. and the Cocteau Twins.

Glorious Din's appeal was their mysteriousness: a quartet of mismatched musicians not necessarily playing their chosen instruments, with the obscure lyrics of their intense frontman near impossible to decipher. The group imploded after only three years, but their cult appeal has lasted far longer through their two albums and related material.

Glorious Din's second album, Closely Watched Trains, had a very different sound from its predecessor. Eric was listening to a lot of Nick Drake, so they mixed the vocals and guitar much louder than the other instruments. Nevertheless, the album showed a growth and maturity on the band's part. Paget plays a metal dobro on some numbers, which adds a sheen of folk to the post-punk proceedings, as heard on the opener "Stilt Walkers." "1651 Map" has Cope seemingly recounting a colonial uprising or an industrial dispute over a sparse rhythm led by Paget's minimal guitar, and early number "Voices Everywhere" is here reprised as a joyous blast, the lyrics speaking of a pending arrival. Paget is well-represented with "Red Dirt", which has fantastic modulated bass from Heeschen, "Circle Star," another freedom track, and the melodious "Blood."

Now exactly 30 years later, Closely Watched Trains is still a more than rewarding listen and a vivid document of the times.