• operating theatre The Early Years (double CD, £18.75)

    label: Incunabulum

    Surely the only group in history to be both produced by Bono and have an album released on Steven Stapleton's United Dairies label, Ireland's Operating Theatre were a multi-media theatre group founded by actress/performer Olwen Fouere and electro-acoustic composer Roger Doyle. In addition, their debut single (included here) was released in 1981 by CBS Records. This collection contains music originally composed for specific performances, as well as instances of their early commercial output, including the aforementioned single produced by Bono who also plays guitar on one of the tracks. Doyle studied electronic composition at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, and in his work with Operating Theatre he managed to combine his academic background with a keen avant/pop sensibility. Many of the pieces here wouldn't be out of place on a really good minimal synth or cold wave comp, but Doyle's compositional background keeps the music from ever being too one dimensional. There are hints of minimalism, the theatricality of Slapp Happy, the studio inventiveness of David Cunningham's Flying Lizards, all combined with the emotional austerity of Robert Wyatt's early-'80s work.

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