live music: rock picks: sunday
Medium Medium at the Echo
A few years back, England's Medium Medium joined the ever-longer procession
of returning post-punk veterans. No longer exhausting themselves with
music-press-sanctioned blood sport for the crown of relevancy, M.M. and
their peers are now dutifully greeted as inventors of manifold music forms
whose patents expired long ago, allowing for new tinkers and hacks.
Considered minor league because they burned out quickly, dropping one album,
in a revolutionary period overrun with titans, Medium Medium managed a chart
hit with the bitterly anthemic "Hungry, So Angry." While not as militantly
meta as the Pop Group or Gang of Four, they pursued a comparable mutant-funk
minimalism. Alan Turton's bass pops out instantly, melodic and percussive,
nearly supplanting the drum kit. Guitarist Andy Ryder sheaths his instrument
in a vitreous wash of FX that whisks metallic shards, white-hot sparks and
ice crystals. There was plenty of Bowie-molded affect in the singing styles
of the post-punk vanguard and beyond, but John Rees Lewis might bridge the
master's mad warble and Robert Smith's whine-to-wail volatility. And, like
the Thin White Duke, Rees Lewis can blurt a sax for splats of warped color.
-- Bernardo Rondeau, Dec. 7-13, 2007
Medium Medium: Hungry, So Angry [Cherry Red; 2001]
Best known for the 1981 single that is this compilation's namesake, Medium
Medium cobbled together the decadent regurgitant of mainstream disco and fed it
through a filter of Gang of Four's knotty funk and the Pop Group's acerbic,
clawing production. Great bass lines make me weak at the knees, and Hungry,
So Angry has so many: check the popping glides of the title track, the
shimmy-cum-melody of "Nadsat Dream", and the scores of cinder block kicks,
thumps and thuds found throughout. Most impressive, perhaps, is the stylistic
and aesthetic variety-- something Medium Medium's more "important"
contemporaries neither achieved nor, frankly, cared about-- seen in the album's
descent from hard boxy funk to glittering atmospheric jams.
-- Sam Ubl, Jan 24, 2005
Crashin'in has posted a new interview
with Medium Medium.
-- Lio, Nov 22, 2004
live music >> rock
Every time a new group of punk rockers discovers slap-bass (cf. Radio 4,
!!!), it becomes an excuse for writers and record clerks to cite the same tired
Gang of Four/Public Image Ltd. references. Sorely overlooked is late-'70s agit-funk
ensemble Medium Medium. Though the band never accomplished anything on the scale
of Entertainment! or Metal Box, the caffeinated bass and sinister sax on its
breakthrough 1981 single "Hungry, So Angry" sounds like the template
upon which all Rapture songs are based. The rest of the oeuvre has also held up
remarkably well, and the fact that so many current bands are, either knowingly
or unknowingly, copping the band's sound wholesale could finally bring Medium
Medium the success that eluded it 20 years ago.
-- J. Edward Keyes, Oct. 13,
new york press
Life:Styles-compiled by Coldcut (Harmless Records) This UK production duo of Jonathan More and Matt Black Coldcut is best known for
the "Seven Minutes of Madness" remix on Eric B. and Rakim's early hiphop staple "Paid in Full."
Life:Styles isn't a seamless mix, but a crate-digging experience with these obsessive collectors and studio hacks...
With DFA revitalizing disco punk and labels like SoulJazz re-issuing its obvious influences with A Certain Ratio
and the bands on the New York Noise comp, a cut on here will leave you speechless. Medium Medium's "So Hungry, So Angry"
has slipped off the radar screen of most. With its disco drums and horns and screeching, anxiety-attacked vocals,
it's obvious it was all done better the first time around.
-- Dan Martino, Aug. 4-10, 2004
medium medium - hungry, so angry
whisperin' & hollerin'
For some reason, most of the British post-punk element who embraced funk are quickly written off by the critics these days.
There's exceptions, sure: both Leeds' GANG OF FOUR, whose taut, Politicised sound is as fiery and fresh today,
or BRISTOL's POP GROUP who (for helping to pre-empt trip hop and for releasing seminal stuff like "She Is Beyond Good And Evil")
are still held in high regard, but they're isolated examples.
Which is a great pity, because to write off the white boy funkateers would be to ignore the fascinating likes of
Nottingham's MEDIUM MEDIUM, who, whilst less obviously political than most of their peers,
still created eminently danceable, resonant material, yet still found time to support ROCK AGAINST RACISM and their ilk.
Musically, MEDIUM MEDIUM were purveyors of a sweaty, loose-limbed funk-pop sound;
considerably less knotty and irritating than THE POP GROUP, but more commercial than, say, A CERTAIN RATIO
(MEDIUM MEDIUM supported them on occasion), whose scratchy funk sound circa "Knife Slits Water"
is not a million miles away from things like "Splendid Isolation"...
"Hungry, So Angry" itself remains every bit as supercharged, and while MEDIUM MEDIUM's lyrics were broadly personal
rather than polemic, this track is as potent as prime era GANG OF FOUR...
Two decades on, you'd be pushed to describe MEDIUM MEDIUM as seminal in the GANG OF FOUR sense,
but they're also far too good to be dismissed as also-rans either.
-- Tim Peacock, DATE UNKNOWN
medium medium - hungry, so angry
Everyone keeps saying they sound like the Gang of Four but they don't.
They don't have the political anger or the metallic punch.
Instead they have the elastic funk of Blurt, the endless groove and chant of Liquid Liquid (but sexier),
a drop of the primal abandon of Malcolm Mooney-fronted Can coupled with soaring moments that touch on the beauty of the Cure.
Seeing that the Liquid Liquid reissue is long out of print,
and the Rapture album wasn't the dance hit follow-up it was expected to be
(though it IS a well crafted pop album -- I'm not nay sayin'!) timing couldn't have been better for this reissue to arrive.
Believe it or not, Medium Medium formed in 1978 recording the main body of this CD in 1981.
And again, unlike Gang of Four and more like Liquid Liquid, these guys do "free-blown dubbed-up white funk" (NME quote)
like no other. Sixteen tracks, including three singles, one full album,
and live tracks that embody qualities touched on by dance rock bands new and old, but never quite this way,
and never quite this good.
-- Scott Mou, Oct. 8, 2003
post-punk and new wave pioneer prepare for their close-up
long island press
The title of New Order's recently released Retro box set is an appropriately symbolic statement from a band
that transformed dance music in the '80s and is still forging forward in 2003,
a year in which it's suddenly all the rage to sound just like these electro-pop pioneers did 20 years ago.
Obscure and well-established bands alike from Brooklyn to England have seemingly sought solace
in the ecstasy of '80s keyboards and the detachment expressed through the jagged guitars of the post-punk era.
This could be seen as fairly problematic by those with an interest in the continued expansion of musical boundaries,
but if executed positively, the movement back to synth-pop melodies and post-punk grooves could shed some much-overdue light
on acts that were inadvertently tossed into the wagon on its way to nostalgia hell.
If You Like: !!! (AKA CHIK CHIK CHIK)
Then Check Out: MEDIUM MEDIUM—HUNGRY, SO ANGRY
Compilation, Cherry Red Records, issued in 2002)
Why It's Worth the Effort: As with almost any band from the new-wave era, Medium Medium's best singles and album cuts
(1981's The Glitterhouse was their only legitimate LP) are contained on a post-mortem compilation.
!!! have caught many ears by turning the energy of the Talking Heads and the attitude of a Manhattan back alley
into a big, funky party; Medium Medium may not have been quite as upbeat, but their danceable fusion of pronounced bass lines,
guitars straight out of a Rufus song and the occasional saxophone was catchy enough to cross over to the American disco charts,
but still possessed a sense of foreboding that linked them more closely to the post-punk aesthetic.
-- Kenny Herzog, DATE UNKNOWN
medium medium's certain ratio
Great slabs of tormented lust, some dirty deeds, some sour morality tales from grubby emotional backstreets.
Booming, deliberated, variably funky noises with starburst blasts of horns and guitars. How does it sound?
It doesn’t sound awful.
Medium Medium are stalking ponderously, but surely, across a shadowy gantry betwixt morbid post-punk
and that humpy groinbeat that everyone’s been borrowing.
There are particularly moments within these grooves when Medium Medium abstain from being studiedly wretched
and allow some space instead. When they get loose, like on “Hungry, So Angry”
(a lament for desire-departed, a buoyant, butt-heavy bassline mover), and leave their careful music to flail its own devices,
they reveal a startling new surge of frowning soul…there’s a certain glow of clear, passionate potential,
some churning, burning artillery to bump-start your heart.
-- Dave Hill, Oct. 24, 1981
medium medium - the glitterhouse
This isn’t quite the sound I remember from a night at the Hammersmith Clarendon more than a year ago when,
as support band, Medium Medium cast the formidable U2 in the shade with the wound-up excitement of their performance...
What it does bring you, without relief, is their power to hurt. “Hungry, So Angry” is the first track and the keynote.
Shivering funk and a frantic complaining voice; bass and drums carry the momentum while guitar is cut back
to scratches and whines entwined with groaning sax.
-- Phil Sutcliffe, Jan. 2, 1982
psychedelia and originality from a new white-funk group
the new york times
Much of the music one hears today in new-wave clubs is white rock with a black rhythmic impetus.
A few years ago, young British and American bands were grappling with the implications of punk’s manic tempos
and relentless attack; today, they are exploring the rhythmic intricacies of black American funk
with the same single-minded intensity.
In fact, there are so many new “white funk” bands that even the most devoted rock-club denizen can get confused.
Is that sound booming out of the public address system at ear-splitting volume Liquid Liquid or Konk or Pigbag?
The possibilities are practically limitless. There are white-funk bands in gaucho garb (Spandau Ballet),
white-funk bands in khaki army fatigues (A Certain Ratio) and white-funk bands in street clothes.
These days, white-funk bands are like suckers, one born every minute.
Most of them are good for one decent dance record, if that.
Occasionally, a white-funk record is distinctive enough to separate itself from this avalanche of new groups and releases.
“Hungry, So Angry” by Medium Medium, a British quintet, was one of those records,
a dance-floor hit so memorable one looked forward to further recordings from the band,
hoping against the odds that they might be equally special. Medium Medium’s first album, “The Glitterhouse,”
lives up to the promise of “Hungry, So Angry,” its first selection, but not by offering more white funk.
Surprisingly, most of the album is airy, moody, strangely gripping psychedelic rock-jazz,
with guitar and saxophone textures grating against each other in an echo-chamber and a beat that’s more implied than stated.
This is impressively original new rock, and a brave first album from a band that must have been tempted
to follow up its initial dance-floor success with more of the same.
-- Robert Palmer, ‘The Pop Life,’ Dec. 2, 1981
various artists - totally wired
Everything old is new again, and over the last while the long buried genre of post-punk has re-emerged
in the form of groups like The Rapture, Interpol, Locust, and countless other bands
rediscovering the quirky, choppy rhythms invented by some of the performers on “Totally Wired"...
The tempo shifts uptown with Medium Medium's “Hungry So Angry,”
a lumbering white-boy punk-funk lament that sounds like body blows to a hanging beef carcass.
Neither fun nor funky, but still an amazing track after all these years.
-- A.J. Murray, Aug. 21, 2003
mick sinclair feature article
-- Mick Sinclair, Dec. 1981