EP REVIEW: LACK OF KNOWLEDGE & SLEEPING DOGS

‘2 By 2 And Back Again’ Crass Records 12” vinyl reissue series #3 with Lack of Knowledge – ‘Grey’ EP from 1984 and Sleeping Dogs – ‘Beware’ EP  from 1982

Crass were a band that epitomised punk as an anarchic political collective ideology. Along with confrontational music, they had a record label that fostered the collective spirit of their contemporaries. Crass Records in association with One Little Independent is currently reissuing select releases such as Captain Sensible and Honey Bane, and now these two 12” EPs by North London’s Lack of Knowledge and Sleeping Dogs from the US.

These records are part of a series of releases that were recorded by Penny Rimbaud and John Loder at Southern Studios in North London. 

The ‘Grey’ EP by Lack of Knowledge is composed of four tracks of post-punk energy.

In the first track We’re Looking For People, the drums drive fast beats utilising heavy use of hi-hats in a frenetic enthusiasm. By the second track, Another Sunset, we slow down a little and the synths start to come out to play, showcasing a more complex sound. On the third track, Girl In The Mask, they critically describe images of meetings, factories, and people being told “to be proud of their country” and “how happy they are”. The EP finishes on Radioactive Man, where we hear development of the use of delays and experiments in texture.

If you are a fan of Joy Division then you are likely to enjoy this, but the layers and lyrical content, along with some interesting arrangements, mean this is a record that stands on its own merits. 

The ‘Beware’ EP by Sleeping Dogs is an energetic five track offering. The first song, Same Old Story, introduces us to dubby guitar delays and post-punk syncopated drum beats. This is followed by the buzzy sounds of Concrete, a brutalist story of concrete blocking the radio waves, and hence the “music power is gone”. Third track Suzy’s Song brings in a new voice extolling their love of “Microwave ovens” and “Betamax”, augmented by squeals of excitement. After this the EP really feels like it gets going with (I Got My Tan In) El Salvador and finally crescendoing into the closer Soldier.

Definitely a more no-wave sound than Lack of Knowledge, which is not surprising when you know the geolocations of the bands. This shows some real imagination and for me the highlight is Suzy’s Song.

With so much music coming out everyday, there is a question to be asked about whether we need more reissues. I can’t help feeling that it is with these lesser known artists that we see the real value in this. Crass were a great force for cultivating these instigations and I am very pleased to have found both these albums now. 

Originally on 7” these have been remastered for a higher quality as 12” if you do decide to buy the physicals. 

Both these EPs came out last month:

You can listen and buy the Lack of Knowledge EP here 

You can listen and buy the Sleeping Dogs EP here

Article by Toby Tobias Kidd 

Listen to Toby’s new Bot Opera Beta EP

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