Originally released as a 10” back in 2010 on Downwards, Karl O’Connor’s project with Juan ‘Silent Servant’ Mendez gets repackaged and re-released on Minimal Wave. In part, this is to counteract the online sellers looking to make a quick buck from the limited edition original release – prices go over €70 in some cases – but it also satisfies Minimal Wave’s aim of cataloguing, archiving and curating music in great detail. To put it another way, the New York label is the Guggenheim of the underground reissue scene.
Accordingly, this release features all of the tracks from the original release alongside previously unavailable demo versions. What’s slightly different about this record is that it’s from the more recent past than many Minimal Wave releases, but despite this, it doesn’t sound out of place. Maybe that’s because O’Connor initiated Sandra Electronics at the tail end of the 80s in the aftermath of probably the most fertile decade of popular music – and is inspired by the uncertain but inspired steps of guitar and electronics acts from the US and UK (on this release the spectres of Joy Division, early Human League and Cabaret Voltaire as well as Pere Ubu loom large).
The involvement of Mendez is a more recent development, but his contribution here is vital; on “It Slipped Her Mind”; “New Purpose (extended version)” and ‘Protection Now!” his garbled, screeching vocals are as hypnotic as the swathes of fuzzy, feedback guitar he lays over O’Connor’s basic rhythms and subtle electronic pulses. “Want Need” is more rhythmic but here too fractured vocals and textured sounds are fused with the wiry rhythm and doomy new wave bassline.
Don’t expect any of O’Connor’s grainy techno on this release, but Want Need does showcase him and Mendez’ hitherto undiscovered pop nous. Admittedly, neither “Publicity (demo)” or “Protection Now ! (demo)” will ever bother the upper echelons of the mainstream, but both feature fragile, frazzled electronic hooks that emerge from the surrounding drone and hiss. In particular, the interplay between Mendez’ vocals and the melodies on “Publicity” is one of those special moments, as evocative as the acid drop on UR’s Final Frontier. Thanks to Minimal Wave, it’s a treasure we can all now behold.
1. It Slipped Her Mind
2. New Purpose (Extended Version)
3. Protection Now!
4. Protection Now! (Demo)
5. Want Need (Live)
6. Publicity (Demo)