Dive Position / Shining Path - Now Is Then
The Shining Path was born in the ashes of Dive Position and Fatal Charm in the mid eighties. Dive Position began in 1982 when Peter Miller met Andrew Millar somewhere in Australia. They both enjoyed similar tastes in music and soon after their meeting they formed Dive Position.
Now Is Then LP + 7" is a showcase of Dive Position and The Shining Path. The release is limited to 319 copies.
Dive Position opens up with "Live At The Cabaret Voltaire" displaying a raw energy reminiscent of Cabaret Voltaire's late 70's sound, Tracks like 'Nag Nag Nag' come to mind. 'Ilt' and 'Melodrama' tear away more late 70's influences from Suicide to more Cabaret Voltaire. Suicide's first album and Cabaret Voltaire's Mix-Up seem like prominent points of references for this blast from the past. 'I Don't Remember' and 'Chair Sound' evoke some of that experimental weirdness that made The Residents so effective in their delivery. 'Vicious Circles' is the only track where Peter Miller's vocals are heard. Mind you this all happened in the early 80's hence all the influences surrounding Dive Position. Despite the obvious influences, Dive Position manage to alter those influences into inspiring tracks with nice arrangements. 'Ilt' is addicting with its raw shredding attack of infectious synth work while 'Melodrama' draws you in with more wicked basslines and a barrage of noisy experimental sounds layered behind synths.
The Shining Path recorded their Basic Training Manual LP in 1988. Only 250 copies were pressed. The LP tracks were re-released on Anna Logue Records 2015. In 2017, the last of the unreleased material resides on this retrospective LP and it is dedicated to the memory of the passing of Andrew Millar.
The Shining Path unlike Dive Position displays more vocal work to go along with the music, adding another dimension we only tasted on the Dive Position side with 'Vicious Circles'. The music is still raw like Dive Position and fueled by the influences of the late 70's and early 80's. These tracks were recorded prior to the 1988 release of Basic Training Manual LP. The shift to a more succinct vocal approach makes perfect sense. When The Shining Path started recording these tracks, Cabaret Voltaire had shifted to a revised sound leaning towards new wave with a polished sound. The raw edge was replaced with cleaner vocals and targeted a wider audience. This was evident on The Shining Path’s Basic Training Manual LP as well as the material on this release. The Shining Path was certainly not on the level of the Cabs, Suicide or The Residents, but they certainly found a nice niche using the influences that made both Andrew and Peter comfortable.
Overall the vocals are very raw and primitive, laced with buzz saw-like aggression and some occasional melody. Perhaps if they hung around a little longer and continued to make music, they would have achieved a more accessible sound if that were indeed what they wanted.
I found myself drawn to the serene sounds of 'Shadow Of The Sun' and the minimal waves of 'Closest Thing To Heaven'. Each track radiates with the DIY ethos that gives this release its charm and identity.
The Shining Path from a historical perspective is a Peruvian communist militant group formed in the late 60’s as opposition to the US and European governments in hope of creating pure communism. Both Andrew and Peter were aware of the communist group based out of Peru when the name for the band was chosen. There are references to The Shining Path within the inner sleeve of the record. I would be curious to understand the choice of name given the agenda of Peru’s Shining Path.
Post The Shining Path, both Andrew and Peter became influenced by The Minutemen and Husker Du and soon after formed the Zen Levitators DFC. Sometime after, Andrew passed away and Peter cut the strings off the guitar. He never returned to making music since losing his friend.
Overall this record is littered with DIY bliss from this elusive obscure Australian minimal synth proto-punk experimental duo. This will surely make the old crusty 40+ crowds very happy and alienate much of the 20+ crowds. For me personally, the Cabaret Voltaire and Suicide influences are so profound it detracts a bit from the overall output of sound and design. Check out the Basic Training Manual LP to hear the evolution of The Shining Path’s music. I would love to hear some of those Husker Du influenced tracks.
Once again Anna Logue Records delivers another gem resuscitated from obscurity! And again I tip my cap to this label.
Nag Nag Nag, go out and pick this LP up you sexy 40+ person you!Nov 27 2017
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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