Monday, 8 February 2010

THE METRONOMES - Multiple Choice LP + Justification + A Circuit Like Me

Back in 1980 the best way to encounter new wave, post-punk, synthesizer, avant-garde and all kinds of non-mainstream sounds was to listen to the late, great, much lamented John Peel. Peel's Radio 1 show (10pm-midnight Mon-Thur) was THE showcase for anything off the commercial radar and he introduced a few generations including mine to all that was interesting in contemporary music.

One evening he played a cool slice of electro heaven called A Living Person by The Metronomes, a quirky Aussie band that mixed weird and melodic electronics, topped off with a supremely disinterested but sexy spoken female vocal. What wasn't to like?

Not for the first time nor the last after listening to Peel, I rushed to get the album and it didn't disappoint. Some lovely synth work - melodic string washes, bleeps, sequences, alien noises and FX - complemented by guitars, inventive vox and basic but effective drum machines. A dark humour shone through this elegantly crafted album, especially on cuts like The Ballad of the Metronome and Sex II, while the gorgeous A Living Person and Music For Lounges just oozed composition and production class. My favourite piece, Justification, provided the crossover between styles with its simple bass step-sequence, delicious strings, swirling high leadline and repeated spoken mantra "At least it has a steady rhythm."
A cover version of this is in the offing sometime; it's on a long list.

The album followed two 7" single releases, 1979's Saturday Night/Sunday Morning and 1980's A Circuit Like Me/Closed Circuit (video below).
The Metronomes did produce another album but not for another five years, Regular Guys (1985). It certainly has its moments but lacks the inspiration and style of its predecessor. The band members are still musically active but no further releases have been forthcoming - the links to new tracks on their website are dead.

Like so much of the music I loved then, I thought it a crime that bands like The Metronomes flew so far under most people's radar. Synthesizers were fast becoming the new guitars but, with few exceptions, only the most commercial acts broke through and shifted enough units to make a good living from the business. Most of my favourite artists were fated to languish in obscurity or achieve limited cult 'success', get stitched into dodgy record deals, release a couple of albums that were largely ignored, and sooner rather than later, find something else to do. Thirty years on, it's amazing to see so many of them reunited and back on the 'scene', often enjoying hindsight reputations they never achieved first time around.

The Metronomes: Multiple Choice, Cleopatra Records CLP 210.
01. A Living Person
02. Sex I
03. The Ballad of the Metronome
04. Commentator
05. The World Is My Oyster
06. Music For Lounges
07. Sex II
08. Hey Coach
09. Justification
10. Bad Timing

Main personnel:

Ash Wednesday - rhythm programs, synthesizer, random syncussion, treatments, some lead vocals
Andrew Picouleau - bass guitar, synthesizer, random syncussion, Milo tin, some lead vocals
Al Webb - rhythm programs, synthesizer, guitar, random syncussion, backwards hurdy gurdy, some lead vocals

Let's face it, in 1980 those were credits to make any electronic music fan drool.

I'm indebted to excellent blog Capa Nostra Syndicate for the album download link: Capa Nostra Syndicate: Multiple Choice mp3 download

For further info about The Metronomes, go to the band's website, Ash Wednesday's website and Andrew Picouleau's biog.

From Multiple Choice, here's Justification:

And finally, the rare and wonderful single A Circuit Like Me.


  1. Hi,

    I too bought this album in the 80s and loved it. I don't know how I came across it but I am Australian so it probably was easier for me to find than for you. I got it out the other day (from my large and basically obsolete collection of vinyl LPs) and listened to it, and to me it still sounds as good as ever. I never knew anyone else who had the record, so I'm glad I came across your blog. Cheers!

  2. Mannequin is more than enthusiastic to announce the re-release of both the LPs (“Multiple Choice” from 1980 and “Regular Guys” from 1985) plus the 2 singles seven inches “Saturday Night / Sunday Morning” and “A Circuit Like Me” from The Metronomes, a legendary minimal synth band from Australia.

    The group was an integral part of the early electronic music scene in Australia and their releases have become a collector’s item in Europe, as they are mostly impossibile to find.

    The Metronomes first appeared in Melbourne in 1979, initial members were rock journo-synth player Al Webb, the bass player Andrew Picouleau (Secret Police, Sacred Cowboys) and the synth-pioneer Ash Wednesday, nowdays a live tour member of Einsturzende Neubauten.

    Record features:

    - 2x12’’ black vinyl, 33 1/3 rpm (Multiple Choice LP + Regular Guys LP)
    - 7’’ black vinyl, 33 1/3 (Saturday Night / Sunday Morning 7’’ + A Circuit Like Me 7’')
    - Limited pressing of 500 copies
    - Insert with rare pictures
    - Handnumbered postcard insert

    Release date: November 2010.


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