Mark Perry and ATV sure have moved on a lot musically since their formation in 1977, back at the dawn of punk in which he played such a pivotal role, producing 'Sniffin' Glue', the first punk fanzine. As a former fanzine writer and author on the subject myself, I will forever be indebted to Mark for that, but in some ways, his association in most peoples minds with the inception of punk has been a drag factor on the perception of ATV as a band ever since. From their more direct punk rock beginnings, ATV quickly moved on to draw inspiration from improvisation, free jazz, industrial and electronic music, with their second album, 1979's 'Vibing Up The Senile Man' providing a direct challenge to the commercial direction that the rest of the original vanguard of UK punk rock had taken and arguably kicking off what we now know as Post Punk. 'Direct Action', Alternative TV’s first studio album since 'Opposing Forces' in 2015, firmly puts any lingering impression you may have of ATV as a punk band to rest, though the paradox remains that by challenging what have now become tired cliches and moving forward into new and confrontational forms of sound, they are actually closer to the original spirit of punk than anything you will find at the Rebellion Festival.
The six instrumental tracks which make up 'Direct Action' (the title itself being a call to arms) shred all connection to rock music in favour of guttural electronics and noise, melded with occasional guitar strums, sonorous oboe-like sounds and I-don't-know-what musical screams. It is far from being an easy listen and is unlikely to be popping up on any 'best of punk' compilations any time soon. With its cut-and-paste approach (albeit with a blunt and bloodied scalpel) the closest comparison sonically I can make is with Nurse With Wound, Whitehouse, and their ilk, 'Saudade' being the standout track. Like a soundtrack to a horror film yet to be made, it forms yet another shape and texture to add to the ATV story. With the help of long-time collaborators Dave Morgan, Gareth Matthews, Ruth Tidmarsh, and Cos Chapman, Mark Perry has created an album that flies in the face of what many understand to be ATVs' 'sound' to create a new and disturbing twist. It may not be for the faint of heart, but 'Direct Action' is an album that gets better the more you listen to it as details you missed the first time around reveal themselves. Where Mark takes ATV next is anyone's guess but the one thing you can predict is the unexpected.
Order here from Fourth Dimension records