- Trevor Jackson's description of Metal Dance 2 as "perhaps darker in places" than its predecessor is a curious one. If Metal Dance was anything, it was dour—a grey, jagged vista of disconsolate dub and aggressive post-punk, punctuated by muscular EBM tracks which, in his RA review, William Rauscher described as "Berghain fuck-room nightmares." On this second instalment, the wider context is bleak once again. This is still very much the '80s of cold war alienation and political anger. But even when Metal Dance 2 is sonically harder than its predecessor—which it frequently is—it is nonetheless subtly but significantly lighter in tone.
Even the most forbidding passages of Metal Dance 2 are shot through with an eccentric, playfully subversive quality, that, on the first compilation, didn't extend much beyond album opener, "The Bubblemen Are Coming." For all its steel mill percussion, and for all the industrial heritage of the acts involved, we get a slice of something unexpectedly camp and catchy from Ministry, an atypical overture to the dance floor from Test Dept, and atmospheric proto dub-techno from Front 242. These are interspersed with the Mile High Club's shrill art-punk and in Vice Versa's brilliantly ridiculous "Riot Squad," a fantasy in which the Incredible Hulk saves us from police brutality.
If there is a historical observation to be gleaned from Metal Dance 2, it is how, in the '80s, the divide between the mass media, pop music and the arty underground was remarkably porous. Such periods of fluid exchange come in unpredictable waves, but as the presence here of Top 40 acts like Propaganda and Visage illustrates, many artists in the '80s who made difficult music didn't disdain popular success. Without compromising their art, they were simultaneously poised on the brink of crossover chart exposure.
One tiny weakness to Metal Dance 2 it is that this territory—the overlap between art-pop and early electronic dance music—was examined, in detail, on electroclash-era compilations from Gomma, Soul Jazz, Nuphonic et al. Therefore, it doesn't feel quite as distinct as the more tightly EBM and dub-focused Metal Dance. But it's a testament to Jackson's taste and knowledge that the tracks he's chosen weren't over-exposed on those earlier compilations. With Metal Dance 2, he has unearthed another treasure trove of misshapen, ugly gems, which, for all their dated syndrums and affected vocals, speak down the ages.
01. Tuxedomoon - 59 To 1
02. Logic System - Unit
03. Psyche - The Saint Became A Lush
04. Skinny Puppy - Deadlines (400 Blows Remix)
05. Propaganda - (The Echo Of) Frozen Faces
06. Visage - Der Amboss (Instrumental)
07. Rusty Egan - The Twilight Zone (Trevor Jackson Edit)
08. Material - Secret Life
09. Rene Bandaly Family - Tanki Tanki (Rabih Beaini Edit)
10. Experimental Products - Work That Beat
11. Crash Course In Science - Jump Over Barrels
12. Liaisons Dangereuses - Etre Assis Ou Danset
13. Esplendor Geometrico - Necrosis En La Poya
01. Ministry - Over The Shoulder (12-inch Version)
02. Test Dept - The Unacceptable Face Of Freedom: Face 3
03. Mile High Club - Walking Backwards
04. CHBB - Ima Iki-Mashoo
05. Front 242 - Body 2 Body (2trax)
06. Vice Versa - Riot Squad
07. Chris & Cosey - Driving Blind
08. Doris Norton - Personal Computer
09. Plus Instruments - Vom Ertrunkenen MÃ¤dchen
10. Conrad Schnitzler - Das Tier
11. Neon - Lobotomy
12. Arthur Brown And Craig Leon - The Conversation
13. Haruomi Hosono - Platonic
14. Godley & Creme - Babies