Alternative Communication


Having done the usual school music stuff, we had both discovered rock music in the 70s - listening to eclectic bands like Rush, Joe Walsh, Focus, Supertramp, Camel and Roxy Music as well as seeing some great bands and classical performers whenever they turned up in Edinburgh - our nearest city. We both bought electric guitars (Janette's was a bass) and amps and started practicing our Todd Rundrgren, Pink Floyd and Camel songs before we hit Edinburgh University to study in 1980 - looking for a band....

Almost immediately we met up with kindred prog-friendly spirits - and within a few months were the 5-piece band Alternative Communication and were writing and recording (very poor quality) tapes of our compositions in a garage in Dalkeith as well as playing live around the university. Sharing a flat quickly whittled the band down and by 1982 it was a three piece - the two of us and a talented guitarist/pianist, David Reid. We could never find a drummer who would listen (or wash) - a real problem (the listening..) when (as prog-types) many of the pieces used complicated time-signiatures! Instead we embarked on a relationship with the evolving world of drum machines - which would last over 30 years.

The band wrote and recorded three albums of original music. The first two were recorded live on a stereo tape machine - and the quality of these recordings makes re-mastering a challenge which is currently beyond us. However, the third album - Primitive - was recorded on a multi-track Fostex cassette machine - meaning that re-mastering in the digital world was much more feasable. In 2010 Brian revisited the old tapes and a remastered version is now available.


The Music

To listen to the music, click on the MP3 links below.

The first 3 tracks of the album are essentially three "movements" of an electric suite. The Primitive title reflected the band's aim to produce music using only the instruments we could play live with no additional overdubs - comprising only two guitars, bass, drumbox and vocal. This was the case for the whole album - we think the textures in Half in Love really suggest synthesizers - but it's all the guitar and bass. In Primitive, themes are first heard in Part 1. and are reshaped and developed over the next two movements. (How prog is that!?) The result is a bit of a roller coaster of musical mayhem - and WE think it still works. {NB 1. The great warbly sound in Part 2 is an MXR Phase 100 Brian got from Dougie Mathieson and 2. No, the third part is NOT speeded up!}

Track 1. Primitive Part 1.

Track 2. Primitive Part 2.

Track 3. Primitive Part 3.

Track 4. Half in Love Track 4 - full title is Half in love with easeful death. A melancholy piece which gets its title from a critic's description of the work of the great 19th century composer Gustav Mahler. All of the band were big Mahler fans and hoped to capture some of the qualities of his music - but without the 100-piece orchestra.....Ambitious.

Track 5. 1984 - from a dead man, greetings. It was of course 1984. Now in 2012 - when we've even weathered Space 1999 and the millenium bug of 2000 - its hard to imagine a futuristic world as depicted in the orwell novel, 1984. And yet, like Huxley's Brave new World the book was remarkably poignant at the time. After all we did have Margaret Thatcher and an invisible enemy - in our case apparently that was the miners.....A new film version of the book was filmed in 1984 and released the same year (John Hurt; Richard Burton's last movie) and we loved it (we WERE a pretty morose bunch...). Hence the title of the last ever song recorded by Alternative Communication .


Images of Alternative Communication