The press material for this long-out-of-print reissue of the 1979 self-titled debut by England's This Heat claims the album was a landmark release: "It tore up the book and laid new rules for band composition and performance." There's plenty of room to draw comparisons between the music here and recordings by Can, Neu! and Faust, and modern-day post-rock and avant-garde artists owe a debt of gratitude to this trio. Perhaps that's why the UK-based label ReR thinks enough of This Heat to make this reissue the first release on its new offshoot label, This Is 1. A series of band reissues is planned, as is a limited-edition box set.
The opening and closing tracks on This Heat (both titled "Testcard") are nothing more than silence unless you really crank up the volume, the vocals on "Not Waving" sound more like "not singing" and the stark blue and yellow sleeve (replicated here in bright Technicolor digipack) is an iconic slap in the face to intelligent listeners. Not everyone will "get" this stuff; I'll admit that I don't understand everything multi-instrumentalists Charles Bullen, Charles Hayward and Gareth Williams were trying to do nearly three decades ago. But I appreciate their experimental and often atonal approach, in part because they had the stones to record this kind of material in a musical universe dominated at the time by New Wave, punk, disco and classic prog. Hell, they even let slip a thick throat clearing in the middle of "Music Like Escaping Gas." And the warped guitar solo on "The Fall of Saigon," perhaps the album's most song-oriented track, deserves every accolade it received.
The jagged guitars, cryptic voices and abrasive rhythms on This Heat must have sounded dreadfully out of place in 1979. But today, the record's electronic ramblings – "24 Track Loop" is a perfect example of this trio's musical prescience – and "who gives a fuck?" spirit could very well find a younger new audience, making This Heat hot once again.
I feel I must give this four stars, just out of respect …
3) Not Waving
5) Twilight Furniture
6) 24 Tack Loop
7) Diet of Worms
8) Music Like Escaping Gas
10) The Fall of Saigon