Unrestful Movements – Unrestful Movements (Jayrem) CD REVIEW

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Note: This review was originally published in 2011, but subsequently, Witchdoctor was hacked, and many reviews deleted. This is a resurrection of the 2011 review, for posterity.

Way back in the early ‘80s, Wellington was something of a holdout for post-punk revolutionaries. Between 1978 and around 1985, the city had an active “underground” post-punk scene, and it continued to evolve, despite the advent of the new romantic trend around ’81.
Unrestful Movements In The Vegetable Patch were a Rotorua-based group, whose main two players, Glen Wilson and Pam Cureen, moved to Wellington and reconvened with a shorter name that still sounded like code for an uncomfortable excretion. Their two EPs (or mini-albums, as they consisted of five songs and six songs, respectively) were released in ’82 and ’83, and bear witness to a group who were determined to follow their own agenda.
The group’s original label, Jayrem, is celebrating its 35-year anniversary, and amongst a small treasure trove it’s reissuing in 2011 is this CD compile of those two Unrestful Movements discs, along with four demos they presumably recorded before giving up and disappearing off the map.
Glen’s lyrics about unemployment, the world stage and politics sound naïve in 2011, but his endearingly sneering vocal delivery, together with the group’s sludge-punk churn, make them something of an anomaly. The slow grind of their music may have come about simply because they couldn’t play very well, but it’s brutally effective. Years later, a more extreme form of noise-sludge would form the basis of acclaimed groups like Earth. Personally, however, Unrestful Movements sound more like they were channeling their parents’ early Black Sabbath discs via the punk rock aesthetic.
Some of their riffs are classic, and still wield a terrific power; especially those of the group’s signature tune, ‘Anti Trend’. And unlike so many bands from that era, the recording isn’t spectacularly bad. The engineer was probably asleep, and just letting the tapes roll, and that may help to explain the enjoyable listlessness that’s captured; but at least you can hear all of the instruments in their naked glory, not just one treble blur, like so many of those punk discs from the early ‘80s.
The disc concludes with four demos, where they sound as though they’re wrestling with where to go next – Glen actually sings rather than sneers, in a voice that’s somewhere between new romantic and goth.
IMG_1655My one disappointment, as a writer who was there at the time, and whose reviews are quoted on the liner notes, is the lack of information about what happened after these EPs were made. Where are Glen and Pam now? Did they, like so many ideologically pure punks, end up joining the corporate machine? Whatever the case, it’s great that Jayrem has seen fit to reissue the Unrestful Movements EPs. It’s just a shame that so many other great bands from that early ‘80s Wellington scene never got to put their music on tape for posterity. GARY STEEL
Music = 3.5
Sound = 3

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