' erasing clouds music review: manicured noise
erasing clouds

Manicured Noise, Northern Stories 1978 80

by dave heaton

Another reissue of a Factory-era post-punk band that I didn't know about? Yep, and it's nothing but welcome. Northern Stories collects rare and previously unreleased recordings by the late '70s Manchester band Manicured Noise, who for a couple years were opening for groups you have heard of, like Wire, and who released just a couple singles on Pre Records. With a definite funk influence, Manicured Noise at first sound like a UK version of Talking Heads, though jazzier. Maybe spookier too, yet with a similar sense of forward, upward motion, and similar guitars. And dare I say it, maybe funkier too; listen to the groove on "Payday." Or, for that matter, "Competition", a tight funk workout. The rigid funkercises aren't that rigid, either witness how "Music A" pulls several film-score genres (spaghetti westerns, tv cop shows) into the mix. There's too much to this music to stick to any one band comparison both in the minimalist, urban-grit music and first-person lyrics that feel in no way confessional or even intimate, more like descriptions of a cold life. The funk edge adds brightness but also seriousness; Manicured Noise sound stone-cold deadly overall.


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