Monday, 25 March 2013

Section 25 - Looking From A Hilltop

Section 25 is an English post-punk and electronica band, best known for the single "Looking From A Hilltop" and their association with iconic Manchester record label Factory Records.

Joined by percussionist Lee Shallcross, Section 25 gradually evolved a more electronic-dance direction, a process which culminated in the album From the Hip and remix single "Looking From A Hilltop", both released in 1984 and produced by Bernard Sumner of New Order. This second iteration of the band also featured Angela Flowers aka Angela Cassidy (vocals, keyboards) and Jenny Ross (vocals, keyboards). The five-piece completed a lengthy second tour of North America in January 1985, where the single "Looking From A Hilltop" achieved a measure of club success.

Section 25's psychedelic past is right up front from the very first note: a reversed drumbeat. As you'd expect, the percussion is right up in the remix, trailed by dreamy keyboard melodies: as the vocal comes in, the rhythm resolves into a springy metal-beat, underscored by a hypnotic bass line and overlaid with hi-pitched synth sounds – like droplets of rain.

The voices – of Jenny Ross and Larry Cassidy – float in and out of this glistening sound picture. The lyric tunes in and out, and what you can hear has the usual Section 25 mix – the desire for freedom tempered by depression: "I just want to see your face to see your face to see your face to/I just want to see your face/Bring me down, bring me down."

In the end, Looking from a Hilltop (Megamix) is all forward motion. At eight minutes, the track isn't a second too long: all the elements are subordinate to the irresistible Moroder-esque modulations, which give a framework over which the group and the remixers pour backwards synths, wailing rock guitar, and all manner of ambient noises.

With this epic – one of the best tracks from a great year for electro – Section 25 finally achieved the grandeur that they had always sought. Released in June 1984, the 12" – with a bright orange sleeve – made waves in the UK and was a club hit in New York. It was also picked up by black radio stations in the Chicago area, and consequently fed into the early house scene.
Jon Savage 

Those that have this record know what an amazing track this is. The remix is an electronic masterpiece; bass heavy,industrial with lush keyboards and allsorts of fuuristic sounding bleeps...The vocal side is sytnth music of the highest order.

I must be one of the few lucky ones to own this amazing track on a 12-inch record. I believe only few thousand copies were pressed back in 1984.

Where was I when I’d bought the record? Ah yes! It was sometime in late October 1985, after school, at Starsounds record store on Young Street in Toronto. Starsounds was a great record store that sold only 12-inch records of every genre, especially to DJ’s. At that time, I was looking for synth/techno/pop tracks when Axel F by Harold Faltermeyer was hot. Flipping through Starsounds’ bin of old/unsold records, my fingers came to a stop at this one particular vinyl with gloriously colored luminous-orange sleeve: Section 25.

I held the record up in a tilted-angle closer to my eyes just to read its center label. It was hard to read, because the words and fonts were ultra moderno that were printed with light, shiny luminous colors. Yeah… a record looking great in graphic-design but lacking in function (such as reading its textual content).

Even though I had no idea who Section 25 was, my gut said: This the record you’re looking for, buddy! Just the words 45 A Factory Record and Restructure From Fact 90 on the center label were enough to convince me the record was INDEED an electronic one that was meant for me. Still in my formal shirt/tie/jacket school uniform, I bought the record with my only $20-Canadian. Going home in the subway (the TTC), I was staring at the record and second-guessing what it might sound like. Once I got home, I ran to my room and dropped the needle to the record. The usual at the start of any record: few seconds of crackles, scratches and pops…

…And then there was music!

The track on Side-B starts with reverse tom-tom drums followed by reversed-&-gated 808 claps in 1/16th-note progression. Then –BAM– the beat drops like a cyber-atomic bomb: → Heavy industrial baseline → Synth bleeps/zaps all over the stereo-field → Lush synthesizer and Mellotron pads → Cyberpunk female lead vocals → Whispery male backup vocals. Electronic techno industrial pop bliss → → Hands down, an absolute electronic industrial masterpiece!
Omar Hash

Thought I would switch it up for a change and post an 80's synth pop track from the legendary Factory Records stable. This cut from Section 25 was a staple of mine some years back when I incorporated quite a bit of new wave and post punk into my DJ sets. I dusted this record off in anticipation of the upcoming Section 25 show at Mezzanine in SF and it served to remind me that I still love this kind of stuff.

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