Published Jan 01, 2006Despite the Boston band's limited discography and brief, initial existence from 1979 to 1983, Mission of Burma has had a significant impact on contemporary sound. The group's shrewd ability to combine exploratory elements with compelling melodies has made them a remarkable musical force. In terms of stature and influence, Mission of Burma confidently stands alongside the considerable likes of Wire, Gang of Four, Television and Pere Ubu. The band's early dissolution, due largely to guitarist/vocalist Roger Miller's tinnitus, deprived music fans of a vital group.
Obstacles, including bassist/vocalist Clint Conley's longstanding retirement from music, gradually vanished in recent years. In early 2002, the band returned to the stage for a handful of shows and has continued to perform intermittently since then. The group reunited with firm intentions of creating new sounds, culminating in the recent release of its first album of new material in 22 years.
"We put together a show at Irving Plaza in New York and a couple of shows in Boston and they all sold out, and we were kind of intrigued, thinking let's do this a little bit more. It's actually really fun. One of Roger's demands, and I was really up for it too, is that he said, If we're going to play, I'm happy doing selected old songs, but I want to write new ones because otherwise it'll get stale awfully fast,'" says drummer/vocalist Peter Prescott.
With long-time friend and renowned producer/musician Bob Weston replacing the band's original tape manipulator, Martin Swope, the resulting disc, ONoffON, contains a wealth of muscular diversity, balancing discordance with tunefulness, echoing the incisiveness of the band's early work while sharpening a fresh, exhilarating edge.
"I think the songs might be a little slower, more bolted in place. There's just as much attack, but it's more aimed. There are differences. It's middle aged men playing this shit, not kids," says Prescott.