A Certain Ratio Sextet

As all eyes turned to disco-punk as the hot new musical commodity last year, it seemed fitting that in the middle of the hoopla, new wave-era death-disco act A Certain Ratio finally received their due. Though they never released a truly classic album and were forever shadowed by their decidedly less funky but equally dark Factory label-mates, Joy Division, A Certain Ratio (named after a Brian Eno composition) were nevertheless a rhythmically groundbreaking unit on par with Liquid Liquid and 23 Skidoo. Sextet, their 1982 sophomore album, is a tighter, more focused affair than their slightly superior (if not more self-indulgent) debut, To Each…, that is nevertheless not without its merits. The more dominant presence of Martha Tilson’s vocals complements Simon Topping’s Ian Curtis-like monotone to give the band a somewhat airier, more soulful feel, and the added attention to African rhythms only slightly relieves their trademark tension. Overall, this is a strong ACR album from start to finish, and the last one before the group became completely immersed in cheesy neo-soul leanings. However, there’s no "Felch” or "The Fox” (two standouts found on To Each…) and nothing as instantly grabbing as early singles like "Flight” or "Shack Up,” so it’s probably not the best starting place for newcomers and therefore only recommended for true ACR and Factory fans. (Soul Jazz)