Monday, August 4, 2008

Landscape's Theory Of Relativity

Landscape were a London based synth-pop style group with more than a hint of contemporary jazz added to the mix. The group formed in 1975, the brainchild of Richard James Burgess (formerly with soft rock group Easy Street) who handled vocals/drums, with Andy Pask (bass), Chris Heaton (keyboards), John Walters (keyboards/woodwind) and Pete Thomas (keyboards/trombone) rounding out the eclectic line-up.

The band spent the second half of the 70s touring solidly throughout the U.K. and Europe, building up a strong supporter base in the process. They released a couple of EP’s in the late 70s, ‘U2XME1X2MUCH’ (short for ‘you two-timed me one time too much) in 1977, and ‘Worker’s Playtime’ in 1978, neither of which broke the band. 1979 saw them release their debut eponymous album which failed to find a wider audience. Actually the full title of their debut LP in some markets was ‘WUAG 103.1 Presents the Landscape’. Landscape reworked their sound soon after to focus more strongly on a straight synth-pop formula, more aligned to that of contemporaries such as Ultravox and Depeche Mode. Their 1981 sophomore album ‘From The Tearooms Of Mars To The Hellholes Of Uranus’ (UK#16) hit the mark with music buyers, aided in no small part by the single release ‘Einstein A Go-Go’. The song soared to #5 in the U.K. in early ‘81, also performing well across Europe. It didn’t crack the Australian singles charts but I do remember the song well, as it was included on a various artists compilation titled ‘In The Bag’ around the same time.

The follow up single ‘Norman Bates’ (UK#40) fell short of its predecessor’s efforts but there was reason to think that Landscape would be around for some time. The next album ‘Manhattan Boogie-Woogie’ featured a more dance oriented sound, which though gaining the band a new club following, worked against them in terms of mainstream commercial success. Soon after the release of their third album, Chris Heaton and Pete Thomas left the band. The trio of Burgess, Pask and Walters elected to carry on as a trio, renaming themselves Landscape III. Following two more single releases in 1983 with ‘So Good, So Pure, So Kind’ and ‘You Know How To Hurt Me’, neither of which charted, Landscape III parted ways to pursue greener pastures.

Burgess was the most notable of the Landscape alumni, going on to produce albums for Adam Ant, Shriekback (see future post), Spandau Ballet, Living In A Box, Visage (see previous post), and King. Burgess is widely credited with coining the term ‘New Romantic’ in reference to the music/fashion movement in Britain during the first half of the 80s. He has also written music theory books and had a strong role in the design and development of the first electronic drum kit. Walters also went into production, working with Swans Way and Kissing The Pink among others, before forging a career in graphic design going on to become editor of international journal Eye from 1999. For those of you familiar with the long running British TV drama ‘The Bill’, Andy Pask wrote the theme music.

Whilst Landscape may not have experienced significant longevity or commercial acclaim as a band, they did leave us with one of the more unique song (‘Einstein A Go-Go’) and album (‘From The Tearooms Of Mars To The Hellholes Of Uranus’) titles in pop music history.

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