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[Off The Record]
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Fad Gadget

Under the alias Fad Gadget, UK performance artist Frank Tovey was the inaugural signing to pioneering label Mute. Long a footnote in the annals of degenerate pop, Tovey’s early-’80s primitive electronica connected the dots among no wave’s compact fury, dub-soaked post-punk, industrial, and the brittle funk of Factory records while serving as a gadfly to day-glo British pop. (Tovey’s influence on labelmates Depeche Mode was revealed by his recent stint as their opening act). And his staccato drum machine, dictatorial beats, two-bit keyboards, and white (hot) funk presaged the currents of electronic dance.

Tovey’s timeliness is apparent on this new collection of singles and rarities, most of which are difficult to distinguish from tracks by new artists like Adult. "Collapsing New People" is a meeting of the minds with guests Einstürzende Neubauten; both artists utilize industrial tools as musical utensils. On "Love Parasite," you can practically hear Marilyn Manson and Front 242 taking notes; the track’s 1982 remix is a precursor of house music, albeit a jaundiced strand. Some things are less memorable: only an emotionally repressed teenager in a raincoat could love Tovey’s joyless vocals, and his imprint on goth is unmistakable, if not inexcusable.


Issue Date: December 27, 2001 - January 3, 2001

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