Music fans love a myth; all your favourite bands have some kind of legend and Protomartyr are no different. There’s been a question left unanswered for years: when are the Detroit band going to reissue their debut album, ‘No Passion All Technique’ Long since out of press and not on any streaming services, the post-punk outfit’s primary outing has become a collector’s item, going for absurdly high prices on Discogs. However, now the time has come for the album to see the light of day via a deluxe edition, including 4 songs which have never been released before.
The origin behind ‘No Passion All Technique’ is just as enthralling as the elusiveness of the album itself; decamping to the studio for the first time in November 2011, with one case of beer between the four members, Protomartyr didn’t know they were about to carve out their debut LP. With just four hours studio time, the Motor City band sprinted through a session that conceived 21 songs. ‘No Passion All Technique’ was released in October 2012 via the brilliantly titled Urinal Cake Records and then *poof* it disappeared. The band have since gathered a cult following due to their rough ‘n’ ready approach to rock ‘n’ roll, subsequently releasing a further 3 studio albums, an EP and a shit load of singles. Their debut album has always been the first episode in the band’s anthology, that only a few fans have witnessed, until now…
With only four hours to record, ‘No Passion All Technique’ sounds like an LP recorded against the clock, it bristles with a pent-up urgency; you can almost feel the band eyeing up a countdown clock in the studio, knowing they’ve got to make the most of their session. Mangled by bursts of frantic noise and vocalist Joe Casey’s stream of consciousness rambles, Protomartyr’s debut encapsulates a group fuelled by intensity and spontaneity. Not all songs sprint by at breakneck speed but the majority do and it’s this kind of virality that gives the record it’s unencumbered charm. Be it the rampant nuggets of ‘Ypsilanti’ and ‘(Don’t You) Call Me Out My Name’, the unhinged barrage of ‘Hot Wheel City’ or ‘Feral Cat’s serrated see-saw through glassy tones and twisted sonic detonations, this is the sound of a band figuring out who they are, as they go.
The four bonus tracks slot onto the end of the album with ease; there’s the dark poppy, surf guitar of ‘King Boots’ and ‘Bubba Helms’ antagonist assault that has Casey murmuring “I want to party in 1984” as a nasty racket ensues. ‘Cartier EGs’ is a mechanical march through deconstructed noise, while ‘Whatever Happened to the Saturn Boys’ finds Protomartyr romancing over a rebel gang as clouds of static swell and crackle like the they’re being coaxed out by a post-punk Thor.
Everything has an origin story, and this is Protomartyr’s; the myth, the legend, is here to be savoured, finally!
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams