Young Marble Giants sprang from what may have seemed like another planet, but was in fact that provincial flared jeans boogie rock town of Cardiff. It was this cultural isolation that allowed for YMG’s unique style, fostered in the belief no one would ever care. So despairing was leader Stuart Moxham of the band’s chances, after Rough Trade heard tracks on a compilation album and offered a 7” deal, Stuart agreed . . . but only if the band could record an entire album off that bat. To his amazement, Rough Trade agreed. That album, Colossal Youth was an instant classic, inspiring countless musicians to champion the album’s visionary otherworldliness - Kurt Cobain, David Byrne, REM and many others.
As YMG imploded, Stuart started The Gist, a group more theoretical than real. Members included Vivien Goldman, members of This Heat, Swell Maps, Essential Logic, and various Cardiff pals. One song, Love At First Sight, led to a French hit by Etienne Daho and a shoegaze version by Lush. Three singles and an album, Embrace The Herd, were released and performed well, but Stuart later revealed the debilitating anxieties and stresses of that era, including a long hospital stay after a near-fatal motorbike accident. More important, Stuart had no plan; he’d met his goals on his debut. The Gist was an attempt to create another sonic world, influenced by travel, Eno and dub. It was perplexing, and years passed before its originality was revered, via a lengthy Mojo piece, and reissues on Rykodisc, Cherry Red and 1974 Records. After David Byrne reunited Young Marble Giants to play Meltdown, Stuart re-emerged, admitting that after Rough Trade dropped him in their culling spree to make room for the likes of The Smiths, that he never bothered contacting new labels for a deal. Instead, he married, had kids . . . and recorded ceaselessly.
Those recordings are almost entirely unheard. An extensive trawl through miles of recording tape resulted in the discovery of hundreds of recordings of an unusually high standard. The first fruit of this archaeology is “Holding Pattern,” an unreleased album by The Gist which might have been Stuart’s follow-up to Colossal Youth, instead of the strange choice of the more tentative Embrace The Herd. The confidence of these tracks is bolstered by a closer adherence to pop song structure, despite the relentless sense of experimentation found in nearly every track. Had it been released in its time, several of the songs would be regarded as classics today and much of Stuart’s history would tell a different tale. There are plenty of surprises,; remarkably, it’s fresher and more full of brave ideas than anything new you’ll hear in 2017.