the golden ratio
Ten stone classics from ACR’s illustrious history. By ANDREW PERRY.
Shack Up (Factory Benelux/Les Disques du Créspuscule 7-inch, 1980)
After Topping found Banbarra's 1975 deep-funk nugget on import, he and Moscrop, who'd both learnt trumpet at school, realised its horn part was just two notes. Thus arose ACR's otherworldly early-signature parp, on this pioneering altfloorfiller released by Factory's Belgian associates.
Flight (Factory 12-inch, 1980)
Like Isaac Hayes's Theme From Shaft beamed from Alien's lostin-spaceship, here's a Martin Hannett production masterpiece to rank alongside Joy Division's Atmosphere, its crackling snare and Jah Wobble-esque bass rumble leaving an audio chasm for awed listener contemplation.
Lucinda (from Sextet, Factory, 1982)
Possibly self-recorded as early as late 1980, this second-LP opener unveiled a newly feminised Ratio, with Martha Tilson's ethereal ‘demons and angels' keening as the wispy icing on a delectable pop-funk gâteau. The whole album, with flavours of samba, jazz-funk, disco and Manc weirdness, is a joy.
Wild Party (Factory 12-inch, 1985)
One of three non-album 12-inches unleashed after Topping's 1983 departure, while Jez Kerr bedded in as an airier vocal presence. Here, his melancholy mid-shindig wonderings exquisitely drift over a juddering electro beat, like a post-industrial Northern cousin of Kraftwerk's Ralf Hütter.
Won’t Stop Loving You (Bernard Sumner Mix) (from acr:mcr, A&M, 1990)
This solid-gold torch song, originally entitled The Big E (short for ‘elbow', honest), failed to register first time around, as its boat-party video had to be withdrawn following the Marchioness disaster. Enter Sumner, ladling on Italo-house pianos à la New Order's Technique.
Funk Off (from Change The Station, Robs Records, 1997)
After almost 20 years in the game, ACR felt less pressure to be dark or edgy, settling into their own classy groove. Here, they bust out a flat-out funk jam, topped with sassy brass and infectious flute riff. An alternative future as the post-baggy Booker T & The M.G.'s nearly beckoned.
Mind Made Up (from Mind Made Up, Soul Jazz, 2008)
Ratio's first album in 11 years dialled down the technology to explore rawer funky avenues. Over a simmering Papa Was A Rolling Stone pulse, the title track overlays Kerr's musings on open-mindedness with Moscrop's spaced wah wah and Denise Johnson's starsailing vocal improvisations.
Taxi Guy (from ACR Loco, Mute, 2020)
ACR's '20s comeback record climaxed with a Brazilian-style percussion workout which even puts 1981's Winter Hill and 1986's Si Firmir O Grido in the shade, careering from smouldering jazz, through samba party madness, into 303-bashing ‘acieeed' like no other band on earth.
Big Boy Pants (from ACR:EPR 12-inch, Mute, 2021)
Creatively firing after ACR Loco,
Kerr, Johnson and Moscrop kept the ball rolling to deliver more than another album's worth of excellent and mindbogglingly diverse music across three EPs, here evoking On-U Sound and Sabres-era Andrew Weatherall with a dub rib-rattler.
Afro Dizzy (from 1982, Mute, 2023)
While packing wry Factory-era references (A Trip In Hulme: “Have you had dinner? Yeah, from a skip”), this latest waxing points avowedly forward, with Afro Dizzy's delirious breakbeating ingeniously constructed around samples of Afrobeat drum legend Tony Allen, amid celestial cooing from 25-year-old Ellen Beth Abdi.