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Music / This Heat Album

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The self-titled debut album by experimental rock group This Heat was released in 1979. Known unofficially as "Blue and Yellow" in reference to its Minimalistic Cover Art, the album compiles recordings made by the band between 1976 and 1978, in a variety of different locations, including their studio space Cold Storage.

A raw, harrowing mixture of droning soundscapes, noisy tape collages and improvised live performance, the album's uncompromising, non-commercial sound failed to reach a mass audience upon its release, but nonetheless received great critical acclaim, thanks to long-time support from DJ John Peel, and has since become regarded as a key influence on the Post-Punk / experimental music scene.



Side A (Blue)
  1. "Testcard" (0:45)
  2. "Horizontal Hold" (6:56)
  3. "Not Waving" (7:25)
  4. "Water" (3:10)
  5. "Twilight Furniture" (5:06)

Side B (Yellow)

  1. "24 Track Loop" (5:56)
  2. "Diet of Worms" (3:09)
  3. "Music Like Escaping Gas" (3:40)
  4. "Rainforest" (2:55)
  5. "The Fall of Saigon" (5:09)
  6. "Testcard" (1:17; vinyl version finishes on an never-ending loop)

Music like escaping tropes:

  • Album Intro Track: "Testcard (Blue)" on This Heat, 47 seconds of high pitched electrical noise which is interrupted without warning by "Horizontal Hold".
  • Boléro Effect: Done in a restrained way on "Not Waving", which builds up from nearly inaudible synth noises to an oppressive soundscape of guitar feedback, Mellotron drone, and mournful clarinet, all without any percussion whatsoever. When combined with the despairing vocals, the overall effect is similar to watching a ghost slowly come into view.
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  • Bookends: The two versions of "Testcard" that open and close the album, the latter directly segueing out of "The Fall of Saigon".
  • Creepy Monotone: All of the vocals are sung this way.
  • Darker and Edgier: It's easily the band's darkest album, and was probably one of the darkest rock albums ever made when it came out.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The narrators of "Not Waving" and "The Fall of Saigon" are well past the line.
  • Downer Ending: It's hard to think of a darker, more depressing album closer than "The Fall of Saigon". Even with how bleak the rest of the album is, the final suite of tracks just feels like the end of the world.
  • Drone of Dread: About half of this album consists of this.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Horizontal Hold" serves this purpose on the album, and was also typically the first song the band played whenever they performed live.
  • Epic Rocking: "Horizontal Hold" (6:56), "Not Waving" (7:26), "24 Track Loop" (5:56).
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Not to the same extent as Deceit, but Gareth Williams still found a way to incorporate things like pots, pans, and malfunctioning sound equipment into the band's palette.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The characters in "The Fall of Saigon" start by eating their cat and then get more desperate.
    "We ate the TV
    We ate the armchair
    We ate the telephone
    We ate the cellophane"
  • Fading into the Next Song: "Rainforest" into "The Fall of Saigon" into "Testcard (Yellow)".
  • Fascists Bedtime: "Twilight Furniture" mentions it with the line "Ceasefire ends at midnight, curfew starts at 10."
  • Genre-Busting: This Heat's experimental tendencies are on full display here. The tracklist ranges from droning soundscapes, to hard instrumental rock, to straight up noise, to completely unclassifiable pieces like "The Fall of Saigon". It arguably invented at least one new genre too; "24 Track Loop" is sometimes cited as the first IDM song.
  • Horrible History Metal: "The Fall of Saigon", though the event it describes was only four years old at the time the song came out.
  • Instrumentals: This is a largely instrumental album, with only "Not Waving", "Twilight Furniture", "Music Like Escaping Gas" and "The Fall of Saigon" containing any vocals.
  • Literary Allusion Title: "Not Waving" to the poem "Not Waving but Drowning" by Stevie Smith.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Ranges all the way from a 1 ("Not Waving", though don't take that to mean it's a light listen) to a hard 8 ("Horizontal Hold"). "Rainforest" goes right off the scale.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Charles Hayward actually wrote "The Fall of Saigon" in a rush after watching news coverage of the eponymous event being followed by a fluff piece about a cat drinking whiskey and being struck by the contrast.
  • Sampling: One of the first bands to make this a major part of their sound, in part due to Williams' experiments with tape.
  • Suicide by Sea: The narrator of "Not Waving" feels so overwhelmed by the modern world that they decide to swim out into the ocean and not come back.
  • Surreal Horror: The album has a simultaneously absurdist and oppressively dark tone.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Hayward and Bullen do what few vocals there are largely in unison. The whole band sings on "The Fall of Saigon", giving the song an effect like a funeral dirge.
  • War Is Hell: "Twilight Furniture" and "The Fall of Saigon" are both about this, though rather obliquely. "Twilight Furniture" is about the constant paranoia of impending nuclear war, while "The Fall of Saigon" is a Surreal Horror portrayal of the eponymous event.

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