Age of Chance:
formed in Leeds, England in the early 1980s.
setup was sparse; guitar, bass and two drums, supplemented with distortion,
echo and extreme treble frequencies. They created short, primitive soundtracks
to urban life. One shard became their debut single Motorcity
on their own Riot Bible label. Written, produced and
designed by the band. It became an instant underground staple and influential
radio DJ John Peel favourite.
Word grew of their uncompromising sound and attitude. Zig Zag magazine invited the band to contribute to the Gunfire & Pianos compilation of new blood. AOC sent down I Don’t Know And I Don’t Care, a cinematic kill thrill, lasting just 80 seconds. Their second single, Bible of the Beats, expanded their sonic palette, featuring a dense wall of sound recalling Glenn Branca’s Ascension, driven by a northern soul industrial beat. Live shows followed with compatriots Big Flame and Sonic Youth- the latter borrowing the group’s distinctive Burns Flyte guitars for their performance.
NME’s era-defining C86 collection was their next showcase. AOC used the album to further experiment with their new, broader sound. From Now On This Will Be Your God was a driving, relentless hurricane of dynamics and orchestrated frequencies. Described as sonic brutalism, it was one of the most forward-looking pieces on the collection and was used to close the album's first side.
The band made their London debut at the Institute of Contemporary Arts before recording their second John Peel radio-session, which included a last minute cover of Prince’s Kiss. After heavy spinning of bootlegs in discos across the country the group signed a one-off deal with Sheffield's FON (Fuck Off Nazi) label. The deal also introduced them to the graphic design team Designer’s Republic and thus began a highly influential creative relationship, still celebrated today.
Following their debut European tour, the sessions in Autumn '86 at Fon studios, proved to be a turning point, not least in their deployment of the newly developed Akai S900 sampler, considerably expanding the range of aural possibilities at their disposal. Morning After the Sixties and set-ender Disco Inferno were finally given the widescreen treatment they deserved, to create an echoing, six-track collection of rhythm collision.
Also recorded was the now legendary Kisspower, a 12" musical love-letter to the band's heroes. This was the first sample-fest of it's kind to see the light of day, beating the JAMMS 'All You Need is Love' and Coldcut's 'Say Kids, What Time Is It?' to the cutting-room by at least 6 months.
The success of Kiss started a bidding war for the band to move to a major label. After consideration, AOC Signed to Virgin Records, citing their support of Cabaret Voltaire, Mantronix and the Sex Pistols. Following a national tour, the band began recording their debut single, Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Noise, with On-U producer Howard Gray. The band created their own destruction / reconstruction Let There Be Sonic War Sculpture, which introduced turntablist DJ Powercut (aka Noel Watson- DJ at London's Delirium club), to their expanding sound. Powercut’s links with Def Jam and the NY scene, plus his love of old school breaks and the urban dance music (through the famous Delirium club in London), made him the perfect mixologist.
The summer saw AOC back in the lab creating their debut album, One Thousand Years of Trouble, arguably their finest moment. The album pulled together their early noise, underpinned by heavy Zep beats, b-boy rhythms and aural smash and grab. From the opening salvo of We Got Trouble and Don’t Get Mad… Get Even!, the band crammed the studio's 24 tracks to create a new world of sound. Its theme was This is Crush Collision, with its ‘Leeds, Detroit, Berlin, New York’ refrain. The LP closer, Learn to Pray, was a gospel-tinged warning of the social Cold War, split into heavy, funky movements with innovative breakdowns and a soaring ‘Hear what I say’ chorus.
new year highlighted AOC's connections in the changing world of music. Pre-Virgin,
AOC’s progress had been monitored by Rick Rubin’s
Def Jam, who were keen to sign what was seen as an experimental, dance oriented
guitar band. But with AOC signed worldwide to Virgin, a deal was done for
Public Enemy to remix Take It!-
the heaviest tune on One Thousand Years of Trouble. This was the first time
PE had ever worked with another group, let alone a British band with the sound
of AOC, and Chuck D brought the noise and the beats that made their debut
such an iconic set. “I wanted to bring the New York Hip Hop sound of
today to the tune", commented Chuck Later.