THE ART OF speaking someone else's language: Propaganda's Ralf Dorper's tersely enunciated English verbs boom and echo around a sparsely furnished room adjacent to the Island Records canteen (plate of food 10/6, price includes spoon).

His conversation is best described as non-dithering – a state which equates with an exactitude in Propaganda's music, or rather their records (Ralf: "We make records rather than music") which some might interpret as chilliness but which appeals to me through its very lack of clutter or randomness. They sound nice too! Concise pop records. Concise records about pop.

Ralf: "We are working with music in a different way. It might be more economical or disciplined (than other groups). And we are conscious of what we do. We are part of the machinery and we want to use the machinery. (As opposed to the machinery using them.) The machinery is getting a record out, promoting it, touring. going back to the studio – all this what people have lived for a long time. Having maybe one good idea then repeating it till the death of the idea. It is not what we are doing.

"It is a problem that most of the audience are used to this kind of music, they don't bother if people don't change. They (the audience) expect them (the groups) not to change because the people want to know what they are to get. If you are the audience and you have to follow something that's changing every time, it demands something. It is much easier just to sit down and consume. We want to have the people consume us but also to follow us if we go in very different directions."

Two records with Propaganda in common: 'Dr Mabuse' and 'Duel'. The first a grand opus of Wagneresque aspirations, the second a calm piece of studied emotion. And the key to their difference is...

To continue reading this article and to discover many more (over 140,000 words-worth!), purchase Mick Sinclair’s Adjusting the Stars: Music journalism from post-punk London. 



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