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Portion Control are a British electronic and industrial band formed in London in 1980. The band calls its music style electropunk or hard rhythmic electronics. They are one of the most famous obscure electronic music acts in the world and have been honoured and name checked by the likes of Depeche Mode, Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, NiN & Orbital

Having made a stylish return to the electronic underground with the album Wellcome in 2004, industrial act Portion Control now delivers a timely retrospective box set for collectors. Here we find 5 CDs of which appears to be the vast majority of their vinyl back catalogue work - plus extras - for the first time available in digital format. The material includes the bands early albums and EPs spread over the first 4 discs, with a limited edition bonus CD including high quality MP3s of everything included on the initial 4 discs, plus a remix of the track Refugee Rebuild by Rhys Fulber and 135 past & present related images of the band.

Disc one focuses on the 1982 album I Staggered Mentally, accompanied by the EP Hit The Pulse, which was released the following year. This is the rough template from which many industrial bands were influenced, and to some extent copied – notably two of the genres most successful and original protaganists, Front Line Assembly and Skinny Puppy, alongside the hard rhythmic electronics of Depeche Mode.

I Staggered Mentally is as raw an electronic album as you could possibly find, focusing around Dean Piavani’s anguished vocals set to an urban-industrial backing track of creaking metal, maudlin drones, primitive beats and alienating analogue flickers.It also is considered the first album to feature the legendary roland bass line TB-303 On the Hit The Pulse EP, Portion Control’s sound becomes more refined and sophisticated, although still completely out on a ledge for its time. This is the band’s first movement towards critical acceptance – with tracks like Thrust Angle showing innovation through its primitive sampling and sequencing methods – the music shaped by much cleaner beats and bass lines, although the heavily rhythmic bruise of the excellent Abbodabbo retained their leanings towards intense musical masochism.

Disc Two, titled Code002, features Portion Control’s final albums of the eighties before their lengthy semester, Step Forward (1984) and Psycho-Bod Saves The World (1986). Personally, this is where I find Portion Control at the peak of their powers – an amalgamation of purist industrial music, now shaped into songs rather than atmospheres – with marching rhythms and melodic passages. On Step Forward, we find classic tracks such as Havoc Man, with its edgy sequenced bass line and New Order-style synth-stabs, Piavani is on top form here vocally. There is also a number of creaking instrumental atmospheric numbers here – Eno antidotes I call them. The song Tex Mex is another blinder – I’m leaning towards the more melodic tracks – but you can see how easy and perhaps tempting it would have been for Portion Control to drop their principles and enter the synthpop mainstream fray – Depeche Mode for one said “thanks very much” – took what they could then amalgamated it into their synthpop universe.

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