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Alternative & Indie - Released September 25, 2020 | Mute

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A Certain Ratio headed toward the making of their first album in a dozen years fired up by fruitful touring, involvement in an extensive reissue campaign capped with ACR: Box, and remixes commissioned by Mute labelmates ranging from fellow Manchester post-punk Barry Adamson to Maps. Perhaps these developments are part of why ACR Loco is freer in spirit and lighter in touch than their previous LP, Mind Made Up. While ACR could be forgiven for feeling the weight of a 40-year history, there's a spring in their step, one that lasts long after the descriptively titled "Bouncy Bouncy" (which could also be an apt, if a bit too silly, title for the album). They're as comfortable with referring to their past -- all phases, especially the tender-hearted moments fronted by Jeremy Kerr, and the more exploratory aspects of their 1981-1985 12" releases -- as they are with exhibiting old and new inspirations. "Bouncy Bouncy" incorporates tumbling go-go drums and a Man-Machine-era Kraftwerk melody. "Yo Yo Gi" quotes the early Detroit techno of Cybotron and seems to feed back from the DFA label's ACR-inspired moves. There's even an acid-laced Brazilian percussion workout to finish. And yet it's all put together in a way that only A Certain Ratio could possibly manage. The lithe, Balearic-meets-bayou funk of "Get a Grip" could be heard as a salute to the late and beloved ACR fanatic Andrew Weatherall, given its likeness to Primal Scream's Weatherall-produced "Screamadelica" (the track more so than the like-titled LP). Then again, it's a continuation of what the band did three decades earlier on ACR: MCR, which showed Weatherall and company the way forward, all the way down to the recruitment of Denise Johnson as lead vocalist. That Weatherall and Johnson both died unexpectedly earlier in 2020 makes the moment bittersweet, but "Get a Grip" suggests continuous forward motion and eternal optimism, augmented by Johnson-like potency from guest vocalist Maria Uzor. The Sink Ya Teeth member is among the several guests who appear in unobtrusive fashion, almost as if they're trying out for a role in the band rather than making a featured appearance. Johnson is also in the mix, as valuable as ever to ACR. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 13, 2021 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 2, 2021 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 3, 2019 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 7, 2021 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1982 | Mute

Released the same year as their debut, Sextet upped the energy of A Certain Ratio's dour minimalist dance, with cursory nods to even soul and funk from vocalist Martha Tilson. For the most part, though, the electronics and rhythms are still curiously apart from song structure, making for an oddly distanced record. © Keith Farley /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1980 | Mute

The angular, bass-heavy post-punk of A Certain Ratio could conceivably be compared to that of their Factory labelmates Joy Division (singer Simon Topping is a dead ringer vocally for Joy Division's Ian Curtis). One key difference is that A Certain Ratio has a more pronounced funk influence, which makes their music more danceable. Another difference is that Topping's lyrics, more abstract and even humorous (albeit in a dark, quirky way) are less dramatic than Curtis'. The Graveyard and the Ballroom, compiled from a collection of early four-track recordings and a set of live tracks, shows off A Certain Ratio's strengths well. The sound is surprisingly good for such lo-fi recordings, and the band is, for all of their musical amateurishness, rather precise and controlled. Unfortunately, that highlights a key flaw of the album: Too often, it is accomplished enough to be intriguing, but never all that gripping. By emphasizing rhythm over melody, A Certain Ratio makes music that is interesting and danceable, but not hugely compelling. It's mechanically well-played, with quirky, interesting lyrics that never really seem to add up to anything more than an attention-grabbing sound. Nonetheless, those seeking an idiosyncratic, interesting art-funk band can do no wrong with this release, even if it ultimately falls short of any meaning beyond quirky experimentalism. © Victor W. Valdivia /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 15, 1981 | Mute

For A Certain Ratio's debut album, the group dropped much of the bleak dance-punk of early material in place of what sounds like a shallow attempt to seize the baton dropped by gloom giants Joy Division after the death of Ian Curtis. Though Simon Topping's trumpet work occasionally lifts To Each over the crop of contemporary synth-popsters, the album is a bit too mired in its own misery to make an impression on listeners. © Keith Farley /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 1, 1982 | Mute

Following the new wave classic Sextet, this Manchester/New York post-punk funk unit's third album, I'd Like to See You Again, points toward a more minimal, stripped-down funk sound. This was apparently influenced heavily by the New York club scene of the early '80s, in which A Certain Ratio immersed themselves following their formation in Manchester. The departure of vocalist Martha Tilson left the band working in a more rhythmic instrumental approach, eschewing the pop forms of Sextet and focusing on a harder electro-funk sound. While this revealed the influence of time spent in club culture and marked a radical departure from the melancholy Manchester sound of their previous albums, the band kept their melodic passages intact, which created a tension between bright and dark moods that was the striking characteristic of their best work. The fact that this album fared well on the dancefloor some 20 years after its release may indicate that A Certain Ratio was ahead of their time. Their influence could be heard cropping up in strains of the Brit-pop, techno, post-rock, and house of the late '90s. Hence, I'd Like to See You Again is an album that deserves a revisit. Essential listening for fans of the Factory sound that spawned the British club sound exemplified by New Order and the New York wave of minimal funk groups, like Liquid Liquid and ESG. © Skip Jansen /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 23, 2018 | Mute

Alternative & Indie - Released October 12, 2018 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 1986 | Mute

A Certain Ratio's Force, even though it was released some years after their previous full-length, I'd Like to See You Again, was still something of a transitional effort, being simultaneously the studio debut of sax player Tony Quigley and the curtain call of keyboardist Andy Connell, the latter having started to gain mainstream success via Swing Out Sister. As a snapshot of where A Certain Ratio had ended up following their starker but still danceable earlier years, Force is definitely a slicker production all around -- Jeremy Kerr's vocals, if hardly smooth soul in a conventional sense, are clearer than ever, while the general feeling of songs like "Only Together" and "Mickey Way" is something that's far more Level 42 than Section 25. It's definitely a record of its time as a result -- the sometimes airless, compressed production often fights against more inspired individual elements song for song, like Quigley's layered brass break on "Bootsy," one of the album's highlights and clearly a bit of a nod to the legendary P-Funk bassist. But Donald Johnson's drumming and Martin Moscrop's multi-instrumental work remain hyperactive and sometimes subtly surprising, and at the album's best, such as "Fever 103" and "Anthem," both with beautifully moody verses set against a big soaring chorus, A Certain Ratio find the perfect balance between their understated impulses and their desire to take it large. LTM's 2010 reissue of the album adds a couple of bonus tracks: "The Runner," an extra cut (from an Italian EP released that year) that brings in a lot of scraggly feedback underneath a crisp arrangement; and Severed Heads member Robert Racic's echo-heavy reworking of "Bootsy," done for an Australian single release. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1997 | Mute

Arriving six years after Up in Downsville, Change the Station finds A Certain Ratio in top form, working from a dance-pop foundation and adding flourishes of Madchester funk and ambient house. This time around, vocalists Denise Johnson and Lrona Bailey dominate the proceedings, and their soulful singing gives the songs dimension, helping make Change the Station a genuine return to form. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 25, 2018 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 2008 | Mute

Originally released by a French label in 2008 and then re-released with an extra track by LTM Records two years later, Mind Made Up, A Certain Ratio's ninth studio release (not counting compilations and other similar efforts), found the group in creative health while approaching 30 years of work and beyond. With Denise Johnson on board to contribute vocals on a number of tracks, the band, still driven at its core by performers like Martin Moscrop, Jez Kerr, and the inimitable Donald Johnson, seems to have returned to full action at just the right moment thanks to a decade's worth of re-appreciation of its darkly inclined punk and funk fusions. That said, a great thing about Mind Made Up is that it feels more like them keeping on rather than trying to stake out a space in a crowded musical landscape. There's an excellent, immediate opening track in "I Feel Light," its tightly wound riff and punchy rhythmic crispness as clear a calling card as ever for the group, but at the same time there's a further ominousness in the arrangement that feels well earned by this point. It's a combination explored at a number of further instances on the disc, such as "Very Busy Man" and the title track, but doesn't define it entirely. On "Rialto 6," the group creates what almost could be a spy movie theme in the classic '60s sense, while Denise Johnson's work on "Down Down Down" adds further pep to the clavinet-led arrangement. Other moments twisting expectations include the almost Durutti Column-like "Teri" and the swinging stomp and clatter of "Bird to the Ground." © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 1, 1992 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 6, 2021 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 20, 2021 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 3, 2019 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1989 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)