Learning To Cope With Cowardice, the groundbreaking debut solo
album by visionary post-punk iconoclast Mark Stewart, is to be given a
definitive reissue alongside The Lost Tapes, a newly discovered
cache of unreleased material - described by Mark and Adrian Sherwood as
distinct primitivism. After disbanding The Pop Group in the wake of a
final performance at a momentous CND rally in 1980, Stewart had grown
disillusioned with the UK’s music industry.
Above the constructed chaos Stewart remains a commanding and
mercurial presence, sitting at extreme boundaries within the mix and
wrestling with themes of alienation, doubt, power, and political
resistance. From the thunderous distortions of the eponymous
introduction through the mixing desk sabotage and visions of urban
blight on Liberty City to the sublime subversion of Jerusalem (an unforgettable rendition of William Blake’s poem) Learning To Cope With Cowardice
is a blast of volatile soundsystem music for modern dystopias, the ones
we knew back then and the ones we know now. The backdrop in which
Stewart and Sherwood produced the record was one of pressure and unrest,
an atmosphere driven by severe social deprivation and unemployment,
Cold War disquiet and fears of nuclear conflict. Exemplifying its
pertinence to the temper of the time, the recordings that comprise
Learning To Cope With Cowardice were shaped by sessions that Stewart and
Sherwood conducted at the studio HQ of anarcho-punk outfit Crass,
wildly creative stints that coincided with the riots that erupted in
Bristol, London and across other areas of the UK in 1980 / 81.
Alongside this faithful reissue of the original comes The Lost Tapes,
a collection that represents the outcome of a painstaking search and
arrangement of previously unheard material. Brought together into a
sequence of embryonic prototypes, frenzied dub versions and new archive
discoveries, The Lost Tapes chronicles the early ideas and
unknown stories that defined the outset of Stewart and Sherwood’s vastly
influential work together. With the seething assault of Intro the collection provides a glimpse into a project Stewart originally intended for William Burroughs whilst May I
presents a never-before-heard spectacle of raw dubwise disorder
recently discovered on an unmarked tape in an archive in France.
Learning To Cope With Cowardice is a vital chapter in the
legacy of Mark Stewart and The Maffia, a project that would prove to be a
revolutionary benchmark for many, from the innovators of the ‘Bristol
Sound’ (The Wild Bunch, Smith & Mighty, Tricky, Massive Attack)
through to the likes of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. Collected
together this set realizes an expansive restoration of one of Stewart’s
most audacious statements. As it was in the early 1980s so it is now, Learning To Cope With Cowardice is a masterwork of mutant design and a rude awakening of extraordinary bite.
2LP - Double Black Vinyl with Insert.