Checking Up on Medical Records' Healthiest Specimens (So Far)
CHRISMA, Chinese Restaurant (originally released in 1977). Italian wife/husband duo Chrisma dropped this new-wave bomb during punk's peak. Most people slept on it at the time (including me; hey, the US and UK music press did a great job of ignoring Italy's thriving music scene in those dark, pre-internet days), but you're too sensible to do so now. Chrisma peddle sexy, sleazy synth rock that will tickle the fancies of Blondie and Stranglers fans. However, the single "Black Silk Stocking" somehow foreshadows Eurotrashy house diva Miss Kittin, while "C.Rock" zips down the freeway with Neu!-like efficiency and stoic joy. The powerfully clenched "What For" even evokes Bay Area contemporaries Chrome. Medical quickly sold out of Chinese Restaurant's original 500-quantity run, then pressed more copies. Now that second pressing is dwindling. Don't sleep!
DEUTSCHE WERTARBEIT, Deutsche Wertarbeit (originally released in 1981). Deutsche Wertarbeit (aka Dorothea Raukes) recorded for the venerated Sky label (home to Cluster, Conrad Schnitzler, Harald Grosskopf, Michael Rother, and many other krautrock legends). She was one of the few women to play a prominent role in Germany's fecund progressive-music scene of the '70s and '80s. Deutsche Wertarbeit displays Raukes's exceptional melodic touch; she can get expansive à la Tangerine Dream's Phaedra or wax winsome like Cluster's Zuckerzeit and Wolfgang Riechmann's Wunderbar without blatantly emulating those artists. Dramatically arpeggiated and angelically sighing synths lend Deutsche Wertarbeit a glorious, schlock-free cinematic scope.
DER PLAN, Geri Reig (originally released in 1980). Der Plan's debut is a Neue Deutsche Welle (German new wave) klassik. This is the craziest, most unpredictable record in Medical's catalog to date. "Geri Regi" is a mock-reggae tune with baby-voiced babble, like something you might hear at a Kingston, Jamaica, circus while sloshed on rum. By contrast, "Persisches Cowboy-Golf" is as sinister as Mort Garson's Black Mass LP. The album's 13 other brief tracks throb and wobble between these poles, casting creepy, oblong shadows across your brain. "Hans und Gabi" and "San José Car Muzak," in particular, are mindfucks of tone warpage and melodic delirium. Geri Reig is the soundtrack to an equilibrium-upsetting party.