In The Marshes EP is the third in a series of re-releases of the somewhat ahead-of-their time post punk group For Against. Hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska in the United States, the early music from the group is proof that geographical location didn't preclude musical innovation. Originally recorded on a four-track during the same time period as their debut Echelons, the six songs on this release are easily among their most dark and more experimental songs to date.
Perhaps the freedom of recording a batch of songs that weren't intended to really fit together on an album loosened the reigns on instrumentation a bit, because both synths and drum machine make a more prominent appearance on the In The Marshes EP. Opening track "Tibet" eases into things softly with three minutes of delayed guitar ringing, breathy, wordless vocals, and a repeating synth line while "Amnesia" ups the anxiety level a bit with repetitive drum machine programming, rippling guitar harmonics, and almost chanted choruses that layer in live drumming and brittle guitar melodies.
The middle section of the release includes a couple of For Against's best songs to date. "The Purgatory Salesman" is ruthlessly dark, with feedback squalls from Dingman's guitar rippling through the marching rhythm of the song. "Amen Yves" finds the group getting a bit more dancy, with a more minimal, but great work from Dingman playing out over the top of a rhythm section that calls to mind early New Order. "Fate" finds Runnings at his more confessional on vocals, and the music behind him follows suit, with an edgy, but slightly triumphant feel that finds the trio at their best.
In addition to the original six songs, the remastered EP features live-in-studio versions of both "Amnesia" and "Amen Yves," with drum machines replaced by the live drumming of Greg Hill. Recorded on a two-track, they're even more rough than the album tracks (which have quite a few rough edges recording-wise as well), but do offer up slightly more urgent takes than the originals. Like all the other For Against re-releases on the Words On Music label, the packaging on this one is lovely. The last new release from the group (the bland Coalesced) came out clear back in 2002, but with a new album on the way in the near future, here's hoping they've looked deep into their past for inspiration.