#tbt Mission of Burma / Signals, Calls, and Marches (1981)

By Randy Nieto
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Mission of Burma is typically categorized as a post punk, and that would be an accurate assessment. They emerged shortly after the birth of the punk, post punk, and new wave movement of the late 70’s and early 80’s. But when you listen to them, it becomes obvious. These guys invented post punk, post rock, and grunge. Yes, the grunge music your pappy listened to. Bands like Nirvana, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Pixies. But how? The musical tributaries that fed bands throughout history are varied and sprawling, and Mission of Burma isn’t the only major influence. The persistent and fast drum attack, the  screeching and howling guitar, the bass lines that sometimes double as guitar leads, each of these qualities many bands imitated for years after hearing Mission of Burma for the first time.  And last, but definitely not least, the passionate and heartbroken vocals, screaming for social justice and torn down lovers. And it’s the passion that really becomes the central theme for every aspect of this band. Not to mention their passion for art, that is not only evident in some of their songs (Max Ernst), but in the instrumentation of their music. I’m not sure bands like Tortoise or Boards of Canada would have existed in their same incarnation if it wasn’t for Mission of Burma. That said, MOB are a punk band at heart, and Red is a pretty good example of their musical sensibilities. Check it out below.

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