Photo by George Whiteside
Broken Social Scene? Tokyo Police Club? Holy Fucked Up?
No, the local combo that inspired the US hipster tipsheet to recently blow a gasket is obscure electro outfit Land of Giants. The influential music site says LOG's Cannibal Dolls is the highlight of Cold Wave and Minimal Electronics, Volume 1, a comp of mostly unknown early 80s European electronica that's just been released in the UK by Angular.
"The 1982 single features a playful, pinball rhythm that hints at the new wave movement that would follow even as Anya Varda's tense, strained vocal keeps it squarely within minimal synth's darkly paranoid tradition," gushes the ‘fork. "These songs may not have been popular in their day, but they won't soon be forgotten."
You'd be forgiven for not remembering Land of Giants. They only released one 12-inch single in a limited edition and never played live. Yet, for a short period during the summer of '82, Cannibal Dolls was all over Toronto airwaves, a radio hit on CFNY and a staple at new wave dance clubs like Voodoo and Nuts ‘n' Bolts. Imagine Depeche Mode fronted by Siouxsie Sioux.
The band looked like they had it made. Extremely photogenic vocalist Anya Varda was literally the queen of the Toronto art scene, having been crowned Miss General Idea of 1984. Songwriter Marc Wonnacott had previously been in the Biffs, an early Queen West band in the mode of the Dishes and Martha and the Muffins that also featured Carole Pope's younger brother How'rd Pope.
LOG's producer John Tucker owned one of the first Fairlights in the world, back when the $50,000 digital sampling synthesizer was only used by Frankie Goes To Hollywood svengali Trevor Horn. Esteemed fashion photographer George Whiteside provided the striking black and white shots of the band. Toronto Sun rock critic Jonathan Gross was their manager. Ultravox's Midge Ure and Visage's Rusty Egan were set to produce the album Polygram wanted to release internationally.
And then, like just about every other band in the history of the Canadian music industry, nothing happened. It's taken almost 30 years for the world to catch up to Land of Giants.
"When we started the Land of Giants project, we never thought we'd be a foot note in a greater musical history, or have a part in creating a genre," says LOG's Wonnacott who's also put together a compilation of the band's never-issued tracks.
"It's nice to know that my misspent youth continues to inspire a new generation to misspend theirs."[rssbreak]