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The Politics Of Envy


At the end of 2011, a year of riots, revolutions, occupations and an increasing collapse of the global financial system, Mark Stewart returned with the limited 7" of Children Of The Revolution, perfectly capturing the restless mood on today's streets worldwide to create the apocalyptic dancehall mutation of T. Rex's glam classic. His new album, The Politics Of Envy, features a stellar cast, including original Clash/PiL guitarist Keith Levene, NYC punk innovator Richard Hell, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Gina Birch of The Raincoats, Slits bassist Tessa Pollitt, Jesus And Mary Chain bassist Douglas Hart, Factory Floor, Daddy G of Massive Attack and all of Primal Scream. All roads have been leading to this. The Politics Of Envy cages, consolidates and hotwires the rampant barrage of elements which have infused Mark Stewart's work since his first band, The Pop Group blasted the post-punk landscape. "Vanity Kills" kicks off the album with cult film-maker Kenneth Anger on Theremin, plus Richard Hell and Bristol new-blood Kahn. Followed by "Autonomia," featuring Bobby Gillespie's frenetic call-and-response chant with Stewart, who wrote the song about Carlo Giuliani, killed at the 2001 G8 demonstrations in Genoa. Lee "Scratch" Perry guests on "Gang War," spitting diamonds, with Tessa Pollitt blanketing the dense, heavyweight urban dubscape, before Stewart takes us into the slo-mo cold-wave of "Codex." Joined by Factory Floor and Youth for "Want," Stewart then hits us with the album's fine example of 21st-century schizoid wall-of-sound, "Gustav Says." Railing against "corporate cocksuckers" and declaring "sanity sucks" on the cool disco-electro track "Baby Bourgeois," we're then taken into the huge, seething synth-crawl of "Method To The Madness," providing one of the album's atmospheric highlights, gouging beyond industrial or dubstep to create a frightening new take on modern mood music. Daddy G's unmistakable deep-throat intonations make the perfect garnish for the bleak, heaving whale of a tune, that is "Apocalypse Hotel." Being mutual fans of their work, Stewart gives us his version of David Bowie's "Letter To Hermione," now a spookily-orchestrated, beatless lament. Stewart turns on the light and lets Keith Levene unleash some of his inimitable metal guitar jangle on "Stereotype." They are joined by Factory Floor and Gina Birch on this slice of gorgeously-melancholic brilliance, an effortless modern pop classic which provides the perfect end to this intoxicatingly provocative set of songs. Continuing an unmatchable track record of anarchic pioneering and seismic influence, Mark Stewart is back with his eighth album and what must be his most high-profile project to date, reasserting him as one of the great volcanic creative minds.