Dublin's All City Records continue their deep dive into early Irish electronica, jazz, rock and experimental music with the latest release on the AllChival imprint.
A lost gem from 1982 'Miss Mauger' is the debut LP of Operating Theatre, a little known proto synth-pop act and experimental theatre group led by avant garde composer Roger Doyle.
Featuring the vocals of future Hollywood actress Olwen Fouéré alongside pulsing synths, brass, a vocoder and the electro acoustic production talents of Doyle himself, it's the first time a Fairlight sampler was used in an Irish studio setting and gives a prescient but alternative take on the new wave sound that came to dominate the charts soon after.
Not quite pop nor full-blown electronica, the 'Miss Mauger' album is a rare creature in the pantheon of Irish experimental music, largely ignored and misunderstood when it was first released, it's now getting the full reissue treatment it deserves – with two extra tracks thrown in for good measure. 'Austrian', which was originally release as an A-side by CBS records in 1981 and 'Sir Geoffrey', another recording from that era by the short-lived group.
Operating Theatre's short existence as a recording group fizzled out after the act were signed to U2's embryonic Mother label. Only one more vinyl release followed and the group went their separate ways apart from sporadic collaborations. Doyle, the musical maverick at the heart of the act, continues to produce to this day and has released 30 albums Fouéré, who provided the vocals and a theatric element to the group (an almost essential part of any early 80s synth act) went on to a successful movie career that has recently seen her appear in major box office productions like Mandy and Fantastic Beasts.
This album is a heady snapshot of some early pop explorations by one of the great modern composers and a rare insight into an underground new wave sound that was bubbling up through the Irish capital during the late 70s and early 80s.
Cut from the same DIY or almost post punk cloth as our recent reissues of Stano and Michael O'Shea, this is another example of a maverick artist producing largely instrumental work far removed from the mainstream pop industry or what little of it existed in the country at the time. Defiant outsiders following their own distinct paths but Doyle's work especially acts as a precursor to the new wave and synth inspired movement that's starting to gain traction around him.
Ships with extended liner notes.