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The Anthology
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  • Personnel: John Disco (vocals, guitar, piano, synthesizer, bass guitar); Sci-Fi Steven (vocals, guitar, synthesizer, bass guitar, drums); Manda Rin (vocals, recorder, synthesizer, cowbells); Jim Brady, Andy Gill (guitar, keyboards).
  • Liner Note Author: James McMahon .
  • Emerging seemingly out of thin air in the late '90s, Scottish trio bis grabbed the attention of an elite group including John Peel, the Beastie Boys, and legions of fans ravenous for their bizarre mix of electropop beats and punk cheerleader histrionics along with a larger-than-life, often cartoon-rendered image. In their prime, bis's main medium was the bite-sized single. Along with several proper albums, bis managed to release more than a dozen 7"s, 12"s, and EPs of their infectious blend of Huggy Bear-inspired shouts and New Order-esque backdrops of electronics and loud guitars, covers often adorned with scrappily drawn likenesses of the band and a cut-and-paste aesthetic lifted straight from the D.I.Y. fanzines of the era. Their strange path of activity over the years included a breakup around 2003, a quick reorganization/relabeling as Data Panik, solo work from singer Manda Rin, and a reunion around the end of the 2000s, all bringing us to The Anthology: 20 Years of Antiseptic Poetry. This 42-song compilation tackles the nearly impossible job of synopsizing bis's ever-winding path, cherry-picking the best examples of their late-'90s singles, Peel Sessions recordings, unreleased demos, and even songs recorded in 2014 in their newly reactivated state. Energetic, bratty blasts like "This Is Fake D.I.Y.," a rough live take on "Kill Your Boyfriend," and a Peel Session version of "Kandy Pop" showcase the band in a full-on dance-punk mode that predated Le Tigre by a few years. More dance-friendly selections come in the form of older tracks like "Eurodisco," but the freshly recorded "Keep Your Darkness" also owes more to Depeche Mode than Bikini Kill. Plentiful unreleased tracks will keep fanatics happy, and though the entire collection might be a bit exhaustive for a newcomer, it trims away all the excess distractions and quickly gets to the burning, noisy heart of their sound at its best. ~ Fred Thomas
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