Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I'm not always one for the '80s-inspired, Joy-Division-poseur camp (cf. my feelings that Interpol is completely insufferable and borderline unlistenable), but this is a special, spectral record that deserves some wider attention. Although they'd been around the Los Angeles South Bay area since 1983 (releasing an impossible-to-find 12" 45 album with connections to SST), this self-titled disc from 1988 is Wog's sole artistic statement. A duo consisting of Aret Madilian, a Turkish-born Armenian who emigrated to L.A., and the dubiously-named Ari Excel, Wog were far more than wannabes. Influenced by '80s greats, they convert - and sometimes subvert - the idiom to great effect. Madilian is a multi-instrumentalist who created most of the multi-layered musical underpinnings, while Excel sang and played bass.

The cover broadcasts the enigmatic nature of the music, which exists in a hazy dusk of synthesizer arpeggios. Even so, Wog took their name from a Stranglers song, though the band had little in common with the rockier elements of their namesake providers. Instead, they lay down a darkwave minefield that explodes with creativity on every track.

Issued by what was seemingly their own private label, Claudestine Records, Wog [Claudestine 01] appears to be the label's only release, and a worthy entry into the missing-link minimal/darkwave canon.

Madilian currently lives in France and fronts the haunting, fragile Delavan. Meanwhile, nothing can be found regarding Excel, indicating that this was, in fact, a nom de musique - although the anagrammatically-named Air Excel is the Tanzanian national airline, inviting speculation that Madilian's partner was perhaps similarly repatriated...?

Go Wog. . .


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