Since returning from their near-twenty-year hiatus, these cult Boston avant-punks have set about proving the impossible – that a reunion can actually deliver the creative goods. First with 2004’s ‘OnoffON’ and then with ‘The Obliterati’ from 2006, Mission Of Burma sounded as experimental (and a lot more ferocious), as on their 1982 debut ‘Vs.’. Their fourth full-length release, ‘The Sound The Speed The Light’, sees the original power trio, plus tape manipulator, producer and Shellac bassist Bob Weston, take a slight detour back to the darkly psychedelic days of their debut. Opener ‘1,2,3, Partyy!’ bursts straight out of the traps, but from then on the mood is low-key and cerebral, echoing the moody likes of ‘Vs.”s ‘Dead Pool’. Soon, though, striking moments burst out of the experimental soup: the woozy organ dominating the martial psych stew of ‘SSL 83’; the melancholy chords on Clint Conley’s ‘Feed’ and Roger Miller’s maniac soloing that punctures ‘Come Undone’ like stray bullets. Burma haven’t made it easy for their audience, but the labyrinthine art-punk depths of ‘The Sound The Speed The Light’ make it well worth it. It’s almost embarrassing this treasure of riches hasn’t been made by a new band.

By Tom Pinnock

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