Superb atmospheric eighties alternative rock.
Year of Release: 1988
In the public's rush to buy all manner of obscure self-released/ indie records from the eighties, it's often staggering how little sense the prices on the collector's market make. You can expect to pay three figure sums for some frankly uninspiring generic pieces of gloomy bedroom No Wave, and then records like this sell for under ten pounds.
"Who Killed Carol?" is exactly thirty years old this month, and enters sounding like a slice of common-or-garden harmony driven folk music, and gradually builds, sweeping across a monochromatic landscape which grows more dramatic as jangly guitars join icy synths, pounding drums and hollering vocals. Stylistically, it owes as much a debt to Talk Talk as it does to The Smiths, meaning The Learning Process ultimately end up falling between the cracks of mid-eighties indie and the more dramatic, adventurous elements of post-punk.
The EP in general shows a group much more interested in meandering atmospherics than classic, catchy pop, which will alienate probably as many readers as it attracts. Track 3 "From The Outside In" sounds pleasingly vast, whereas the final track "My Greatest Fears" combines a propulsive, industrial drive with delicate, ever-shifting arrangements and keening vocals. Staggeringly, I've stumbled across bands in London venues in recent years who sound exactly like this - The Learning Process sound surprisingly current for a band of such a vintage.
The sleeve lists the band's membership as Dermot O'Dea on guitar and vocals, Brian Hoyle on drums, Alan MacLardy on Keyboards, John Kerslake on guitars and Martin Gilbert on bass guitar. The EP was recorded at the Suite 16 studios in Rochdale, so it's fair to assume the band were probably local. There appear to have been no follow-ups, and beyond that, I know nothing - but thanks to all of them for producing such fine piece of work. It's a shame we didn't get to hear much more.