It’s a fitting name for a band that actually changed the landscape of electronic music. Richard James Burgess and crew were pushing the boundaries of computer-based beats before it was a thing. Coining terms like EDM on the back of singles. And putting weird bleeps, avant-garde chants, and processed 4/4s in pop charts normally reserved for guitars and verse/chorus songs.
“It was also the first album made by a computer, and no one’s ever refuted that,” adds Burgess.
Landscape, very much a group collaboration including Chris Heaton, Andy Pask, Peter Thoms and John L. Walters, morphed out of the instrumental jazz/punk world to become a vocal electronic outfit. All gifted musicians, the turning point coming when they copped the MC-8 MicroComposer – Roland's seminal but costly microprocessor-based sequencer.
“It cost half a house,” says Burgess. “But it was a total game changer. And, even though we were all excellent musicians who loved to play, we embraced the idea of this transformative device.”
Burgess could see the future of music making was computer-based, and was ready to declare it.
“I did a presentation for Roland at the time saying, ‘One day, all records will be made like this’. I just realised that once we made this record, that’s the way everyone would be making them. The fundamentals of the way we make records today were basically laid out by the MC-8.”
By embracing this new technology Landscape would colour the pop charts with their futuristic sound. Especially with huge hits like the UK top five smash “Einstein a Go-Go” and “Norman Bates”.
The impact of this tech-savvy approach, and the decade-defining electro pop of Landscape's efforts, would be taken even further, with Burgess bestowing it on new wave acts like Spandau Ballet, producing their first two gold records, all while honing the cutting-edge sonics for his own hive-minded collective. “It was such a fun time,” says Burgess. “It definitely tested our brains, that’s for sure. But they were the greatest times of my life.”
You can bask in the best of Landscape's 1977-83 golden era thanks to the expansive five CD boxset Landscape A Go-Go. out this month on Cooking Vinyl.
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