Manchester Evening News, 20th November 1987, "Biting Tongues: Wall Of Surf"
Tongues In Cheek
THE BITING Tongue's ambitious and extraordinary Wall Of Surf video is now available from Ikon. I have to admit, I went along to the extremely pretentious (but good fun) previews at The Cornerhouse the other week and for this, I make no apologies.
Wall of Surf has taken 18 months to complete and should establish The Biting Tongues at the vanguard of British independent video. Not that that's a particularly esteemed position to arrive at for, despite the continuing lack of creativity within the commercial world of the pop promo video, the alternative option of independent video manages to gain little music press attention. What a terrible waste.
Still, undeterred, The Biting Tongues have married a small budget with a good deal of care and attention to produce a video that looks, for all the world, like a miniscule version of Derek Jarman's The Last Of England. Indeed, it could be entitled The Last Of Manchester' as Wall of Surf seems to use a post-apocalyptic Manchester as its location. A strange undercurrent of destruction-burning fires, crushing cars - runs throughout the video as The Biting Tongues attempt to capture the essence of their live energy on film.
Wall Of Surf is basically a best-of compilation of Biting Tongues music circa 1985-87. It has to be said that much of this music is quite demanding, to say the least. In fact, in places, it loses me and spirals off into the odd pocket of self indulgence. At such times, Wall Of Surf becomes mildly depressing.
But it is rescued by the good points which, I hasten to add, are extremely good. House of Hatchets opens the video in a self-mocking tone. In fact it positively exploits the lack of finance involved. From here on the images involved are many and the viewer is faced with an enticing if confusing wave after wave of coy video technique. The video's centrepiece, Compressor, has been reviewed on this page before and still stands as the best promo video of the year.
It's interesting to note that Compressor makes a second appearance at the film's close as the band literally throw themselves into a reckless live performance of the song.
All in all, a powerful and strangely disturbing film which, in a perfect world, would be hailed as a milestone of independent video. Weird.