Skip to content

March 9, 2017

Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark – Dazzle Ships (1983) – Lp

by Record Facts

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) are an English electronic music band formed in Wirral, Merseyside in 1978. Spawned by earlier group The Id, the outfit was founded by Andy McCluskey (vocals, bass guitar) and Paul Humphreys (keyboards, vocals); amid rotating line-ups, Martin Cooper (various instruments) and Malcolm Holmes (drums) are the longest-serving additional members.












Artist:  Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark
Title:  Dazzle Ships
Year:  1983
Format:  LP
Label:  Virgin Records
Catalog#  205295

Dazzle Ships is the fourth album by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), released in 1983. The title and cover art (designed by Peter Saville) alluded to a painting by Vorticist artist Edward Wadsworth based on dazzle camouflage, titled Dazzle-ships in Drydock at Liverpool.

Dazzle Ships was the follow-up release to the band’s hugely successful Architecture & Morality (1981). OMD, then at their peak of popularity, opted for a major departure in sound on the record, shunning any commercial obligation to duplicate their previous LP. The album is noted for its highly experimental content, particularly musique concrète sound collages, and the use of shortwave radio recordings to explore Cold War and Eastern Bloc themes.

What else can be said when hearing the album’s lead single, the soaring “Genetic Engineering,” with its Speak & Spell toy vocals and an opening sequence that also sounds like the inspiration for “Fitter, Happier,” for instance? Why it wasn’t a hit remains a mystery, but it and the equally enjoyable, energetic “Telegraph” and “Radio Waves” are definitely the poppiest moments on the album. Conceived around visions of cryptic Cold War tension, the rise of computers in everyday life, and European and global reference points — time zone recordings and snippets of shortwave broadcasts — Dazzle Ships beats Kraftwerk at their own game, science and the future turned into surprisingly warm, evocative songs or sudden stop-start instrumental fragments. “Dazzle Ships (Parts II, III, and VII)” itself captures the alien feeling of the album best, with its distanced, echoing noises and curious rhythms, sliding into the lovely “The Romance of the Telescope.” “This Is Helena” works in everything from what sounds like heavily treated and flanged string arrangements to radio announcer samples, while “Silent Running” becomes another in the line of emotional, breathtaking OMD ballads, McCluskey‘s voice the gripping centerpiece.

In contrast with its predecessor, Dazzle Ships met with a degree of critical and commercial hostility. Opinion of the record has transmuted in the years since its release, however: it has come to be regarded as a “masterpiece” and a “lost classic”, and has achieved cult status among music fans. The album has also been cited as an influence by numerous artists.


Side one
1.  Radio Prague (1:18)
2.  Genetic Engineering  (3:42)
3.  ABC Auto-Industry  (2:06)
4.  Telegraph  (2:57)
5.  This Is Helena (1:58)
6.  International  (4:26)

Side two
1.  Dazzle Ships (Parts II III & VII)  (2:21)
2.  The Romance Of The Telescope  (3:26)
3.  Silent Running  (3:33)
4.  Radio Waves (3:44)
5.  Time Zones  (3:23)
6.  Of All The Things We’ve Made  (3:23)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments