The Neon Judgement – “A Man Ain’t No Man When A Man Ain’t Got No Horse, Man…” (1987)

theneonjudgementI was flipping through boxes at the first every KEXP record show, and one vendor had a bunch of records by a band I’d never heard of before called The Neon Judgement.  I’ve been way into the early 1980s European electro/synthwave stuff recently, so when I figured out that these Belgians fell into the right time frame I picked up the cleanest record I could find, the four-song 1987 EP A Man Ain’t No Man When A Man Ain’t Got No Horse, Man…

Where have you been all my life, The Neon Judgement?

Musically there are strong industrial undercurrents here, in the most literal sense – the beats have a mechanical quality to them, and the guitars have that steely Big Black feel.  There’s some funkiness to the bass that reminds me of bands like Oingo Boingo, but the direction is much darker, particularly on “Kid Shyleen,” which sounds like it could almost be a Skinny Puppy tune.  It’s edgy and moody, gloomy yet danceable.  Except for “Wand’rin’ Star.”  Because that sounds like a bad, slowed-down acid trip, like listening to music played at a speed too slow while underwater.  Damn that’s weird.

I’m definitely going to be looking out for more titles by The Neon Judgement, because this stuff is too good to pass up.