Boston's Mission of Burma took the sneering aggression and art-spastic manner of Wire or Gang of Four and clamped it on the New England rock scene like a hammerlock. One of the most important U.S. post-punk bands, the quartet was also one of the first to include a sound engineer as a full-fledged member, and Martin Swope's innovative use of tape became a key element in MOB's sound. Another was sheer volume, the proper means to express the disgruntled sentiments of landmark albums Signals, Calls & Marches (1981) and Vs. (1982). But this was the early '80s, still before many musicians knew how seriously playing night after night in front of amplifiers turned up all the way could damage their hearing. Guitarist Roger Miller's tinnitus forced the band to call it quits in 1983, before MOB could see their influence truly ripen in bands who admired them such as Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., fIREHOSE and R.E.M., who covered Signals' "Academy Fight Song" on their Green tour. But then the funniest thing happened: Miller's hearing got better, so did hearing-protection technology and so did Mission of Burma. Since reuniting in 2002, the band, now minus Swope, has already surpassed MOB 1.0's output with four LPs, the latest of which is the tempestuous, relentless Unsound.
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