Peculiar and often pitch black, Dazzle Ships momentarily decimated Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark’s burgeoning fanbase on its release in 1983. It was as if all pop thoughts had abandoned the Liverpool twosome and, to counteract the writer’s block they’d experienced in the wake of their enormous-selling Architecture & Morality, they’d returned to their earliest experimental works, just at the time when they were enjoying their biggest audience.
Named after a painting of the camouflaged ships used in the First World War, Dazzle Ships embraced early sampling. Instead of copying anything commercial like old breakbeats, the found sounds included an oppressive collage of news reports from around the world, ticking clocks and static to accompany the album’s dark and detailed music.
Lead single Genetic Engineering was not a Souvenir. Even when they attempted their old formula on the 1981 outtake Telegraph, it just sounded weird. Although it reached the Top 5, the album was quickly brushed aside as the group went overtly commercial for 1984’s Junk Culture. Consistently eccentric, Dazzle Ships remains a weirdly satisfying listen on its 25th anniversary.