Formed by former Hallé Orchestra percussionist Dick Witts and Fall bassist Tony Friel in 1978, the band issued two EPs on esoteric indie label Object Music before fracturing the following year, leaving Witts to record Pindrop virtually solo. A dense, brooding, claustrophobic album, dominated by layered keyboards and incisive vocal texts, contemporary critics put Pindrop on a par with Joy Division and Wire. “A work of disciplined intellectual aggression, frantic emotions and a powerful idiomatic musicality,” wrote Paul Morley in NME. “It's as shocking a beautiful nightmare, as stormy and aware a debut LP as Unknown Pleasures.”
By 1982 the group were a trio, with Witts joined by guitarist Andrew Wilson and drummer Joe McKechnie, as well as an array of emerging digital technology. The third Passage album, Degenerates, appeared on Cherry Red, trailed by near-hit single XoYo. “How on earth XoYo missed the charts must remain forever a mystery,” Q Magazine would note later of an album of skewed technopop, which nevertheless retained the dark truculence of the group’s earlier work.
Both Pindrop and Degenerates are expanded on CD to include companion singles and radio sessions, with archive images and detailed liner notes contained in the 16 page booklet.