Song of the Day, March 23: Genetic Engineering by Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark OMD - Genetic Engineering - FrontToday’s song is OMD’s brilliantly quirky single, Genetic Engineering. After three impressive albums that blended a growing mastery of electronic instruments with great pop smarts, the band took things in a much more experimental direction with 1983’s Dazzle Ships. The album featured much more fragmented tracks and a significant use of sampling and found sounds. The result is a mixed bag, a wonderful display of the musical powers of technology but not a wholly satisfying and cohesive listening experience. When it works well, however, it’s as strong as any OMD release, and it never works better than Genetic Engineering.

With a chiming toy piano sound and energetic teletype driving the action, the song features an anthemic vocal from Andy McCluskey. Mixed into the action are a number of samples, including a clever use of the Speak & Spell toy. It blurts out the words

Babies, mother, hospital, scissors
Creature, judgement, butcher, engineer

as a sort of disembodied chorus. The overall effect is an interesting statement on the ways technology intrudes into modern life. McCluskey has stated that he is not opposed to genetic engineering in principle, and the lyrics can support that view. The disjointed effect however, encourages the listener to think carefully before accepting any modern solution as a definite improvement.

Enjoy this amazing song today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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