Enigmatic, moody, and challenging, Britain's Wolfgang Press were one of the most mercurial talents of the post-punk era, restlessly moving from gothic noise to dark balladry to eccentric funk; paradoxically, the group was also the 4AD label's longest tenured artist — even their stylish album packages were all the product of the same designer, Alberto Ricci.
Formed in London in 1983, the Wolfgang Press comprised vocalist Michael Allen, guitarist Andrew Gray, and keyboardist Mark Cox. Allen and Cox first teamed in the group Rema Rema, which also featured Adam & the Ants alum Marco Perroni; after reuniting in the short-lived quartet Mass, the duo recruited Gray, and as the Wolfgang Press issued their cacophonous, gloomy debut LP, The Burden of Mules, in 1983. An EP trilogy co-produced by Cocteau TwinRobin Guthrie followed in quick succession: while 1984's Scarecrow was a lighter, more streamlined affair, 1985's Water spotlighted ominously sparse torch songs, and the same year's Sweatbox explored deconstructionist pop.
The Wolfgang Press' second full-length effort, 1986's Standing Up Straight, incorporated industrial and orchestral influences into the mix, while the Big Sex EP's "God's Number" offered a soulful backing chorus, a harbinger of things to come. Indeed, after 1988's hypnotic Bird Wood Cage and its leadoff single, "King of Soul," introduced strong elements of dub, reggae, and R&B, the trio took the full plunge into the dance arena with 1991's Queer, an idiosyncratic outing admittedly inspired by De La Soul's landmark 3 Feet High and Rising; the first single, a surreal cover of the Randy Newman-penned "Mama Told Me Not to Come," was a minor hit. 1995's Funky Little Demons completed the Wolfgang Press' transition into white funk; prior to its release, however, Cox exited the group's ranks. ~ Jason Ankeny