Remnant Three
fiel garvie

A release that has been decades in the works, Words On Music is proud to present A Gentle Collapsing, the definitive recordings from the post-punk trio Remnant Three.

Words On Music first heard these stunning unreleased songs via cassettes exchanged more than 30 years ago. In the interim, the Minneapolis-based label also released seminal 1980s post-punk albums from London's The Lucy Show (1985's undone… and 1986's Mania) and Nebraska’s For Against (1987's Echelons and 1988's December).

At the turn of the century, the neophyte label had approached the long-defunct group to issue their fascinating, never-released album. Remnant Three agreed provided the source tapes could be properly restored to present the songs in their originally intended form. A catalog number of WM09 was given to A Gentle Collapsing in 2002.

The record stands tall amongst 1980s post-punk and Factory Records luminaries, and so the question remains — why did it take decades to get released?

Prior to the Internet, the barriers to both recording and distributing music were substantial and the avenues to get one's music heard, let alone released, were very limited.

Remnant Three viewed the recorded album as the pinnacle of the art form and therefore focused all their creativity and resources on writing and recording songs. They never performed live and thus had no following. They were never represented by management. The only forays of their recordings into the outside world — demos blindly sent without connections to a handful of record labels — generated sporadic favorable comments.

Fortunately, given the band's focus on recording, Remnant Three had after-hours access to a college music department recording studio (as well use of the department's drum kit and sundry percussion) and their legacy was preserved on tape.

All the recordings were written and recorded by the band over the course of two years on a reel-to-reel Fostex 8-track machine. Self-taught on their instruments for only two years before initiating these recordings, Remnant Three were nonetheless perfectionists. The craftsmanship found on these original recordings reflects the darker side of the post-punk sound of the late 70s and early 80s.

All the more remarkable, Remnant Three had no formal training in recording techniques. But the band was very conscious of the sound they wanted to create. They would work for hours in the studio, for example, to capture a particular drum sound with limited available effect units. The drums were then recorded live with effects to two tracks. They would then make full use of the remaining six tracks to flesh out their sound, even experimenting with tape techniques such as reverse echo.

With the album finished, college ended and the band dissolved. Fortunately, the original 8-track reel-to-reels were set aside. Many years later, the tapes were painstakingly recovered by the label and the songs digitally transferred for an eventual future release.

Archly principled to this day, Remnant Three — whose members are now well into their 50s — remains doctrinaire that of paramount importance for art is the what — the finished project — not the who and the where. The music and the songs are indeed beautiful, haunting remnants of a scene collectively captured by young musicians decades ago that transcend their individual biographies. Remnant Three believes attaching names and geography is limiting and that their story is best told through the words and music of A Gentle Collapsing.

Remnant One – drums
Remnant Two – keyboard, percussion, voice
Remnant Three – voice, bass, guitar, keyboard, percussion

Remnant Three


A Gentle Collapsing (2024) Vinyl, CD