It seems that many bands have been reduced to their bare essentials. A best-of here, a passing reference there, a seminal album reissue every five years or so, with acts like The Durutti Column, This Heat, and Disco Inferno more associated with their names and places in post-punk/experimental-art-rock than their music or their back catalogue. In the case of DI, only DI Go Pop and (less frequently) In Debt get love, thanks to legions of fans and the nouveau hip tracing roots and historical precedence, with Go Pop still standing as one of the least pop-oriented post-punk albums to date while maintaining a sense of melodic infectiousness par excellence. That album alone cements their importance in the scene, but talk of their debut EPs is more praise than seems warranted, especially given that most modern fans have been passing around increasingly shitty mp3s sourced from a single bootleg CD-R rip of the original vinyl releases. Now The 5 EPs sets to rectify that, presenting DI’s impressive and arguably best work in a crisp and digestible format. The revelation of the band’s undeniable skill and true impact can now be seen, and for once the band’s compilation unfriendly work seems suited for the marathon session mentality.

What’s most striking about The 5 EPs is the sense of cohesiveness despite disparate releases and a span of two years and multiple self-contained arcs (‘The Last Dance’ and ‘The Long Dance’). The vocals set the benchmark for future acts like Nosferatu D2 and even Mogwai, although to a lesser extent. Hints of Wire, Durutti Column, and the downtrodden atmosphere of Joy Division come to the fore with tracks like ‘Love Stepping Out’ and ‘A Rock To Cling To,’ while maintaining the use of found sounds and samples that would fully bloom with Go Pop, albeit minus the unrelenting harshness and pounding drums. ‘From The Devil to the Deep Blue Sea’ could be a track from the album, its clanging samples recalling the work of Savage Republic’s live material before dropping out to reveal the pining melody as the key to gripping the collage that ensues. ‘The Last Dance’ almost sounds like The Smiths for a couple seconds, but is fading out by that point so it could just be their conceptual joke.

Meanwhile, ‘DI Go Pop’ ranks amongst the least pop-accessible or friendly songs in the band’s history. Obscured drums, a repeating tape loop, speech samples, breakneck gear shifts for no reason, it’s an exercise in the ability to compel while bothering. The later releases showcase forays into ambient, hypnogagic rock (‘At The End of the Line,’ ‘Lost In Fog’), ‘Lust For Life’ beat stealing as repurposing (‘It’s A Kid’s World), avant-garde collage with little real purpose (‘A Night On the Tiles’), a kaleidoscopic compendium of the experimentalism pulled off with ease by Disco Inferno. At the same time, later releases are considerably more relaxed and less obsessed with biting lyricism than crafting a memorable track. It could be telling that the string of lighter releases (Second Language EP and It’s A Kid’s World) came immediately around and after the DI Go Pop period, with the former emulating Pop’s visual aesthetic. As a result, these tracks come off as a band continuing to reinvent their sound within their defined limits – and ultimately calming down to the point of almost sabotaging their integrity.

It’s no big surprise that the band’s swan song, Technicolour, came off as a lackluster event. After the early minimalism and mid-period ear candy, their last LP was almost trying too hard to be aggressive and experimental – it sounded like DI had almost grown tired. What makes the final tracks of The 5 EPs so enjoyable and great is the distillation to a few essentials and some truly great B-sides (‘The Atheist’s Burden’ gurgles and pricks with tinny guitars and an incessant flanger). For a band as singularly notable as Disco Inferno, it’s nice to see them getting a reissue that needed to happen ten years ago. Even better, it’s now possible to acquire their entire catalogue in only five discs, one of which is a short live EP. Now burn this mother down.