In their brief lifetime, Edinburgh’s VISITORS popped in and disappeared like a flash. Formed in the late 1970s by brothers John and Derek McVay, school friend Colin Craigie and rotating drummers Alan Laing and Keith Wilson, the group sparked a fuse with their rightfully titled debut single, 1979’s “Electric Heat.” This instant classic caught the ear of BBC’s godhead DJ John Peel, who financed their second single (1980’s “Empty Rooms”) and welcomed them for a series of Peel Sessions resulting in a third single (1981’s “Compatibility”).
VISITORS’ twitchy guitars, rattletrap electronics, discordant grooves, and droning vocals are perfectly emblematic of the era, but this was also a group with great songs. Though they dressed down in eerie minimalism, the quartet had a knack for melody and musicality. From the scorching “Electric Heat” to the static dance of “Our Glass”, PIL-style propulsion of “Compatibility” and Wire-y claustrophobia of “Pattern”, these could all be cult classics. Alongside themes of paranoia and unrequited love, the band’s signature moment might be the insistent seven-minute anthem “Poet’s End” or the creeping horror of “Visitors” (ending with a shouted warning of “footsteps coming towards your door!”)
LP purchase comes with MP3 download.