One of our girls (has gone missing)

woodmanIV

I’ve been reading Sophie Calle’s “M’as-Tu Vue?” (“Do You See Me?”), a book that is entirely concerned with appearances & disappearances. The way that she tries to pin down chance, re-creating moments that never happened, taking the paths not followed, reminded me of Angela Conway, better known as AC Marias. Angela’s music took a similar approach —oblique strategies for a head-on world. Her haunting single, “One of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing)” has remained one of my favorite pieces of music ever since it was first released, back in 1989. The album continued her long-standing collaboration with Gilbert & Lewis of Wire, whom she’d worked with ever since her debut on their semi-legendary (and sadly out-of-print) collaboration P’O, back in 1980. She returned to offer vocal duties for the startling pair of releases the Wire compatriots completed as Dome (“1-2” & “3-4”).

She described her first single as “music to disappear to,” and she was enigmatic ever after, hiding behind the partially pseudonymous moniker “AC Marias” (Marias being her middle name) and describing herself as an “ex-babysitter, ex-girl, ex-traitor, on a mission to subvert the cretinous, moronic message of today’s music,” a statement she partially de-coded in a Melody Maker interview: “Ex-traitor I thought was quite funny, ‘cos there’s no such thing. Betrayal, whether it’s personal or political, sticks with you always. The ex-babysitter has two meanings: looking after somebody else’s kids, obviously, but it’s also spy slang for heavies who look after the defector in the safe house. I used to read that kind of John Le Carré spy fiction. I like the jargon. It’s intriguing.”

“Disappearance can be quite a powerful thing,” Conway said at the time of the title track, and later single. “To not be present can be more powerful than actually being present and proclaiming your identity as ‘woman’. That can be quite rigid, which is why people often say they don’t want to be categorised, because it can be confining.” The haunting video clip for the song (directed by Ms. Conway herself), followed a dancer through the countryside and far out to sea —an act of joyful abandonment that called to mind the bittersweet ending of Kate Chopin’s feminist novella “The Awakening.”

After that, AC Marias faded away, leaving Angela Conway the video director (who was responsible for clips for the Smashing Pumpkins, Nitzer Ebb, and McAlmont & Butler, among others). Whether she has any plans to return to music-making someday is a mystery, much like the woman herself.

MP3AC Marias, “One of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing” [right-click-save-as, s’il vous plaît]

MP3Dome, “Jasz”

MP3Dome, “Cruel When Complete”

The Dome & AC Marias albums are available from Mutelibtech.

Photograph by Francesca Woodman.

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11 Comments

  1. Thanks for reminding of AC Marias–I haven’t heard this since college. I can’t quite recall if I had her album, single, or if I know this song from some compilation. Listening to it now, I realise how much it sounds like Wire and He Said material from the same time.

    • He Said? I’m not familiar with that! But I must admit to being a Wire aficionado as opposed to an obsessive, so the gaps in my knowledge are extensive to say the least…

      • He Said was Graham Lewis’s solo project. He released two He Said albums in the mid-to-late ’80s, plus one under the name He Said Omala.

  2. Hi there, thank you for a great site. First time commenter, but have been lurking for a while.

    PS. Site admin, you need to put your site in ‘technorati.com’ so people can search it better. (You can also track links better)

    http://www.technorati.com/

  3. I was going to listen to the music, but I was struck by the photograph so I followed the link to the Francesca Woodman gallery …

    It’s about an hour later. I’m stunned. I sit here typing things into this box, and erasing them. Incredible. Such visions.

    • Woodman’s work is amazing. If you’re interested in learning more about her, this is a good
      online bibliography. I also wrote a long essay about her on LJ once. I’ll see if I can’t find it.
      Woodman took a lot of her photos in this beautiful old building downtown, a few blocks from where I live. Of course it’s been totally yuppified and rehabbed by now. Every time I walk by it I think of all the haunting images she made there.

      Before the building was turned into condos, the filmmaker Elisabeth Subrin made a short film about Woodman and went to many of the places where she’d taken photographs. It’s a beautiful film and I wish it weren’t so hard to come by. More info about it here.

  4. Good post! Dome has always been one of my favorite projects (can’t really call it a band) and “Rolling Upon My Day” is about the best song ever. Beautiful record covers too. More recommended recordings in the Wire diaspora are Colin Newman’s “Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish”/”Not To” combo-CD and Bruce Gilbert’s “The Shivering Man”. Both are similar in spirit to the stuff posted here.

    • Oh! I don’t know “The Shivering Man.” I’ll make a note of it! (There are so many amazing Wire side-projects! My word.)

  5. The one and only AC Marias album is one of my all time favorites. I had a cassette copy that has disappeared. Thanks for the info about where I can get a copy.

  6. Mark

    Don’t know if anyone is still reading/updating this site, but would it be possible to email me a copy of the One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing mp3 please please PLEASE??

    I got all excited that I’d finally tracked it down when I found this page only to have it dashed when the link didn’t work 🙁

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