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By A Light Dimly: Edmonton’s Darkroom

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When I lived in Edmonton in the late seventies and early eighties, there was an amazing music scene.  And I (like most local fans, I suppose) kept hoping that THIS excellent band or THAT superb band would be the first to – as we put it – “make it out of Edmonton.” 

One Horse Blue, The Models, facecrime, Jenson Interceptor – really good bands, all of them.  But I remember a moment in time (about 1984, maybe?) when my money was on a band called Darkroom.

Manchester, North America?  Not Quite

What set Darkroom apart from most of the other recording acts in Edmonton is that they had captured aspects of both the sound and the look of a lot of the great British bands that were making waves – like Echo and the Bunnymen, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and, yes, Joy Division.  No, Darkroom didn’t “sound like” any of those bands, but they had the vibe, and, in singer Jim Gray, they had the voice.

Did They Make It?

Alas – no.  But they left us (when they split in 1989) two frankly excellent full-length albums, 1983`s San Paku and 1985`s A Test of Time.  (I still recall walking across the High Level Bridge to and from work in the summer of 1984 and reading the spray-paint-stencilled words on the bridge`s sidewalk: “FOREWARNING YOU: DARKROOM ‘84” [a play on the chorus of the first album’s title track, which goes “Forewarning you/San Paku”]).  I don’t know if the albums ever made it to CD, but I still have my vinyl, and I still listen to these two records with undiminished pleasure.  Check out a song from each album below and groove to the sounds of the eighties – and of hope.


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