ATTRITION: ‘The Black Maria’ – new album by Coventry-based electronic/darkwave group

The Black Maria: a menacing 19th-century figure who would come to take away our outcasts and miscreants…and later used as the slang term for UK police vans. Nothing much has changed.

Founded in 1980 and still helmed by band mainstay Martin Bowes, Attrition has been based in the English Midlands town of Coventry for most of their existence. An integral part of what soon became a flourishing UK and worldwide underground (post-) industrial electronic scene, they played early shows with other iconic acts such as Coil, The Legendary Pink Dots, Test Dept. and In the Nursery, releasing music through a who’s who of international underground labels: Third Mind, Projekt, Antler, Contempo, Hyperium, Invisible…and now Two Gods. All the while, the group have continued to evolve, create, record and tour.

From dream to dancefloor and a further testament to the legacy that they have built, the music on ‘The Black Maria’ weaves and shifts between gothic/industrial, neo-classical and dark ambient soundscapes, while Bowes’ lyrics fearlessly explore the themes that bind and break us all – life, love, longing, loss and death. From the politics of manipulation – both personal and state – to the uncertainties of theosophical and philosophical thought, his words are delivered in a familiar dangerously anarchic yet melancholic growl.

Teaming up with baroque female vocalists Emèse Árvai-Illes (from Black Nail Cabaret), Elisa Day (Hetaira Decrépita), Yvette (Vaselyne) and Alia Miroshichenko (Subterranea) has also been a genius move by Bowes, their voices lending filigrees of ghostly ambience to the rich and distinctive soundworld on offer. However, it is the return of his original vocal foil Julia (aka Chryss) after a two-decade absence that elevates this album to a peerless realm.

‘The Black Maria’ was produced by Bowes at the Cage Studios in Coventry and includes remixed/remastered versions of previously released singles ‘The Great Derailer’ and ‘The Alibi’, as well as a reworking of ‘The Voice of Truth’, which was originally commissioned for the City Of Culture bestowed on Coventry in 2021 and an honour that reflected Bowes’ lifetime of involvement in the music scene of his home city. The album also features guest appearances from Anni Hogan (Marc and the Mambas, etc) on grand piano, Vancorvid and Marietta Fox on violin, Ian Arkley (My Silent Wake) on guitar, Steve Clarke (Futumche) on additional guitar/bass, plus Kris Force on cello.

ATTRITION The Black Maria album cover artwork

new album
LP | CD | MC | digital
out 22.03.24 
(Two Gods)

stream  |  buy


1  The Promise
2  The Great Derailer
3  The Switch
4  The Pillar II
5  The Alibi
6  The Reprisal
7  The Zero Hour
8  The Black Maria
i The Ascetic Priest
ii The 25 Minute Window

Dedicated to the memory of Kerri Bowes (1982-2022)

29.03.24  COVENTRY The Arches
13.07.24  BOLKÓW (PL) Castle Party Festival
25.07.24  WINCHESTER The Railway Inn
22.08.24  MANCHESTER The Peer Hat
29.09.24  CHICAGO (US) Cold Waves XII Festival

“Forever there will be the speculation that the exploration of darkness as a beautiful place will lessen our fear of it all, ease the pain a little…”

ATTRITION | then and now


Attrition are pioneers of what has become known as ‘darkwave’. Formed in 1980 in Coventry and influenced by a mix of punk ideology and experimental art aesthetics, they emerged as part of the early ’80’s UK (post-) industrial scene alongside contemporaries like Coil, Test Department, Legendary Pink Dots, In The Nursery and Portion Control.

Founder Martin Bowes has steered the band through a 44 year career, fuelled by a succession of critically acclaimed albums, regular tours around Europe, the Americas and Asia (including numerous appearances at major festivals), while their music has been included on film and TV soundtracks galore.

Their songs have also featured on countless compilations, starting out with a plethora of cassette underground contributions that then led to inclusion on the Crass Records series of ‘Bullshit Detector’ LPs, the hugely successful ‘Animal Liberation’ LP (alongside Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Smiths and Nina Hagen), right through to the ‘Industrial’ CD released in the US on K-Tel that was a who’s who of the genre and largely made up of scene heavyweights such as Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Ministry, Nitzer Ebb and Einstürzende Neubauten.

 Attrition have also worked with a diverse range of fellow musicians, including psychedelic veterans The Legendary Pink Dots, original punk figurehead TV Smith, composer and producer Anni Hogan, Franck Dematteis of the Paris Opera and Kraftwerk legend Wolfgang Flür.

Bowes’ increasing studio production work at his Coventry-based studio, The Cage, has included mixes for The Damage Manual (Martin Atkins, Jah Wobble, Geordie Walker, Chris Connelly), Die Form, In The Nursery, Black Tape For A Blue girl, Mona Mur/En Esch, plus mastering for countless bands and record labels.

Martin Bowes of ATTRITION | photo by Holger Karas

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