Despite roots dating back as far as 1978, Australia’s Crime & the City Solution did not truly emerge until 1984, coming to life in the wake of the dissolution of the seminal Birthday Party.
The group was led by the evocative singer/songwriter Simon Bonney, a native of Melbourne, who led a series of bands under the verbose Crime name throughout the late 70s and early 80s.
A long-time friend of the Birthday Party, he contacted former members Mick Harvey and Rowland S. Howard after the group’s break-up, and, following the addition of Howard’s bassist brother Harry, the most successful and famed line-up of Crime & the City Solution was born.
In 1985, the quartet debuted with The Dangling Man, a self-produced EP which quickly establishing the band’s moody, atmospheric blues-based aesthetic.
Former Swell Maps drummer Epic Soundtracks joined Crime after the EP’s release, freeing Harvey to alternate among a variety of instruments for the haunting follow-up, Just South of Heaven.
Their full-length bow Room of Lights appeared in 1986 and featured the remarkable Six Bells Chime, which so impressed acclaimed filmmaker Wim Wenders that he invited the band to perform the song in his 1988 masterpiece Wings of Desire, a sombre fantasy in which angels watch over the inhabitants of West Berlin.
By the time the film appeared, however, the incarnation of Crime & the City Solution presented onscreen was no more.
After Room of Lights, the Howard brothers and Soundtracks exited to form These Immortal Souls, leaving Bonney, Harvey and violinist Bronwyn Adams (also Bonney’s wife and songwriting partner) to relocate to Berlin, where they recruited a number of local musicians, including Einsturzende Neubauten guitarist Alexander Hacke, to cut 1988’s ornate, intoxicating Shine.
Even more baroque was the follow-up, The Bride Ship (1989).
In 1990, Crime returned to the studio one final time to record Paradise Discotheque, a record built around Bonney’s ambitious four-part suite The Last Dictator – a song cycle inspired by the downfall of Romanian warlord Nicolae Ceausescu.
After contributing The Adversary to the soundtrack of Wenders’ Until the End of the World, Crime & the City Solution disbanded.
Mick Harvey rejoined former Birthday Party mate Nick Cave in The Bad Seeds while Simon Bonney moved to Los Angeles and released two solo albums.
Rowland Howard died of hepatocellular carcinoma secondary to liver cirrhosis on 30 December 2009. He was 50 years old.
In 2011, a new lineup sprang from the ashes, now operating out of Detroit, and recorded their first new material in 20 years for the 2013 album American Twilight.