The Boston punk trio just released ''ONoffON,'' their first album of new material in 20 years

By Michael Endelman
Updated May 14, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

BACK IN THE DAY The Boston trio were a ferocious post-punk act who brought a jolt of experimentalism to the ’80s underground rock scene. ”We were on that tail end of punk that wasn’t blatantly teenage or rebellious,” says bassist Clint Conley. ”There was this conscious feeling that we were rebuilding things — [messing] around with form and content to find new life in the music.” But only a few years after forming, Burma disbanded in 1983. In their absence, groups like Sonic Youth and Fugazi brought Burma’s sound to a larger audience, while covers by Moby and Blur fed the flames of Burma’s cult following.

THESE DAYS Burma reunited in 2002. This month, the group released an album of entirely new music, ONoffON, which finds the aging punks picking up where they left off in ’83. ”It doesn’t sound like we were trying to copy our old stuff — there are new sounds, a broader palette,” says Conley. ”But it still has that Burma DNA, this restlessness and questioning attitude.”

ESSENTIAL RECORDING Burma’s catalog is best surveyed on the 1988 self-titled Rykodisc compilation — all feral feedback, roaring guitars, and scream-along anthems.

WHAT THEY’D PUT ON THEIR TOMBSTONE ”We staked a flag in a little plot of earth on planet punk and made a sound that was ours.”