“Precise harmonious tone poems,” Rip It Up writer Jewel Sanyo called it, delivered over a constant (percussive) refrain that took the listener through a landscape of voice, strings and chilled harmony.
The Auckland ensemble’s core was Gill Civil (ex-Bongos, ex-Rhythm Method) and Sara Westwood (viola, accordion, percussion, piano) and Virginia Were (guitar, vocals), with recording and performing support from Alison Wallace, John Quigley, David Daniel, Lee Connelly, Caroline Somerville, Patrick Waller and Brett Mason. Their two EPs – Yellow Read Aloud (December, 1983) and Torch (1985) – were the first on Flying Nun Records by a predominately female group and two of the label’s most adventurous early releases.
In between the two Flying Nun releases, Marie & The Atom also found time to release Spit It Out, a 4-track cassette-only EP on Auckland's Industrial Tapes label. It was recorded in December 1983 at a concert at the Synagogue, with the Kiwi Animal and Papakura Post Office.
As part of a busy Queen City post-punk scene, they supported John Cooper Clarke at the Gluepot; performed at Windsor Castle, Bowen Street Theatre and the SPAM (Society for the Promotion of Alternatives in Music) Symonds Street venue in late 1983. They toured with Freudian Slips in February 1984, and headed south again in the middle of 1985.
Sara Westwood also plays viola on The Great Unwashed's 'Can't Find Water' (from their 1984 double 7-inch package) and Tall Dwarfs' 'Nothing's Going To Stop It' from 1985.
Gill Civil - keyboards, vocals
Sara Westwood - viola, violin, keyboards, accordion
Virginia Were - guitar, vocals
Gill Civil is now a highly successful Canadian based pianist and composer.