Flee Past’s Ape Elf is a 2LP Edition of 600 – a splendid, expanded reissue of this monster album available very soon from Feeding Tube Records, which most people know from its placement on the NWW List. Stapleton even went so far as to name a track (“Fashioned to a Device Behind a Tree”) after a mis-hearing of one of Flee Past’s’ many memorable lines. The music has its roots in Hampshire College’s Electronic Music Studio in the early 1970s. While taking a class on Electronic Composition, Robert Carey was smitten by the potentialities lurking inside piles of reel-to-reel tape. Presented with a stack of such stuff, mostly recorded off of television, he began an epic stumble into the universe of musique concret. Carey refashioned banal spoken material into bizarre, hilarious and shockingly musical suites that you could listen to for sheer yucks or revelatory juxtapositions. Influenced by Gysin/Burroughs/Somerville’s cut-up techniques, as much as Zappa’s 1960s editing flair, Carey (rechristened Orchid Spangiafora by some wise-ass music professors) created new savage aural realities that you could almost dance to. The original album was released by Twin/Tone Records in 1979, at the behest of the Suicide Commandos’ Chris Osgood (who’d been Carey’s roommate at Hamsphire).
Mars – Live At Artists Space – available in an edition of 500 from Feeding Tube Records.
In May of 1978 there was a five night music festival at Artists Space on Hudson Street in Tribeca. Although almost no one cared at the time, the event has since entered the halls of legend, as one of the signal events in the history of the No Wave era – one that managed to include both the Lower East Side bands and those fronted by their Western contemporaries. On the final night of the festival the two bands playing were Mars and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. What we are presenting to you today are both sets by Mars – the most mysterious, and bizarrely-styled NY band of their day. One set takes up each side, and while they are similar in song selection, it’s wild to hear how different they are in terms of attack, sonics and approach. The quartet – Nancy Arlen, China Burg, Sumner Crane, Mark Cuningham – was never captured at its mutational best in the studio, but this live slab is revelatory. Tunings, structures and rhythms from a place Capt. Beefheart once called “the other side of the fence,” this is Mars at their most glorious.
M2 is two Miller brothers: Roger (Boston: Mission of Burma and Alloy Orchestra) and Benjamin (NYC: Ben Miller/degeneration and Sensorium Saxophone Orchestra).
M2 has recently signed on with Northampton’s FEEDING TUBE RECORDS to release their album, At Land’s Edge. This is an appropriate title as the music morphs and shifts at the meeting point of solidity and watery luminescence. The two brothers are both excited about the release and plan to do some shows in the New England/East Coast area upon its release, as time allows.
Benjamin plays his unique “Multiphonic Guitar” which involves multiple pickups, preparations, and electronic devices modifying sounds after the fact. Roger plays Prepared Piano, utilizing bronze bolts and alligator clips (and many other items) stuck on and between the piano’s strings to completely alter the sound of the instrument. Their unique sound pallet is at times ambient, at times rhythmically pulsing, and at times aggressive. Between the two of them, the usual sounds of a piano/guitar duo are thoroughly avoided.
The music is entirely improvised, with bravura technique sublimated for ensemble sound. It is the gradual, occasionally sudden, shifting and interplay between the two brothers that defines their sound. They have been playing/improvising together off and on since 1969 (beginning with the psych. rock band Sproton Layer), so there is an effortless give and take in their interaction.