Pere Ubu – 30 Seconds Over Tokyo / Heart Of Darkness (1975)

“You’re in a hole-in-the-wall record shop rooting around in a singles bin and you find a release by Pere Ubu (Pere Ubu!) called ’30 Seconds Over Tokyo.’ That’s the hook, for starters: you don’t know why an underground Cleveland band in 1975 would pick up this shard of World War II history, and you’re ready for a cool juxtaposition or non sequitur, whatever it is. You know it ain’t going to be no Ballad of Jimmy Doolittle (captain of the famous raid). What’s intriguing, as it turns out, is that it kind of is a ballad of Jimmy Doolittle. The words take you through the raid from a slightly delirious pilot’s perspective, and before it’s over the synthesizer even mimics the drone of the B-25 engines.

The sun a hot circle on a canopy
The ’25 a racing blot on a bright green sea
Ahead the dim blur of an alien land
Time to give ourselves to strange gods’ hands

And the music style in the verse is Black Sabbath-y—not predictable, in this context, but not what you’d call provocative either. Still, you are made to puzzle over what it all means because of the borderline insanity of singer David Thomas’s delivery and the disturbing electronic commentary of Allen Ravenstine. The band is fulfilling its promise to be EXPERIMENTAL. You and the band are collaborating to see what happens when you mix ingredients that don’t come together naturally. The music as you’re now experiencing it is that event. That’s the principal hook. More than anything, it’s the attitude: everyone here is ready to try something! A great experimental band like Pere Ubu also creates replayable hooks inside the track where you’re vividly aware of the mad scientists at work and impressed by their results. I find the unleashing of sounds as we come out of the second verse stanza (the one quoted above) really lovely. …”
Hooks (Audio)
Independent: Big daddy of the avant-garde
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Heart Of Darkness


The Kitchen

The Kitchen is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary art and performance space located at 512 West 19th Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It was founded in Greenwich Village in 1971 by Steina and Woody Vasulka, who were frustrated at the lack of an outlet for video art. The space takes its name from the original location, the kitchen of the Mercer Arts Center which was the only available place for the artists to screen their video pieces. Although first intended as a location for the exhibition of video art, The Kitchen soon expanded its mission to include other forms of art and performance. In 1974, The Kitchen relocated to a building at the corner of Wooster and Broome Streets in SoHo, and incorporated as a not-for-profit arts organization. In 1987 it moved to its current location. The first music director of The Kitchen was composer Rhys Chatham. The venue became known as a place where many No Wave bands like Glenn Branca, Lydia Lunch and James Chance performed. Notable Kitchen alumni also include Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Rocco Di Pietro, John Moran, Jay Scheib, Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, Peter Greenaway, Michael Nyman, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Gordon Mumma, Frederic Rzewski, Ridge Theater, The Future Sound of London, Leisure Class, Elliott Sharp, Brian Eno, Arthur Russell, Meredith Monk, Arleen Schloss, Vito Acconci, Keshavan Maslak, Elaine Summers, Lucinda Childs, Bill T. Jones, David Byrne/Talking Heads, chameckilerner, John Jasperse, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, ETHEL, Chris McIntyre, Sylvie Degiez, Wayne Lopes/CosmicLegends, and Cindy Sherman. Today, The Kitchen focuses on presenting emerging artists, most of whom are local, and is committed to advancing work that is experimental in nature. Its facilities include a 155-seat black box performance space and a gallery space for audio and visual exhibitions. The Kitchen presents work in music, dance, performance, video, film, visual art, and literature. …”
The Kitchen in Chelsea

Health and Efficiency – This Heat EP (1980)

“There are some moments in the making of music when the boldest thing a player can do is nothing—or, to use the phraseology of Robert Fripp, ‘contribute silence.’ That point is driven home in gripping fashion by ‘Horizontal Hold,’ the second track on the self-titled debut album by British experimental trio This Heat, first released in 1979 and just reissued by Light in the Attic Records along with the rest of the band’s slim catalog (a two-track EP and a second album). Here’s what happens: Guitarist Charles Bullen, keyboardist Gareth Williams and drummer Charles Hayward have locked into an explosive groove full of distortion and hi-hat sizzle. The music’s heavy doom quotient is further enhanced by the lo-fi ambience; parts of the album were recorded on cassette tape in an abandoned meat locker, and you can kind of tell. Suddenly everything stops, as if someone had just cut the mains, and for two seconds all you can hear is the ringing in your ears. The band then returns to its previous noisy business, only to be cut off again twice more in short order. It’s clear that the interruptions are intentional, produced simply by turning a master fader all the way down, but realizing this doesn’t lessen its impact. On the contrary, the abrupt disappearance and reappearance of sound has turned into a memorable hook. Absence becomes presence. …”
Absence Becomes Presence: The Explosive Experimental Punk of This Heat
The Quietus
W – Health and Efficiency (EP)
YouTube: Health And Efficiency [FULL ALBUM]

Two Sevens Clash – Culture (1976)

“One of the masterpieces of the roots era, no album better defines its time and place than Two Sevens Clash, which encompasses both the religious fervor of its day and the rich sounds of contemporary Jamaica. Avowed Rastafarians, Culture had formed in 1976, and cut two singles before beginning work on their debut album with producers the Mighty Two (aka Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson). Their second single, ‘Two Sevens Clash,’ would title the album and provide its focal point. The song swept across the island like a wildfire, its power fed by the apocalyptic fever that held the island in its clutches throughout late 1976 and into 1977. (Rastafarians believed the apocalypse would begin when the two sevens clashed, with July 7, 1977, when the four sevens clashed, the most fearsome date of concern.) However, the song itself was fearless, celebrating the impending apocalypse, while simultaneously reminding listeners of a series of prophesies by Marcus Garvey and twinning them to the island’s current state. For those of true faith, the end of the world did not spell doom, but release from the misery of life into the eternal and heavenly arms of Jah. Thus, Clash is filled with a sense of joy mixed with deep spirituality, and a belief that historical injustice was soon to be righted. …”
W – Two Sevens Clash
Discogs (Video)
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: Two Sevens Clash 1977 FULL ALBUM

Mission of Burma – Vs. (1982)

Wikipedia – “Vs. is the debut studio full-length album by American post-punk band Mission of Burma, following their 1981 EP, Signals, Calls, and Marches. It was released in October 1982 by record label Ace of Hearts. It is the only full-length studio album the band released during the 1980s – and until 2004, as soon afterward they disbanded due to guitarist Roger Miller’s worsening tinnitus. Whereas 1981’s Signals, Calls, and Marches was notable for its accessible and organized qualities, Vs. saw Mission of Burma make a deliberate effort to record the chaos and noise that characterized their live performances. The songs on the album feature a greater presence of band member Martin Swope‘s electronic and tape sound effects than with the band’s previous recordings. Mission of Burma guitarist Roger Miller considered Vs. to be the band’s best recording, and among the greatest rock and roll albums ever made. …”
YouTube: Mission of Burma- VS. Full Album 11 videos

Teenage Kicks – The Undertones (1978)

“I never really liked the title Teenage Kicks. It’s the ‘kicks’ bit that still jars with me – not a word that we ever used and one I thought a bit too corny to put in a song. But then we never really expected much of it when John [O’Neill] played it for us in The Pit. The only bit of the creative process I remember was Billy [Doherty]’s drum intro, the ‘doot-n-doot-n’ which I am sure he nicked from another song we were trying to learn. Come on, what do you expect when some songs leave their intros lying around, not even locked? They’re just asking to be taken and stuck at the front of punk songs. The first time anyone outside the band mentioned Teenage Kicks was in the Casbah [in Derry], when someone standing at the bar named it as our ‘big song’. This was at least three months before we were in Wizard [Sound Studios, Belfast] so obviously someone spotted its potential. I was surprised that anyone could even work out what our songs were called, the way we sometimes introduced them. …”
Guardian: The story of Teenage Kicks: how a punk classic was born (Video/Audio)
W – Teenage Kicks
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: Teenage Kicks, True Confessions, Smarter Than U, Emergency Cases


Colab show catalogue, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1983

“The story of ABC No Rio is part of a broad current, a cultural milieu that Alan Moore and I sought to chart in the first half of the No Rio book. As an art space guided by an ideal of interaction with the surrounding community, No Rio was paralleled by other artists’ organizations, especially Collaborative Projects Inc., out of which came many of the artists who worked in and ran No Rio. Alan was an early member of Colab, officially formed in 1978, when a group of about thirty young artists created a non-profit organization to take advantage of newly available state and federal grants. With its membership open to anyone willing to attend monthly meetings, Colab was a constantly changing nexus of artists. Members proposed projects, and the group’s funds were allocated by democratic vote, generally supporting group exhibitions, publications and film/video projects that were open to all who wanted to participate. Members of the group were diverse in both their aesthetics and beliefs; yet the way Colab functioned as a social network and as an open democratic forum assured a commitment to the principle of collaboration and the cross-fertilization of ideas. In those early years one could even identify a shared group philosophy: an amorphous mix of art-world pragmatism flavored with left-wing politics and a new punk-style irreverence. Many familiar names in the art world were part of Colab: Charlie Ahearn, John Ahearn, Beth B, Liza Bear, Scott Billingsley, Diego Cortez, Jane Dickson, Stefan Eins, Colen Fitzgibbon, Bobby G, Jenny Holzer, Becky Howland, Joe Lewis, Michael McClard, Eric Mitchell, Alan Moore, James Nares, Joseph Nechvatal, Tom Otterness, Judy Rifka, Walter Robinson, Christy Rupp, Kiki Smith, Anton van Dalen, Tom Warren, and Robin Winters, to name just a few. …”
98 Bowery

The Chicago Murals

The Seven Deadly Sins – Pina Bausch (1976)

“For almost ten years ‘Die sieben Todsünden’ – ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ had not been presented in Wuppertal. Pina Bausch had turned it into a so-called ‘Tanzabend’ in 1976 by combining it with the series of song-scenes of ‘Fürchtet euch nicht’. It is an entanglement of the music of Kurt Weill, played live by the orchestra, and sung text from Bertolt Brecht. In November 2008 the reenactment had been presented in the frame of ‘Fest mit Pina’ at Schauspielhaus with a sensation back then: the original cast of the main character of ‘Todsünden’, Josephine Ann Endicott, was dancing again – decision of the choreographer. Yet, she would not be convincing anymore as the young girl, Anna II,- only maybe in kind of an awry reminiscence of once. Now, nine years after Pina Bausch’s death, this dancer is standing on stage again in the second part of the evening with asking and shaking shoulders, right up, left up, with a lifted hem of her skirt and a conquering gaze: Here I am, ‘geht’s noch?’ (‘does it still work?’), she shouts, lay your applause to my feet is what she means. The audience obeys. Out of respect or curiosity but probably also out of loyalty and being moved. The question of the ‘casting’ is hanging above each reenactment, especially above those of the older pieces. Who of those long-standing dancers and actors that worked for Pina Bausch are still performing and who from the new members is taking over which roles and how are they fulfilling those? Is the piece still what it should be? It is most likely for that exact reason that Adolphe Binder is taking those old Bausch pieces out of their boxes again: to test their viability. You might be telling them a very last goodbye. …”
Tanzweb Städte
Guardian: Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
W – The Seven Deadly Sins (ballet chanté)
“The Seven Deadly Sins” by Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht

Romeo Void – White Sweater/Apache (1981)

“Romeo Void never really cracked the commercial threshold while they were together between 1980 and 1985, but they certainly left a decent musical legacy with three studio releases and a number of bootlegged live recordings. Formed in San Francisco in 1980 while the members were students at an art college, Romeo Void broke out of the growing alternative music scene in 1981, signing with 415, a division of Columbia Records based in the Bay Area. Featuring Deborah Iyall, the band’s female lead vocalist wasn’t much of a sex symbol, but she sure could sing. One of the most ‘musical’ of all the new wave bands to emerge in the late ’70s or early ’80s, Romeo Void excelled in their strong musicianship, especially saxophonist Ben Bossi, who took the place of a flashy lead guitarist. …”
YouTube: White sweater, Apache

Various Artists – In the Beginning There Was Rhythm

“Angular guitars, funk- and disco-influenced rhythms, dabblings with electronic gadgetry, leftist politics, a dash of irony, and vocals that aren’t so much yelled or sung as they’re chanted or detachedly intoned must mean one thing and one thing only: post-punk. At the time of In the Beginning There Was Rhythm’s release, the level of resurgent interest in the style was so high that one might’ve expected a ten-part documentary series from Ken Burns. In reality, even Burns himself could’ve told you that there wasn’t a need for a ’23 Skidoo: Ken Burns Post-Punk’ compilation by the end of 2001. (Well, actually, he would’ve left them out of the series, so the point is probably moot.) After all, that artery was plugging quickly — even the smallest blips on the U.K. 1978-1982 radar were re-registering with releases that paired small-time pressings of singles with live shows and otherwise abandoned material. … Within its tightly wrapped confines, In the Beginning demonstrates post-punk’s breadth, showcasing within the grooves, jabs, and rattling waves of static the style’s influences (disco, funk, reggae, Krautrock, electronic experimentation) and the styles that the style influenced (indie rock, post-rock, almost every stripe of dance music that followed) at the same time. … Topping it off is a thick booklet full of photos and liner notes that cover each band and tie the music in with the social climate they were residing in. And while one might bemoan the exclusion of Public Image Limited, Associates, the Normal, Magazine, or other bands crucial to the ideology, there’s no denying that In the Beginning There Was Rhythm is a great gateway into this expansive, fruitful, trailblazing era.”
allmusic (Audio)
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: In The Beginning There Was Rhythm 11 videos