Y Pants – Y Pants (1980)

“… Y PANTS was a three-woman New York band: Barbara Ess, Virginia (Verge) Piersol and Gail Vachon, all visual artists. They played in clubs, galleries and performance spaces between 1979 and 1982. They were ‘as idiosyncratic, edgy, minimal, wry and literate as post-punk no wave got. Furthermore, the fact that these were three ferocious and formidable females was not to be overlooked.’ – Wolfgang Staehle, thing.net. Gail found a toy piano on the street and started jamming with Barbara on the ukulele. When they were invited to play a few weeks later at TR3 (the short-lived but influential downtown NY music club), they electrified their instruments and recruited the neophyte drummer Verge for percussion on a children’s drum set. Their first gig met with an unexpected wildly enthusiastic reception. …”
Light in the Attic
Dusted Magazine
YouTube: Off the hook, Favorite Sweater, LOVE’S A DISEASE, OBVIOUS, Magnetic Attraction


On the Other Ocean – David Behrman (1977)

“… To call [David] Behrman a composer might make him bristle, though. In a Village Voice review, critic Tom Johnson wrote, ‘Behrman doesn’t make pieces exactly. He assembles electronic equipment [that] is capable of doing certain things. These things change quite a bit… because he keeps tinkering with the machinery and adjusting his musical goals.’ When Behrman encountered the Kim-1, an early and relatively inexpensive microcomputer that became available in 1976, he quickly adopted it for his live performances. Behrman could now program the computer to ‘hear’ pitches and respond by sending harmonies to two of Behrman’s handmade synthesizers. It could also give chord changes to the players and alter the rhythm of the piece. In small steps, the computer could accompany and interact with the musicians. Two of these performances comprise On the Other Ocean. ‘On the Other Ocean’ and ‘Figure in a Clearing’ date to 1977 and feature Kim-1 engaging with woodwinds in the former, cello on the latter. While computers are now integral to modern music-making, from Pro Tools for editing to the alien ribbons of Auto-Tune that festoon pop radio, On the Other Ocean suggests a parallel world, a path not taken. Behrman and his machine don’t seek to attain the impossible or superhuman, much less strive for perfection. …”
Lovely Music
W – On the Other Ocean
Soundcloud: On the Other Ocean 23:31
vimeo: On The Other Ocean 43:03
YouTube: On the Other Ocean 43:03

Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five – New York New York (1982)

“Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five are a hip hop group composed of New Yorkers who live in the Bronx. They originally started in 1976 and released their single New York New York in 1989. The group broke down the stereotypes of New York and showed it as what it truly was in their song. It was not the bright and spectacular city where dreams came true but instead, it is filled with despair and poverty. The song begins with tambourines which builds up tension and follows with the other electrified instruments. The mix of electric hip hop and their rap follows the story of their own lives. They discuss the hardships that they have faced as well as the daily routine that many follow. For example, the group describes how one man is going to commit suicide and people do not show any concern because it happens often. The reason for suicide is because he has become unemployed, could not pay off his mortgage and now has nothing. During 1898, there were many crimes going on in the city as well as a struggle to survive. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five depict the difficulties and the disparity in wealth between the classes. …”
The Arts In New York City
W – New York New York (Grandmaster Flash song)
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: New York New York (Live), New York New York 7:08

Wire – Pink Flag (1977)

“Though born of the punk moment, ethos and conviction, the debut of Wire on Pink Flag—conceived, executed and produced as a full work, rather than conforming to the era’s focus on DIY sound or singles simply strung together—has as much to do with punk as cheese does with giraffes. From its fast-and-furious, stripped-to-the-bone approach to its fleetingly short, often fragmented songcraft (21 tracks in less than 36 minutes); from its intentional dissonance without eschewing melody or big production values to its precision-driven stops and starts and the detached, acerbic wit of its abstractionist lyrics, Pink Flag sounded like nothing else of its time, in its time and—dare we say—in this time, 40 years later. ‘It was deliberate, we were deliberate—even though we hadn’t done this before,’ says guitarist/vocalist Colin Newman of Pink Flag’s sonic assault and modern primitivism. The album happened so quickly after the quartet’s formation that you can’t help but guess that such haste added to the persistent aggression—an artful minimalism with no display of, or interest in, rock ’n’ roll. The sense of urgency and experimentation that informed Wire’s 1977 debut would also figure into the band’s evolution. …”
MAGNET Classics: The Making Of Wire’s “Pink Flag”
W – Pink Flag
Wire’s Pink Flag
YouTube: Pink Flag (full album)
YouTube: Pink Flag 21 videos

The Big Gundown – John Zorn (1986)

The Big Gundown is an album by American composer and saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist John Zorn. It comprises radically reworked covers of tracks by the Italian film composer Ennio Morricone. The album is named after a 1966 spaghetti western of the same name, directed by Sergio Sollima, starring Lee Van Cleef, and scored by Morricone. The album was first released in 1985 on the Nonesuch/Icon label. In 2000 a remastered 15th Anniversary Edition with additional tracks was released on CD on Zorn’s Tzadik Records label. In 1985 Zorn had been working in New York City’s experimental music scene for almost a decade (the album was originally to be called ‘Once Upon a Time in the Lower East Side’), but The Big Gundown launched him to wider prominence. In the notes for the 2000 reissued CD, Zorn describes The Big Gundown as representing a creative breakthrough as well for being the first time he worked extensively with multi-track recording, overdubbing and ornate orchestration. Though his main instrument is alto sax, Zorn did not play on most tracks, adding only a few touches of piano, game calls, harpsichord or musical saw. …”
YouTube: Battle Of Algeri (Live)
YouTube: The Big Gundown – Full Album 50:50

Rod Taylor – Ethiopian Kings (1975-80)

“Rod Taylor (born 2 March 1957, in Kingston, Jamaica), also known as Rocky T, is a reggae singer and producer. After forming a short-lived group called The Aliens with Barry Brown and Johnny Lee, Taylor recorded his first single, ‘Bad Man Comes and Goes’ in 1975 for Ossie Hibbert. He gained exposure as part of Bertram Brown‘s Freedom Sounds collective (along with other reggae artists such as Prince Alla and Earl Zero), releasing the hit single ‘Ethiopian Kings’, which led to work with Mikey Dread. He subsequently worked with a variety of producers in the late 1970s and early 1980s including Prince Far I, Ossie Hibbert, Prince Hammer, and Nigger Kojak. Taylor’s debut album, If Jah Should Come Now, was issued in 1979, with Where Is Your Love Mankind following in 1980. After a few quiet years, Taylor re-emerged in the late 1980s with the One In a Million album, with further releases following into the 2000s. Rod Taylor is still performing with sound systems or bands, especially with the French Band Positive Roots Band. …”
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Ethiopian Kings (1975-80) 14 videos

The Raincoats (1979)

The Raincoats is a beginning, but it is also a record about beginnings. In its songs you hear a cultural genesis story. The Raincoats were a group of women who were, in part, just learning to play their instruments, but their debut album also coincides with the start of a whole artistic sensibility, one of fearless and knowing amateurism. These overcast songs are charged with the feeling of newness that comes with realizing you are not what you expected. It is the sound of finding things buried inside you that you did not know were there. It is the sound of realities expanding note by note, of accepting punk’s dare. It is the sound of people believing in themselves. The album’s protagonists, who are also its authors, are young female mavericks alone in the city. They wander many miles of concrete streets and still more in the solitude of their minds. The scrappiness of life rumbles and tumbles along. They gaze at tube platforms and dream. With its defiantly shy temperament, The Raincoats is introversion as punk—a celebration of the female interior life. This is why its 34 minutes of clattering feminist outsider art have become spiritual music for so many generations of women, and medicine for the quietest, cast-out kids, odes to outsiders among outsiders in perpetuity. It is an ultimate loner album. …”
The Raincoats’ Debut Album Is a Classic DIY Document (Audio)
How a British Post-Punk Group Influenced Entire Generations of Rock Bands
Drowned In Sound
The Quietus – Post-Punk Distilled: The Raincoats’ Debut Album 30 Years On
W – The Raincoats
YouTube: The Raincoats (1979), full album 11 videos

Holger Czukay ‎– Persian Love (1979)

“In 1977 Holger Czukay left Can, the band he was part of since its inception in 1968. After acting as the bass player for the band on the classic albums they released in the beginning of the 70s, he moved to a role similar to Brian Eno’s on Roxy Music’s first albums, manipulating tapes and producing sounds via short wave radios and other sources. In 1978 he labored on an album that immediately upon its release in 1979 became a hugely influential recording for many artists due to its unique use of sampling. The art of sampling in musical recordings existed long before Holger Czukay recorded the album Movies, on which the addictive Persian Love appears. Modern composers including Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Karlheinz Stockhausen, with whom Czukay studied in the mid 60s, have all composed music that used tape loops along with other traditional instruments as far back as the 50s. Some of these compositions went farther and comprised solely of loops and electronic devices. …”
The Music Aficionado (Video)
YouTube: Persian love

Edward Dorn – Recollections of Gran Apacheria (1972)

“Edward Dorn (1929–1999) wrote poetry, fiction, non-fiction, journalism, and translations, all from a position outside the centers of power of our time but close enough to see them clearly and to indict their control over our lives. This same position — that of the outsider able to see into the heart of the contemporary world — has been occupied by some of the most incisive and persistently valuable critics of American culture, such as Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Ralph Ellison, and Charles Olson. Like these writers, Dorn takes as the central obligation of a citizen’s life the task of finding out exactly where one stands — geographically, politically, and spiritually — in order to maintain a critical distance from coercive institutions and to honor the integrity of one’s own sense of things. … In his next book, Recollections of Gran Apachería, Dorn presents the Apaches as noble ‘not in themselves / so much as in their Ideas.’ Apache thought, like the Gunslinger’s, arises from dwelling undistractedly in a timeless, local space, defined by actual geographical features: ‘Their leading ideas / come directly from the landform.’ Western culture, in contrast, wants to control everything through the abstract force of predictive reason, which Dorn labels ‘Mind.’ Mind is a deadly tool in the wrong hands, and Dorn distinguishes it from the thinking practices of people who think with the landform. …”
Jacket2: Introduction to Edward Dorn
Tom Clark: Geronimo in Exile (Edward Dorn: Recollections of Gran Apacheria)
Wordplay this week: Ed Dorn
Ron Silliman: Way More West: New and Selected Poems
amazon: Recollections of Gran Apachería