Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Music: Minimalogic "Irritant" tape (mp3)

Alright I'm breaking my self-imposed exile from reviewing digital albums in order to write up this (impossible to find) gem.

Minimalogic was, best I can tell, Nashville's very first Noise/"experimental" band. Citing influences such as Throbbing Gristle and The Residents, D.A.C. Crowell, Greg Killmaster (surely not his real name?) and Charlie Newman produced a gnarly sound-world out of pulsing oscillators, heavily effected guitars, tape-loops of found audio and strangled vocals that would sound absolutely at home at a Keffer-organized Betty's show some 16 years later. Noise ages well? "Irritant" is their sole album, released on cassette in 1984.

The creeping A side includes ring modulated monk chants, distorted drum machines, detuned vocals and otherworldly sound effects that are all the more disorienting for their uncompressed presence. Metal pings strike at your temples over a churning guitar/synth loop that gradually falls apart, leaving these incredibly anxious out-of-sync puzzle-pieces.

Later there's heavy storm-ambience over which a weird-whistle synth makes bird calls into the ether. Dramatic Darth Vader string-synth patterns undercut the atmosphere and a gurgling low frequency rolls in, evolving into a cutting pink noise buzz, filter-waffles, and cuts out.

Side 2 opens with a slowly-rolling low synth with Arto-styled detuned guitar chimes and random LFO chirps. A dissembodied semi-falsetto sings about Minimal Love: "Minimal love/ is cuming in silence," while clicking anti-rhythms feel like footsteps of a stalker in a dark alley. It's roughly as creepy as Throbbing Gristle's best work, and really it's hard to imagine this band was working in the weird-vacuum of Nashville Intelligence Report days, alongside so so much rehashed punk (Jason and the Scorchers, Cloverbottom, et al.)

About a quarter thru Side 2, the track ends and we're presented with a nastily melting, bright square wave arpeggio. It's academic Minimalism thrown to the dogs of punk: entirely unsettling and strangely beautiful. And its warped beauty lasts a long time, gradually reforming as a metallic bulb-worm, then ripped outside itself, computer-guts hanging out of its android skin. Almost thirty years before the Nashville Symphony commissioned an original work by Terry Riley, this is maybe the first Minimal piece to originate in Music City.

It's certainly the first piece of "harsh noise" to come out of a town where feedback loops and heavily distorted electronics would eventually flourish.

Good luck finding the cassette. (And if you have one for sale, please let me know.) I'll be happy to share mp3 files (with C. Newman's blessing,) to interested parties if you email me. Highly Recomended!

4 comments:

  1. Dear DJ.MTV.E,

    This is a really well written, passionate article.

    Thank you for rediscovering this band! I wasn't aware Nashville had a noise band in the mid 80s. Your review really makes me want to hear them! (Can I get a copy?)

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  2. Surely copies are get-able!

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  3. Fun fact: Greg Killmaster was employed by Industrial Lights and Magic and worked on such films as "Mars Attacks!" and "The Mummy", as well as several Harry Potter and Star Wars/Trek titles.

    Even more incredible: his actual, for real surname is fucking KILLMASTER!

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  4. Yes, I remember back in like... 1985 my brother brought it to band practice for a joke. In the words of Deter (SnL) let me just say- "This mix makes me want to touch my monkey, it is twisted and profain. The agony is gorgeous, and I need to be slapped! And now is the time on Sprockets when we dance! LOL

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Trolling encouraged. -MTVE