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O Type Medication CD Cover

Bruce Anderson & Dale Sophiea - Medication (CD, Family Vineyard, Psychedelic Modern Classical)

Readers should take note that this disc is actually by the above two individuals as well as Jim Hrabetin, Marc Weinstein, and Dave Mahoney. We had previously reviewed one of Bruce Anderson' s solo albums and found it to be quite amazing. While certainly not intended for everyone, Medication is a marvelously bizarre and surreal mental trip. The song titles were created from side effects that one might experience from taking prescription medication: "Euphoria," "Ringing in the Ears," "Vivid Dreams" (this one's a REAL strange ride). Believe us, after hearing four or five of these compositions in a row you will certainly FEEL as if you have taken some medication. This truly is psychedelic modern classical music, as it embodies many of the ideas of both genres. Many of the tracks here will literally melt your brain. We must make a point here to warn folks who are looking for traditional song formats (melodies, vocals, standard structures, etc.) that this CD is definitely NOT for you. This is the kind of thing that your aunt, your brother, your workmates, and your children will not understand in any way, shape, or form. These compositions are VERY far out and obtuse. The real success of this disc is that it truly does embody the feelings of the side effects of drugs. Words can't really describe pieces like "Decreased Production of Tears" and "Vertigo." Suffice to say, however, this is an OUTSTANDING piece of work. Highly recommended for those who really enjoy their altered states of consciousness... Easily one of the best recordings we have heard this year. (Rating: 6+)

Bruce Anderson and Dale Sophiea / Medication / Family Vineyard/Quadruped (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Exaggerated Feeling of Well-Being"
The two key musicians on this album have been working with each other for over 30 years, starting with the experimental rock band MX-80. I will break the official indie-music critic's code and admit that I have never heard this apparently legendary band -- but judging by this album, I have definitely been missing something. Though more conceptual and ambient, Medication is something of an avant-garde sister to Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space. That album was packaged like medication; this one not only features the titular references to chemical euphoria, but the track names are a list of "side effects you may experience". Clearly, these guys don't have J. Spaceman money to throw around on gospel choirs, but they accomplish their objectives quite admirably given vastly fewer resources. The album is through-and-through guitar experiments, with almost no feedback and a great deal of multitracking and chiming harmonics. The sound is continuous throughout, but is more clearly separated into individual ideas than is the norm with this kind of record. The "side effect" titles are not simply for effect; more often than not, they are quite descriptive of the corresponding sounds. "Ringing In Your Ears" consists of feedback carried over from "Euphoria", accompanied by soft chimes. "Metallic Taste" increases the tempo and adds high, picked guitar notes that somehow recall plaque scraping (in a pleasant way). "Sensitivity to Light" makes use of some weird backward-sounding effects that recall the freak-out segment of Midnight Cowboy. Granted, abstracted cork soundscapes should probably not be judged on their listenability, but there is something to be said for the fact that I find myself listening to this album much more often than other, similarly ambitious endeavors. I suppose here, as everywhere, experience really does count. -- bm

ANDERSON, BRUCE / SOPHIEA, DALE - Medication CD (Family Vineyard)

"The members of MX-80 Sound/O-Type continue the explorations and deconstructions of their New Edge series. Previous releases Strict and Balkana have seen entire albums multiply and expand on a continual theme. With Medication producer/engineer/sample-master Dale Sophiea directs the collective into placing a microscopic inspection on 12 mini-soundtracks examining the aftereffects of your brain on drugs. Though 'Metallic Taste,' 'Sensitivity to Light,' and 'Vertigo' are not part of a parody, concept-album. The experiences prescribed for each piece are the resulting crash and collapse -- added on after these late night improvisations were edited down and spliced in digital space. This is Deep Listening music. Layers of sonic sediment are built up through these songs, dense foundations which offer various listening situations depending on which grain you want to concentrate on." [FV 8 CD]

MX-*) I've Seen Enough

MX-80 I've Seen Enough (Atavistic) *** 1/2

Such catastrophes as the latest ELP revival have obscured the vital underside of art rock once defined by the likes of Soft Machine, Henry Cow, Pere Ubu, and Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. Twenty years deep into its underground career, the Bay Area's own MX-80 continues to advance the form as a kind of minimalist metal power trio. Slow tempos dominate this latest outing. Rich Stim's dry vocals, wavering between vulnerability and withering irony, tend to deflect attention from Bruce Anderson's brilliantly tempestuous guitar as it roams around the interlocking patterns of Dale Sophiea's bass and Marc Weinstein's drums. But a beautiful cacophony of textures and a faith in the indomitable power of laughter belie the oft melancholy tunes and Blue Velvety observations on modern life. MX-80 performs with Japanese noise avatars Merzbow Sat/5, Bottom of the Hill, S.F. (415) 621-4455. (Derk Richardson)

MX-80 Big Hits 7 inch

This weird post-metal art band originally from Bloomington, Indiana (from the same scene that spawned the goofy Gizmos) centers their sound around Bruce Anderson's slashing, trebly guitar riffing and Rich Stim's deadpan, often indecipherable, mumble. As a five-piece (with two drummers), they twice released a seven-song 7-inch EP (subtitled "Hard pop from the Hoosiers") on local labels, impressing Island Records enough to sign them. But the resulting Hard Attack never came out in the States and attracted little attention aside from some critical raves. A move to San Francisco (shedding one drummer in the process) brought them to the attention of that city's Ralph Records, home of the Residents and other offbeat types.

Members of MX-80 also back Stim's singing wife, Angel Corpus Christi, on her releases, discs that meld Patti Smith-poesy with fringey no wave. If ever a band realized the potential of pre-punk "underground" noise rock, MX-80 is it.
[Robert Payes/David Sprague]

MX-80 Out Of The Tunnel

Out of the Tunnel may well be MX-80's high-tide mark, particularly on the concurrent single, "Someday We'll Be King" b/w "White Night"; on these two sides, their formula of convoluted, breakneck melodies, cross-fed musical genres and Anderson's white-hot soloing nears critical mass. [Robert Payes/David Sprague]

MX-80 Crowd Control

Crowd Control doesn't quite reach the same lofty heights. With more strict adherence to "metal" (in the Blue Öyster Cult sense) form, the songs here merely replace much of the white-hot intensity of Tunnel with volume. The results range from epiphany ("Obsession: Devotion" and "Face of the Earth") to nails-against-chalkboard (like a take on the theme from Brian DePalma's Sisters). A litigation-enforced five-year hiatus followed; while the band never technically split (note the plethora of pseudonymous releases), they did a pretty convincing disappearing act. When the curtain lifted again, a chopped and channeled leaner MX-80 was revealed. [Robert Payes/David Sprague]

MX-80 Existntial Lover

Existential Lover takes a step back from overkill's precipice; a biting and nasty artifact that simmers constantly with the psychotic abandon that spewed irregularly from earlier efforts. The filmic bent is still there on "Monster from Japan" and "Orson," and Stim's deadpan drawl recalls a non-homogenized Stan Ridgway in its seamy travel guide monotone. A real edge-of-your-seat listen. [Robert Payes/David Sprague]

MX-80 Das Love Boat

Das Love Boat (perhaps the first all-instrumental album to sport a parental advisory) is an exhaustively complete retrospective, encompassing material from all the band's releases, plus early ('75-'78) live tracks. The package is topped off with a brace of newly recorded jazzy efforts, the best of which is the rasping title track. [Robert Payes/David Sprague]

Graphic Not Avalable

O-Type was the moniker Anderson and MX-80's extraordinary bassist Dale Sophiea used to create theme music for a Ralph film (the theme to which crops up on Das Love Boat) and sporadically revived to churn out doom-laden, Germanic power-rock that's not all that far removed from an axe-wielding Suicide — especially Anderson's impassioned vocals. Darling is the pick of that litter. The Gizzards (identified as "the weak, separated Siamese twins of three MX-80 members" — geddit?) offer a few more laffs, though not nearly as many as Sgt. Peppersteak's title would suggest. Over the course of these releases, the mood has become decidedly more bleak (and MX-80-ish), peaking with Peppersteak's martial, creepy "Straight Line" and "Trailer Park."

Members of MX-80 also back Stim's singing wife, Angel Corpus Christi, on her releases, discs that meld Patti Smith-poesy with fringey no wave. If ever a band realized the potential of pre-punk "underground" noise rock, MX-80 is it.
[Robert Payes/David Sprague]

Brutality CD cover

Guitarist Bruce Anderson, a founder of MX-80 Sound and more recently a member of that band's O-Type and Gizzards offshoots with Brutality producer Dale Sophiea, truly brings the noise on his full-length 1995 album, a compilation of the two solo cassettes plus ten minutes' worth of nation-named tracks ("Lebanon" and "Greece," which diverge from the remainder by having Sophiea's bass and sample contributions) from a 1986 O-Type release. Half the places visited on Brutality are wordless layered 4-track guitar cacophonies — impressive in their density but not good for much beyond emergency lease-breaking campaigns. The remaining spots on this obscure self-indulgence are spare one-or-two-guitar improvisations that sometimes incorporate Frippertronic sustain melodies but rarely surpass the imaginative structure level of random warm-up exercises.

Anderson's solo tapes are essential for those with a passion for volume-intensive but fluid guitar improv; imagine a cross between Sonny Sharrock and a bad-mood Robert Fripp. The first tape borrows a few MX-80 themes, but expands on them enough that you'll barely notice. Israel: Palestine is a touch harsher and more claustrophobic in tone. Bracing stuff. [Robert Payes/David Sprague]

MX-80 Out Of Control

MX-80 Hard Attack LP

Having dropped the "Sound" from its name (thereby encouraging confusion with Virginia garage-blues quartet the M-80's), MX-80 — which began in Indiana in the mid-'70s and eventually relocated to San Francisco following a hookup with the Residents' Ralph Records label — has remained active in the '90s. In addition to singles and a 1990 instrumental album, the band recently saw to the reissue of its original catalogue: 1980's Out of the Tunnel and 1981's Crowd Control were combined on CD as Out of Control, while 1976's seven-song Big Hits 7-inch and 1977's Hard Attack were packaged together with a bonus outtake from the latter.
[Ira Robbins]

O-Type Strict

ANDERSON/DALE SOPHIEA - Strict CD Family Vineyard

"Bruce Anderson and Dale Sophiea are usually associated with the juggernaut guitar attack of MX-80 Sound. Since the formation of the band in 1972, the two have continued crafting an unique and highly articulate musical dialogue. Over the 10 pieces on Strict, Anderson's guitar carries its familiar tone, through instead of metallic sound sheets, the tones hover and massage over one another. He does offer some MazzaCane and Bailey-styled notes, especially on 'Father Damien,' though Anderson's playing is fully his own. Sophiea sculpts samples from elements of bells, voices, and field recordings, adding an opaque bed for Anderson to play over. His additional bass playing holds the pieces down with cavernous depth.MX-80 drummer Marc Weinstein performs on three tracks and Jim Hrabetin adds guitar on one. Strict is simultaneously made up of floating ambient waves and non-static free guitar playing."

From Aural Innovations #20 (July 2002)

I first discovered MX-80 [Sound] via their two albums released on Ralph Records many years ago and immediately tuned into their brand of avant-punk sonic mayhem. With that band in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the music on these more recent side projects by Bruce Anderson and Dale Sophiea.

On Strict, Anderson and Sophiea (with help from fellow MX-80's Marc Weinstein and Jim Hrabetin) embark on a journey that is sonically entrancing and even meditative, relative to what we're accustomed to on MX-80 recordings. Consisting mostly of guitar, bass, and samples, the duo manage to create a noise-ambient-rocking atmosphere that is sometimes orchestral, and at others has a rocking free-improv feel. Weinstein's drums give an extra welcome boost of life to the tracks he contributes to. "Brigid" is a standout with dual guitars from Anderson and Hrabetin and drums from Weinstein. Dark and intense, the music seems to flow smoothly but is actually performing the same form of brain surgery that MX-80 themselves are known for. It's just more.... stealthy. Despite the intensity levels, there are also plenty of parts that are calmly atmospheric, ethereal, and even angelic. "Zita" includes jazz structures but with a jamming dirty noise-rock feel that is strangely meditative. "Hugo" is an extended ambient piece that I enjoyed. It's a slowly developing somewhat minimalist work with heavenly choirs and quiet but assertive noise-scapes. "Father Damien" and "Jeanne" are the epic length tracks on the disc, both featuring a noise and meditation contrast that is simultaneously contemplative and aggressive. Beauty and a sense of sinister foreboding coexist to ultimately create harmony. Though it didn't hold my attention consistently throughout, this is an intriguing set that will appeal to fans of experimental guitar landscapes that straddle the border between ambience and noise.

Brutality 2 Balkana

Balkana • s/t • Family Vineyard

Collaborators Bruce Anderson, Dave Mahoney, Dale Sophiea, Marc Weinstein, and Jim Hrabetin are the force behind this work. The four very long anthems contained on this entirely instrumental album are an exploration of human violence, most notably its namesake, the recent war in the Balkans. Definite ambience here, and meant to be enjoyed passively, but passionately.

It's very rare to find music made with real integrity or sense of purpose these days. Acts like Mariah Carey and Ricky Martin embody the antithesis of integrity: their music is an incidental by-product of their corporate marketing strategies—body training is more important to their success than their music. And just like the scandal of the month (Monica, Elian . . . anybody remember Tonya Harding? O.J.?), the most aesthetically bankrupt music is pushed in our faces continuously. Even independent acts often lack integrity or sense of purpose beyond angling for major label recognition or wallowing in self-indulgence. Real music, at least in my opinion, is not made primarily to make money or to pander to a perceived audience, but rather to express something the artist needs to and must express—something otherwise inexpressible that an artist wants to share with the world. Regardless of whether one really "likes" this music or not, Balkana provides a rare example of music with integrity and purpose.

The music on this disc is created by former members of MX-80 Sound and O- Type: Bruce Anderson, Dave Mahoney, Dale Sophiea, Jim Hrabetin, and Marc Weinstein. The press material accompanying the disc explains the music as a "lament" for the victims and the horror of the war and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. The press release would have made an excellent liner note for the cd and its absence from the disc is puzzling, since the inside and back of the cd cover consist of pretty marginal minimalistic art. At any rate, the title of the cd (with a cover showing two children's faces) and the song titles give one an idea of what this music is about. There are four pieces on the disc: "Blood," "Cleansing," "Feud," and "Balkana." Dense layers of dark sounds loop and intertwine to create a listening experience that is at times sublime, intense, and riveting, even though much of the music is essentially minimalistic. "Feud," at about 26 minutes, is the emotional centerpiece of the album, a kind of gently building, angst-driven symphony of bell/guitar loops, sustained guitars, haunting fragmented voices, and Robert Fripp-esque soloing. "Feud," in fact, owes much to Fripp and Brian Eno's 1973 album No Pussyfooting, which laid the foundation for the kind of industrial strength ambient soundscape heard here. This music is dark and brooding and the overall effect of really listening to the whole disc is emotionally draining. Why then would you want to listen to this music? Maybe to remind yourself that music can have real meaning and intention behind it and can aspire to saying something meaningful about the human condition. Imagine that!

Bruce Anderson, Brutality II: Balkana, Family Vineyard, Released 2000

I've never been a fan of MX-80; Bruce Anderson's voice is, to quote Tom Verlaine, "too too too to put a finger on." Anyways, I think it's a bit much. So no one was more surprised than me when I popped this disc in the player, fully expecting to pop it out again within minutes, and ending up playing it all the way through. Then playing it again.

By now enough musicians have taken a crack at making a soundtrack for the movie in your mind that hasn't ever been filmed that it qualifies as a trend. And like the fruits of any other bandwagon-jumping phenomenon, a lot of those records are pretty tepid. This isn't one of those records. It's as gothic and anguished as its subject -- the multi-generational genocidal cycle that keeps the Balkans stained with blood. Balkana is divided into four parts; "Blood," "Cleansing," "Feud," and "Balkana;" but they comprise one program.

The music starts quietly, adding layers of electronically processed guitars and buried percussion that build up a sense of foreboding. By the time you get to "Feud" you can sense that something's up, but you're not sure what. Then Anderson drops in a looped guitar chord and the pace picks up. From there it's an increasingly nightmarish ride, with howling guitars and sampled monk chants racing past the windows as the metaphorical train runs straight off its tracks. The record ends with a bleak maelstrom, slowly spinning around and around on its way to hell.

Balkana won't lift you up, but it's singularly evocative of its chosen subject.

If you like Bruce Anderson, check out:
Crib She Is Church
Lee Ranaldo Amarillo Ramp
Polwechsel Polwechsel 2

-- Bill Meyer, Ink Blot Home

From Aural Innovations #20 (July 2002)

A much stronger release, for this listener, is Brutality II: Balkana, a solo outing from Anderson with help, once again, from the MX-80's. Featuring four, mostly lengthy tracks, Anderson embarks on a journey in which the guitar is an artist's tool, more than it is an instrument. The opening track, "Blood", is actually a full band tune on which Anderson and Hrabetin's guitars create flowing guitar-scape waves and drones that roll along a landscape of sonic peaks and valleys, the volume slowly rising and falling as a parade of sounds, both delicate and harsh, color the music. Mahoney and Weinstein embellish the proceedings with subtle percussion, and Dale Sophiea is somewhere in the mix on bass and "narrative flow" (whatever that is).

"Cleansing" is the most ambient music I've heard on either of these CD's. It consists of really nice soundscape guitar work from Anderson, and a beautiful deep bass sound from Sophiea flows through in intermittent single notes. And at almost 30 minutes in length, "Feud" is the highlight track being full of sounds and atmospherics that give it a thematic feel. Like the soundtrack to an avant-garde theatrical performance, Anderson explores the guitar's possibilities with passion and emotion. It has a blend of drone, heavy rocking free-improv, and even a bit of dark psychedelia. Near the end of the track there's a cool dual guitar segment with one guitar off on a freakout run and the other sounding like Robert Fripp's soundscape guitar works. The music evolves slowly through the ambience and aggressiveness that has characterized both these releases, though even at it's harshest the music retains a meditative quality, the drones serving as mantras for the mind.

In summary, These musicians have shown phenomenal growth over the years and clearly have varied interests. These discs may not appeal to MX-80 fans but anyone into ambient/experimental guitar excursions will find much to enjoy. Definitely start with Balkana.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

O-Type Lugubrious

O-Type, Lugubrious [Family Vineyard; 2001] Rating: 5.8

In the beginning, there was noise. No one could really agree where it came from, but everyone was certain it had been through a whole bunch of effects units by the time it got here. Noise: first as a tidal wave, then in short spurts with little bits of silence in between. Next came the drums: kind of meditative, and a little spare. And then, the guitar: a bit jagged, sort of high-pitched.

Truth be told, it's hard to describe what any of it sounds like because it's all sort of hard to hear. This is the first thing I noticed about O-Type's Lugubrious-- all of the sounds tend to just bleed into one another, with everything sounding distant, murky and more than a bit flat. There's a blanket of noise, stacked with loosely structured guitar improvisation, gong crashes, drums that go from groping-in-the-dark to rhythmic then back again, and occasional electronic weirdness. Rarely does a single sound stand out long enough to take command of the others, to lead them towards something, anything.

In other words, it's generic output from your standard improvised avant-rock band. You know the type: with the rotating door membership, the sporadic schedule of jams, and a wall-of-sound output that's clearly aided by the music-enhancing abilities of hallucinogenic drugs. To be honest, Lugubrious reminds me quite a bit like recordings I've made with friends-- long, generally unstructured, generally mediocre, but not without their moments. It's the sort of thing that's eminently enjoyable to those involved in the production, but generally rates a shrug on anyone else's entertainment scale.

Still, I'm not about to put the hardcore smackdown on Lugubrious. While its long drones don't really go anywhere, and the electronic meanderings which emerge from the murk now and again don't particualrly stand out, it's really not terrible stuff. And like, any jam, there are those moments which undeniably work; like the interaction between the two drummers, about halfway through "Hermit," where building cymbal fills and a tightly kept beat emerge from the ambient swamp, only to be swallowed back up in the end. Or the rhythmic electronic crackles that bookshelf the synths-plus-drone track called "Clearing."

I was fully prepared to go easy on O-Type, to call them a vaguely interesting, if not terribly original quartet of improvisers and then call it a day. And then it suddenly occurred to me where I knew the names on the cover from. Bruce Anderson, Dale Sophiea, Marc Weinstein, Dave Mahoney? All four of these guys are members of MX-80, one of the first non-Residents related groups to be signed to Ralph Records in the late 70's (we're talking the same graduating class as Renaldo and the Loaf, Yello and Tuxedomoon here). I can't claim to have heard much of their recent work, but I do know that in their heyday MX-80 was an amazing bunch of musicians, as innovative as they came, always evolving, generally refusing to settle down with a signature sound. But no matter how weird they got, old-school MX-80 always had a certain logic to its abstractions, a reassuring sense that they were taking you somewhere.

Which is precisely what O-Type's Lugubrious is missing. Contrary to some beliefs, "ambient" is not synonymous with "aimless." Lugubrious spends far too much time layering meaningless guitar noodling over a backdrop of thick noise and not nearly enough time giving the listener a reason to keep at it. Elsewhere, the group overcompensates: "Escape" pastes a Latin hand-drum and panting sample seemingly ripped from Señor Coconut's cover of "Tour De France" over guitar feedback and live drumming. But the timbres fail to mesh, and the prerecorded beats actually seem to trip up the live percussion, resulting in a messy pastiche of sounds that were never intended to go together in the first place.

These are simple mistakes, the kind countless bands make daily. And frankly, I can't summon up an intense hatred toward musicians who really are trying their best. Unfortunately, Lugubrious was made by musicians with a long career that's yielded plenty of work that's head and shoulders above this. Certainly, there's plenty to be said for all-out self-serving improvisation-- for making music simply for making music's sake. I have no doubt that the recordingsessions which spawned Lugubrious were fun and worthwhile for the musicians involved. But fun and worthwhile for the musicians doesn't always translate as fun and worthwhile for the listener. Put quickly and simply: your time and money would be well spent exploring MX-80's fine back catalog. You'll probably find it wasted if you spend it here.

-David M. Pecoraro, May 2nd, 2002

O-Type: Lugubrious (2002) CD

Ordinary types?

MX-80 medlemmene Bruce Anderson, Dale Sophiea, Dave Mahoney og Marc Weinstein har også behov for å lage musikk som ikke passer med den gruppas fastlagte konsept. De har derfor jobbet med en serie av plater de har kalt New Edge. Lugubrious er den fjerde i serien, men den første utgitt under navnet O-Type.

Dette her dreier seg om erfarne musikkfreaks, husk at MX-80 debuterte på vinyl så tidlig som i 1975 på lokalt selskap i Bloomingon, Indiana. Seinere kom de i kontakt med The Residents, flyttet til San Francisco og utga etterhvert flere plater på Ralph records som krysset Zappa/Beefheart og new wave på en høyst snodig måte. Gruppa har hatt sporadiske utgivelser de siste 20 åra, sist med Always Leave 'em Wanting Less fra 1997, innspilt live i Chicago og San Francisco. Bruce Anderson har også gitt ut soloalbum med Fripp-aktige gitar-eksperimenter.

På Lugubrious' takkeliste finner vi både Pierre Schaeffer, Cesar Franck og John Cage, selv om disse influensene ikke smitter over på O-Type i særlig grad. Musikken til O-Type er likevel ikke av den ordinære typen, men en slags ambient musikk med vekt på klanger som henger nesten evig bak en atonal elektrisk gitar. Noen partier er stillestående, andre flytter så vidt på seg med forsiktig bruk av perkusjon. Dette skaper lydsporet til et religiøst rituale i en uendelig skog utført av neanderthaler-mennesket under forrige istid. Det lengste sporet her heter nettopp Ritual (16:24). Fakler flarer opp og fortrenger nattens mørke for et øyeblikk før de dør ut igjen. O-Types musikk er hendelsesfattig men er i stand til å skape en spesiell ro når du hører etter. Tankearbeidet overlates etterhvert stadig mer til underbevissheten.

Denne typen ambient musikk har en lang historie der det meste allerede er utprøvet. Tangerine Dream laget for eksempel mesterverket Zeit allerede i 1972. Dette besto av stillestående lydbilder laget litt etter samme grunnidé som Lugubrious. Det foreliggende materialet er derfor ikke spesielt originalt, men skaper stilige lydkullisser til eksperimentelle kortfilmer, om de nå er reelle eller imaginære.

- Dag Erik Asbjørnsen, 13.02.200

 

Mx-80

MX-80 Sound (Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Gli MX-80 Sound di Bruce Anderson erano stati una delle bande di rumoristi piu` radicali del '77, quando a far scuola erano i Pere Ubu e i Residents. Originari dell'Indiana (Bloomington), nel 1978 si stabilirono a San Francisco, dove il loro rock estremamente degradato (centrato attorno alle distorsioni efferate del leader) trovo` terreno fertile sotto la protezione dei Residents in persona. Gli Mx-80 Sound avevano gia` alle spalle l'EP Big Hits (BRBQ, 1976), con Myonga Von Bontee, e un album di art-punk scarsamente incisivo, Hard Attack (Island, 1977). Il quartetto, che faceva leva anche su Dale Sophiea (basso) e Rich Stim (canto), venne alla ribalta dell'underground con Out Of The Tunnel (Ralph, 1980), uno dei classici minori dell'epoca, ricco di spumeggianti canzoni al napalm (Someday You'll Be King, I Walk Among Them), e Crowd Control (1981), che convogliava il terrible brio dell'album precedente in canzoni piu` ordinate (Face Of The Earth), adeguando al tempo stesso i loro maelstrom sonori al formato dell'heavymetal (Obsession Devotion), e aumentava il potenziale sonoro con un sassofono.

Del gruppo si persero le tracce per qualche anno. Nel 1985 Anderson e il bassista Dale Sophiea registrarono una cassetta (per la Quadruped) sotto lo pseudonimo di O-Type, che sara` seguita due anni dopo da Darling. Lo stile e` diventato molto simile alle trance dei Suicide, con la violenza dell'hardcore. Sempre Anderson e Sophiea registrano anche sotto gli pseudonimi Half Life (Quadruped, 1985), un disco di hard rock piu` convenzionale, e Gizzards (due dischi di parodie della musica rock).

Anderson sembrava condannato a un'esistenza di stenti discografici nel piu` infimo underground. Invece, a sorpresa, nel 1987 torno` con ben due opere: le cassette Brutality I & II (Quadruped, 1987 & 1988) a suo nome (ristampate in un album unico nel 1996 dalla Atavistic con l'aggiunta di due tracce inedite) e Existential Lover (Quadruped, 1987) a nome MX-80, che segna il rientro del cantante Rich Stim e annovera composizioni forbite come Pink Carnations e Rock Rock Rock. La prima inaugura un genere non troppo diverso dalla "frippertronics" di Fripp, ma con improvvisazioni deliranti alla Creed. La seconda e` una delle opere piu` riuscite del personaggio, meno violenta della media ma anche piu` sofferta e meditata.

Das Love Boat (A&R, 1990) (Atavistic, 1995) e` un album strumentale che tenta di vendere il rumore degli MX-80 alla generazione della musica ambientale. Almeno Clown Sex e Halloween Theme sono gemme di quel folle concetto di pop-art.

In spirito e in lettera Anderson e` un discepolo della scuola del rock tedesco, in particolare degli sperimentatori della chitarra come Manuel Gottsching. Nella sua opera, audace e diligente, rivivono i brividi gotici e futuristi, le imponenti fughe psichedeliche, le atmosfere wagneriane degli Amon Duul e dei Neu. If English is your first language and you could translate this text, please contact me.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

Se sei interessato a tradurre questo testo, contattami Suddenly, MX-80 mutated into some kind of avant-pop entity on I've Seen Enough (Atavistic, 1996). Have Another Drink, Last Man On Earth and Who Is The Man are equally melodic and noisy in the best new wave tradition. The album was followed by the live anthology Always Leave 'Em Wanting Less (Atavistic, 1997).

MX-80 Hard Attack LP

MX-80 Sound Teil 1 : 2 : 3 from popalphabet 31.5.95  
 
Eine Menge Leute kennen den Namen. Kaum einer kennt die Musik. Und praktisch keiner weiß, daß es sie noch gibt: MX-80 Sound.

Der Kopf der Gruppe MX-80 Sound ist Bruce Anderson, Jahrgang 1949, aus der Nähe von Bloomington, Indiana, Gitarre. Anderson hatte in den sechziger Jahren eine Combo, die zuerst Rock, dann Jazzrock spielte und Mrs. Seaman's Sound Band hieß. Das berühmteste Mitglied von Mrs. Seaman's - sollte sich später herausstellen - war Michael Brecker. Anderson lernte Gitarre bei Buddy Guy, machte eine Derek-Bayley-Freejazz-Phase durch, spielte Country und in Tanzkapellen, unter anderem auf der Hochzeit von Billy und Emily Harris, den späteren Entführern von Patty Hearst, und schließlich ab 1969 bei den Screaming Gypsy Bandits, einer halbwegs notorischen Trip-Band, die midwesterliche Colleges abgraste. Von den Screaming Gypsy Bandits muß es sogar eine Platte geben; außerdem spielten sie auf Festivals mit Leuten wie Captain Beefheart und einem gewissen Crocus Behemoth, den wir heute als David Thomas kennen. 1971 war die Zigeunerzeit vorbei und Bruce Anderson machte nur noch privat, aber besessen und täglich Musik. Sein Schlafzimmer-Session-Partner war der zwei Jahre ältere Bassist Dale Sophiea; zusammen bastelten sie an neuen Sounds und Techniken. In einem Interview für Guitar Player beschreibt Anderson seinen Stil folgendermaßen: "Wirf John McLaughlin, Terje Rypdal, Wilko Johnson und James Blood Ulmer zusammen, würze ab mit Olivier Messiaen, Morton Feldman und Krzysztof Penderdecki, laß alles 15 bis 20 Jahre lang ziehen und schließe das Ganze dann über eine Stratocaster an einen voll aufgedrehten Verstärker an."

Bloomington ist eine Schulstadt, in der die Zahl der Einwohner um zwei Drittel sinkt, wenn Ferien sind. Unter so vielen Schülern sind immer ein paar Verrückte, die sich von einem Typen wie Bruce Anderson überreden lassen, eine Band zu gründen. Mal waren drei Drummer mit von der Partie, mal nur einer und ein Gitarrist, schließlich kristallisierte sich folgendes Line-Up heraus: Sophiea am Baß, Anderson an der Gitarre, Rich Stim sang und spielte Saxophon, Dave Mahoney trommelte. Die beiden letzteren kannten sich aus der Gruppe Chinaboise. Der Name MX-80 Sound stammt von Andersons Bruder, einem Graphiker, der meinte, wenn die Buchstaben- und Zahlenkombination MX und 80 bei so vielen Motoren, Öl-Sorten und Elektrogeräten verwendet würde, dann wäre sie auch gut als Bandname. MX 80 Sound spielten in den Bars von Bloomington, "immer nur einmal", wie Anderson sich erinnert, und dann und wann im Vortragssaal einer Bibliothek. Nach einem Sampler-Beitrag war es 1976 an der Zeit, eine EP mit sieben Songs aufzunehmen, die forsch BIG HITS betitelt war und sehr fortgeschrittene Songs enthielt, die in keine der damals gängigen Stilrichtungen paßten.
MX-80 Sound (Fortsetzung) Teil 1 : 2 : 3

MX 80 Sound hatten ein ähnliches Problem wie zehn Jahre zuvor die britischen Soft Machine: Ihre Musik wurde für sehr kompliziert und schwer verständlich gehalten, weil sie anders war, sich für Formen, aber nicht Techniken des Jazz interessierte und weil sonst keiner so spielte. Bruce Anderson war der einzige wirkliche Musiker in der Gruppe, die anderen waren Dilettanten, die aus ihren Schwächen Stärken machten: So glaubte Rich Stim bis vor kurzem, er sei ein mindestens so guter Sänger wie Jim Morrison. Erst seit er vor ein, zwei Jahren erkannte, daß er doch eher krächzt, entwickelt er eine Singstimme. Solche Mißverständnisse bestimmten die gesamte frühe Karriere von MX-80 Sound. Nachdem BIG HITS im englischen Melody Maker gut besprochen worden war, nahm ein gewisser Howard Thompson die Gruppe für Island Records unter Vertrag. Labelchef Chris Blackwell, zu der Zeit gerade auf Urlaub, traf fast der Schlag, als er nach seiner Rückkehr die Bänder für HARD ATTACK hörte, MX-80s erste und letzte Platte für ein größeres Label. HARD ATTACK wurde nur in Europa veröffentlicht, seltsamerweise in Holland in einem anderen Mix, verkaufte 20.000 Stück und ließ MX-80 etwas ratlos in Bloomington, Indiana, zurück. War man nun eine erfolgversprechende Supergruppe oder nicht? Weitere Mißverständnisse nach dem eher untypischen HARD ATTACK Song.

Obwohl die Island-Geschichte eine Farce war, verlieh sie der Gruppe so etwas wie kommerzielle Credibility. Club-Besitzer und andere Labels interessierten sich plötzlich für MX-80 Sound, denn: Es war 1977, Punk ging gerade ab, New Wave folgte auf dem Fuß, und niemand wußte mehr so recht, was sich verkaufte und was nicht, ja, was was war und was was nicht war. So wurden sie mit Roxy Music verglichen, mit Beefheart, mit Motörhead. Bronze Records schickte zwei Scouts nach Bloomington, weil sie dachten, sie hätten da einen futuristischen Metal-Act. Marty Thaus Red Star Label wollte sie als No Wave haben, und wenig später, als die gesamte Gruppe nach San Francisco umzog, hielt man sie für einen New Wave Act, bis die Szene sie ächtete, weil Anderson auf der Bühne Gitarrensoli spielte. Richtiges und weltweites Aufsehen erregten MX-80 Sound erst, als sie mit dem Residents-Label Ralph handelseinig wurden und eine ihrer überdrehten Cover-Versionen für Ralphs 79er Sampler SUBTERRANEAN MODERN beisteuerten.

Das 80er Ralph-Debut hieß OUT OF THE TUNNEL und war MX-80 Sounds beste LP. Es folgte sogar die erste und einzige US-Tournee der Gruppe. Der Zweitling CROWD CONTROL aus dem Jahr 1981 fiel bereits wieder unter die Rubrik Mißverständnis. MX-80 Sound versuchten, kommerzieller zu werden, gingen in Richtung Hard Rock und gruben sich mit dieser Platte selbst das Grab. Der Vertrag mit Ralph wurde wegen Geldschwierigkeiten des Labels und anhaltendem Mißerfolg der Gruppe gelöst, nicht aber die Freundschaft, die sich in späterer Mitarbeit von Bruce Anderson auf Residents-LPs zeigte. Für die Pop-Welt außerhalb San Franciscos schien es, als hätten sich MX-80 Sound aufgelöst, doch die Gruppe hatte sich eher vervielfältigt und nur das Wort "Sound" gestrichen. Zwar war Rich Stim ausgestiegen, um Jura zu studieren, aber die anderen machten als 0-Type, als Gizzards und als Half Life weiter, spielten ähnliche Musik mit den gleichen Musikern, machten Cassetten und auch einmal eine CD oder Single. Bruce Anderson verfolgte daneben noch ein Solo-Ding als Brutality und gehört heute zu einer der diversen Henry-Kaiser-Bands.
MX-80 Sound (Fortsetzung) Teil 1 : 2 : 3

1985 kehrte Stim, inzwischen mit der genialen Angel Corpus Christi verheiratet, in den MX-80-Schoß zurück. Die Gruppe begann wieder zwei-, dreimal die Woche zu üben. 1987 folgte eine erste Cassette auf dem eigenen Quadruped-Label, 1990 die CD DAS LOVE BOAT mit einigen neuen Titeln und instrumentalen Best-of-Out-Takes aus dem MX-80-Gesamtwerk. Schlagzeuger Mahoney ist der einzige, der keine Musik mehr macht. Für ihn trommelt nun Marc Weinstein. 1995 soll eine CD mit dem Titel I'VE SEEN ENOUGH erscheinen, die aber erst als Cassetten-Kopie existiert und leider zum schwächsten gehört, was MX-80 je gemacht haben - so eine Art frühsiebziger Rockballadenzeugs, Ausnahme: die geradezu Lo-fi-gestimmte, auch als Single erschienene Nummer YOU CAN'T WIN THEM ALL. Dazu wurden alle frühen Produkte von Kleinstlabels als CDs wiederveröffentlicht. Rich Stim arbeitet als Anwalt, Bruce Anderson jobbt als Gitarrist und Designer von Batik-T-Shirts, die beiden anderen gehen ebenfalls geregelter Arbeit nach.

Das Schlußwort gehört Bruce Anderson: "Ich habe MX-80 immer als Lebensstil betrachtet, nie als Karriere."
   
Weitere, personell fast mit MX-80 Sound identische Projekte mit veröffentlichten Tonträgern, meist Cassetten: The Gizzards, Brutality, O-Type, Half Life.

Verschiedene MX-80 Sound Musiker wirkten mit bei:

Screaming Gypsy Bandits

ALBUMS: IN THE EYE (BRBQ 22185) 1973 AND THE DANCER INSIDE YOU (BRBQ 04) 1974
Reissued (375 copies only) on OR (014) in 1996. THE DANCER INSIDE YOU was a Bob Lucas solo album.

Personnel incl:
BRUCE ANDERSON gtr
MARK BINGHAM gtr
TINA LANE vcls
BOB LUCAS
CAROLINE PEYTON vcls A
DALE SOPHIEA bs  

More progressive than psychedelic, the first album is worth seeking out but the best tracks are the folky ones with soft female vocals like Junior, All This Waiting, Path Of Light and White Teeth. When the violin's in evidence they sound a little like the U.K. band Curved Air. The more upbeat cuts, like the title track and Prematurely (Fly Me Away), just don't come off so well. The album was recorded at Jack Gilfoy Studios in Bloomington, Indiana, which is where the band were from. At the time, columnist and Bloomington resident Michael Bourne gave them a very favorable review in Downbeat Magazine, which was their only brush with national exposure.

The bands personnel fluctuated wildly over the years, and some members also backed Tina Lane on a couple of 45s. Sophiea and Anderson later played in MX-80 who recorded a local EP Big Hits which resulted in larger label releases Hard Attack and Crowd Control. They eventually moved to San Francisco. Caroline Peyton went solo, releasing at least two albums (Caroline Peyton and Intuition). She later relocated to the West Coast, where she has recorded Celtic music and done major-movie voice-overs for animated features. Mark Bingham went on to form the Brain Sisters (in Bloomington), and played with New York art-punk band the Social Climbers. While in Athens, GA he contributed strings to an REM album (Automatic For The People?). He eventually landed in New Orleans as engineer of Boiler Room Studios.

The Dancer Inside You was a Bob Lucas solo album, although Bingham produced and engineered (with Mark Hood).

Other Barbeque Records issues included Mock-Up and the eponymous Intuition by Caroline Peyton. The 1975/6 Bloomington 1 compilation, included both a Bandits track and a Caroline Peyton track. The Bandits cut on this was taken from a legendary, never-released album called Kryptonite. A few acetates of this are also known to exist.

(Vernon Joynson/Stephane Rebeschini/Craig Laflin/Elaine Deckelman

Pluto Seahorse Emerging

Sometime in the mid-'70s, the MX-80 Sound came out of nowhere; Indiana, to be exact. They recorded numerous albums of earnest, twisted hard art-rock. Along the way they dropped the "Sound" and moved to California. The Brutality series includes everyone who was in MX-80 the last time anyone was looking, but instead of rock music Anderson's ensemble records atmospheric instrumentals.

In the meantime, Anderson and Dale Sophiea worked on a number of side projects, each characterized by its own style:O-Type's Mommy (Electro Motive, 1994) is grindcore, Siamese Stepbrothers (Cuneiform, 1995) is progressive-rock, and Strict (Quadruped, 1998), the most ambitious, is a concept album of avantgarde music with a religious underpinning (peaking with the 15-minute piece Father Damien).

The "Brutality" series continued with Balkana (Family Vineyard, 1999), four extended tracks that feature Bruce Anderson, Dale Sophiea, Dave Mahoney, Marc Weinstein, and Jim Hrabetin.

MX-80 drummer Marc Weinstein is the main genius behind Pluto, an improvisational group that originally counted on Ralph Carney (tenor saxophone, clarinet, trumpet), Steve Clarke (trumpet, guitar), Splatter Trio's Len Paterson (guitar, tapes), Ellen Schoenwetter (bass), John Zorn-associate David Slusser (soprano and baritone saxophone, piccolo, electronics), and Myles Boisen (guitar). Shoehorse Emerging (Rastacan, 1995) is a supreme achievement in a genre that borders Henry Cow, Ornette Coleman and Captain Beefheart.

Anderson and Weinstein also appear on Pluto's The Field Recordings (Ecstatic Yod, 1998) Joined by drummer Russ Schoenwetter and bassist Ken Kearney, the MX-80 duo improvises wildly dissonant tunes.

O-Type's Medication (Family Vineyard, 2000) and Lugubrious (2002) repeat the formula with less and less intensity, contenting themselves with self-indulgent improvisations that recycle ideas from noise, ambient and psychedelia.