Thursday, 23 November 2017

Throwback Thursdays Retro Video Project Pres; The Silver Apples And Syrinx

This week on my Throwback Thursdays Retro Video Project; The Silver Apples and Syrinx.
Back in the late 1960's while everybody else was slinging guitars, organs and the occasional sax the Silver Apples and Syrinx were among the first groups to use synthesizers. Although both groups were hopelessly obscure and mostly forgotten by all but the nerdiest of rock-snobs (like yours truly) they pioneered a path leading directly to the synth-pop, industrial and techno bands from the 1980's onward. Especially fellow New Yorkers Suicide.

The Silver Apples were one of the weirdest products of the New York underground scene of the 1960's. And this was a scene that included the Velvet Underground, the Holy Modal Rounders, Lothar & The Hand People, Albert Ayler and Moondog. Starting in 1967 as a fairly conventional psychedelic band that included the electo-noodlings of Simion Ross. The Moog synths of the day were massive affairs, with a jungle of patch-chords and vacuum tubes. They were not only huge but also expensive so Simion didn't actually play one, instead he built his own jerry-rigged contraption of various electronic pulse generators, effects pedals and feedback. The resulting mountain of gear took up two tables and was referred to as the "Simion". This ungainly monster was capable of an arsenal of whirring feedback and hypnotic tones for a spacey, ethereal sound that sounded like literally nothing that had ever came before (or since). This cacophony soon drove all of the other members of the band out as superfluous save the drummer, Brian Taylor. Influenced by Mitch Mitchell, Taylor developed an intricate rapid-fire style that filled up the space left by the now departed guitars and drums. On top of all this Ross added his own ghostly tenor vocals and the occasional banjo or flute.

Somewhat amazingly these weirdos actually got signed to Kapp Records, an otherwise thoroughly conventional home for acts like Loouis Arsmtrong, Cher, Burt Bacharach and Bob Wills (although they also had Budgie). They even managed to put out two albums in 1968 and 1969 which, in an unexpected development, failed to get any airplay or press. They had recorded a third album which was not released before Kapp gave up on them. After that they broke up and returned to the void from whence they came. In the 1990's the group was rediscovered by a small group of electro-nerds and their two albums were released on one CD in 1994 and Simion Ross reformed the group (minus Taylor) albeit using more conventional synths and samplers as his original "Simion" had long since been broken up and tossed away. In 1998 Taylor discovered the master tapes of the lost third album which was finally released as well. Taylor died in 2005. Simion Ross continued to record and tour until a serious car crash badly injured his back and smashed his gear in 1998. After taking a few years to recover he has resumed recording and touring.

Not surprisingly there is no live or video footage of the band. When I went about making some I decided the abstract shorts made by German Dada film-maker Hans Richter in the 1920's and the Op-Art films made in the 1960's by George Maciunis would perfectly suit their ethereal sound.

Using a 1966 film made for the New York Flux Films collective.




Unlike the Silver Apples Toronto's Syrinx actually did use a proper Moog and could be considered perhaps the first real synth band, along with the Germans Tangerine Dream with their first albums coming out in 1969. Syrinx consisted of Moog player John Mills-Cockell along with Doug Pringle on sax (often played through various effects) and Alan Wells on percussion. Their sound was more lush and conventionally melodic compared to the droning cacophony of the Silver Apples. The trio were also trained musicians while Simion Ross was an inspired amateur (although Apples drummer Derick Taylor did have jazz training) which allowed Syrinx to weave longer, more complex pieces similar to those being toyed with by the similar sounding Germans Tangerine Dream (first album in 1969) and Terry Riley. They put out two albums ("Syrinx" in 1970 and "Long Time Relatives" in 1971) which were released only in Canada and did some touring and played on the CBC before breaking up. Mills-Cockell would go on to do film and TV soundtracks while Pringle would go on to found Toronto punk one-hit wonders The Poles with his performance artist wife Michelle Jordana. The Poles would go on score a classic hit single with "CN Tower" before fading away. In spite of their status as electro pioneers Syrinx were quite forgotten about for years while their German contemporaries Tangerine Dream would go on to decades long world-wide success with a similar approach. In 2017 their long out of print collected works were put out as a box set and short film doc was made.

Unlike the jarring other-worldly noise of the Silver Apples the more contemplative sweep of Syrinx seemed to lend itself to more conventional film narrative.

SYRINX ~ "December Angel";

This mournful track off the 1971 album uses newsreel footage from the Titanic.


This track uses footage from the 1915 German sci-fi horror film "Homonculus". This largely forgotten film was a major influence on the later classic German Expressionist films as well as "Frankenstein".


For this track I used a film by French director George Melies, "The Airship".

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Throwback Thursdays Retro Video Project Pres; Destroy All Monsters pt.2

Another in my Throwback Thursdays Retro Video Project. This week; Destroy All Monsters pt.2;
This collection features videos using films made by Flux Films from 1965-67. Flux Films was an American Dada art collective that made a series of silent short films meant to be played at art showings, usually on a repeating loops. Some of their members included Yoko Ono and John Cale.


Made with a short film by George Maciunas


Made with a short film by Robert Watts.


Made with another short film, an Op-Art piece by George Maciunas.


Another George Maciunas film, a collage called "Sears Catalogue".


This track features Richard Nixon's resignation speech, apparently recorded off the TV (one of the group can be heard clapping). Accordingly for this track I made a collage of still images of Nixon charictures.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Throwback Thursdays Retro Video Project Pres; Destroy All Monsters pt.1

Another in my Throwback Thursdays Retro Video Project. This week; Destroy All Monsters.
Possibly the first American Industrial band, Destroy All Monsters were formed in Detroit in 1974 as an experimental performance art/noise band making numerous recordings (mostly crude instrumentals) but had few actual releases until 1977 by which time most of the original members had left and been replaced with Ron Asheton (ex Stooges and Micheal Davis (ex MC5) who turned the group into a more conventional punk band. This latter version of the band is better known, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore oversaw a three CD box set which included most of the original band's work. Given the band's obscurity it's probably safe to say my videos are the only ones.


This track uses a snippet of footage of an American TV play from the mid-1930's. Almost no TV footage exists from this era and this footage was shot by somebody aiming a home movie camera at a TV screen. Little is known about the actual show.


This track uses newsreel footage from the 1904 San Francisco earthquake and fire.


For this track I used a 1909 film "Airship Destroyer".


This video uses a short abstract art film by Robert Breer from 1970.


This one uses another Robert Breer film, "Eyewash" from 1959.


This one uses a 1900 Edison Studios film "Faust & Margarite", one of the first films to have a supernatural/horror theme.

Throwback Thursdays Retro Zines ~ Rear Garde Magazine January 1989

January 1989;

In this issue of the Montreal based magazine; Interviews with Billy Bragg, 54-40, DRI, Mr T Experience, The American Devices, Karen Finley, DBC, Pump House, The Birth Defects, Blackjacks and a full length Boston scene report.


Record reviews of; Motorhead, Danzig, Das Damen, The Cynics, American Devices, Slayer, Traveling Wilburys, Los Lobos, Falco, Bootsy Collins, Ministry, Three Johns, MC Shan, Lime Spiders, Billy Bragg, Front 242, The Adolecents, Shinehead, Myles Copeland, Fishbone, REM, Forbidden Dimension, Heimlich Maneuver, Swindled, Hard-Ons, Druids.

Concert Reviews of; Siouxsie & The Banshees (by Moi!), The Three O'Clock Train, Testament &Raven, 39 Steps & One Free Fall, Grapes Of Wrath, DRI & Holy Terror, Itsa Skitsa, Jerry Jerry.


Playing in Montreal that month were; Seven Seconds, Plasterscene Replicas, Jerry Jerry, The Weathermen, Youth Of Today, the Randy Peters, Savage Garden, The Swinging Relatives, the Northern Pikes, Michel Lemieux, April Wine, Asexuals, Sudden Impact & Groovy Aadrvaark, Me Mom & Morgentaller

54-40 ~ "Baby Ran";

In other news The Three O'Clock Train and the Pale Decendents broke up and the Nils were dropped by their record label.


Montreal Campus Radio Charts;

CSRG Top 33 1/3;
This Month ~ Artist ~ Album ~ Label ~ Cancon
1. The Pixies ~ Surfer Rosa ~ Vertigo

2. Schooly D ~ Smoke Some Kill ~ Jive

3. Front Line Assembly ~ Corrosion ~ Wax Trax

4. Bad Brains ~ Live ~ SST

5. Voivod ~ Dimension Hatross ~ Maze ~ cc

6. Sarah McLachlan ~ Touch ~ Netwerk ~ cc

7. Foetus ~ Thaw ~ Self Mutilation

8. Various Artists ~ Real Authentic Sampler ~ RAS

9. Rapeman ~ 2 Nuns & A Packmule ~ Touch & Go

10. Fail Safe ~ No One's Laughter ~ Demo ~ cc

11. Bill Bruford ~ Earthworks ~ EG

12. The Shuffle Demons ~ Bop Rap ~ Stony Plain ~ cc

13. Negativeland ~ Escape From Noise ~ SST

14. SWallow The Bird ~ SWallow The Bird ~ Scorpio

15. Denis Brown ~ Inseparable ~ WKS

16. Pail Head ~ Trait ~ Wax Tracks

17. Various Artists ~ Fast & Bulbous ~ Imaginary ~ cc

18. Boogie Down Productions ~ Stop The Violence ~ Jive

19. Moev ~ Yeah Whatever ~ Nettwerk ~ cc

20. Colour Me Psycho ~ Pretend I'm Your ~ Raging ~ cc

21. Stanley Clarke ~ If This Bass Could Talk ~ Portrait

22. Katie Webster ~ Swamp Boogie Queen ~ Alligator

23. Skinny Puppy ~ VIVI Sect VI ~ Nettwerk ~ cc

24. Dinosaur Jr ~ Bug ~ SST

25. My Dog Popper ~ 668 Neighbour Of The Beast ~ Patos ~ cc

26. Miriodor ~ Miriodor ~ Cuneform ~ cc

27. The Infamous Basturds ~ Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous ~ FMATYF ~ cc

28. Somewhere ~ Lights In A Fat City ~ These

29. Marilyn Crispell ~ Gaia ~ Leo

30. Various Artists ~ New Africa 3 ~ Celluloid

31. Various Artists ~ Human Music ~ Homestead

32. Test Dept ~ Terra Firma ~ Sub Rosa

33. Les Thugs ~ Les Thugs ~ Vinyl Solution

1/3. BAB ~ The Pill ~ Cassette ~ cc




CKUT Top 35;

This Month ~ Artist ~ Album ~ Label ~ Cancon
1. Ministry ~ Land Of Rape & Honey ~ WEA

2. The Sons Of Freedom ~ Sons Of Freedom ~ Slash ~ cc

3. Mary Margaret O'Hara ~ Miss America ~ Virgin ~ cc

4. The Gruesomes ~ Hey! ~ OG! ~ cc

5. Jeff Healy Band ~ See The Light ~ Arista ~ cc

6. Singers & Players ~ Vacuum Pumping ~ On-U Sound

7. KMFDM ~ Don't Blow Your Top ~ Wax Trax

8. Flour ~ Flour ~ Touch & Go

9. 1000 Homo DJ's ~ Apathy ~ Wax Trax

10. Motor Totemist Guild ~ Shapuno Zoo ~ Rotary Totem

11. Volcano Suns ~ Farced ~ SST

12. Bill Frisell ~ Look Out For Hope ~ ECM

13. Front 242 ~ Front By Front ~ Nettwerk

14. Mr Big Mouse ~ Drop That Ghetto Blaster ~ SSR

15. Sun Ra & His Arkrestra ~ Love In Outer Space ~ Leo

16. Das Damen ~ Marshmellow Conspiracy ~ SST

17. Pata Negra ~ Blues De LA Frontera ~ Carthage

18. Alpha Blondy & The Wailers ~ Jerusalem ~ Traffic

19. Soundgarden ~ Ultramega OK ~ SST

20. The Pursuit Of Happiness ~ Love Junk ~ Chrysalis ~ cc

21. Various Artists ~ Futurism & Dada ~ Sub Rosa

22. Pussy Galore ~ Sugarshit Sharp ~ Caroline

23. Various Artists ~ Acid Jazz Vol.1 ~ Ace

24. Etta James ~ Seven Year Itch ~ Island

25. Sweet Honey In The Rock ~ Live At Carnegie Hall ~ Flying Fish

26. Bad Brains ~ Live ~ SST

27. Sarah McLachlan ~ Touch ~ Nettwerk ~ cc

28. Various Artists ~ Faults To Follow ~ CIA ~ cc

29. Non Credo ~ Reluctant Hosts ~ Rotary Totem

30. Katie Webster ~ Swamp Boogie Queen ~ Alligator

31. Miriodor ~ Miriodor ~ Cuneiform ~ cc

32. Joe Mendleson ~ Born To Cuddle ~ Anthem ~ cc

33. Various Artists ~ Nicaraguan Folk Music ~ Flying Fish

34. Six Winds ~ Elephants Can Dance ~ Sackville

35. REM ~ Green ~ WEA

SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES ~ "MELT" (video by Moi);

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Throwback Thursdays Retro Video Project Pres; Wire

This week on my Throwback Thursdays Retro Video Project; Wire.

One of the first generation of Art-Punks (along with Siousxie & The Banshees, The Fall, Ultravox, Subway Sect, Alternative Televison, Soft Boys and Desperate Bicycles), Wire quickly gained a different approach from the basic three chord thrash on their three albums from 1977 to 1979, plus a live album in 1981. After breaking up for a decade they reformed in 1987 and took up right where they left off and they're still at it to this day, albeit sometimes with a different drummer.


For this classic from the 1977 second album, "Pink Flag", I used a clip from a 1920's western starring Jack Hoxie which seemed to fit the almost Ennio Morricone feel of the song. Too bad the last few seconds of the fadeout got cut off. I also used this vid for a Fingerprintz vid.



This one uses some 1920's aerial footage of Wiemar Berlin

Another song off "Pink Flag" this time using a 1907 film by Spanish film-maker Segundo De Chomon, a contemporary of French director George Melies whose style he built upon. I used this film for a Siouxsie & The Banshees song but could decide which I liked better so I kept both.


A song off the first album using an early Edison Studios film with a crude attempt at special f/x.


for this song off the "154" album I used "Bob's Electric Theatre" by Segudo De Chomon


This song from the first album uses a short Dada art film made for the Fluxus Film Collective by George Maciunas circa 1967.