Monday, March 22, 2010

Distant Thunder: Shelter LP + Unreleased & demo tracks

One of the most obscure and forgotten LPs (that seemingly NOBODY knows about) is this 10-track oddity from Distant Thunder. Self-released in 1985 on Last Records, this record by this one-man band almost seems like a gothic vanity pressing. Completely amateur, with programmed drums, stabs of synths, dissonent and atonal electronics, and repetitive guitars and vocals, it seems like Mark Wenning, the man behind Distant Thunder, bought a few cheapo instruments and said "I'm going to write and record an album this week".
I don't mean that disparagingly, though. The combination of all the above elements ensures that this album is unlike anything I have ever heard before. Repetitive, off-key, tribal, droney, lo-fi, dark, simplistic, and completely endearing, this is a strange lost classic. In reality, many of these songs were written over the period of a few years (although he did indeed initially utilize a Mattel toy drum machine, which he used in conjunction with an Apple IIe for the basslines). He recorded a second album, which was unfortunately never released. You can visit his Distant Thunder website here , which includes a bio and downloads of his unreleased second album (which I have also included here for your convenience!) I also included a couple pre-album demo tracks as well (songs that use the toy drum machine) for good measure. He sold about 300 copies of this album, but I still occasionally see it offered for pretty cheap prices online, so this isn't very hard to track down. For now.

Distant Thunder: Shelter LP
1985, Last Records
A1 Cost/Benefit Analysis
A2 Simon Says
A3 Too
A4 Promised Land
A5 It
B1 Nouns and Verbs
B2 Smart Birds
B3 Show and Tell
B4 Modern Medicine
B5 Who

Click here to download "Shelter"

Click here to download the unlreased album "Impulse" and the demo tracks

Defuser: Music for a Comic Book Video LP

This is officially the weirdest album that I have uploaded. This is the virtually unknown self-released follow-up to Defuser's first 7", the classic World Suicide b/w Freeze Please. They were from Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from SF. A wonderfully-presented LP, this comes in a gatefold sleeve that is laid out as a comic book. Each panel of the comic represents one song on the album.
The entire album is a concept album about a one-off concert by a fictional band called Lyres & Theeves. Except it's not as simple as that. At all. I could say it's primarily industrial, but it goes from electro to spoken word to industrial to sax skronkery to minimal electronic to experimental noise to an advertisement the band made for a local business chosen at random from the white pages to traditional Finnish folk music to darkwave to industrial again. Extremely subversive, very dark, very silly, very irreverent, very political, very punk, very art-damaged, this concept album is unlike anything - ANYTHING! - that I have ever heard before.

Defuser: Music for a Comic Book Video - The Lyres & Theeves Concert LP
1985, Mutiny Records
A1 Charlie, Hector & Betty Arrive at the Concert
A2 Li'l Otis
A3 And Welcome to the Show
A4 Prefessor Zeus and the Barking Elephant
A5 Politically Correct
A6 Bouquet of Weeds
A7 Woman in Bondage
A8 Love Song For You, Darling
A9 The Mob Has Come to Life
A10 Free Advertisement
A11 Seven Judys
A12 Nonexistant Song (intermission)
B1 Steel Dick
B2 Screaming Mad
B3 Little Bird
B4 Sax Hell
B5 Destroy What You Don't Understand
B6 Ladies' Tea Party Jazz
B7 Just Want to Be Your Friend
B8 Pocket
B9 Covered in Vines

The Wonders of Science: Record of the Same Name EP

Down from the southern end of the SF Bay Area (San Jose, a city which is actually larger in population than SF, but which nonetheless plays second fiddle to its world-reknown northern relative) comes this wonderful synthpop group, Wonders of Science. They released a 7" and this 12" EP. You can read about the 7" on one of the members' blogs here.
This group was reduced to a duo for this self-released 1983 EP, and they were a pretty early adopter of the classic Roland 808 drum machine. They were pretty much the only band of their kind in San Jose, and played all around the Bay Area for a few years before finally going their separate ways. Michael Dresbach became a priest (whose blog is linked to above) and now lives in Panama. Matt still lives in the Bay Area.

The 7" was uploaded on the excellent and amazingly prolific BX-59cppw blog, so get that too!

The Wonders of Science: Record of the Same Name EP
1983, Wonders of Science Records
Reconsidering Our Love
Let's Start a Rumour
Call It Off

Click here to download this record!

Junk Fifty-Seven 12" EP

Desired by collectors of minimal synth and old-school electro alike, this unassuming and extremely obscure 12" from San Francisco-based Junk 57 is a strange record. It was self-released on DiscOrganization, and I can't imagine it was distributed too extensively. Despite its name, the A side, Return of the Itchmaster, is an excellent old-school electro song, with effected and subdued vocals, record scratching, and hard-hitting syncopated production. Side B starts off with a mediocre electro-rap song, but then takes a complete one-eighty with Heart Full of Soul - a stripped-down minimal electronic cover of the Yardbirds classic. It almost sounds like two completely different bands are on this record.

Junk Fifty-Seven: Selftitled EP
1984, DiscOrganization Records
A: Return of the Itchmaster
B1: Junk 57
B2: Heart Full of Soul

Perfect Strangers: Fascination EP

Here is a synthpop band from Concord, CA, called Perfect Strangers. Their brand of new wave was synth-heavy and upbeat, and they released only this EP before dissolving. While it's a bit commercial sounding, the song Fascination is quite a good track, and Run to You was a minor hit on Quake FM (it was also released on the Quake FM 'Rock of 84' comp, which featured exclusive songs by Voice Farm and Fade to Black). The band reformed under the name Skindeep in the mid-80s, with a much more polished sound. That band released one record (which included a re-recorded version of Run to You).

Perfect Strangers: Fascination 12"
1983, Perfect Strangers Records
A1 Fascination
A2 Just Because I Know You
B1 Run To You

Click here to download this record!

SF BAY AREA SYNTH RECORDS: Necropolis of Love: Talk 7"

Somewhat by request of my friend Josh from Dark Entries Records, and partly because I have been meaning to do this for a while, I have a San Francisco Bay Area synthpop extravaganza (synthstravaganza?) this week. San Francisco (and the greater Bay Area) in the late 70s and early-mid 80s was a hotbed for experimental and quirky new wave, post punk, and synthpop - the scene was very underground, and very similar to that of New York (with the no wave scene) and Berlin (with the burgeoning NDW scene). Starting off this week is the debut 7" from Necropolis of Love. Based in Berkeley, just across the bridge from San Francisco, these guys were one of the best darkwave bands in the Bay Area... ever! While this 7" has made an appearance or two on some blogs, the rips always seem to have the 12" version of "Talk" (taken from their 1984 12", The Hope). This rip is of the actual 7" version - very stipped-down, with simplistic synth percussion (perhaps a KR-55?), and much less produced. Enjoy this one - it is a masterpiece!

Necropolis of Love: Talk 7"
1983, Thumb Records
A: Talk
B: Alyssa

Click here to download this record!