Thursday, June 27, 2013

Famous Rays: Ending Beginning LP

The first time I saw this LP, I knew it had to be by a New York band. Anyone who has been to NYC can be easily confused by the similarly-named-but-not-at-all related pizza places called "Famous Ray's" "Original Ray's", "Famous Original Ray's", or (as Kramer discovered), simply "Ray's Pizza". As it turns out, the band was from the UK originally, but moved to NYC in the late 80s to seek better opportunities.
Famous Rays released this record in 1990, and from what I can find, this is the only thing they ever released.
By most standards, 1990 is a rather late year for a DIY post punk album to be released. You probably know the kind of record I mean - the kind that combines relentless experimentation, amateurishness, and variety of non-punk instruments (synths and sax being especially common). Bands as diverse as 48 Chairs, Beyond the Impload, Vice Versa, Androids of Mu, Desperate Bicycles, and countless thousands others all fell into this "genre". Well, Famous Rays can be counted as a VERY late addition to that DIY group (and indeed, an earlier incarnation of the band, Romford Stompers, was part of the fertile UK DIY scene). Famous Rays carried the lo-fi, avant-garde, synthpop-meets-post-punk-meets-jazzy-noise-meets-goth of their forebears into the neon years of the early 90s.
As with pretty much all of these records, there's a combination of strong and weak tracks. After a brief spoken-word intro the songs start off with the lyrics "I am looking through a synthesizer" on Hard Times. With a somewhat bouncy beat, it's a nice 100% minimal synth track that sounds 10 years too late. The next couple songs on the syn-drums and throw a wall of cascading, noisy guitars into the mix. Then there's a slow dark ambient synth interlude before delving into No Recognition, probably the most poppy song on the album. The song is musically similar to early Cure, but with the keyboards and arty weirdness of early Modern English (it's not as good as either of those bands, of course, but had it been released in 1980 I can guarantee it would have been on many "UK DIY Top Ten" lists.)
The following songs range from sax-and-synth skronk (Deception Island) to dark synth noise with spoken word (Wealthy Not Healthy) to almost deathrock sounding (Move By Dance), which combines syn-drums, heavy and noisy guitars, and sax similar to Ipso Facto. Overall, it's a highly unique album that (at the moment) is readily available very cheaply online. Perhaps others will like what they hear here and decide to pick up a copy. Or perhaps the late release date of this record will turn off people and the album will toil in the cheap bargain bins of obscurity, relegated to a few crackly mp3s that forever float in the aether of the Internet.

Famous Rays: Ending Beginning LP
1990, Blue Dot Records

1 The Sky Belongs To The Sun
2 Hard Times
3 Agents Of Change
4 Absolute Zero
5 Uphill
6 No Recognition
7 Deception Island
8 Black Dress
9 Wealthy Not Healthy
10 Release - For Bitten
11 Blue World
12 Move By Dance
13 The Great Discovery

Note: Many of these songs are only a few seconds long, or blend indistinguishably into one another, so I've combined several songs together in the rip.

Click here to listen!


Anonymous said...

You're right. After listening to this, I would not have guessed it to be from 1990. Not a bed p at all.Thnk u

TymexPyres said...

Did this really come out in 1990? Wow.. too bad others didn't stay true to a killer sound. This is good,but yeah.. the release year throws me off when paired with the sound.Thnx for the listen..

Unknown said...

Another stellar find, one of which I didn't have and promptly took your advice and acquired an available copy. Yes, would never guess late 80's early 90's for this band. Lot's of variety and minimalistic post punk wave arrangements. Nice Post!!

Alma said...

This is cool!

Unknown said...

Wowwwwww!!! This is 1990. INFUCKINGSANE!!! Doesn't a year over 1981 least. Very impressed and in love with this album. Thank you!