Posts by Dan Sloan

Experimental Products formed in Philadelphia in 1982. Michael Gross and Mark Wilde, the two founding members of the group, had previously played together in a punk band in suburban Delaware called The Snots—after that band’s breakup, the two came back together owing to a mutual interest in synthesizers. They recorded their debut LP, Prototype, in the garage-studio owned by Gross’s landlord and released it on their own Short Circuit Records imprint. After the album’s release, Gross bought his landlord’s equipment and set up a studio in his basement where the band recorded the Glowing In The Dark 12”, also self-released, which ended up a hit in the dance clubs—one YouTube commenter claims the song was played “every night for years” at Chicago’s Berlin Nightclub. This video was shot at The Kennel Club, a members-only nightclub that seems to have been at the epicenter of the New Wave scene in Philadelphia (there are some great old photos on its Facebook).

The group recorded a final 12”, Experiment!, in 1987 (the only Experimental Products release recorded in a professional-quality studio), but tragically Wilde died before it saw release. After his untimely death, the band fell apart and put out no new material for nearly 20 years. Then, in 2005, International Deejay Gigolo Records reissued Glowing In The Dark with a new remix from the French producer Play Paul. And in 2010, the excellent reissue label Vinyl-On-Demand released the compilation Tracks To Glow In The Dark, which contains all of the group’s vinyl output as well as unreleased rarities.

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[Vinyl-On-Demand]

Today’s track comes from French electronic musician Bernard Szajner, who was originally a visual effects artist, setting up lazer shows at rock concerts for the likes of Gong, Magma, and Klaus Schulze. During this time he invented the laser harp, a system that used lasers to control synthesizers, which was most famously used by Jean Michel Jarre. His first musical project was called Zed, which recorded an excellent album in 1979 called Visions of Dune. Inspired by Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel, the disc is equal parts synth atmospherics and heavy grooves. After the Zed record, Szajner went on to record a handful of great albums and singles both under his own name and with Karel Beer in their duo The (Hypothetical) Prophets.

Today’s track comes from Some Deaths Take Forever, his first album recorded under his real name, which came out in 1980. The album, which features playing by Bernard Paganotti and Klaus Basquiz of the classic French prog band Magma, was based around the concept of the feelings felt by inmates on death row. If it makes you feel ill at ease, that’s as Szajner would want it. As he put it, “if people feel uneasy that’s perfectly right because one of the aims was to make people think, ‘something’s not right about inflicting death’.”

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In 1998, guitarist and trumpeter Ben Vida, contrabassist & pianist Josh Abrams, contrabassist Liz Payne, and harmonium player Jim Dorling—all musicians in Chicago’s avant-garde scene—came together to form Town and Country, releasing a self-titled record on the label BOXmedia that year. Today’s track comes from their second album, 2000’s It All Has To Do With It.

Though the band would release just four albums, all awesome, before calling it quits in 2006, the members of Town and Country have kept busy with other projects. All four members play in the drone project DRMWPN, which released the beautiful Bright Blue Galilee in 2008. Vida and Payne have also played with free rock/jazz improvisers Fred Lonberg-Holm and Michael Colligan (both formerly of the Flying Luttenbachers) in the group Pillow; and in addition to recordings put out under his own name and under the moniker Bird Show, Vida plays with his brother Adam, along with Robert Lowe (who records as Lichens) and U.S. Maple’s Todd Rittmann, in the group Singer.

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Editor’s note: Ben Vida will be performing on-campus next Friday, May 18, for this year’s Sonic Celluloid at the Block Cinema. Stay tuned for more details!

Inner Tube is the project of Mark McGuire and Spencer Clark. McGuire is best-known for his work with John Elliott and Steve Hauschildt in the wonderful Emeralds, and Clark has put out a whole mess of truly weird music, mostly self-released under various names like Monopoly Child and Vodka Soap, and plays with James Ferraro in The Skaters.

The two were brought together by a mutual fascination with Australian surf music and decided to record an album inspired by it. As Clark put it, “The bliss and ecstatic power of Australian beach music has kept me in this positive mental attitude that I wanted to communicate to everyone around me.” After releasing the record on Clark’s Pacific City Sound Visions earlier this year, the two toured Australia and New Zealand in support of it. Check it out, and—as the album’s cover says—“witness the reverie of a mind filtered through tube…”

[Discogs]

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Twin sisters Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu began their musical career in 1969, recording the the single “Iya Mi Jowo” for Decca Records’ West Africa division, later called Afrodisia. In addition to briefly performing with Ginger Baker in the group Salt, the Lijadu Sisters went on to release four great LPs on Afrodisia before moving to New York in the early ’80s. Today’s track comes from their fourth, 1979’s Horizon Unlimited. There’s some really neat footage of the sisters singing and being interviewed around this time; I’m pretty sure it comes from the documentary Konkombe: The Nigerian Pop Music Scene.

Their original releases seem tough to find, but earlier this year Soul Jazz Records put out a compilation of material from this period that covers many of the high points. Even more exciting is the recent reissue by Knitting Factory Records of their first two albums, 1976’s Danger and 1977’s Mother Africa.

[Discogs]
[iTunes]
[Knitting Factory]