Sunday, September 19, 2010


While most No Wave groups seemed to signify New York nihilism at its most extreme,  their endeavor seemed to suggest just the opposite.  Here were visual artists who picked up instruments in hopes of creating sound without recourse to traditional musical guide-rails like melody,  chord structure,  or even narrative lyrical content.  Yes, frustration was rampant in the art community and in a downtown NYC littered with burned out buildings and high crime.  What was produced was noise pushed into convulsions of purpose and chaotic intimations of form.  This is the kind of sonic sludge that is heard throughout the MARS EP (1980).  The voices are meaningless mutterings and howls,  all catharsis with no subtle shading or contrast.  Everyone seems to be playing in every direction full-on at the same time,  making harsh,  abstract electronic sounds that almost appear to have no relation to the basic two guitars, bass,  and drums format.  It was frightening and exhilarating at the same time.  Just listen to the manic energy of "Puerto Rican Ghost" (on the NO NEW YORK compilation)  for Mars at their most succinct.  Better yet, check out what was originally a side long opus on the MARS EP charmingly called "The Immediate Stages of the Erotic",  a study in convulsive rhythms,  tortured guitars,  speaking in tongues,  and channeling the environment in which they lived.  This was their summit,  and as such,  they were done.

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