WFMU : Freedom is Freeform!
jason on 04/28/2010 at 09:00AM
Richmond, VA had a vibrant art-rock/experimental scene brewing for decades, and the Artifacts/yclept label documented some of the sounds circulating around their hometown. In anticipation of a 3-CD sampler titled Nescroscopix (1970-1981), we're pleased to present three albums from this era.
1979's Test and 1980's Phantom Limb were the first two official releases by Bomis Prendin, an experimental collective from Washington DC. These 9'' flexidisks came silkscreened, wrapped in a PVC bag "for protection", and their avant-industrial living room tape sounds inspired mail from the likes of Jandek and WFMU's own Irwin Chusid. They're also cited as the two records that earned Bomis Prendin a spot on the mythical "Nurse With Wound" list. A tracks off each album was later compiled as part of Hyped 2 Deaths' Homework #110 compilation, and an official CD release is available here along with more recent Bomis Prendin recordings. The project was re-born in 2001, after a 15-year hiatus [UPDATE: Bomis Prendin reports that recording was ongonig throughout this time, but releases reconvened "after we gained the necessaries to make our own CDs, having started digitizing and archiving our hundreds of tapes in 1999"]. So there is much mind-melting Bomis Prendin music to be heard, in addition to these two groundbreaking releases. Here's a track off Phantom Limb:
Bomis Prendin's mutating lineup centered around its eponymous core member, along with characters like "Corvus Crorson", Candeee, and Miles Anderson. One of the players on Test is Bill Altice, who wrote the liner notes for the forthcoming Necroscopix retrospective. Earlier this year, Bill Altice introduced us to Shinjuku Birdwalk, a previously un-heard gem of an album recorded in 1981 by Richmond's Karen Cooper Complex...
Karen Cooper Complex -- like Bomis Prendin -- traces its lineage to Richmond's early 70s avant-pioneers Titfield Thunderbolt and Big Naptar. Karen Cooper herself had been part of I Saw a Bulldozer, where she was one of the "three or four female vocalists who wrote Surrealist-style 'Exquisite Corpse' lyrics and chanted them in unison in front of a band, coming across something like a female, beatnik version of the Last Poets, who were more interested in art than politics." Bill Altice's liner notes also observe that four of the group's eight members were DJs at Richmond's local independent radio station, where they ingested local freeform radio signals and regurgitated them through a warped mess of re-imagined psychedelic free jazz and Pretty Things, like this track...
Given the slightly improvised nature of these recordings (which Altice calls 'more Bitches Brew than Grateful Dead'), it makes sense that Artifacts went on to release music by Tom Cora and Fred Frith in the later 80s. But back to the early 80s -- and as far back as 1970 -- keep an eye and an ear out for that Nescroscopix 3CD retrospective, with music from Bomis Prendin Baby Gherkin, Tom and Marty Band, Titfield Thunderbolt, Beatnik Worshop, I Saw a Bulldozer, and more key players in the greater Richmond VA universe.