Interference - ""Excerpt #1" Version 1" (Interference)
Does the world need more long lost no wave acts? The scene was small enough, with its history so well picked over at this point, that it’s hard to imagine that any group who recorded anything at all could have fallen completely through the cracks. Marc Masters, in his book No Wave, lists 32 acts; Allmusic only 25 (which, oddly, counts the Residents and the Birthday Party as no wave); Wikipedia a mere 20. Yet more recordings keep coming out of the woodwork, including this album, recorded in 1982, originally slated for release on Glenn Branca’s Neutral Records, by Anne DeMarinis, David Linton and Michael Brown. To give an idea of how incestuous this group is within the scene: drummer David Linton played with Lee Ranaldo in one of his pre-Sonic Youth bands, as well as in Glenn Branca’s and Rhys Chatham’s ensembles; Anne DeMarinis was in one of the original Sonic Youth lineups, also played with Branca, and helped Thurston Moore organize NoiseFest in 1981; and Michael Brown was in Chatham’s band and played with Elliott Sharp (who also appears on a few tracks on this album). Given all that, it seems somewhat surprising that it’s taken until now for this to actually see the light of day, given that we’re almost a decade into the no wave resurgence.
The album basically consists of four songs, encapsulating aspects many elements of all the different versions of no wave. “Excerpt 1” is a funky, loopy, polyrhythmic instrumental with layers of choppy, dissonant guitars which sound alternately like Glenn Branca and Gang of Four. “Contempt” is more like Mars or early Sonic Youth, keeping the polyrhythms (which are more in Konk and Liquid Liquid territory) but upping the dissonance ante, and adding occasional uninflected vocals. “She Said Destroy” is more in the Bush Tetras or ESG vein (or even like Ze records at its most broken), with stylized, half-spoken vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place on any of the no wave revival albums that have come out in the past decade. And “Number Four” is a flat out vicious rocker that would be hardcore if it weren’t quite so arty; it also comes closest to Branca at his most rocking. In between are a pair of interludes which take Sharp’s bass clarinet and add some mild effects. And that’s it. It offers another take on the various divergent strands that are knitted together as no wave. And given that it’s hard to go wrong with interesting rhythmic layers and buzzing guitars, this stuff is actually a pretty enjoyable find.
The other part of this 2-LP set are six remixes of “Excerpt 1,” by a group of remixers selected by Linton, which are supposed to show the “seamless continuum” between the “vintage studio session’s junkyard abrasiveness” and “twenty-first century technology.” The best remixes here, by Criterion, Doily, and Bubblyfish and glomag, actually do that, taking the source material at face value and keeping many of the elements that make “Excerpt 1” interesting while carving out some space for their own interpretations and interpolations. Those that merely take some of the clanging as the basis for an unrelated set of fairly conventional beats are, in my book, less successful. Therein lies one of the problems of remixing material that is so sure of itself and so rhythmically involved in its own right: do too much to it, and the song stops being itself.