|Catching up on CanCon releases I should have sent out earlier: Nash the Slash’s Hammersmith Holocaust, including Gary Numan’s liner notes. The Vancouver proto-new-wave act ‘e’.
Also up, if you can shake off that Roadburn slumber: a new collab between Legend and Solstafir, which Terrorizer premiered for us last Friday. Good track!
|Nash the Slash
29 January 2016
|I stumbled across Nash The Slash quite by chance in early 1980. I was about to start my first ever North American tour and we were rehearsing in a theatre in Toronto. It was very cold, I was homesick, tired and completely stressed out with the pressure of what was soon to come. One evening, as a way of trying to relax and forget those worries for an hour or two, I went out with the band and crew to find a nearby restaurant. Walking along, wrapped tightly against the biting winds, I heard some extraordinary music drifting out of the doors of a bar nearby. I hadn’t heard anything quite like it before and so I stood there for a while, just listening. It was haunting, mesmerising stuff. After a few minutes we went in, I just had to see what was making those incredible sounds. As I pushed through the blind I saw Nash The Slash for the first time, and heard even more clearly his amazing music. And I was amazed. Dressed from head to toe in a white top hat and white suit over bandages, like a Rock God neon mummy wearing sunglasses, he cut an extraordinary figure. Not only had I never heard anything like Nash before, I’d never seen anything like Nash before either.
I stayed for his entire set. It was captivating to listen to and unbelievable to watch. He was entirely alone on stage, and yet played a multitude of instruments, all of them well. He created chords on his keyboards by jamming packets of matches between the keys to hold the notes down. It was brilliant. Utterly unique and brilliant to be more precise. The music was fascinating and beautiful in equal measure, and I realised that he would be the perfect act to go out on tour with. After his show we chatted for a bit and I offered him the entire North American tour there and then. Luckily for me he said yes. My only problem at that point was how to let down the band who were already booked to play the tour as gently as possible. I felt pretty bad about doing that but I knew Nash was special, and I wanted something truly special for the tour. It kicked off just a few days later and every night, and I do mean every single night, he blew the crowd away. It was an amazing experience for us all, but made all the better for having Nash a part of it.
We played together again several times after that tour. Nash flew over to play with me at my Wembley Arena shows in 1981 and, once again, was a huge success. The crowds loved him and musicians appreciated his extraordinary talents. When he played on my albums he brought the same level of enthusiasm and skill that he applied to everything he did. Always a pleasure to work with, Nash was the ultimate professional. Never late, never awkward, always hard working. He was fun to be around, intelligent, thoughtful and incredibly creative. As a musician, as an act, he was in a class of his own, but he was also a fantastic human being. Honest, straight talking, considerate and yet highly focused. Nash was one of the most unique performers to grace a stage I have ever seen and his passing was a great loss, and music is undoubtedly the poorer for it. Despite the long gaps between our meetings I was always proud to think of him as a friend. He will not be forgotten.
Gary Numan, September 2015
~Photo credits: Paul Till~
The Levitation Syndrome
18 March 2016
e (lower case!) was an experimental and new wave project that grew out of the burgeoning Vancouver punk scene around 1980. The project was the brainchild of Gary Middleclass (aka Gary Bourgeois) who also recorded with underground punk band The Generators, as well as the more famous Payola$. Bassist Michael Wonderful, also of The Generators, Brock Rock (Brock Smith), and Aleh (aka Nathan Holiday) formed the core of the initial band. Along with producer Bob Rock, e recorded two bleepy and punked out synth tracks for the project’s debut 7″, Reaction / Coincidence.
Middleclass then took e towards a more minimal approach with its second 7″, Prime Cuts, which was released as the original soundtrack to the Paul Wong videotape of the same name. The 7″ was the first to feature a new line-up: Young Canadians’ drummer Barry Taylor, and keyboardist-vocalist Gina Daniels joined Middleclass in what would become the core of e for the next two years. Middleclass, Daniels, and Taylor are joined on these tracks by Glen Nelson of Images In Vogueand Mobile Clones fame.
The project’s only 12″ (and final release) was The Levitation Syndrome, a joyful burst of youthful energy and minimal synth that is as fresh today as it was when it was released by the cult label Rogelletti Records 35 years ago. Everything on these tracks comes together brilliantly; the melodies, the shy and fragile vocals, the subtle and excellent drumming, and the splendour of a short-lived minimal synth scene with all the energy of punk rock, west-coast style!
Artoffact Records presents an authorized and remastered edition of the collected works of e. The vinyl includes all tracks from e’s three releases, as well as a bonus track, E 925, which appeared on the cult-classic Vancouver Complication compilation, and showcases the most experimental side of Middleclass’s ouevre. The record is housed in a beautiful sleeve, replicating the Levitation Syndrome artwork, which was originally designed by Steven R. Gilmore (famous for his cover artwork for Skinny Puppy, Images in Vogue, Chris & Cosey, Severed Headsand many more). Also includes an insert that contains restored cover art (both back and front) of the two e 7″ vinyl, as well as a rare photograph of the project members. The collection is topped off with an excellent e biography by Michael Wonderful.
|Legend & Sólstafir
Runaway Train (Live)
15 April 2016
Having already released a sold-out split 7″ on Toronto’s Artoffact Records, Legend and Sólstafir members now collaborate again as a super group to slam out an amazing cover of Legend’s Runaway Train.
Icelandic dark-pop act Legend has been quietly recording the follow-up to their outstanding debut record Fearless, but that didn’t stop them from taking some time out last Fall to jam out a banging version of Runaway Train, one of the band’s live high-lights. Legend frontman Krummi Björgvinsson (Döpur, Esja, Mínus) enlisted long-time friends from Icelandic post-metal group Sólstafir, and the six-person super group spent a cold Icelandic afternoon at Studio Neptunus, Legend keyboardistHalldór (Dóri) A. Björnsson’s recording space.
The result is a rough and raw, rock’n’roll version of the track. A special video was then recorded by longtime friend of both bands, Brynjar Snær Þrastarson. The video, shot in one day in an abandoned industrial factory near the raging sea, fits the stark live take of Runaway Train and the turbulent times Iceland is now living through.