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optimo no wave mix


no new york


*click* HERE *click*

This was the the third in a brief series of mixes where we presented something a little different. Due to overwhelming demand, we decided to keep this mix online. This mix isn't really a mix in the conventional sense but rather 14 No Wave tracks blended together. I'm going to give a bit of detail about each track on the mix for a change, so for those who like to just download and run, here's the tracklist. For anyone who wants to know a bit more, scroll down. This mix is 60.6mb and lasts approx. 44 minutes. Apologies to those on a 56k connection.

Mars - 3E
DNA - You and You
Teenage Jesus and The Jerks - Freud In Flop
The Contortions - Contort Yourself
The Fire Engines - Get Up And Use Me
Blurt - Puppeteer
Tools You Can Trust - Show Your Teeth
Sonic Youth - Shaking Hell
8 Eyed Spy - Lazy In Love
Pulsallama - On The Rag
Arto / Neto - Pini, Pini
Y Pants - That's The Way Boys Are
ImpLOG - Breakfast
Jill Kroesen - Fay Shism Blues

So, what is No Wave? Now there's a question! Ask any fan of No Wave what it is and I bet they'll give you a different answer. They'll also tell you who is and who isn't No Wave and no two lists of bands will be the same. Personally, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer or a definitive list of bands. My definition of it probably encompasses a broader spectrum of bands than most other people's. I'd argue that early Swans and Einsturzende Neubauten could be called No Wave but if you try and tell me ESG are No Wave I'd have to throw you in the Clyde. It's all very confusing!

The name came about as reaction to the term New Wave. At the tail end of the 70's the record industry was trying to rebrand punk and labeled the poppier bands that came in the aftermath of Punk as New Wave. The No Wave bands wanted to reject this poppier side but they also felt no affinity to Punk. At the time, Lydia Lunch (the queen of No Wave?) bemoaned how Punk was just sped up Chuck Berry riffs and it is true that if you listen to most (but not all!) punk today, it is just badly played, sped up three chord rock n' roll. The Garage bands of the 60's had nailed the Punk sound way earlier and frankly mainly sound better to this day. Go listen to 'Never Mind The Bollocks'. Most of it sounds leaden and apart from Rotten's vocals doesn't really sound threatening or revolutionary in the slightest. Listen to No Wave today and it is still a shock to the system and often sounds like a music with no precedent. This last thing is another of the keys to what No Wave is. Many of the artists were determined that their music should not be influenced by anything that came before and should sound totally new. If influences did creep in they were more likely to be from free jazz than any rock based form of music. The 'No' in No Wave could thus be taken to imply the music didn't belong to any particular style or genre.

The ability to play was completely unimportant too. But where Punk liberated thousands of non musicians who found they could make music by only learning a few chords, many of the No Wave artists didn't even bother learning one chord. Coaxing atonal and abrasive sounds from their instruments and conjuring up basic repetitive rhythms was a much more effective way for them to express themselves. Melody? Forget it! Although when one hears No Wave, it is instantly obvious that that is what is being listened to, none of the bands really have that much in common stylistically.

In 1978, Brian Eno was living in New York and was blown away by the performances he was seeing by these artists. He wanted to capture this and document it so he took four of the bands - Mars, The Contortions, DNA and Teenage Jesus and The Jerks into the studio and produced (in the loosest possible sense) four tracks apiece by each of them. This came out as the legendary 'No New York' album. The one problem with this album is all the bands that got left off, which has resulted in many people thinking these four bands are thee definition of No Wave when there were numerous other acts ploughing similar (different) territory. The Theoretical Girls must have been particularly gutted as they were initially meant to be on it and were then dropped at the last minute.

No Wave critics often argue that it was all a load of art wank and while many of the artists involved did come from an art / performance background, most didn't. But, as well as music, there were also No Wave film makers, the most famous of them being Nick Zedd, John Lurie and Richard Kern. In May of 2005 we were showing a Richard Kern film on the tv screens at Optimo. The film upset someone who was attending the club so much that they complained to the police. This resulted in the slightly surreal scenario of Jonnie and Mike, one of the Sub Club's owners, having to sit in a room in Maryhill police station while a WPC and a police Sergeant watched the film to decide if it was pornographic or not. They decided it wasn't but suggested we refrain from showing it again.

No Wave was a huge inspiration when the ideas about what Optimo would be were being formed and the early soundtrack to the club featured a lot of this music. I guess this has diminished over the years, mainly because, well, it's not always the most danceable of musics, but you are still likely to hear many No Wave gems in the first hour of the club. Indeed, every song on this mix had been played at the club.

For me this music was truly revolutionary and I get as much as a buzz out of listening to it today as I did when I first encountered it 20 odd years ago. I still regularly check eBay to see if any No Wave gems I have missed crop up (I'll snag that 'Not Bite' 7" by Red Transistor one day!) and can't imagine a day when I'll stop listening to it. There was a bit of a resurgence of interest in No Wave a few years ago and then last year I was talking with some hipster about my love of No Wave and he replied 'You still listen to that? It's so 2001'. That reply is a masterclass in why hipsters are idiots.

I hope some of you enjoy this 'mix'. It is not an easy ride and definitely not for all. No Wave is a sound you'll either love or hate. I can't imagine anyone thinking it's ok. 'Ok' is never enough. Music that solicits extreme reactions is mainly lacking in our present day culture. Perhaps that's reason no. 347 why I love No Wave?

Here's a bit more info on all the tracks. Not all the records came in picture sleeves but the ones that did have the cover accompanying their blurb.


Mars - 3E (Ze Records)

mars optimo no wave mix

Straight in with a track a piece from all four contributors to the legendary 'No New York' compilation, except each one here is represented by a track that didn't appear on that record. First up are Mars with perhaps their most conventional sounding song which let's face it isn't very conventional. Mars were perhaps the first No Wave band having formed before any one else got in on the act. Their two man / two woman line up would also prove to be a reflection of how equally the sexes were represented in No Wave, a fact often forgotten and seldom replicated in any other musical genre.


DNA - You and You (Lust/Unlust)

dna optimo no wave mix

From a fabulous 7" on Charles Ball's Lust/Unlust label, Arto LIndsay's guitar on this is out freaking rageous. Perhaps more than any other No Wave act DNA took their complete inability to play and made it their greatest asset. Lindsay conjured sounds out of his guitar that had never been heard before while Iku Mori's non drumming is a revelation. Lindsay's strangulated vocal style is also a thing of wonder. What I would give to have been able to see them live! As it is, I'll have to make do with film of them in rehearsal that appears in the flawed but brilliant Downtown '81 film. When you see how they move to their music everything falls into place brilliantly.


Teenage Jesus and The Jerks - Freud In Flop (Lust/Unlust)

teenage jesus and the jerks optimo no wave mix

42 seconds is all you need. Lydia Lunch's wonderfully named combo may have been short lived but everything they left behind is like an electric shock to the system. I was going to include 'Orphans' on the mix but 1) I have listened to it too many times over the years and 2) felt this actually sums up the Teenage Jesus spirit better. Lydia will get a chance to demonstrate her wonderful vocals later on in the mix.


The Contortions - Contort Yourself (Ze Records)

contortions optimo no wave mix

Led by the legendary James Chance who also co formed but was only briefly in Teenage Jesus, I guess James Chance could be the Godfather of No Wave. Being a James Brown freak probably clinches him deserving that title. This song is The Contortion's 'hit' and he would go on to re record it in a disco style with his James White and The Blacks ensemble. In fact the album this is from ('Buy') and the Black's album both came out on the same day. Chance should have gone on to become a star but personal problems and his confrontational attitude on stage probably helped to conspire to prevent that happening. Still, in my world he IS a star. He still plays to this day and indeed was pencilled in to play Optimo in 2004 but that sadly fell through. One day!


The Fire Engines - Get Up And Use Me (Codex Communications)

the fire engines optimo no wave mix

This is where music nerds will start to debate about what is No Wave and whether it is limited to New York artists. I don't really care as to my ears this certainly sounds totally No Wave, or perhaps as they are Scottish, it should be Nae Wave? Whatever, The Fire Engines were obsessed with The Contortions and on this it certainly shows. Based around one of the greatest riffs of all time, this was recorded in one take (I've cut off the start but on the 7" the band fluff the first take and Davey Henderson shouts 'just keep going' and off they go again, getting it down perfectly in the next two minutes). The Fire Engines reformed briefly in 2005 and came and played at Optimo. When they played this I had a lump in my throat.


Blurt - Puppeteer (Factory)

blurt optimo no wave mix

Blurt are probably the most No Wave but not No Wave band of all time (I told you this would be confusing). I think Blurt would have existed and sounded exactly how they do whether such a thing as No Wave had ever happened or not. Hailing from Stroud and based around the skronking sax genius and belching vocals of Ted Milton, Blurt are one of thee great unsung bands of our times. Myself and Jonnie are completely obsessed with Blurt and can listen to them endlessly. One day their music will be reappraised and they will be lauded as much as say Can or Neu! Their music has so much space and groove that it's easy to get lost inside it. I read a great description of their music recently - Blurt are a psycho-funk, afro-punk, no-wave, pogo-jazz-trio which pretty much hits the nail on the head. I could have picked any one of dozens of their songs but went for this one that appears on a Factory Records compilation from 1981 because it just oozes funk which apart from James Chance's experiments is not something No Wave is generally known for doing. Blurt still play live and we hope to bring them to Optimo in 2006.


Tools You Can Trust - Show Your Teeth (Red Energy Dynamo)

Hailing from Manchester, Tools You Can Trust were very aware of No Wave although they never thought of themselves as a No Wave act, but this has all the hallmarks of a No Wave gem. The slightly deranged vocalist and the gas cylinders used for percussion clinches it for me. It took me 20 years to find this 7". Around 1984, they appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test, a BBC 2 music show and blew me away. Then a few weeks later I heard this on John Peel but couldn't find it anywhere. Most of their songs related to the war which the Conservative government was at that time waging upon the ordinary working people of Great Britain. Incidentally, I love how he is singing about Clause 4 ('Clause 4 matters!'). As all good UK socialists will know, Clause 4 was an intrinsic part of what The Labour Party stood for. Sadly the anti-socialist Tony Blair disagreed and had it removed from Labour's constitution.

A big thank you to Martin Herring from Tools You Can Trust for emailing me after seeing this and giving me additional info.


Sonic Youth - Shaking Hell (Neutral)

sonic youth optimo no wave mix

Again, the purists would probably debate the inclusion of this. But even though No Wave had pretty much finished by 1983, Sonic Youth were certainly born out of it and were my introduction to it. I bought Sonic Youth and Lydia Lunch's 'Death Valley '69' in 1985 which started an on going fascination with all of Ms. Lunch's work. That in turn led me to No Wave. Whatever, this song is great and features one of my favourite Kim Gordon vocals.


8 Eyed Spy - Lazy In Love (Fetish)

8 eyed spy optimo no wave mix

Here's Lydia Lunch finally getting to let rip. 8 Eyed Spy was her short lived 'mutilated blues' band and while a lot less shrill than much other No Wave (especially Teenage Jesus) it still has a certain 'on the edge' aspect to it.


Pulsallama - On The Rag (Y Records)

Described at the time as '12 girls fighting over a cowbell', Pulsallama were a short lived collective of feisty women who banged things together and wowed New York crowds as much with their on stage fighting as with their music. Featuring future star Ann Magnuson as a member, this is their ode to their periods! My friend Anna thinks Pulsallama are the definition of a band who AREN'T No Wave and she could be right but I think this song is. If you disagree, replace this track on the mix with this Pulsallama song.


Arto / Neto - Pini, Pini (Ze Records)

arto neto optimo no wave mix

I adore this song! This was a one off project for Ze Records featuring Arto Lindsay from DNA and his cinematographer friend Seth Tillet. On top of primitive drum machine hi hats, Lindsay does some of his best and most out there guitar noise while Tillet (Neto) recites an hysterical pigeon English rap. There's a really interesting article here where the author argues (sort of) that this is in fact one of the first hip hop records.


Y Pants - That's The Way Boys Are (Neutral)

y pants optimo no wave mix

Y Pants were three women artists - Barbara Ess, Virgina Piersol and Gail Vachon. They mainly played at art spaces and had their own unique sound derived from the their unusual instrumentation. They based their sound around an amplified toy piano and toy drum set and a ukelele played through a distortion unit. Later they would add an electric bass and a synth. They released one single for the legendary 99 Records and then one lp on Neutral Records. This is my favourite song from that album. It is sad, scary and lovely all at the same time.


ImpLOG - Breakfast (Log)

impLOG are most famous for the track 'Holland Tunnel Dive' which is in my opinion seven and a half minutes of complete genius . But, that appears on our 'Banging in Belgium' cd so I decided to put this on as it also shows that No Wave doesn't have to be all about abrasive dissonance. impLOG were Don Christensen with help from Jody Harris. They were both in The Contortions and released just two records as impLOG - the 'Holland Tunnel Dive' 12" and this 7". I really wish they had recorded more as every song sounds like a completely different band and every song is fabulous. Incidentally, Jody Harris is one of the unsung heroes of No Wave - a Contortion, an impLOGger, founder of the wonderful Raybeats and collaborator with New York legend Robert Quine on the super 'Escape' lp on the mighty Lust/Unlust label. Remarkably, Don Christensen reappeared under the impLOG moniker in late 2005 after a 25 year hiatus to do a remix for Philip Glass! This song is a rather silly but utterly charming ode to the great American breakfast.


Jill Kroesen - Fay Shism Blues (Lovely Music)

jill kroesen optimo no wave mix

Ending with the best song Patti Smith never wrote, this features contributions from Bill Laswell, the ubiquitous Jody Harris, Don Christensen and Arthur Russell amongst others (though I'm darned if I can make out Arthur's cello on this). This is an incredible and incredibly tense piece of music that is so New York it hurts. Several people I have played this to have become completely obsessed with it. A performance, video and visual artist, musician and composer, it astounds me that Kroesen's work is so unknown. To me this sums up all that that era gave us - truly challenging and supremely wonderful music that inspires and moves as much, if not more so today than it did a quarter of a century ago.










optimo cold war mix


optimo cold war mix


*click* HERE *click*

Here's the sixth in a series of mixes where we present something a little different. The first few songs are segued together and then the rest are mixed, but the mixing is purely functional as a way to join the songs together with each song appearing more or less in its entirety.

This mix is called 'Cold War' and is a sequel to the 'Electrobeat' mix. Almost all the records included here are from the very early 80's and to me conjure up the atmosphere of the Cold War when a sense of imminent dread permeated the air. These artists channeled that atmosphere into something unique and individual and left behind a legacy of originality that still sounds incredible but has sadly (largely) been forgotten. Stylistically the songs come from quite different places but there is a thread that unites them together. The mix starts off quite gently but progresses into something rather dark and intense - it's probably not for everyone, but creatures of the night might enjoy it.

This mix is just over 45 minutes long and is around 42mb. There is a bit of blurb about each track below but the blurbs are extemely minimal as if you really care, Google is only a click away.

The tracklisting is -

Jeff & Jane Hudson - Catscan (1981)
Antena - Achilles (1982)
P1/E - Up and Above Dub (1981)
Sprung Aus Den Wolken - Ackam La (1982)
Minimal Man - High Why (1981)
Ike Yard - N.C.R. (1982)
Fad Gadget - Back To Nature (1979)
Conrad Schnitzler - Fabrik (1981)
Crash Course In Science - Flying Turns (1981)
Liaisons Dangereuses - Peut Etre Pas (1981)
The Klinik - Moving Hands (1988)
P1/E - 49 Second Romance (1981)


Jeff & Jane Hudson - Catscan (1981)

jeff and jane hudson optimo cold war mix

Jeff & Jane Hudson have had a long and varied career encompassing various styles, stretching back to 1977 and still continuing to this day. This track is taken from the 'World Trade' EP released on the super great Lust/Unlust label from New York in 1981. Most of this EP (though not this track) is available on cd from Dirk Iven's Daft Records. Dirk's band The Klinik appear later in the mix.


Antena - Achilles (1982))

antena optimo cold war mix

Belgian girl band record completely classic electro-exotica album in '82 and 24 years later people still can't get enough of it.


P1/E - Up and Above Dub (1981)

p one e optimo cold war mix

The early 80's German Neue Deutsche Welle aka NDW scene was an incredibly fertile period of innovation and experimentation. This (almost) forgotten gem pre empts the Berlin fascination with all things dub that would become a Berlin trademark thanks to Basic Channel et al some 15 years later.


Sprung Aus Den Wolken - Ackam La (1982)

sprung aus den wolken optimo cold war mix

From the super 'Berlin Super 80' compilation lp/dvd documenting the insanely creative early 80's Berlin scene centred around the legendary S0 36 club comes this avant industrial funk masterpiece. Features the then 16 year old Alexander Von Borsig aka Alexander Hacke, just before he jumped ship to join Einsturzende Neubauten.


Minimal Man - High Why (1981)

minimal man optimo cold war mix

Dark industrial punk out of San Francisco circa 1981, much loved by Steve Albini. Main man Patrick Miller departed this world in 2003. Thank you for the music Patrick.


Ike Yard - N.C.R. (1982)

ike yard optimo cold war mix

Technologically super advanced early 80's NY band pioneer the use of 808s and 909s etc but burn out far too soon. This is from their 1982 Factory America LP.


Fad Gadget - Back To Nature (1979)

fad gadget optimo cold war mix

The first signing to Mute after Daniel Miller had released his own 'Warm Leatherette / T.V.O.D' 7" as The Normal, Fad Gadget aka Frank Tovey would go on to have a long and productive career until his untimely passing in 2002. Frank, you are deeply, deeply missed.


Conrad Schnitzler - Fabrik (1980)

conrad shnitzler optimo cold war mix

(Now) 70 year old Teutonic ex Tangerine Dream(er) and Kluster(er) prolific synth guru's attempt at popdom.


Crash Course In Science - Flying Turns (1981)

crash course in science optimo cold war mix

Philly art school legend's 1981 smash hit.


Liaisons Dangereuses - Peut Etre Pas (1981)

liasons dangereuses optimo cold war mix

The funkiest electronic Germans ever. Mixed by the mighty Conny Plank. Chrislo Haas, we salute you. Like too many other heroes of this mix, rest in peace.


The Klinik - Moving Hands (1988)

the klinik cold war mix

Belgian electrodoomster's cult '88 anthem.


P1/E - 49 Second Romance (1981)

p1e optimo cold war mix

Minimal synth classic alert! Still filling dancefloors 25 years later.










optimo electrobeat mix


optimo electrobeat mix


*click* HERE *click*

Here's the fifth in a brief series of mixes where we present something a little different. Unlike the previous four mixes, this mix is actually mixed, but the mixing is purely functional as a way to join the songs together with each song appearing in its entirety.

This mix is called 'Electrobeat' as that's what my friends and I called this stuff back in the day (although I think this must have been an Edinburgh only thing), but this music from the 80's is probably better known as synth pop, electro pop, minimal synth, or darkwave. Stylistically the songs included come from quite different places but there is a thread that unites them together. Synth pop / electro pop was thee chart sound of the early 80's but none of these artists had a whiff of chart success except for John Foxx who just scraped into the top 40 in 1980. There were some great records that did chart but as with any genre, there was a lot of dross and the best stuff was often the records that flew under the radar. All of these records have been played at Optimo at one time or another and indeed, our love for these types of records probably helped us get lumped in with the electroclash movement; something we never felt at all comfortable with.

This mix is just under 45 minutes long and is around 40mb. There is a bit of blurb about each track below.

The tracklisting is -

Front 242 - Kampfbereit (1983)
Chris Carter - Moonlight (1984)
Riz Ortolani - Il Corpo Di Linda (1977)
The Knife - Silent Shout (2006)
Chris and Cosey - October Love Song (12" dance mix) (1982)
Severed Heads - Petrol (1985)
John Foxx - Underpass (1980)
TV Babies - Corporate Clock (1982)
Dark Day - No, Nothing, Never (1980)
No More - Suicide Commando (1981)


Front 242 - Kampfbereit (1983)

front 242 Kampfbereit optimo electrobeat mix

The biggest electronic band ever to come out of Belgium and the inventors of the term EBM (electronic body music). This track however dates from before their rhythms became all muscular and dancefloor orientated and is instead all moody and portentous. One of my favourite Front songs.981. Most of this EP (though not this track) is available on cd from Dirk Iven's Daft Records. Dirk's band The Klinik appear later in the mix.


Chris Carter - Moonlight (1984)

chris carter optimo electrobeat mix

Chris Carter is a god. The musical part of the Throbbing Gristle equation and half of the mighty Chris & Cosey. This is some melancholic synth gorgeousness from his 'Mondo Beat' solo album.


Riz Ortolani - Il Corpo Di Linda (1977)

Riz Ortolani - Il Corpo Di Linda electrobeat mix

(I can't find the sleeve to my copy of this, so here's the film poster.)

Mr. Ortolani is a prolific Italian film composer and this track sounds nothing like the rest of his work. Instead we have what sounds like a prototype for Throbbing Gristle's 'Hot on the heels of love' - all primitive drum machine beats and arpeggios.


The Knife - Silent Shout (2006)

sThe Knife - Silent Shout optimo electrobeat mix

Yes, The Knife, from 2006. For some reason I had previously dismissed this lot. Then I heard this song and the outrageously good album it's from and was completely smitten. In fact, this is probably my favourite electronic record of 2006. 'Silent Shout' manages to look back to this era while still being thoroughly modern (a feat very few can pull off) and fits perfectly into this mix despite being 20+ years younger than anything else here.


Chris and Cosey - October Love Song (12" dance mix) (1982)

Chris and Cosey - October Love Song (1982) optimo electrobeat mix

The 7" version of this should have been a chart hit, but for whatever reason it wasn't and it was their friends The Eurythmics who went on to global success. Perhaps C&C's reputation as being 'the Sonny and Cher of the suicide set' didn't help, but they were (and still are) responsible for some of the best, loveliest and most original electro pop ever made. This is the more freaked out / dubbed out 12" version.


Severed Heads - Petrol (1985)

Severed Heads - Petrol (1985) optimo electrobeat mix

The best band ever to come out of Australia (ok, along with AC / DC), Severed Heads were technologically so far ahead of their time it was ridiculous. Like C&C, they should have been huge, but their name, their refusal to compromise and the acquired taste of Tom Ellard's vocals probably conspired to prevent this. Nevertheless, they were remarkably popular at home in Australia and in North America. Also along with C&C, they had far more of an impact on me than say New Order or Kraftwerk ever did. This is them in classic pop mode with some of the most awesome drum machine ever committed to vinyl.


John Foxx - Underpass (1980)

John Foxx - Underpass (1980) optimo electrobeat mix

Former Ultravox singer goes solo and records the astonishing 'Metamatic' album from which this single came. 'Click, click....drone'.


TV Babies - Corporate Clock (1982)

(There is no sleeve for this one)

I know absolutely nothing about this lot except that they were probably from New York and this appears to have been their only release. If anyone has any more info, please let me know.


Dark Day - No, Nothing, Never (1980)

Dark Day - No, Nothing, Never optimo electrobeat mix

After leaving No Wave heroes DNA, Robin Crutchfield made a handful of wonderful electronic records that are much sought after to this day. This is my favourite and is more or less a blueprint for what became known as Darkwave. Robin is still active in music. Hopefully this will appear on an official Optimo mix cd one day.


No More - Suicide Commando (1981)

No More - Suicide Commando (1981) optimo electrobeat mix

A song that refuses to die. A couple of years after these Germans recorded this it spread like a virus to become a cult classic. The virus is still spreading to this day.


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