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No wave

Related: 99 Records - ESG - Konk - Liquid Liquid - New Wave - New York music - post-punk - rock

New York No Wave (ZE Records) (2003) - VA [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Liquid Liquid (1997) - Liquid Liquid [Amazon.com [FR] [DE] [UK]

ESG - A South Bronx Story (2000) - ESG [Amazon.com] [Amazon.com [FR] [DE] [UK]


No Wave was a short-lived but influential offshoot of punk rock centered in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The term No Wave was partly a satiric wordplay rejecting the commercial elements of the then-popular New Wave genre, and also a declaration of the music's experimental nature: No Wave music belonged to no fixed style or genre.

In many ways, No Wave is not a clearly definable genre. There is, for example, no fixed harmony as in most rock music and blues music. There are some elements common to many No Wave performers, including abrasive atonal sounds, strong emphasis on repetitive rhythm, and more emphasis on mood and texture than on conventional melody. Lyrics often focused on nihilism and confrontation ("little orphans running thru the bloody snow/no more ankles and no more clothes"-Teenage Jesus and the Jerks), or were puzzlingly abstract.

No Wave also drew on Performance Art. DNA, for example, was formed by three people with little or no experience playing musical instruments or performing live. Rather than play songs using "proper" methods, DNA quickly utilized their naïveté and played strikingly unique sounds.

Performers classified as No Wave generally had little music style in common: Various groups drew on such disparate styles as funk, jazz, blues, heavy metal, aleatoric music and punk rock. Mars, Swans and The Static, experimented with extremely loud, droning music that was frequently characterized by repetitive drumbeats and explicitly nihilistic lyrics.

No Wave had an important impact on noise and industrial bands who formed after, like Big Black, Helmet, and Live Skull. Sonic Youth emerged from this scene by creating music-as-art that eventually reached mass audiences and critical acclaim.

The Brian Eno-produced album No New York is perhaps the best example of this genre, featuring songs by Mars, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, DNA and James Chance. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_wave [Apr 2005]

No New York (1978) - VA

No New York was a compilation album released in 1978 by Antilles Records on the recommendation of Brian Eno. Although it only contained songs by four different artists, it is considered by many the definitive single album documenting the New York City No Wave movement.


--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_New_York [Apr 2005]


Stuck between Punk Rock noise and New Wave explorations, the No Wave scene was born in New York where it lived a short life in tight connection with downtown's avant-garde artistic crowd. Mostly an attitude towards music, it was characterized by the refusal of traditional Rock 'n' Roll format (chords, chorus...) and the incorporation of exterior influences such as Free Jazz (the Loft Scene), contemporary and black music (funk, disco). --http://www.tigersushi.com/site/tsc/genre/126.htm, accessed Apr 2004

When punk meets funk [...]

They say that what goes around comes around, and sometimes it takes the passage of time for the full significance of earlier innovations to be fully appreciated. This seems to be the case with New York’s No Wave movement of the late 70’s / early 80’s, which resulted in a Dance hybrid, fusing Funk with Punk at a time when these two distinctive areas of music were regarded as the most unlikely bedfellows.

The most influential labels of the movement, ZE and 99 Records, have found a new audience during recent times, as an increasing number of clubbers look back to the days before House music, when New York was at the epicentre of the Dance universe and creative energy overflowed in the city that never slept. Following on from the now sadly defunct Strut label’s excellent ‘Disco (Not Disco)’ compilations are three albums that perfectly capture the essence of the era: ‘New York Noise’, yet another quality collection from Soul Jazz, and a double dose of ZE memories in the form of ‘Mutant Disco’, which builds on the labels 1981 cult-classic compilation of the same name, and ‘NY No Wave’, a more obscure retrospective of music from the ZE vaults. --Greg Wilson via email [2004]

99 Records [...]

Founded by Ed Bahlman, 99 Records chronicled New York's art/punk scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. 99 released seminal works by composer Glenn Branca, as well as the minimalist, toy-piano- and ukulele-driven music of Y Pants. The sparse, tense funk of 99 recording artist ESG has lived on over twenty years later through hip-hop samples, as has the pioneering dance music of Liquid Liquid. Existing at the nexus of art and funk, 99 released records that sound as fresh and innovative today as they did 20 years ago.

New Wave [...]

The New Wave is a movement in American and British popular music, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, growing out of the New York City musical scene centred around the club CBGB's.

The term itself is a source of much confusion. Originally, the term "new wave" was interchangeable with punk rock though they quickly diverged into two different, though related forms. The term was then applied indiscriminately to to any of the bands that followed in punks wake without relying on punks faster, harder & louder ethos; throwing together many different musical styles and attitudes. Eventually, New Wave came to imply a less noisy, poppier sound, while the term Post punk was coined to describe the artier, less pop influenced groups. Although distinct, punk, new wave and post punk all shared common ground, as a energetic reaction to slick, uninspired popular music of the 1970s; and many groups fit easily into two or all three of the categories over their lifespan. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_wave_music [2003/2004]

ESG and Liquid Liquid

  • ESG and Liquid Liquid are two of my all time favorite groups. They are the nexus between No Wave (which was essentially noise music) and funk, a distinct NYC brand of neurotic funk. These bands were active at the beginning of the eighties and recorded for Ed Bahlman's 99 Records. 99 records would put out in the US some of the music that was being released on English independent labels such as Rough Trade, Factory and Adrian Sherwood's On-U-Sound.

    Along with labelmates ESG, Liquid Liquid exemplified the minimalist funk movement that swept New York's music underground in 1981.


    No Wave music reasserted the original anarchy and amateurism of punk rock while rejecting the formulaic rhythms of rock and roll, and the structure that came with regular chord changes and verse/chorus organization. These musicians explored the extremes of atonality and the textures of noise that could be produced with garage band equipment. As raw and fresh as it was, no wave sounded like an amalgam of weird 60's experiments, a blend of free jazzers Albert Ayler and Sun Ra, the Velvet Underground, Yoko Ono, the Godz, and Captain Beefheart, with echoes of older black music forms (slide guitar is often used as a way out of electric guitar tonalities associated with rock). Their expressive array of screams and noises set corny blues or jazz figures wobbling into outer space. The atonality wasn't systemic, as in serial music, but was based on the Thelonius Monk principle of playing the wrong note at the right time. -- Mark Ridlen

    Bill Laswell

    And Bill Laswell in the early eighties


  • Punk Funk by Greg Wilson
  • http://www.glennbranca.com/
  • Krautrock
  • Punk Music THE NY MUSIC SCENE (1975-1978)

    Free Jazz

  • Free Jazz - Free Jazz ... Most musicians involved with this crying anarchy could get no bookings beyond the New York loft set. The French lovers of the avant-garde embraced this African-American scene wholly ... [...]


    1. Wild Dub - Dread Meets Punk Rocker - Various Artists [CD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
      1. Jah war - Ruts 2. Bankrobber (dub version) - Clash 3. Wild dub - Generation X 4. Immigrant dub - Basement 5 5. Turn to red - Killing Joke 6. One of the lads (dub version) - 4 Be 2s 7. Typical girls (Brink style dub) - Slits 8. Private armies (dub version) - Goldman, Vivien 9. Red beat - Red Beat 10. Death disco - Public Image Ltd. 11. Where there is a will - Pop Group 12. Bloody dub - Stiff Little Fingers 13. Private life (dub version) - Jones, Grace

    2. Nine O'Clock Drop - Andy Weatherall [Amazon US]
      1. Nice mover - gina x performance 2. Dominatrix sleeps tonite - dominatrix 3. Coup - 23 skidoo 4. My spine (is the bassline) - shriekback 5. Genius - quando quango 6. Water line - a certain ratio 7. Vegas el bandito - 23 skidoo 8. Black and white mix up - 400 blows 9. P2E remix - torch song 10. Warm leatherette - the normal 11. October (love song)'86 version - chris and cosey 12. Looks lie we're shy one horse - colourbox 13. Warrior charge - aswad

    3. In the Beginning there Was Rhythm - Soul Jazz records[1CD, Amazon US]
      1. Shack up - Certain Ratio 2. Coup - 23 Skidoo 3. To Hell with poverty - Gang Of Four 4. Being boiled - Human League 5. She is beyond good and evil - Pop Group 6. In the beginning there was rhythm - Slits 7. 20 jazz funk greats - Throbbing Gristle 8. Knife slits water - Certain Ratio 9. 24 track loop - This Heat 10. Sluggin' for Jesus - Cabaret Voltaire 11. Vegas el bandito - 23 Skidoo

    4. Liquid Liquid - Liquid Liquid [Amazon US]
      Most of the groundbreaking no-wave funk released in the early 1980s on the 99 label is in limbo, but Grand Royal has seen fit to reissue three Liquid Liquid EPs plus live tracks. Who were Liquid Liquid? A bunch of white art-school types, whose "Cavern" formed the basis for "White Lines"--the following lawsuit sank both 99 and Sugarhill Records. This EP is as much Steve Reich as James Brown as Fela Kuti and sums ups most of New York City's musical obsessions of the period. Minimalist bass, trance-like vibes and occasional melodica and you're left wondering why anyone would choose to listen to acid-jazz, when we have godhead such as this. --D. Strauss

    5. ESG - A South Bronx Story [Amazon US]
      The four Scroggins sisters (Renee, Deborah, Valerie, and Marie) and neighbor Tito Libran burst on to the music scene from left field in 1981 with the remarkable success of "UFO" and "Moody" off their debut 12-inch record. Thanks to the ascendance of hip-hop, the South Bronx was very much on the musical map at the time. But ESG's minimalist funk, which featured live instruments, was closer in spirit to what was coming out of the U.K. at the time--PiL, Gang of Four, and the Factory label (which released ESG's first three songs). Their approach also had kinship to New York bands Konk, Bush Tetras, and Liquid Liquid (the latter two would become their label-mates on the semi-legendary 99 Records). "Moody" entered permanent rotation at New York dance clubs such as the Paradise Garage, while "UFO" became a hip-hop building block, used as sample material for at least a dozen other records (and still counting). The appeal of the tracks lay in the taut interaction between Deborah and Valerie's bass and drums, abetted by Marie and Tito's congas as well as Renee's sparse but precise guitar and unadorned vocal style. The stripped-down nature of the sound lent itself to hip-hop producers' layering on top of it and has helped the music successfully weather the intervening decades--there's none of that "What were they thinking with that synthesizer sound?" problem that afflicts some early '80s music. The CD includes much of their 99 Records output and tracks from their self-titled 1991 release on the Pow Wow label. The 99 Records label itself went down in legal flames, and that Renee Scroggins' apparently owns the rights to the music is noteworthy in itself. But the historical significance and sheer listenability of the music make this a most welcome reissue. --Bob Bannister

    6. Disco not Disco[Amazon US]
      1. Walking On Thin Ice - Yoko Ono 2. Cavern - Liquid Liquid 3. Tell You Today - Loose Joints 4. Spatisticus Autisticus - Ian Dury 5. Over And Over - Material 6. Wheel Me Out - Was (Not Was) 7. Kiss Me Again - Dinosaur 8. I Walk - Don Cherry 9. Voices Inside My Head - Common Sense 10. School Bell/Tree House - Indian Ocean 11. Macho City - Steve Miller Band
      Three great Arthur Russell tracks, 'Tell You Today' and 'School Bell/Tree House', 'Kiss Me Again'. Ian Dury is a Sly & Robbie production.

    7. Disco Not Disco 2 - [1CD, Amazon US]
      TRACKLISTING: 1. Bostich - Yello 2. Let's Go Swimming - Russell, Arthur 3. Timewarp - Grant, Eddy 4. Spectacle (Sean P edit) - Can 5. White Horse - Laidback 6. Problems d'Amour - Alexander Robotnik 7. Radio clash - Clash (2) 8. Ciguri - Material 9. Sting - Waits, Barry 10. Listen to the Rhythm Band - MD 20 20 11. Get down - Case, Connie & King Sporty 12. Fourteen days - Lex (2)

      Conventional wisdom equates late-'70s/early-'80s disco with velvet ropes and coked-up supermodels, but Joey Negro and Sean P.'s ongoing Disco Not Disco series makes a convincing case for the N.Y.C. discotheque as a place where bold genre-blurring experimentation thrived under the guise of recreation. Where Disco Not Disco 1 spotlighted avant-funk bands, part deux works like an electroclash crash course, with a collection of tracks that suggest Kraftwerk was a more important influence on East Village culture than the Velvet Underground or Ramones. Several nations come together under one groove here: the Clash and Can get cross-wired with Yello's classic "Bostich" and Material's "Rapper's Delight" redux "Ciguri," and if much of DND2 sounds dated... well, isn't that why you're listening in the first place? -- Gern Blandsten

    8. Wild New York No Wave: The Ultimate East Village (ZE Records) (2003) - Various Artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
      1. Control Yourself - James White & the Blacks 2. Wawa - Lizzy Mercier Descloux 3. Lady Scarface - Lydia Lunch 4. Mister Ray - Suicide 5. 3E - Mars 6. The Closet - Teenage Jesus & the Jerks 7. Rosa Vertov - Rosa Yemen 8. Pini, Pini - Arto/Neto 9. Torso Corso - Lizzy Mercier Descloux 10. Almost Black - James White & the Blacks 11. 11000 Volts - Mars 12. Mechanical Flattery - Lydia Lunch 13. Decryptated - Rosa Yemen 14. Empty Eyes - Teenage Jesus & the Jerks 15. Designed To Kill - The Contortions 16. Malu - Arto/Neto 17. Less Than Me - Teenage Jesus & the Jerks 18. Larousse Baron Bic - Rosa Yemen 19. That's When Your Heartaches Begin - James Chance & Pill Factory 20. Herpes Simplex - Rosa Yemen 21. Twice Removed - The Contortions 22. Radiation - Suicide

    9. Mutant Disco (ZE Records) (2003) Various Artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
      1. Was (Not Was) – Wheel Me Out 2. Material & Nona Hendryx – Bustin’ Out 3. Cristina – Drive My Car 4. Kid Creole & The Coconuts – Annie I’m Not Your Daddy 5. Aural Exciters – Emile (Night Rate) 6. James White & The Blacks – Contort Yourself 7. Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Funky Stuff 8. Garcons – French Boys 9. Don Armando’s 2nd Ave. Rhumba Band 10. Gichy Dan – Cowboys & Gangsters 11. Cristina – Blame It On Disco 12. Garcons – Encore L’Amore

      Disc: 2 1. Cristina – Disco Clone 2. Coati Mundi – Que Pasa 3. Me No Pop I 4. Kid Creole & The Coconuts – I’m A Wonderful Thing Baby 5. Was (Not Was) – Out Come The Freaks 6. Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Fire 7. Aural Exciters – Spooks In Space 8. Was (Not Was) – Tell Me That I’m Dreaming 9. Caroline Loeb – Narcissique 10. The Waitresses – I Know What Boys Like 11. Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Mission Impossible 12. Garcons – Re Bop Electronic 13. Garcons – French Boys Disco Edit 14. Casino Music – Faites Le Proton

      Any ageing NME reader will remember this album from 1981; when ZE, heavily championed by Paul Morley and Ian Penman; was briefly the hippest, coolest, most happening record company in the world. So how does it sound 20 years later? Pretty flippin' fab actually. Hugely expanded from it's original six tracks on vinyl; it's now a whopping double CD digi thing. Hard to believe, but Kid Creole & The Coconuts still sound damn good. Look past the zoot suits and hispanic posturing; and the core of these tunes are just great latino / funk workouts from a team of New York's best session players at the time. Elsewhere, Was (Not Was) still sound like they are being beamed in from another planet with the peerless 'Wheel Me Out'; Bill Laswell's Material rock it hard 'n' funky with the mighty 'Bustin' Out' and James Chance gets another airing for the unbeatable 'Contort Yourself'; which is in danger of being over - compiled this year. Mutant Disco: suitable for ageing Wag Club floorshakers and curious young punk / funk tigers wondering where The Rapture got those moves from. --amazon.co.uk

    10. New York Noise - Dance Music From The New York Underground (2003) -VA [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
      1. Optimo - Liquid Liquid 2. Baby Dee - Konk 3. Do Dada - The Dance 4. Reduction - Material 5. Wawa - Lizzy Mercier Descloux 6. 5:30 - DNA 7. Beat Bop - Rammellzee Vs. K Rob 8. Contort Yourself - The Contortions 9. Lesson No. 1 - Glenn Branca 10. Button Up - The Bloods 11. Clean On Your Bean No. 1 - Dinosaur L 12. You Got Me - Theoretical Girls 13. Can’t Be Funky - Bush Tetras 14. Helen Fordsdale - Mars 15. You Make No Sense - ESG 16. Defunkt - Defunkt

      orking as a companion compilation to, Soul Jazz Records equally great UK focused, In The Beginning There Was Rhythm this disc brings together a collection of hard to find gems from New York based post-punk bands. --amazon.co.uk

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