Dissipated Face with Daniel Carter
Live at CBGB 1986 [7-inch; Roaratorio]

Though the Lower East Side and places like Downtown Brooklyn seem quite sterilized at this point, a quarter-century ago they were far less so, and continued to give rise to a healthy scobe of musical-artistic collision. In 1986, punk had already burned out; so had no wave and post-punk (mostly). Free jazz and improvised music were still a going concern though with the dissolution of the lofts, the presentation of that music was once again a bit more underground. But in those spaces between musical foments and the critical hurry to document, groups appear to get done the business of making art.

In the mid-1980s, Dissipated Face were one of a number of groups weaned on New Music Distribution Service catalogs, cut-out bins, and ready to occupy something of a vacuum. Punk rock, prog, free jazz, funk, modern composition and Downtown art scum were all part of the landscape and exactly what went into their melting pot. Consisting of guitarist Kurt “Hologram” Ralske and Stephen “X. Dream” Popkin and Ben “Face” Munves trading off bass, vocals and drums, their approach ranged from cut-throat punk slop to unhinged bluesy sleaze (the wonderfully bizarre “Streets Of New York” with its hardcore breakdowns). The guest appearance of alto saxophonist Daniel Carter on these four archival cuts recorded live at CBGB in 1986 adds an extra dose of fire to the proceedings. A regular in the groups of bassist-composer William Parker and a fixture in the New York free jazz environment since the mid-70s, his jubilant squall nudges Ralske’s wiry, feedback-drenched statements to unbridled heights. Given more room to stretch it would be interesting to hear what these players could accomplish, but the seven-inch format gives these tracks an extreme urgency, as though if one blinked the music’s gifts would be lost. Thanks are due to Minneapolis’ Roaratorio Records for releasing this snapshot (replete with Raymond Pettibon artwork) of an ecstatic DIY moment.

Links: Roaratorio

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