Exposé Online banner

FM — Black Noise
(Esoteric Recordings ECLEC2376, 1978/2013, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-08-01

Black Noise Cover art

The reissue of the second album by this excellent Canadian trio has been long awaited by many. A rather nonstandard three-piece, their most unique feature was the substitution of mandolin/violin for parts that would normally be handled by guitars, on this album played by Nash the Slash (don't worry, this is nothing like the techno-thrash solo material he is better known for...). De-facto bandleader Cameron Hawkins plays either synthesizer and bass pedals, or bass guitar and synth-pedals, and is the group's lead vocalist. Martin Deller ties it all together with the drums, keeping the mix busy and energized. The band covers a lot of bases here, from fusion to an accessible rock sound to a very heavy bombastic prog, either as instrumental workouts, or served up with sci-fi lyrics (which would become their trademark). The mandolin is played with all the standard guitar treatments (fuzz, feedback, delays, etc.) and performs precisely the same duty as a guitar would in any other band, but the solos give it away: high-pitched screamers that yield to nothing. "Phasors on Stun" and "Aldeberan" are the most accesible tunes here, yet they fare well within the band's instrumental vision. With "One O'Clock Tomorrow" they adopt an almost Yes-like feel, further accentuated by the parallel lyrics, vocal harmonies, and the Chris Squire trademark Rickenbacker bass sound. "Journey" is an almost-straight-ahead rocker — it's here that Nash's solid-body mandolin rocks its hardest. "Black Noise" is a heavy and dark — and typically progressive rock opus of the ten-minute type, and while very intense, it also shows some of the band's weaker tendencies: a bit too much repetition and a knack for meandering. Probably the album's finest tracks are two instrumentals that are more in the violin-fusion mode: "Slaughter in Robot Village" and "Hours," both of which point to the sound on the band's 1977 album Headroom, yet here that loose-and-free sound is given a more cohesive sense of purpose via stronger material. This was a good album in '78 and it's still a good album today; it covers a lot of ground musically and offers something for everyone. Recommended.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 4, 2013 releases, 1978 recordings

Related artist(s): FM, Nash the Slash (Jeff Plewman)

Latest news

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ozric Tentacles - Jurassic Shift – First opinion was certainly a "Wow" as it seems like Ozrics have returned to what they do best as typified on Erpland. But this album is too much like Erpland to the point that songs like "Vita Voom"...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues