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

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Blodwyn Pig - Ahead Rings Out – Perhaps one day this classic by the Jethro Tull offshoot led by original guitarist Mick Abrahams will get a proper reissue, but until then this latest remastered version from EMI will have to do (and...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues