Exposé Online banner

Surplus 1980 — Pigeon Obstacle Course
(Geomancy G1506, 2019, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2020-04-09

Pigeon Obstacle Course Cover art

Among Moe Staiano’s many projects is Surplus 1980, which operates in an area that might be described as “art-punk” — an energetic mix of punk rock and weirdness that has elements in common with Cardiacs (it is dedicated to Mark E. Smith) and early Devo fronted by a vocalist sounding a bit like Stan Ridgway of Wall of Voodoo. Pigeon Obstacle Course is their third full-length release, after Relapse in Response (2011) and Arterial Ends Here (2013). This time out, Staiano is joined by Bill Wolter of Inner Ear Brigade (guitar, piano, prepared guitar, various noises), Melne Murphy of Têtes Noires (guitar, glockenspiel, prepared guitar, vocals, various noises), H.L. Nelly of Naked Lights (bass, vocals), and Mark Pino of Cloud Shepherd and Dead City Shaman (drums), while Staiano himself contributes drums, percussion, vocals, noises, marimba, glockenspiel, prepared guitar, bass, and melodica. There are also guests providing trumpet and piano here and there. The music is consistently inventive in a way that could be compared to Cheer-Accident with a bit of old New York No Wave tossed in along with an anything-goes attitude. For example, the song “Question after Ended Questioned” is arranged for bass, drums, vocals, and three people banging on Bundt pans — and I suppose it’s an accomplishment that it doesn’t sound stranger than it does. The short interlude called “Perilous Night No. 4” features bass, floor tom, and three prepared guitars. Other tracks feature somewhat more conventional instrumentation, but all are performed with the same spirit of unconventional creativity, a far cry from the standards of bass, drums, guitars, and keyboards in regular song structures. Pigeon Obstacle Course (great title, by the way) is a wonderful herky-jerky blast of surprise after surprise, and a lot of fun from beginning to end.

Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): Moe! Staiano / Surplus 1980

More info

Latest news

Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Qoph - Pyrola – It’s been entirely too long since this Swedish band’s 1998 debut. Since that time, the band has formed their own label and started singing in English. Their basic sound is intact, however,...  (2005) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues