INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Uncut JANUARY 2013 - by Ben Beaumont-Thomas
MARS: LIVE AT IRVING PLAZA
1978 gig by the No Wave four-piece immortalised
In Thurston Moore and Byron Coley's book on No Wave, a map sets out the incestuous scene - Mars are at its heart, six degrees of separation from the likes of Rhys Chatham, DNA and Glenn Branca. Where some of the bands - Bush Tetras, The Contortions - would veer towards funk, Mars instead took the primal garage rock of The Stooges and MC5 and blended it with the freewheeling experimentation of the New York art world. Already pretty unmoored from melody, by the time of this penultimate gig (tape-recorded by Brian Eno) they'd almost entirely dispensed with it. Fractions features their trademark choppy guitar chug but Puerto Rican Ghost, with its arrhythmic one-note bassline, sounds like a garage track whose engine won't start, and the unintelligible barked and moaned vocals sound like a desperate struggle for sense and meaning. It climaxes in fifteen-minute noise symphony NN End, an incredibly beautiful racket of roiling guitar and constantly collapsing drum work - this is the scorched-earth apocalypse that rock'n'roll had seemingly always been heading towards.
EXTRAS: The download coupon includes the LP plus their two excellent sets from Artists Space, May 1978 - a more boisterous bunch of songs, with surf guitar and yapping vocals.
Mars' Mark Cunningham on how Brian Eno delivered New Wave
Just as valuable and boundary-pushing as punk, disco and hip-hop in late '70s NY was No Wave, a splatter of funk and noise that pointed the route out for punk even as it began. "We co-existed with the punks, but we ignored each other," says Mark Cunningham of scene lynchpins Mars, who characterises No Wave as having "a shared contempt for clichés, macho poses and straight rock bands, but musically quite disparate. All the bands had some untrained musicians and all were mixed sex, without traditional roles." It might have just rattled around Soho lofts were it not for Brian Eno, who, in New York to master Talking Heads, collated four bands on keystone compilation No New York. "He was very important in helping us be aware of it as a movement, and the validity of it," says Cunningham. "Eno used to come over a lot, listen to records and hang out - he didn't come on as a star type at all. It was his idea to document the scene and we all collaborated on the definition of that, but he brought it off, sold [record label] Antilles on the idea and helped us record our stuff the way we wanted to."