All posts by Adam Reifsteck

Liner Notes

Liner Notes by Mark C (NYC 9.11.22)

In 1979, I was making the underground punk scene In San Francisco.  I saw the Dead Kennedy’s, Negative Trend, the Dills, Flipper and – from LA – The Germs, the Bags and the Screamers.

I also caught some early British bands like the Fall, Gang of Four, Public Image, and the Clash. As I was digesting the evolution of punk into post-punk, out of nowhere comes Eno’s ground- breaking compilation of New York’s premiere No Wave artists, No New York. I was stunned by this conceptual re-invention of the punk aesthetic.

I made a quick visit to the Big Apple and caught one of the best club-shows I have ever seen: Suicide and Teenage Jesus and The Jerks at Max’s Kansas City.  Within a few months my band had packed up our belongings and headed to the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

A couple of years later Live Skull reared its swollen head. And though I had previously, played in a No Wave influenced band called Body, Live Skull’s dark racket leaned more on the drama and cinematic atmosphere of post-punk. Like No Wave bands we played short, highly charged sets geared to provoke the audience; but we explored noise mainly as a harmonic element to contrast and toughen our melodic and rhythmic content.

Recently I had begun to feel, at least as far as official recordings, I had maybe missed my chance to dig deeper into the noisy abstraction central to No Wave, while it was still fresh in my mind. Then – right on cue – SoSaLa, who lived at that time still in Tokyo, Japan, and calling himself Sadato, appears with tracks from an improvised recording session from 1993 that I and another Live Skull-er, James Lo, had participated in.

Along with SoSaLa (on soprano sax, vocals, organ and flute) the intriguing line up included myself (on electric guitar / Live Skull / o13 / Spoiler / Int’l Shades / Body), James Lo (on drums / Live Skull / Chavez / Slash Orchestra), Peter Gordon (on tenor sax and Jews harp / Love of Life Orchestra), David Motamed (on electric bass / Das Daman, Cell, The Royal Arctic Institute), Toshimaru Nakamura (on guitar / SADATO / DATAI 99), who joined Sadato from Tokyo. To top it off the sessions were recorded and mixed by my good friend Martin Bisi at BC Studio in Brooklyn – where Live Skull had worked extensively in the 1980’s.

Hearing the eight tracks for the first time since ’93, knocked me out! I was struck by how much the core sound is indebted to the abstract and chaotic aggression of No Wave – albeit re-interpreted fifteen or so years after the birth of the original movement. I was excited by how energized and focused the improvised playing is; that No Wave is the common thread we each, individually latched onto, as a meeting ground for our diverse musical tastes and backgrounds.  As ringmaster, SoSaLa’s minimal but inventive directions got us going, but the color, texture and the mood of the riffs came from some dark corner in each of our psyches’ where we had stored away the big lessons of No Wave.

Unfortunately, due to his busy life in Tokyo SoSaLa wasn’t able to continue this music project until now, by arranging the release of the CD.

Sit back and… hmmm, no – get up and stomp around to these free form noise romps, as we endeavor to spark up the post No Wave demons in 1993.