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

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cinema - The Seven Stories – Cinema are a new project that Belle Antique are promoting. The band consists of former members of Fromage, and includes two keyboardists, an operatic female vocalist, and string players performing on...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues