Killing Time
The Country of Blinds / Learn to Talk

[Fred Records / RER,]

As much as this may sound like a generalization, these two re-issues constitute some of the more rambunctious, exciting music that Fred Frith helped to create during the 80's. The two ensembles in question never really wanted to revolutionize the way music is played, but in their small little way, that's exactly what ended up happening.
Fred Frith, Bill Laswell and Fred Maher created the trio collectively known as Massacre. For about a year and a half, they were a live unit, playing it mean and loud at their shows. At about the same time, Laswell was giving birth to Material [with the same line-up as here], who were filling the void in the power-rock section of the record stores. I mean, these three guys could really rock and rock hard. Sure, Laswell gets his fair share of abuse [people say he's nothing special in the bass playing department] but the remaining two are absolute gems. The power trio moniker seems to stick well to what Massacre did on this much re-issued album [this is about the sixth or seventh time a re-issue has been attempted]. The fury, power and the frustration of life in NYC during the early 80's comes through in every note these guys play. This was the beginning of Reganomics - a bleak period for the US, but a bright phase for music in the NYC area. Live material has been added to the original release from an '81 gig in France. Digipack is well designed, adding that extra nice touch to the music. For those that already have the original Celluloid release, this re-issue is a nice-to-have addition for the live tracks alone. For those that have never heard "Killing Time", this is absolutely essential.
Skeleton Crew was another example of essential listening. Another super-trio of sorts, made up of cellist Tom Cora, harpist Zeena Parkins and multi-instrumentalist Fred Frith.
This set up saw Frith at his experimental best within a band context. Always searching for the best way of finding expression to his music, finding meaning in the chaos, Skeleton Crew was a shining beacon in a dark tunnel. Sure, much of this material was challenging, angular, even academic rock, if you pardon the phrase. But then, comes a sing-along ditty such as "It's Fine" - where all three band members in unison sing the title of the track over and over again - and you start to believe in the power of music. The experiments were daring for their time. Incorporating dissonance, fury, power, anger and constant stretches lacking any melody whatsoever, "The Country of Blinds / Learn to Talk" were powerful signs of new things to come; of a change in the stale air. Dedicated to Tom Cora [who has since departed this planet], this re-issue is an essential one, if only to remember this long-lost, long-forgotten music of the masters.

- Tom Sekowski

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+ Tajemnicza emocja - wywiad z Kostasem Georgakopulos [Progrram]