Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Ike Yard ‎– 1980-82 Collected (2006)

Style: New Wave, Experimental, Minimal
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Acute Records, P-Vine Records

Tracklist:
01.   Night After Night
02.   Sense Of Male
03.   Infra-Ton
04.   The Whistler
05.   Cherish
06.   Motiv
07.   M. Kurtz
08.   Loss
09.   NCR
10.   Kino
11.   Cherish 8
12.   Half A God
13.   Nocturne
14.   20
15.   War=Strong
16.   We Are One
17.   Dancing + Slaving
18.   Wolfen

Credits:
Compilation Producer – Dan Selzer, Todd Hyman
Electric Guitar, Synthesizer – Michael Diekmann
Voice, Bass Guitar, Synthesizer, Percussion – Kenneth Compton
Voice, Synthesizer, Piano, Drums, Percussion, Electronic Drums – Stuart Argabright
Synthesizer, Sequenced By, Drum Machine, Programmed By, Electronics – Fred Szymanski
Producer, Music By – Ike Yard

Ike Yard might just be the darkest and most experimental music Factory records ever laid their hands on. Yes, they have the rhythmic pulses and cold metallic radiance of Joy Division and A Certain Ratio, but they're coming from a whole different place. New York, to be exact. In fact, Ike Yard was actually the first American act to be signed to the label, and despite any aesthetic similarities, the continental divide from their labelmates is obvious. Drawing on influences as varied as early punk rock, avant garde electronic music, and free jazz, Ike Yard's sound is highly volatile, and at their peak all members were armed with keyboards and other electronics in which they mostly used for improvisation. Maintaining a borderline sense of dancebility, their music seems to take as much of a cue from Louis and Bebe Barron's Forbidden Planet soundtrack as it does any Giorgio Marauder track.

The liner notes cite Iggy Pop's The Idiot as being something as a mind-fuck for the band, and while 25 years ago Ike Yard may have been viewed as a disregard for everything that preceded it, the cold glamour of Thin White Duke/Berlin era David Bowie certainly shows its face in retrospect. In addition to being pale electronic and sheik, they also have the same sense of studio experimentation that's ever so present in the Bowie/Eno collaborations as well as during Faust's early years at their Wumme compound. Although their first EP showcases songs with distinct rhythm and monotone vocal lines, by end of their career these elements seem secondary to their electronic spasms and improvisations. If the unreleased material at the end of the disc is any indication, they probably weren't ever limiting themselves to beat driven music but rather choosing the most "accessible" material for release.

Over the course of their short-lived group, progress is obvious. So obvious in fact, that the group disbanded due to not being able to keep up with themselves. Apparently being overwhelmed with ideas is a curse for some (although a total head-scratcher for me), and the idea that they were progressing faster than anyone could release their music was discouraging enough to throw in the towel (they would have thrived in this era short run/CDR labels). But this single disc captures most of it; the original Night After Night EP, the self-titled Factory Records LP, along with unreleased material and detailed liner notes by various band members. It's yet another reminder of a New York heyday, were everyone involved with a flourishing scene had a band, and most of them were really fucking good.

Ike Yard ‎– Ike Yard (1982)

Style: Electro, Minimal, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Factory America

Tracklist:
A1.   M. Kurtz
A2.   Loss
A3.   NCR
B1.   Kino
B2.   Cherish 8
B3.   Half A God

Credits:
Synthesizer, Guitar – Michael Diekmann
Synthesizer, Sequenced By, Electronics – Fred Szymanski
Vocals, Bass, Synthesizer, Percussion – Kenneth Compton
Vocals, Synthesizer, Percussion – Stuart Argabright
Words By – Compton, Argabright
Producer, Music By – Ike Yard

Ike Yard remain a legendary band of early '80s New York City – at once immensely influential, yet obscured by a far-too-brief initial phase. Their debut EP, the dark and absorbing Night After Night, sounds almost like a different group, so rapidly would Ike Yard evolve towards the calmly menacing electro throb of their self-titled LP.

Originally released on Factory in 1982, the album put Ike Yard's indelible mark on the synth-driven experimental rock scene then emerging all over the planet. While historical analogues would be Cabaret Voltaire's Red Mecca or Front 242's Geography, opening track "M. Kurtz" makes starkly clear that Ike Yard is a far heavier proposition.

With a thick porridge of bass, ringing guitar and strangled/stunted layers of voice, these six pieces are densely packed and perversely danceable. "Loss" sounds like a minimal techno track that could have been made last week, while "Kino" combines Soviet-era imagery with sparse soundscapes à la African Head Charge's Environmental Studies.

Ike Yard somehow pull off the toughest trick in modern music: making repetition hypnotically compelling through subtle variation. The effect of Ike Yard's first LP can be heard in many genres – from industrial dance labels like Wax Trax to electro-punk bands and innumerable European groups (Lucrate Milk, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, etc.).

The fact that the cover artwork does not include any photos of the band, but rather features the original catalogue number (FACT A SECOND) only further illustrates the release's importance and Ike Yard's timeless mystique.