BC Studio was founded in 1979 by Martin Bisi with friends Brian Eno and Bill Laswell, and still owns and operates to this day. At BC Studio, Bisi has personally recorded landmark music by Sonic Youth, Swans, Unsane, Afrika Bambaataa, Herbie Hancock, John Zorn, and so many more. Bisi’s name is synonymous with the New York City underground. Disparate sounds – from hip-hop to noise-rock to the far reaches of the avant-garde – have added up to a logical whole under the umbrella of BC Studio.
We’re very pleased to present to you 3 records that have influenced Martin greatly throughout his musical life.
Photo by Joan Hacker.
Grateful Dead – Anthem Of The Sun
One evening in Greenwich Village, after class, she came out of a record store and gave me two records that a classmate had recommended, ostensibly for me – John McLaughlin’s Extrapolations and Grateful Dead’s Anthem Of The Sun. I soon realized one was fairly serious, and the other tied to popular culture and the mysterious revolution happening around me.
I lost interest in Extrapolations after a couple plays. Anthem Of The Sun though struck me right in the first few vocal lines as having an evil undercurrent.
“The sky was dark and faded / Solemnly they stated / He has to die.”
Years later I understood that many devices I use in the studio and live, are on this record: stringing together, even overlapping different versions, from both live and studio takes; a certain degree of chaos, as with their two drummers; dramatically switching to lo-fi vocal treatments; psychedelic panning.
I can only guess that I would have ended up in the same place as a musician, without this record, but I can’t be sure.
The Mothers Of Invention – Freak Out!
This is where I first heard genre cut ‘n’ paste – years before I heard John Zorn. This is where I first saw that really anything goes, where the meaning in the genres disappears, but is replaced by the energy of “going all the way.”
The gems here are on sides 3 and 4 – this being one of the first double albums. A fond teenage memory of mine is memorizing with friends the a cappella sections of ‘It Can’t Happen Here’ (side 3) – it was 1974.
Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
This record, just in the sense of pure energy – keeping much of the tempo up, and attitude in the vocals – really stood out. Compared even to the Ramones, this had more electricity, which could have been to a point a factor of the production. And unquestionably, the uniqueness of Lydon’s voice, affectations and accent. I’d never even heard a British accent like his before, I don’t think. Again, if you compare to Joey Ramone who had a cool, nonplussed, blasé delivery, Lydon was unrelenting, digging in, in your face – possibly even, rivaling [gasp] Iggy.
For me this is one of the touchstones of political music, even though many bands, like The Clash, Crass, and Dead Kennedys were more serious, or respectable even, and would later claim that mantle. This pulled me off the couch many a night to go paint the trains in 1977: “Cause I want to be Anarchy – in the city.”