Various Artists
NoHo EP: Turning The Crank
Includes Instant Download
Edition of 300 copies
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1Human Error – Clandestinator 6:03
2The Higher Primates – Auto Music In The Disco Dub Style 4:36
3The Higher Primates – Teresa Variations 3:50
4The Scientific Americans – Among Bodge Watt 4:19

With this EP an attempt is made at documenting the vibrant action happening during the late 1970s and early 1980s in the Pioneer Valley area of Western Massachusetts, US. The story is richer than the snapshot we present here, and a more detailed account is to be found in the accompanying book that can be purchased separately.

The Five Colleges in Hampshire County congregated a vast student population that inevitably interacted with the towns in the area. Bars, music and record stores, live music and a lot of experimentation and free thinking. Hampshire College, especially, promoted new approaches to teaching, subjects that might be considered radical by some even today, although a more favourable context would now surely exist for openly debating such topics as American Indians, Kayak Design, Black Oral Tradition, Food Management, etc. And the music? The immediate "punk effect" motivated the creation of numerous bands, many short lived, others evolving into New Wave / Power Pop territory, eventually crossing into Post-Punk experimentation. What is captured in "Noho EP" is a more electronic disposition, favoured by the existence of EMS gear and other equipment at Hampshire College and University of Massachusetts. We chose to focus on a group of musicians who, for a time, played together in different combinations under the loose umbrella of the Tekno Tunes label and the structure around it.

These musicians come from very different backgrounds and the nucleus portrayed here consisted of Christopher Vine, Elliott Sharp, James Whittemore and Nicholas Brown.

Of the several line-up changes The Scientific Americans went through, it was actually only the duo of Chris Vine and Jim Whittemore who recorded "Among Bodge Watt". Never before released, it is a companion piece to their track "El Salvador" available on the 1981 ROIR tape-album "Load & Go!". The Sci Ams were founders of the Tekno Tunes label and also created the Tekno Tours "concert promotion agency", under which name they exposed local audiences to bands such as The Stranglers, The Slits, Pylon, Pere Ubu, The Psychedelic Furs, The Bush Tetras, Steel Pulse, etc. Their own sound kept progressing but at its best there's a solid dub undercurrent, pretty obvious in "Among Bodge Watt".

Human Error was born out of a collective jam by Chris Vine, Elliott Sharp, Jim Whittemore and Nick Brown. Elliott Sharp had moved to Northampton in August of 1978 and naturally became involved in the local music scene, hooking up first with Whittemore at a hi-fi audio store where he worked at the time. Basement jams followed stimulating conversations, and other musicians joined the sessions. "Clandestinator" sounds gorgeously loose, an effortless groove coming from a quasi-dub set-up. Nothing here seems calculated, the music just flows, contagious and irregular as the handclaps in the mix.

The Higher Primates later evolved into a "proper" band but started as Nick Brown's solo project. The Primates only ever released a (now sought-after) 7" single in 1980 (on the Tekno Tunes label, precisely). Both tracks on "Noho EP" were recorded the following year and never released until now. "Auto Music in the Disco Dub Style" is self-explanatory, with a steady, mid-tempo TR808 beat running through, supporting synth squelches, echoes and reverbs, a fat bassline, dissonant melodic lines and odd vocal snippets. Kind of a DJ tool when the concept was barely in place. The more uptempo "Teresa Variations" adds a Fender Jazz bass and Selmer sax to the electronics. It actually sounds more "Disco", even with the robotic, unintelligible vocals. On top of this, the vibe is sealed by the overall Radiophonic Workshop analogue strangeness applied to a dance beat.