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Influenced by their punk upbringing, avant-garde schooling, and no wave surroundings in early 80s NYC, Ike Yard managed to create a new sound. By tapping into equal parts the krautrock experimentation of Can, the Neue Deutsche Welle of DAF and the UK post-punk dub of PiL and Joy Division they created sounds and songs unique enough to catch the attention of Factory Records, who made them their first American signing.
But what really set Ike Yard apart were their cutting edge techniques. The mixing board and effects processors were as important as the bass, synth or occasional guitar, giving Ike Yard an aggressive and propulsive sound, where drum machines beat against the sound of scrap metal and angular guitar slashes darted through arpeggiated synth patterns.
Acute Records release of “1980-82-Collect” collects, for the first time, Ike Yard’s two releases (their Factory LP and an EP for Les Disques du Crepuscule) plus several previously unreleased tracks.
‘Ike Yard may be the most innovative band you hear this year, although their only album was recorded over 20 years ago’
San Francisco Bay Guardian
‘Ike Yard, whose baleful , relentlessly chittering tunes at their best sounding like some dream merger of DAF and PIL’
Simon Reynolds, Rip It Up And Start Again. Discog 2
‘Ike Yard just might be the darkest and most experimental music Factory ever laid their hands on. Yes they had the cold metallic radiance of Joy Division and A Certain Ratio but their coming from a different place. New York City, to be exact’
Tiny Mix Tapes
‘The 1982 Factory Album features numerous cuts with deep head nodding grooves evoking rainy nights in a NY during an era when it was actually dangerous to go outside onto the streets’
Downtown Music Gallery
’20 years ahead of their time’
Ike Yard – Agua (Diablo)
Unreleased. Recorded at Gotham Studios, NYC. January 1982.
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Ike Yard – Night After Night
From the Les Disques Du Crepuscule EP release, Night After Night. Originally released in 1981, available on the Acute 1980-82 Collected CD.
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Ike Yard – NCR
From Ike Yard’s LP on Factory America. Originally released in 1982, available on the Acute 1980-82 Collected CD.
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Ike Yard – Soyuz
Unreleased. Recorded live at CBGBs on December 6, 1981. Also on the bill were the Del Byzanteens.
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The post punk period of the early 1980’s gave us some of the most interesting innovative and ahead of thier time bands, that often seem not part of any scene or genre. Ike yard is one such band and this excellent compilation brings together, their one and only album on factory records, along a ep and unreleashed tracks
Ike yard were formed in New York in 1979, sadly only were together for four years. Their sound is made up of cold rhythmic electronics, which are scatted with barren bass tones, coarse wasp like guitars, and sinister neon flicker synthesizer’s noise. Added to all this is are barely alive mumbled vocals, like a man wondering the streets after the bombs dropped. You can really hear within their sound, what would develop into techno and IDM, some of this almost sound like a primitive take on Autechre. It quite unlike anyone else of that time or since, I guess the closest is a more uptigh and morbid suicide- but Ike Yard have so much more depth to their sound. This is the sound of peopless subways rushing past, painful white neon that burns your eyes, speeding of information through a million phone lines- people telling a million lies and half truths,the slow clench of technology around mankinds throat. It all still sounds amazingly undated and fresh for the most part. Still murmuring of a cold uncertain future- within machine chatter.
It all comes with highly informative booklet covering the bands history. Really a must have item for any one even vaguely interested in any form electronic and rhythmic music.
Paper Thin Walls August 18, 2006
Swiping their name from the record racks in A Clockwork Orange, Ike Yard were apparently more popular in that bleak, violent future than in this one. Sure, they opened for Suicide, SPK, Cabaret Voltaire and New Order in the nascent ’80s (we even heard the bass player dated Madonna), but being the first Yanks on Factory brings more cache now than it did then. Neighbors once more with Glenn Branca, whose screeching guitar pop (as Theoretical Girls) and symphonies have already been documented by the Acute label, Ike Yard is sonically closer to the imprint’s other archival project: the stiff, existential synth screeches of Metal Urbain.
“Night After Night” is a ringer in the Ike Yard retrospective, in that the drum kit of Stuart Argabright is still fully assembled so as to better emulate their beloved Can. Soon, it would be stripped down, filtered, looped or else abandoned entirely as Argabright manned the banks of their stockpiled Korgs, Rolands, Arps and Buchlas. Those ever-quickening cymbal eighth-notes glimmer here in the rain-slicked, perpetual noir of the L.E.S., a journey to the end of night intoned against the dual swoop of no-wave guitars and UFO hoverings. The bass throbs (soon to be the band’s focus) are as speedy, edgy and rambling as a cokehead in a spy thriller.
Junk Media August 16, 2006
1980-82 Collected compiles Ike Yard’s entire discography plus some unreleased bonus material. Taken in one sitting, the entire disc proves to be exhausting, but the rewards of repeated listening can’t be understated. Night After Night, released in 1981, is a stunning example of a band exploring the possibilities made available by new technology. And it grooves without cribbing punk-funk like so many other post punks of the time. There’s a darkness that resembles Joy Division, but none of these songs stay close to structured pop forms; instead they build on modal vamps in the vein of Kraut rockers like Neu! and Can. Keep in mind that these references are merely stylistic; Ike Yard forged a unique sound, building songs out of meticulous sonic experimentation rather than chords and melody. All of the instruments work together creating a sound that anticipates Big Black, all while avoiding the abrasiveness (but not the power) typically associated with industrial music. As for melody, there really isn’t much whatsoever, as “singer” Stuart Argabright sticks to faintly rhythmic deadpan monologues. His voice works more like an instrument, adding just another layer to the overall effect.
Ike Yard, which came out the following year, digs even deeper into the possibilities awarded by extended sound manipulation, although they do so at the expense of melody and warmth. The rest of 1980-82 Collected offers outtakes and a single live track which all hold up very nicely next to the reissued material, altogether making a strong case for Ike Yard deserving a distinct place in the canon of experimental music.
Vital Weekly 540
When we reviewed ‘Manifold’ by Laminar (Vital Weekly 364), we said that Laminar’s main man Fred Szymanski had a long career in music, but that we weren’t at liberty to tell you more about it. Now we are. In the early eighties Fred was one of the main man of Ike Yard, who were the first US band to sign to Factory Records. For whatever reason I am not aware, their material was never released on CD, but this omission is now been taken care of. In those days I never owned any of their records (for reasons I am no longer aware of), but in the mid nineties I used to travel a bit by car with friends, with whom I shared the love of the early 80s music, and they always played their Ike Yard cassette. I forgot what they told me: the first one was great, the second wasn’t – or vice versa. On this CD you can find both their first LP (for Factory) and the 12″ (for Les Disques Du Crepuscule) plus some unreleased tracks. Ike Yard was an odd band. The four guy line up played synthesizers, piano, drums, bass, guitar, sequencers, programming and such like, but the studio played a big role for them (despite not being produced by Martin Hannett), playing an equal role for the band, adding tons of effects to the music. These days the music may sound a bit dated, the graveyard voice, the over use of reverb and the doom and gloom of the nuclear years, it’s also sounds still way ahead of its time. The combination of rock instruments with synthesizers was still away from New Order’s movements around the same period, but Ike Yard certainly shared a similar passion for breaking away from the rigid pop format and experiment with sound, roughly within the frame of a pop song. Sequence wise it sometimes reminded of Neue Deutsche welle (DAF or Liason Dangereux) but the rock side was undoubtedly more british. It is still strong music and good to cross out on the list ‘still to be re-issued’.
Other Music August 24, 2006
Seminal Sheffield band Cabaret Voltaire was named after the Dada performance night curated by Hugo Ball and his wife Emmy. Obscure NY band Ike Yard (complete early recordings now unearthed by the hidden gem hunting Acute label) was named after the record shop in A Clockwork Orange . Both groups shared a penchant for dubbed out, urban, subterranean art pulse, and during the same post-punk time period. The difference between the two lies, at least partially, in the names. Early on, Cabaret Voltaire had more of a barely-there, lofty, esoteric vibe while, throughout their recorded output, Ike Yard’s was an unmistakable sexual throb that had a darker, slightly meatier but no-less-sophisticated sound. Also, while Cabaret Voltaire was greatly influenced by early hip-hop, Ike Yard, who actually sounded a lot less like early hip-hop, actually had direct connections, their drummer, Stuart “Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight” Argabright, making tracks on the side with Rammellzee in the Death Comet Crew. Ask Stuart, he’s got a million stories.
Now forget the hip-hop influence for a second. Yes, DAF and an overall German New Wave influence (the stripped-down groove of Malaria or Liaisons Dangereuses) is in there. The influence of first generation Krautrock (Can, Neu!, etc.) is also in there, and keeps the aforementioned “sex throb” in the pocket and expansive. But what I’m not hearing anyone talk about is the minimal Birthday Party-like rhythm section: minimal scrapes a la Roland S. Howard, a propulsive Kraut version of bass a la Tracy Pew, and the well-timed crashes of a restrained Phil Calvert/Mick Harvey. I never really dreamed of a band sounding like Birthday Voltaire, especially a dubby, minimal Krautrock version, but if anything comes close, this is it and it works. Replace the drunken cabaret (no pun) style of Birthday Party with the dubby exploration of Krautrock and Neu Deutsche Welle and there you have it. Even the primal essence of Swans, undoubtedly a product of the then essential Lower East Side survival tactics, is evident in an understated way without being at all macho. A collection of tracks utilizing sounds that you’re used to hearing in a smoked-out synth art jam way that actually ends up grabbing you by the face and jerking your head around with some authority. A band that would have been as fitting on Zick Zack as Factory (who they recorded an LP for, tracks included here), now they’re just as fitting on Acute. We needed this. Essential New York Underground tracks.
Pitchfork Media September 28, 2006
The NYC-based art rock collective Ike Yard emerged during the waning days of the No Wave movement, eventually becoming most noteworthy for being the first American group signed to Factory Records and for the fact that bass player Kenneth Compton reportedly once dated Madonna. But now– as part of an ongoing mission to illuminate all the dark, neglected corners of the post-punk era– Acute Records presents Ike Yard 1980-82 Collected. This comprehensive overview includes Ike Yard’s self-titled LP for Factory America, their earlier Night After Night EP, and a generous assortment of previously unreleased live and studio rarities. And though it would probably be inaccurate to declare Ike Yard’s work to have been particularly influential, on this collection their music appears to have aged quite well, as many of their jittery, post-industrial rhythms closely anticipate the thuggish motions of contemporary acts like Black Dice or Liars.
Cribbing their name from a record sleeve in A Clockwork Orange, Ike Yard sculpted a doom-laden experimental sound that drew heavily upon first wave Krautrock (particularly Can and Faust) and the post-punk dub maneuvers of PiL and Joy Division. Unlike No Wave’s many unschooled or self-taught musicians, however, Ike Yard’s Michael Diekmann and Fred Szymanski both had an academic background in music, studying Stockhausen and modern composition at the McColl Studio of Electronic Music at Brown. It’s perhaps due to these academic origins, then, that much of Ike Yard’s work matches their sinuous, bass-heavy grooves with a rather dry, formalistic precision. This sense of clinical detachment is often accentuated by Stuart Argabright’s clipped, semi-spoken vocals, his monochromatic announcements often struggling helplessly to compete against the dark music’s forceful technological currents.
Recorded virtually live with few overdubs, the Night After Night EP was originally released on the Belgian label Les Disques du Crepuscule in 1981. At this time the group were experimenting with various instrumental line-ups, and beginning to incorporate early Roland and Korg MS-20 drum machines with Argabright’s live scrap metal percussion. Combined with Compton’s loping, dub-inflected bass lines, the interactive rhythms of tracks like opening “Night After Night” or the instrumental “Motiv” contain the echoes of Miles Davis’ edgy 70s jazz-funk as well as Can’s shapeshifting beat action. But tracks like the clattering, dissonant “Cherish” give a better hint at the direction Ike Yard would soon take, as their sound grew increasingly dependent upon the stark, alien textures of their modular analog electronics.
This evolution is apparent immediately on “M. Kurtz” and “Loss”, the opening tracks from Ike Yard’s 1982 Factory LP. On these later tracks, the music’s cell structure is completely governed by the group’s overlapping synthesized rhythms, with all other sonic and lyrical elements rooted in the tiny cracks between Ike Yard’s densely compacted electronic pulsations. The Expressionist propulsion of “Kino” is shrouded by black veils of dense insect noise, while the aggressive minimalism of “Half a God” updates Suicide, with its lyrics (“We hear the drums again and fall back in step again”) obedient to the music’s martial gravity. One can only imagine what Madonna must have made of this onslaught.
According to Michael Diekmann’s exhaustive liner notes, Ike Yard continued to write and record music at a ferocious pace following the release of their sole Factory album, but the group began to disintegrate before they could get the label interested in another release. This collection features four unreleased studio tracks, as well as an live track that was mixed live by New Order’s Peter Hook while the two groups were on tour together. While these additional tracks do contain the occasional tantalizing song fragment or idea, they do little to improve upon the bulk of Ike Yard’s slim discography, and will likely be only of interest to true diehards. Upon Ike Yard’s dissolution in early 1983, the group’s members went on to front various underground dance and hip-hop projects, but largely abandoned their collective’s avant-garde techniques and innovations. And judging by the documents gathered on 1980-82 Collected, this would seem to be our small loss.
LA Alternative August, 2006
New York’s Acute records continues their campaign of reissues from No Wave and post-punk luminaries the world over-Manhattan’s Glenn Branca, Parisians Metal Urbain/Metal Boys, England’s the Prefects-with a return to the Big (Rotting) Apple. Named after a passing, sub-supporting presence in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange-as the singer of the “pathetic” pop-disc “Honey Nose”-Ike Yard perfectly channel the novel’s classic urban dystopia through stark, gloom-infused etherea.
Compiling the band’s sole EP (1981’s Night After Night) with their only album (1982’s A Second A Fact issued on no more prestigious a label than Factory Records) along with a drizzle of unreleased live cuts, 1980-82 Collected makes Interpol’s hook-heavy permutation of Joy Division desperation look like Aerosmith. Ike Yard, the 1981 model, wobbles and throbs under a tense calligraphy of thick bass pulsing away relentlessly. The cold, gray expanse cracks with brittle treble bursts, rampant oscillations and clusters of drumkit color. The vocals, whether by Stuart Argabright or Kenneth Compton, surface as disembodied mumbles, like a devastating feedback loop of melancholic self-address. By the time of A Second A Fact, the group-all able and agile multi-instrumentalists-allow for crude, electronic beats and oversaturated analogue slurps to largely replace the boom and rattle of live bass guitar. Deep and hypnagogic, A Second A Fact freeze-dries the Bush of Ghosts grown by Brian Eno and David Byrne from processed radio and television samples-Ike Yard’s detourned voices stutter and dissolve in an icy undertow of angry static. Altogether, 1980-82 Collected is a much-needed re-introduction of febrile early-’80s experimentation that is certainly no less vital today.
4 out of 5
Tiny Mixtapes August 25 2006
styles: no wave, synth punk, improvised, industrial
others: Suicide, Cabaret Voltaire, Mars
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.
SF Bay Guardian August 25, 2006
Ike Yard may be the most innovative band you hear this year, although their only album was recorded more than 20 years ago.
Yet another example of artists cheated of the recognition they deserve, Ike Yard were, among other things, the only American group signed to Factory Records. They shared bills with the likes of Suicide, Konk, and New Order, and the band’s Stuart Argabright would go on to form Dominatrix and Death Comet Crew. Ike Yard’s new compilation, 1980-1982 Collected, brings together everything the group released – the 1981 EP Night after Night (les Disques du Crepuscule) and 1982 LP A Second a Fact (Factory) – and adds additional odds and ends.
The material that makes up “Night after Night” is cased in heavy, dark dub with scraping guitars and swirling synth sounds. It’s so good it may make you pause the next time you automatically reach for PiL’s Second Edition or Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. On A Second a Fact, however, the electronics take over. You can hear traces of D.A.F., Cluster, and what would become Detroit techno, with Argabright arbitrarily singing like an entranced street shaman.
“Loss” merges the infinite arpeggios of Ashra with Grauzone and Throbbing Gristle. It’s really what you wanted last year’s Black Dice album to be. The brilliant “NCR,” meanwhile, predates Autechre by about two decades and outdoes them to boot. Whether or not these reference points mean anything to you, this group deserves its legendary status. And you need to hear them.
Stylus Magazine August 28, 2006
Ike Yard emerged from the post-no wave sprawl of early 80s New York fired up on the ideas of English Factory Records post-punk and German krautrock and neue deutsche welle. They were even successful enough at adding their own spin to these foreign ideas that the two records released during their lifespan were on key European independent labels of the time, the Belgian Disques du Crepuscle and the short lived Factory America (an attempt to replicate the UK label’s success in Ike Yard’s New York backyard (in characteristic Factory manner, Ike Yard were the label’s first vinyl release but got the second catalogue number, the first going to a New Order concert.)
The groups earliest tracks, which became their Disques du Crepuscle EP Night After Night occupy the same psychogeographic space as early Sonic Youth; this is city music by a band that can only imagine, in the words of guitarist Michael Diekmann, “a harder, grimmer version of the future.” It’s ‘verbed out snare cracks, funkless revolving door basslines, and cockroach guitar chitter. Even the vocals sound like subway hobo versions of Lee Renaldo’s ‘beat’ blather and, dispiritingly, throughout the whole of the CD seem to be present due to obligation rather than inspiration. Not a song here wouldn’t be better instrumental.
The tracks from their Factory LP A Fact a Second evidence increasing use of synthesisers, analogue sequencers, and machine rhythm to contrast with the treated real drums, but the results are always stiff and slightly studio frozen-never quite noisy enough, never quite propulsive enough, never quite focused enough. At times-in stray moments and fragments-the rejection of pleasure can sound invigorating, but this is a seventy-nine minute CD. The constant monochrome, the unchanging sound palette (where’s the high end?), sounds like a failure of nerve and imagination, a fear of communication beyond its most basic.
Compared to their Transatlantic peers-Cabaret Voltaire, D.A.F., Joy Division-Ike Yard come off badly. They’re a band with an exceptional sense of space, of slapback echoed alleys and speeding taxis, but with no pop nous whatsoever-something that post-Ike Yard projects Death Comet Crew and Dominatrix would have in spades. A band that gestured toward something great, but never quite reached it.
Chain D.L.K. August 28, 2006
Acute Records is a label which is making its best to bring back from the vault, interesting releases of late 70’s and early 80’s. After releasing some early stuff by Glenn Branca as well as The Prefects, Theoretical Girls, Metal Urban, Metal Boys, Doctor Mix & The Remix we arrive to the CD I’m going to review: Ike Yard’s 1980-82 COLLECTED. Ike Yard was a band active in early 80’s in NYC and they lasted only two yeas and a half. Their style developed passing though several musical styles (as reported by guitarist/keyboard player Michael Diekmann, into the exhaustive 28 pages booklet) taking its inspiration by krautrock bands such like NEU!, Can and Faust. Their sound was obsessive, experimental and had an ideal link with European bands of the same period of the likes of Joy Division and D.A.F. The first for their post punk attitude and the latter because their way of dealing with percussive sounds and loop structured tracks. 1980-82 COLLECTED contains every track officially released by the band into their Le Disque Du Crepuscule MLP “Night after night” (there’s also and extra track coming from the same session: “The whistler”) and into their first and last Factory album “A fact, a second” plus six unreleased tracks. One recorded live (“20″ has been recorded at The Ukrainian National Home in NYC) and five coming from two 1982 studio sessions (the tracks are “Nocturne”, “War=Strong”, “We Are One”, “Dancing + Slaving” and “Wolfen”). The sound of the band has created as a mixture of experimentation with rock instruments combined with mixing board/effects processors filtering. The sound of their first MLP was raw and inaccessible and their disturbing sounds were capable of creating a alienating atmosphere. On the Factory album the sound changes a little bit as rhythm became the main element and here you can find a similitude with the sound of the Mute period of D.A.F. Here the tracks are long suites with throbbing sounds and hypnotic vocals. On the extra tracks you can find another kind of sound that is different from the previous one but which contains the same anarchic attitude. Check out this CD, it’s your chance to discover the sound of the past for the soundtrack of the future!
Massive respect to Dan at Acute for making this stuff available once more. I suppose I was a bit-player in the story of the reissue of this material a fact which I find pretty blimmin exciting. Given that the Ike Yard stuff is so spectacularly moribund and bleak, frothing up with enthusiasm about it seems like a direly misplaced reaction. Yet froth I do, even when I could be accused of already having said quite enough on the subject. My feelings about Ike Yard in a nutshell? This was the real No Wave. I get the argument about No Wave desecrating Rock by mimicking it, but Lunch and Chance had jacked into JA dub and NDW they’d have been far more menacing and threatening to the corpus rockisticus. Also I’d like to go on the record to say that New Order quite obviously copped Argabright’s moves. This is an essential purchase for 2006.
trakMARX December 2006
NYC, circa 1980, as Punk Rock snow was turning to No Wave sludge, & Ike Yard were born of Krautrock/DAF & PiL/Joy Division parentage. They caught the ear of very own Factory Records, who soon made them the label’s 1st US signing, releasing an LP & an EP on their Les Disques Du Crepuscule imprint.
Ike Yard’s sound is dense – possessed of menace. They were pioneers in the field of mixing desk technology – blending synth, gtrs, bass & programmed electronics – the edgy, aggressive vibe they create in the process is the cross roads where avante rock & avante electronica meet. There may well have been a pact with the devil – they did play a few shows with New Order (arf, arf!).
“1980-82 Collected” does exactly what it says on the tin, capturing Ike Yard’s entire output from the time frame in tenderly restored & technologically supreme sound wave formats for the CD consumer. With a chunky booklet stuffed with informative sleeve-notes & the obligatory unseen graphic images & photos, the package is suitably complete.
Listening to Ike Yard 25 years after the fact, they have lost none of their menace to the ravages of time. They still sound like the future in many respects, with the present playing catch up.
Textura September 2006
Acute Records provides a valuable historical service in resurrecting Ike Yard’s modest output (the first time the material has appeared since its original early-’80s release), perhaps helping the group to become more than a footnote to better-known bands like PiL and Joy Division. The nearly 80-minute 1980-82 Collected compiles two formal releases, Night After Night, an EP for Les Disques du Crepuscule, and a self-titled album for Factory Records (the label’s first American signing), plus unreleased material. Ike Yard’s sound is pretty much what you’d expect from a group influenced by NY punk, Krautrock, bands like PiL, Magazine, and Joy Division, CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City, the avant-garde art scene (two members were students at RISD), No Wave, etc.: an acerbic, disturbing brew of aggressive guitar stabs, monotone vocals, rhythms that, when not accelerating in motorik style, lurch and crawl, and crude electronics and drum machines.
The band’s sound evolved rapidly. In the EP’s April 1981 tracks, Kenneth Compton’s motorik bass is the nucleus for Michael Diekmann’s angular guitar slashes, Stuart Argabright’s deathly monologues, and the incessant sputter of Fred Szymanski’s electronic noise-making and percussive clatter. In addition to the funereal “The Whistler” and the early electronic experiment “Infra-Ton,” the dirge “Sense of Male” stands out as a particularly memorable guitar freakout. Even so, the songs sound like preparatory exercises when heard alongside the Factory material. The considerably more impressive album (recorded in May 1982) introduces a heavier reliance on electronic rhythms and programming, synth pulses now adopting the role formerly handled by the bass, but the experimental and uncompromising sensibility remains. At this stage, Ike Yard leaves conventional song structure far behind to focus on long-form grooves. At almost eight minutes, the incredible “Loss” sounds like a nightmarish psyche brought to life. When the group puts the song’s voices through a shredder, it’s hard to believe material so progressive sprang to life 25 years ago. “Kino” plunges even further into the abyss, with electrical shocks jackhammering over a moaning howl and primitive synthesizer rhythms. None of the following unreleased tracks rises to the same level, except for perhaps the jittery “Dancing And Slaving” (laid down a month after the album tracks were recorded) and “Nocturne,” where piercing shards of guitar slice through peaceful piano and bass stylings. What a shame that, having advanced into a remarkable zone of fearless experimentalism, the group imploded at the beginning of 1983 before recording a follow-up album.
In addition to the sometimes visionary music, an engrossing 28-page booklet presents an evocative document of the early-’80s NY post-punk era. Diekmann contributes a detailed account of the group’s formation and intent (prior to its formal creation, he astutely visualizes Ike Yard as “a shape shifting, structurally and temporally adroit super-city of sound”), followed by Argabright’s encompassing chronological account of the band’s development.
I can’t say I’ve ever heard Ike Yard before a recent flurry of interest on some key blogs I’ve been reading, but thankfully Acute records have packaged up their modest output into one easy package for those like me who need desperately to be educated on this evidently important act.
Formed in 1980 in New York City, the band were heavily influenced by the local no-wave scene but also took their cues from 70s Kraut rock pioneers Can and Neu! Building a sound which was one part Joy Division and one part looping Kraut textures, with a bleakness and an overt experimental outlook which set them into a place of their own very quickly. The first six tracks are from the band’s debut EP ‘Night After Night’ and are easily the most out and out ‘commercial’ tracks on the compilation, ranging from dark vocal post-pop (‘Night After Night’) to distorted drums, bass and drone (‘Infra-ton’). With this EP the band showed that they were a force to be reckoned with, and while the songs have obvious connections to various musical genres, bands and artists, the band had started to sound like nobody else I can bring to mind.
The next six tracks on the compilation are taken from their Factory Records released self-titled album and surprisingly take their sound into a totally different and shockingly experimental direction. The no-wave punk songs are disposed of, the drums are replaced by machines, guitars are swapped for synthesizers and vocals are mostly processed through masses of effects. Obviously this wasn’t a commercially sound move, but these ‘songs’ really seem to be the stuff of electronic legend, bringing to mind the darker moments of John Foxx or the more experimental (and less bombastic) end of the EBM scene. I would almost say that many of the tracks exhibit proto-acid qualities as looped step-sequenced synthesizers squelch behind echoing drum machines… there’s definitely a hint of Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman albums in there somewhere, I’m sure I’m not imagining it!
The compilation is neatly rounded off with a handful of unreleased rarities making the disc pretty much indispensable for old fans and new converts alike. Ike Yard deserve some extra exposure and this collection of tracks shows just how pioneering the band were if you want to hear some reeally jaw dropping experimental rock music, then here it is… they just don’t make ’em like this anymore.
When it comes to the hear and now, the conceptualists have been there, done that. Postpunk records and their retreads have been the hip platter du jour for half a decade, and the positive wake of this resurgence isn’t contemporary but rather a spate of ace long-out-of-print albums reissued and the recent release of Simon Reynolds’s expansive tome Rip It Up and Start Again, a survey of the fertile 1978-1984 era. From the book-cover summary, Reynolds seems to imply postpunk strove for a modernist militancy that resonates even today, an idea reinforced by 1980-82 Collected-the Factory America LP, Belgian EP, and unreleased studio/live tracks of New York avant-groove quartet Ike Yard.
Occupying the same continuum as Suicide, D.A.F., and Cluster, Ike Yard’s treated guitars, synths, and syndrum, plus live percussion and processing pack high-contrast contusions around a monotone but not monochromatic heart. As indicated by Ike Yard’s Stuart Argabright on DustedMagazine.com, the band picked up on Kraut-rock-like motorik rhythms, coupling corporeal sequencing with “a certain disorder in the treble range,” as Factory Records producer Martin Hannett espoused. Ike Yard were indeed 20 years ahead of their time, alongside Einstˆºrzende Neubaten and This Heat. Rooted to a resolute, tinny twack, “The Whistler,” “Kino,” and more could easily be tracks off Liars’ 2006 album Drum’s Not Dead, while other tracks range from burbling dub to static-scuffed ritualism. Ike Yard is the sound of when culture jamming could actually jam.
As hard as it is to believe that there can still be a steady stream of amazing reissues of ’70s psychedelia from all around the world (but there is!), we’re equally amazed that the purveyors of ’80s grim synth punk have also been re-emerging with increasing regularity and surprising quality. While the German collector’s label Vinyl On Demand have been at the forefront of the ’80s resurgence of cold, cold, cold post-punk (mostly of the Germanic variety), Acute has also uncovered some gems, offering us the Metal Urbain reissues as well as a handful of pre-symphonic Glenn Branca projects. Now Acute presents Ike Yard. Hailing from New York back in the early ’80s, they were one of the few American bands to sign to Factory Records (the most notable other band being ESG). This collection of tracks from 1980 – 1982 culls all of the material from Ike Yard’s one LP on Factory and an EP for Le Disque Du Crespuscule plus the requisite unreleased material. Initially, Ike Yard really does sound like Factory should be their home, easily paralleling the death disco prowess of Public Image Limited or Section 25. Their dour monochrome post-punk enjoys a spectral production quality which haunted all of the Martin Hannett produced Factory recordings. But gradually the Factory overtones disappear in lieu of an claustrophobic electronic sound which reminds us a lot like early Cabaret Voltaire, or rather what we wished CV would sound like given that CV hasn’t really weathered all that well up very. Ike Yard though is another matter, as they seemed to really fight over whether to groove on a primal, sexual funk or to alienate their audience with their cold, electro-primitive detachment. Between the metallic synth arppegiations, drum machines struggling to work through the complex patterns, and the angular swatches of screeching guitar, there is Kenny Compton’s chilling, zombified vocal delivery that really pushes Ike Yard deeper into the realms of urban malaise. A very cool reissue.
Wonderful collection of Ike Yard tracks from 1980 – 1982. A slightly forgotten about band in some respects, it only takes a little bit of research to discover that they regularly played with bands like Cabaret Voltaire and New Order (in fact there’s a recording here live-mixed by Peter Hook) to realise that they were extremely well respected. Forming at the tail-end of the Punk era and working their way through several line-ups, their sound is one of isolationism, Post-Punk and electronic music with a dark and moody slant – not unlike the aforementioned bands along with a hint of ACR or ESG. A superb collection of tracks with extensive liner notes as well.
Ukranian National Home
Night After Night EP, front cover.
Les Disques du Crepuscule, 1981.
Factory America LP cover, 1982.
Factory America LP back cover, 1982.
Factory America LP inner sleeve, 1982.
Factory America record labels 1982.
click to collapse
Stuart Argabright’s blog
Woebot and Stuart Argabright
Dusted – Listed
Ike Yard selects some current and all-time faves.
Q&A with Factory Records archive site. (scroll down)
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