The origins of ambient:
An interview with Larry Thrasher of the Thessalonians
(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
An Introduction to the Thessalonians - Scheda

Tell me about the beginnings...
The original lineup was Kim Cascone, along with myself and David James (later to join Spearhead and Invisible Inc and Afro Funk Allstars). The original lineup actually evolved out of PGR. The thee of us along with Dine Forbate recorded and did live shows as PGR. (as well Dave Gardiner was apart of some of those sessions) This would be from 1984. Early Thessalonians was pure noise, musci conrete, found sounds ranging from ambient to very loud post-industrual noise. Very early on we then added David Gardiner (later to form the lounge supergroup Tipsy) and Kirk Robinson ( who is currently a playwrite in NY). Thessalonians recorded one LP called "The Black Field" on Silent Records. Along with 6 cassette releases. Still yet unreleased on CD. This original lineup disbanded in 1987. In 1991 we regrouped with a new lineup that included the original three members--- Larry Thrasher, Kim Cascone, and David James. To add Don Falcone and Paul Neyrinck. Various other artists joined in at times including Murdoch and many others. But the new lineup were the original 3 plus Don and Paul. Solaristics was sans David James, who was on tour with Michael Franti's Spearhead at the time.

What did David James play mainly?
David James played prepared guitar and found objects. His main instrument has always been guitar. He is a master Funk, Blues, African, Reggae guitar player as he grew up in West Oakland playing the real deal. David and I had a project called "Big Swab" noise, prepared guitars, and deep ghetto beats. Founded in 1984. We only released cassettes. We were living in the ghetto, very poor, and very punk as well in those days. Thessalonians evolved like this. Kim Cascone put an add in an SF rag looking for noise muscians. David James and I were in the East Bay doing Big Swab. We sent him a cassette. Kim loved it and we started working with PGR and then formed Thessalonians from the three of us. David Gardiner was in some of the PGR sessions. Check out the LP "Silence" by PGR (RRR records I think). It has the core lineup of Thessalonians on it including Gardiner. Later came Kirk Robinson, who played kids, toys and whatever junk he could contact mike. Kirk Robinson was conceptual about the whole thing. He hated the pretentious noise scene so much that he joined a noise band just to try to sabotage it. But the irony of this was that he added this other unique voice that always worked splendidily. Basically proving noise can absorb anything, even anti-noise and it can't destroy it. In parallel Big Swab continued to do recordings until the late 80's. Big Swab later added a guy named Black Lyon.

Black Lyon was another person who made an appearance in early Thessalonians, I forgot to mention this in the earlier email, he is AKA Adriene Micheal Rugeaux AKA Michael Fox, now known simply as Black. He later went on to form a group called "Blue Screen" which recorded a pivotal CD with Jon Hassel in the 90's. You may have heard it. It did OK in europe. Black played percussion with Thessalonians live on a few shows as well as programmed beats. The beats he would program were proto-drum and bass from a rap perspective, very erratic and noisey beats that shifted all over the place. He produced some rap bands out of Oakland in the late 80's using his beats - all stuff still yet un-discovered. Black was always a good decade ahead of his time, he is a brilliant talent. Last I talked with him he said he was moving to Paris.

What was Black Field like?
Black Field is an ambient noise album with found objects and prepared guitars, bowed metal. Black Field lineup was limited to Kim, myself, David James, David Gardiner and Kirk. We used contact mikes that Kim built himself. Very lo-fi yet could sound symphonic and lush at times. The only high-tech gear we had was Kim's 16 second EH delay. It was all played and recorded live at Poolside Studios in SF. It was pure improvistational. Described in reviews as beautiful, elegant, and transcendent. Well recieved in the day by a very small noise audience and a small experimental achedemic crowd. In those days Silent Records was extemely experimental and noise oriented. Although we always considered ourselves ambient. In fact we described ourselves as ambient-noise or post-industrial noise.

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