Blogpost: Blind Idiot God: A Retrospective

Posted by Spyros Stasis • March 4, 2015

Posted by Spyros Stasis • March 4, 2015

Now that was a band that I did not really think I would hear from again. Named after the description of the Elder God, Azathoth, in H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmos, this experimental act had a huge impact. The three Blind Idiot God releases revealed some of the most intriguing work of the experimental music scene in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Still, it has not been since 1992 that we heard new material from the act. So not only they come up with a new album, but it also seems that it is their most ambitious in a long time. The band has stated that the songs of their newest albums do not follow conventional structures (not that this band ever did to be honest) and that there has been more emphasis on improvisation.

Blind Idiot God has been one of the most exciting acts of the ‘80s. The way in which the band merged punk, rock, noise, dub and funk was definitely ahead of its time. They initially formed in St. Louis by Andy Hawkins, Gabe Katz and Ted Epstein, who have been the core of the act since 1996. Soon enough they moved to New York in order to work with Martin Bisi, a producer that had worked with other amazing acts like Sonic Youth, Swans and John Zorn.

The result of this process was their self-titled album, released in 1987. To showcase their unique identity and outlook the instrumental trio actually kicks off the album with one of Stravinsky’s compositions. That alone grips you by the neck. From that point on the band goes on an insane display of post-hardcore sovereignty led by Hawkins distinctive guitar sound. Mathcore blends into funk and everything just fits together perfectly.

Sonic tidal waves come from the guitar amps when “Shifting Sand” is brought forth, and more dissonant offerings are conveyed in the form of “Wide Open Spaces” and “Subterranean Flight.” And there lies the true ingenuity of Blind Idiot God unravels. Suddenly the music takes the form of a desert rock anthem in “More Time.” Such a shift must seem quite surprising, but it is nothing compared to the dub trilogy of “Wise Man Dub,” “Stealth Dub” and “Raining Dub.” Suddenly, a band that has been named after one of the Elder Gods of Lovecraft’s world turns the table on us and starts to play, what practically is, reggae. It is not a surprise that the album got the attention of some serious names such as John Zorn and Henry Rollins.

The band would continue to work with Martin Bisi for the recording of their next two albums but that is also where Bill Laswell comes in. Laswell is a pioneering figure in the experimental music scene and has his fingers in many pies. He was the founder of Axiom a record label that started as a subdivision of Island Records and has been involved with other great acts such as Praxis, The Golden Palominos, Massacre, Material, Painkiller (with John Zorn) and Table Beat Science. He also recently launched M.O.D. Technologies. To this day, Leswell has been involved in the production stage of every Blind Idiot God album since their sophomore release, Undertow.

Undertow saw the band continue to move in the path they set with their debut album. “Clockwork Dub” and “Major Key Dub” reveal their dub tendencies in all their glory. Obviously the blend of post-hardcore, mathcore and free rock keeps on strong in this release. The two most interesting moments though have to be the appearance of John Zorn in the final track of the album, “Purged Specimen,” with a sick saxophone part, and the unbelievable Funkadelic cover “Alice In My Fantasies.”

Hawkins had already started to find different areas in which his musical endeavors could expand. With Azonic, Hawkins released two albums, based solely on guitar sound and sonic experimentation. The debut album of the project found Hawkins working again with Laswell on the production of the album, using experimental rock motifs and drones in order to push the boundaries. The second release of Azonic was in the form of a split album with Justin Broadrick of Godflesh, another great instance of experimental music. Unfortunately after the release of Cyclotron, original drummer Ted Epstein left the band, and Blind Idiot God went in hiatus.

As time passed Blind Idiot God remained in a state of slumber, but there was still some progression. The addition of Tim Wyskida (also of Khanate) in the line-up seemed to signal the return of Blind Idiot God after ten years of inactivity. The band was said to be working on new material, giving more room to improvisation and their free rock identity. Around 2006 they started performing live around New York. Before Ever After, the much awaited follow-up to Cyclotron, contains material that the band has been working on since their reunion back in 2001. Unfortunately the original bassist of the band, Gabe Katz had to also leave the band in 2012, with Will Dahl being announced as the newest addition to the band.

The hope is that Wiskyda and Dahl will bring an air of rejuvenation to Blind Idiot God and that Hawkins will keep pushing the boundaries of experimental music. Before Ever After might be the album that fans have been waiting for decades from Blind Idiot God. Hopefully it will not be the last we hear from them.

 

 

More recent blogposts

Reckless Brewing and Moo Brew’s Gin Boilermaker

Posted by T • July 29, 2021

Thus Let Us Drink Beer – Reckless Brewing and Moo Brew’s Gin Boilermaker   Having honed and refined channelling her alchemy in the creation of craft beers, the quality of which has left an indelible mark on the firmament of Australian craft brews, Reckless Brewing’s co-founder Grace has and continue to contribute to shaping the DNA of one of the … Read more

Beethoven and Wagner vs Nietzsche

Posted by T • July 26, 2021

Beethoven: A life University of California Press   There is no shortage of books dedicated to the life of a composer whose legacy has never ceased to reverberate and impact music at large. Released to commemorate the two hundred fiftieth anniversary of his birth, what sets this biography apart in terms of authority is partly due to the unprecedented access … Read more

Water of Life – Limeburners and Earp Distillery

Posted by T • July 25, 2021

Water of Life – Limeburners and Earp Distillery   Over the last ten years, Australia has firmly established itself on the map of nations that produce quality malt whiskies. Slowly but steadily, rye whiskies created on terra australis have been making a splash on the scene with quite a few distilleries crafting their own incarnations of American style rye whiskey. … Read more

The Formative Years – Rugby and Canterbury

Posted by T • July 24, 2021

The Formative Years – Rugby and Canterbury I’ve covered the mecca that Washington DC proved to be as a hotbed for hardcore and punk as part of this series before, however, missed to shed light onto one of my favourite releases from the 1980s era, i.e. the vitally important split LP of the short-lived bands The Faith and Void.  While … Read more

The Formative Years – Hardcore Classics, pt. 1

Posted by T • July 23, 2021

The Formative Years – Hardcore classics pt. 1   With ZAP magazine playing a pivotal role in promoting and covering everything New York Hardcore related in a pro-active and prominent manner, Europe and specifically Germany have always been prime markets for hardcore emanating from the Big Apple.  The result was that “NYHC” became a veritable label and trademark and almost … Read more

The Formative Years - Ebullition Records

Posted by T • July 22, 2021

The Formative Years - Ebullition Records  The first time I heard about Ebullition Records was when there was talk around the campfire of that a gentleman that was known to me as a Maximum Rock’n’roll / No Answer zine contributor, i.e. Kent McClard, was planning to release a full length of one of my favourite bands from Orange County, California, … Read more

Thus Let Us Drink Beer - Holgate and Six String

Posted by T • July 18, 2021

Thus Let Us Drink Beer - Holgate Brewhouse and Six String Brewing   As we have outlined with our previous coverage of Holgate Brewhouse, over the last twenty years the Victorian brewery has established itself firmly on the forefront of innovative quality producers of ales that honour both the classic styles from the old world and the ever expanding and … Read more

Water of Life – Hellfire / Kilderkin Distilleries

Posted by T • July 15, 2021

Water of Life – Hellfire Distillery / Kilderkin Distillery   If you have followed this series with a modicum of interest and harbour a weak spot for fantastic, artisanal spirits, Tasmania would be doubtlessly be have made it on your to-visit list quite a while ago. Visiting the southernmost state of Australia twice a year, I never cease to discover … Read more

Water of Life – The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Posted by T • July 12, 2021

Water of Life – The Scotch Malt Whisky Society   There is certainly no shortage of whisky clubs and subscription services these days and for anyone remotely into discovering new flavour nuances and variations of their favourite bottlings, joining one can prove to be a viable option. The experience those services offer ranges from basic monthly tasting kits that might … Read more

Water of Life – Milton Rum & Mad Monkey Distillery

Posted by T • July 11, 2021

Water of Life – Milton Rum and Mad Monkey Distillery   Rum has a long and at times chequered history reaching back more than six hundred years to the times dominated by Colonialism, where it did not only serve to make pirates drunk but as a means for trade. Fast forward to the present day and the renaissance that the … Read more