Blog Blind Idiot God: A Retrospective

Blind Idiot God: A Retrospective

Posted March 4, 2015, 4:15 p.m. by Spyros Stasis

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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.

 

 

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