The Black Album
Boyd Rice is a dark shadow hanging tall over (counter) (popular) culture in many forms, be it as noise/industrial (music) originator (pioneering the use of multi axial record center holes and locked grooves), absurdist prankster (attempting to present Betty Ford - first lady at the time - a goat's head in 1975), literary surveyor/interviewee/topic of discussion (The Industrial Culture Handbook, Incredibly Strange Films, Cinema Contra Cinema, Apocalypse Culture, 100 Artists See Satan, Rollerderby, The Manson File, Ben Is Dead, Modern Drunkard...), cult(ural) agent provocateur (his championing of Social Darwinism, Charles Manson's release from prison, a kind of aesthetic extremism, involvement in both the Church of Satan and the Partridge Family Temple, the Boyd Rice Presents series...), visual artist (photography, painting, graphic media), filmmaker and actor (2004's Pearls Before Swines). As a recording artist, his first efforts making home tapes date from 1975, but would only later be documented and taken further on releases such as the 1977 (later Mute re-released) Boyd Rice LP, the Mode of Infection / Knife Ladder 7" single (later re-released as a 1980 split 7" with Smegma), the 1981 locked/loop groove collection (actually a 7" housed in a 12" sleeve) Pagan Muzak and an ever-growing discography until the recent Terra incognita: Ambient Works, 1975-Present compilation.
His numerous associations with like minded spirits have given way to projects/releases such as the Easy Listening for the Hard of Hearing LP with Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget) in 1981 (unreleased until 1984 due to record sleeve related disagreements), the Boyd Rice and Friends project in 1990 (with among others Douglas P., Michael Moynihan, Rose McDowall, Tony Wakeford, Bob Ferbrache, Albin Julius and ex-SPK/Current 93 John Murphy), the Seasons in the Sun LP (as well as the Johnny Remember Me single) with Rose McDowall (as SPELL) in 1993, the I'm Just Like You 10" as The Tards with Adam Parfrey through Sympathy for the Record Industry in 1993, Monopoly Queen a 1994 Sub Pop Records single of the month club release with Combustible Edison and Mary-Ellen Carver, Hatesville! from 1995 by The Boyd Rice Experience with Adam Parfrey, Jim Goad and Shaun Partridge, 1996's Heaven Sent as Scorpion Wind (with Douglas P. and John Murphy), The Way I Feel (2000), a compilation of team ups with among others, Joel Haertling, David Tibet, Chthonic Force, Coil, Tiffany Anders, Winona Righteous, Little Fyodor, Luftwaffe as well as some some previously released sellections. 2002 saw the release of Wolf Pact credited to Boyd Rice and Fiends (with Douglas P. and Albin Julius). 2004's Alarm Agents is the at last full fledged collaboration with Death in June.
Playable at any speed. All selections by Boyd Rice. Recorded Decembre 1975 - January 1976.
Solid black cover. Usually referred to as "The Black Album".
Boyd Rice came from the very bosom of American society – a Southern California trailer park. Nurtured in infancy on the cult TV show Dark Shadows – “the wrongful influence on my life, according to my dad” – he dropped out of school in 10th Grade, in order to avoid the daily pounding from local jocks who were convinced he must be gay. Instead, the youthful Rice studied the art of subterfuge, subjecting his neighbours to a steady barrage of destabilizing pranks including impersonating an official from the Bureau Of Animal Control, and convincing a housewife that her son was harbouring poisonous snakes in her backyard. “To listen to this woman screaming at her kid and shaking him around and him squealing, ‘Mom, I don’t have any snakes,’ made me realise that we’d sucked people into this alternate reality,” he later recalled. “They were playing by our rules.” It was an experience that would stand Rice in good stead for later life. Boyd had no ambitions for a nine to five life, surmising that he would probably grow up to become a thief. But a fascination with pop music would open up another avenue for voracious exploration. Whilst his peers smoked dope to Led Zeppelin, Rice was immersing himself in The Archies and The Shangri-La’s, noting the extraordinarily manipulative powers of bubblegum music. “It had a directness and seemed like the real stuff,” he noted. “It made you feel emotional and I think people find that really threatening, to have some sappy, sugary pop song make them happy or sad. They want to be in control of their emotions. They don’t want to submit to something which is just good fun.” When Boyd analysed what he liked about such music, he found it was the quality of the actual tones of the girl’s voices. “I felt that if somebody could just take these piercing, harsh tones in the girl’s voices and reduce them to a drone, that would be great. After a certain amount of time I realised that nobody was actually going to do that, and if I wanted music like that I would just have to figure out a way to create it myself.” With no musical training whatsoever, Boyd pursued his vision with the acquisition of a number of tape recorders, collecting sounds from the streets which he would mix and match with sampled Easy Listening samples and run them in loops. “I wanted to do something myself and be in total control, and with a tape recorder that was very easy. You have a blank reel of tape one moment and the next something exists that never existed before. That really excited me.” Locally, the responses to his work were somewhat belittling: “In the middle-70's no one was listening to this type of music,” he recalled. “People thought I was insane. They thought that I was this creative, talented guy who was just wasting my time by pouring it into some kind of sociopathic attempt to inflict pain on people.” His first record, which came to be known as Boyd Rice’s ‘Black Album’ was initially restricted to 85 pressings, recorded at the end of 1975. On it, he took the functional aesthetic of Easy Listening to its furthest logical conclusion: “I think I created something that blanks out your brain, leaving a vacuum and allowing new thoughts to form. There is no area of modern life where you have room for undirected thought. Unless you’re sitting on a toilet, there is always some intrusive information. I wanted to crate something that would run all the thought out of people’s heads.” The Black Album was self released in 1977 and re-released on Mute Records ltd. (STUMM 4) in 1981. Playable at any speed. All selections by Boyd Rice. Recorded December 1975 – January 1976. Solid black cover. I recorded it at 33 rpm.
Contextually, or historically if you prefer, this is pretty much as out there, exploratory/provocative speaking anyway, as any of them.
The fragmentary and at times drone like frenzy here simultaneously evokes a Hymnen period Karlheinz Stockhausen, a young and riotous John Cale, and of course, his highness Milan Knížák. Not a small feat at all in my book.