The window on Mars Everywhere that is Industrial Sabotage is actually a small snapshot of the approximately half decade that the group existed in its many formations. Formed in the mid 70s, the group evolved from a two-man electronic live act into a progressive space rock, rotating cast of musicians for their only true album, while leaving enough archival rarities for two 90 minute casettes, both of which were released in the mid 90s.
Industrial Sabotage was one of the gems of the American label Random Radar, a label in its own right maybe the only one in the early 80s still putting out consistent work in various progressive fields. Even for such a diverse catalog, Mars Everywhere were quite iconoclastic, creating an album of improvisational music that married the space rock style with electronics. On one hand Mars Everywhere shared a similar inspiration to groups like Gong, Far East Family Band, and Hawkwind while on the other it was electronic masters like Tangerine Dream or Conrad Schnitzler who provided the influence. Ernie Falcone's change in line up to include drums and bass on a more regular basis altered the sound of the band to bring it closer to the krautrock inspirations of yesteryear. The sound is generally improvisationally based, although the presence of song titles on here that were several years old give witness to an improvisational method with guideposts, an approach that would cause pieces like "Attack of the Giant Squid" to vary from performance to performance. For an early 80s album, Industrial Sabotage seems quite anachronistic, looking back to the early 70s and the dawn of the analog synthesizer for primary inspiration, while not losing a bit of unabashed, groundbreaking experimentation in the process. Perhaps it was the early years of Mars Everywhere that set the stage for the album, what is basically a collection of pieces from various permutations of the line-up (that all include founder Falcone, bassist Greg Yaskovich and multi-instrumentalist Barney Jones), as the move to more rock-oriented song structures did not bring with it any sense of the conventional. There are plenty of effected saxes, wailing guitar solos, scuttling electronics and cosmic space outs to appeal to any fan of psychedelic, experimental rock.
However, the larger line ups of Industrial Sabotage were really examples of later formations of the group, as the band started off a guitar/electronics duo of Falcone and synthesist Tom Fenwick, peforming music in the grand 70s Germanic tradition. The duo's first gig from the summer of 1976 was released on the cassette label Sound of Pig in the 90s entitled Visitor Parking. Joined by future member Barney Jones for a trio, the live set was an example of experimental analog electronics in the best tradition of Ohr Tangerine Dream and Conrad Schnitzler. "Calling Bats" takes up one side of the cassette and most of the other, combining analog atmospherics with loads of gliss guitar sounds. It floats along strangely through its duration, through walls of synthesizer squeals and spirals, bizarre industrial sequencing and loads of weird abstract effects, before coming to its conclusion by passing through melodic phases with both guitar and an effected organ. It's almost like the version of "Attack of the Giant Squid" and "Calling Cats" were both afterthoughts, despite this being the most interesting part of the casette with its droning Irrlicht-like organ and accompanying whirls and squeals. Overall, the show is quite a bit less impressive than the album to come, but it's still a worthy find, particularly if you're into American 80s electronic artists like the Nightcrawlers or David Prescott.
More live recordings are collected on another Sound of Pig cassette entitled Live & Unrehearsed 1978-79-80 which basically contains segments from four shows throughout this period. "DC Space 8/28/80" is from the band's final line up and portrays them in an improvisational jam mode similar to the space rock segments on Industrial Sabotage. "Washington Ethical Society 12/21/79" is from a year earlier, although the same line up, and is much moodier and abstract. It's a piece of the puzzle that links the Industrial Sabotage years to the earlier more electronics-focused music of 1976, showing an evolution towards bass and drums accompaniment that would be more prevalent later. "Trinity Theater 12/15/78" jumps back yet another year to a line up including original member Tom Fenwick. It's far more active than the music from Visitor Parking with lots of echoing guitars excessively rambling and a weird electronic version of "Auld Lang Syne." "Mars Studio 1/14/79" takes up the shorter part of the last side and is once again electronically dominated with lots of analog tweaking. Overall, there's not a lot to offer anybody other than the analog fanatic as the large majority of this tape is meandering, rambling improvisations with very little melodic content. Undoubtedly, an amateur sitting for a few hours at a modular would likely produce sounds not far from what the results are here.
In summary, the album is a must, Visitor's
Parking a strong secondary option for the fan, and
the multi-year archive an option only for the
completist. The latter two definitely put the album in
perspective as a more focused "best of" sort of
release taken from a lot of superfluous
experimentation. For the krautrock, space rock and
electronic fan, this is certainly a chapter in
American music worth exploring. [Thanks to Steve
Feigenbaum for assistance.]
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