Boyd Rice

  • Boyd Rice
  • Boyd Rice (Mute) 1981 
  • ИoИ
  • Physical Evidence (Mute) 1982 
  • Blood & Flame (Mute) 1987 
  • God & Beast (Mute) 1997 
  • Boyd Rice/Frank Tovey
  • Easy Listening for the Hard of Hearing (Mute) 1984 
  • Boyd Rice and Friends
  • Music, Martinis and Misanthropy (Bad) 1990 

The first album by California conceptualist Boyd Rice (one of the first avant-garde “musicians” to use turntables as a creative tool) offers no information beyond the artist’s name (embossed on the all-black cover), that it was recorded in the mid-’70s and is “playable at any speed.” The droning noise slices, which are not audibly ascribable to any specific instruments, seem to consist of short tape loops layered over one another to create repetitive but varying textures (like Frippertronics, but without the guitar) that slow down and speed up on their own. Unlistenable.

Having thus cleared the decks of past achievements, Rice (aka ИOИ) released Physical Evidence, a collection of more recent pieces, some of them recorded live. Armed with the deadpan conceptual humor of individual titles (my favorite is “(Theme from) Dark Shadows,” the writing of which is, astonishingly, credited to someone other than Rice), the 15 jarring loops and layers of shapeless (but uniformly unpleasant) noise that comprise Blood & Flame make it a sound effects record for the deeply disturbed.

Easy Listening, while fairly routine for the eccentric Rice, takes Frank Tovey (aka Fad Gadget) off on a conceptual trip far from his usual recording format. “All sounds either collected or generated…by non-musical appliances” — in other words, this ain’t music at all, but rather repetitive, rhythmically ordered noises, mostly on the order of church bells and other things that can be struck. Not all that radical and not in the slightest bit charming, the LP (recorded in 1981) is structurally impressive but aggravating in the extreme.

[Ira Robbins]