• Mars
  • The Mars EP (Infidelity) 1980 
  • 78 (UK Widowspeak) 1986 
  • Various Artists
  • No New York (Antilles) 1978 
  • John Gavanti (Hyrax) 1981 

“Your hair on cars/your arms detach/your eyes fly by/your torso in wax.” With those immortal words Mars caterwauled into the hearts of noise lovers everywhere, marking the quartet’s four-song appearance on No New York with an absolutely total lack of musical ability. (All the other bands on the Eno-produced compilation contained at least one member who could play in the traditional sense.) A bunch of New York art types who formed a band when that was considered a cool New York art type thing to do, Mars was pretty impressive if for nothing else than singleness of purpose. Often sounding like a screeching subway car driven by a jabbering, convulsive castrato, Mars’ constantly revulsed stance made the rest of No New York‘s I-hate-sex crowd seem like a bunch of rank sensualists by comparison. Arto Lindsay recorded a 1978 CBGB set that comprises the 1980 12-inch EP; a few years later, Jim (Foetus) Thirlwell compiled and remixed the No New York tracks, all but one of the five EP songs and the group’s single. The resultant 78 is all the Mars you need.

Around the turn of the decade, Mars leader Sumner Crane corralled a bunch of cohorts (including DNA drummer Ikue Mori) and recorded John Gavanti, a no wave adaptation of — get this — Don Giovanni. Some have called this the most unlistenable record ever made, and that’s a fine invitation indeed.

[Glenn Kenny]