Jazzy, rocky improv groups with homemade instruments were a dime a dozen in New York in 1988, but Miracle Room muscled most of the others aside with refreshing energy, wit, melody and try-anything attitude. The group’s cassette debut, recorded live in both its birthplace (Austin) and adopted home (New York) was quite a revelation, as guitarist Stephen Marsh chants or bullhorns funny, enigmatic lyrics over Hendrixy feedback squalls and rhythms that can only be described as tribal. (One delay-soaked track from the tape, “Open Heart,” later appeared on the first Live at the Knitting Factory compilation.)
The trio (later a quartet) puts on a live show that is nearly as entertaining visually as sonically. They take circular saws to large metal appliances and pound the hell out of 55-gallon drums, like a jollier, funkier Einstürzende Neubauten loose in Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Miracle Room’s first studio attempt, a four-track 12-inch, suffers a bit from strained seriousness, but the band’s way with a clanging groove is intact on “These Are My Friends.” Meanwhile, the eerie “Untitled” sounds like Music for Films played backwards in a wind-tunnel with several species of small furry animals.