This week’s Tracks are guest curated by Mark Alan Miller of cult industrial rock outfit Out Out. A staple of the 90s industrial scene, Miller is releasing first new album as Out Out since 2008’s Assumed Outrvialing on Artoffact records. We got in touch with Miller for a sneak peak at the new LP and to find out what songs he’s been bumping in the lead up to the release of Swan/Dive this October!
Out Out, “Shut Up!”
“Influences” are a funny thing. In the 90s, mostly, when being interviewed and asked about my influences, I often found it difficult to answer. What isn’t an influence? Eventually, my stock answer often was “We Built This City – as I never want to ever sound like that song.”
With “Shut Up!” (from my upcoming album Swan/Dive?, out on Artoffact Records this October) I think anyone with an acute ear and even a passing knowledge of the “industrial” genre could cite what might have influenced that song. And I’m fine with that. I’ve long been comfortable in the understanding that, while it’s important to forge one’s own sound, it’s also perfectly acceptable to allow things that influenced one as an artist to be allowed to show through as well. I’m never going to sound like *artist X* no matter how hard I try.So, I hope the world enjoys this track for what it is – shining influences or not.
Jeff and Jane Hudson, “Los Alamos”
For the second song this week, I’ve selected “Los Alamos” from the new Jeff and Jane Hudson album The Middle. The original version of this song appeared on their 1983 album Flesh, and was the first song I ever heard from them. I’d say it informed me as to what kind of music I’d like to write as much as New Order, Cabaret Voltaire, Shriekback, or any number of artists from that same era. New Wave, “Industrial” – all that stuff – was formative. In this new version, it’s a treat to hear this classic song updated yet still true to the original spirit. I’d go so far to say that the whole album is cut from the same excellent cloth that Flesh was. Full disclosure: I mastered this record. With honor.
Leaether Strip, “I Travel”
Third up, Leaether Strip, and the new cover of the iconic “I Travel” from Simple Minds. Part of a 6-song tribute to the band, this one resonates with me the most. I started DJing at a local college station in the early 80s, and quickly ran across the 12″ of this song – adding it to my repitoire of “influence” for certain. What I admire here – as with the other 5 songs on this EP – is the faithful attention to the details that I (and likely Claus) find are the signatures of the songs, yet without sounding at all like simple mimicry of the original tracks.
Mystics Anonymous, “St Elmo’s Fire”
Now, to cite Brian Eno as an influence is probably cliche at this juncture, but truth is truth. Astute listeners to my work likely would spot an Eno hat-tip here and there, and they wouldn’t be wrong. “China My China” alone, I’ve probably cited in some way or other at least twice. Here we have a band who live in my area, who are friends, and who I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Mystics Anonymous’ cover of “St.Elmo’s Fire” does something similar with the original as the Leaeather Strip track above. Attention to what makes the song identifiable, yet also sounding like the artists who are performing it. It was a lot of fun to mix, too.
Colin Newman, “Order For Order”
Rounding this week out, Colin Newman has released a demo from the early 80s Beggars Banquet/4AD era of his solo works, in anticipation of the reissue of the albums from that era. Hearing Wire’s 154 album when I was barely into my double-digits was eye-opening, to say the least. On first listen I couldn’t understand it overall. But I was fully compelled to listen to it again and again. Its darkly atmospheric nature, peppered with some of the most lovely melodies, kept me coming back. It likely shaped the way I would write songs as much as any artist from my early days of (semi) independent music discovery.
Here is “Order for Order (Riverside Demo)”: