Flux Information Sciences
The bio below was written at the time of YGR’s release of Private/Public in 2000. The band has since broken up and reformed as Services. Check them out!
– Michael Gira/YGR 2008
I was immediately convinced I had to work with Flux information Sciences when I first saw them play at a dive in Hell's Kitchen. The place was packed with a mix of local drunks, prostitutes of uncertain gender, and the disheveled art-rock types, fashion models, and latter day punks that had come to see them. Flux set up on the floor at the back of the bar with one glaring spotlight on the ground in front of them. The light was obsessively kicked at and jostled by the drunken crowd and the beam spun and jerked frenetically like a primitive emergency warning signal in the nearly opaque murk of smoke, sweat, and urine vapors. They had a PA set up just in front of them - one of those Shure vocal PAs from the sixties wherein the tinny and ineffectual cabinets (about the size of a guitar case) are raised up on wobbly metal stands and emit a shrill blast of distortion no matter what the sound source. In any event the PA was instantly made irrelevant, as it was knocked over and destroyed in the first burst of sound. And what a sound! I liken it to being beaten up by a sexually enraged, cackling clown, determined to make as much (mutual) fun as possible out of the act of physically destroying you. They didn't manage to play much of a set that night, about 5 or 6 songs, I think , before a fight broke out and quickly escalated into a brawl that left their equipment smashed on the floor and the power cut off by the owner of the bar. But amidst the chaos, smiling with a sense of accomplishment, Flux kept a weirdly skewed "professional" demeanor, like bemused asylum inmates dilligently acting out their assumed roles as "entertainers" in a shuffling lunatic mob.
To say the least, Flux's music is schizophrenic in the extreme, with violent dynamic schisms, bizarre, angular rhythms ( but incredibly funky at times), and bursts of noise and violence that abruptly shift into weird , brief passages of cerebral, vaguely menacing soundscapes. The vocals are cryptic, sometimes lurid consumer slogans shouted or chanted over the heaving maelstrom. Their sense of show biz is pretty refined too, so Las Vegas comes into it somewhere as well. . The abovementioned performance, and the several times I've seen them since, are among the best "Rock Shows" I've seen in years. Their crude, brazen energy, coupled with the abstracted "Show Biz" format of the presentation reminds me of when I first moved to NYC in 1979 and saw the Contortions at Max's Kansas City. Also a faint thread of early Devo runs through them somewhere, but they don't sound at all like either of these groups. Maybe it's just that their performance is so maniacal and at the same time so strictly empirical.
They use samples and short sequences, but they're emphatically played live by the keyboardist (Sebastian) with percussive, methodical frenzy. (In other words, they make the groove in real time - they don't play over a looped rhythm). Sebastian could actually be considered a second drummer, in a sense - live, it's hard to tell who's playing what. Tristan, the singer, plays a two-string bass with a drum stick, and also plays guitar and presides over the onslaught like Elvis engulfed in a toxic holocaust. He also pounds on a cheap casio keyboard from time to time, amplified and distorted to ridiculously ill effect...
Flux are hilarious, vicious, and a catastrophe of sonic mayhem - simultaneously Life-Threatening and Entertaining -all the good things! They are the UBER NYC BAND, in my opinion.
PUBLIC/PRIVATE was recorded live in the studio, for the most part, with minimal overdubs. At the bands insistence, 50 friends and admirers were invited into the studio to witness the performances, with the proviso that they " stand around naked, blindfolded, like lawn furniture made of flesh, and not move" as the band played, watching them. The typically weird-ass and elliptical electronic interludes were recorded by the band at home, and are meant to serve as bookmarks along the way.
- Michael Gira - Young God Records-2000
Here’s a review from the time:
3/9/2000 | The Chicago Reader | Monica Kendrick
Flux Information Sciences | Private/Public | Review
...like a letter from the golden age of industrial music...
I always open packages from Young God Records with great enthusiasm, because I really do beleive that founder Michael Gira knows some things that must people don't. His latest release, Flux Information Sciences' Private/Public, is like a letter from the golden age of industrial music, which, in my opinion, was before Al Jourgensen stopped singing with a fake british accent -back when ugly frequencies really were dangerous and hearing everything that's fatal and destructive about modern culture getting thrown into the Cuisinart was still exciting. Gira's press release claims that when these 19 clanking, thumping, spine-shuddering tracks were recorded mostly live in the studio, 50 of the band's friends and fans were standing around naked and blindfolded, "like lawn furniture made of flesh." There is a community out there -and always has been- where the creative process is wild like that, inverted and subverted like that, fun and twisted and sexy like that, its undercurrents of rage and frustration aknowledged in the work. Flux Information Sciences' jerky klang-musik may be retro, in that it's reminiscent of the post punk ferocity of classic Neubauten or the New York no wave scene that spawned Gira's old band Swans, but it's still much more alive than most of what claims to be the music of Today.
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