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Boutique \ Spherical Objects \ The Noyes Brothers - Sheep From Goats (2CD) [BOUCD 6615]

Extended digital remaster of the 1980 double album by Steve Solamar and Steve Miro, released as The Noyes Brothers. Recorded at Graveyard Studio between October 1979 and May 1980, the original double vinyl featured 100 minutes of experimental collaborations, and is now joined by the extended piece Good Question from the 1981 Object compilation Do the Maru. Booklet features archive images and sleevenote contributions from Solamar and Miro. Available on CD and download.

Full tracklist:

Disc 1

1. A Feeling of Impending Doom
2. Away We Go
3. Repercussion
4. Bo Scat Um I.D.
5. Marlene
6. Night Sky Vision
7. Byte to Beat
8. Why Did It Fade
9. I Am You
10. On the Outside
11. Dream
12. It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

Disc 2

1. Archetypal Memory
2. It Must Be Vibration
3. Pointless
4. The Mutant
5. Ingmar the Dog
6. Some Times
7. Outnuendo
8. Decision Time
9. Pneumonia Bridge
10. Resurrection In Chaos Minor
11. Do End New Out
12. Good Question


Reviews:

"Recommended. This is all fairly uncategorizable stuff, harnessing the vitriol of new wave guitar and angular, Dick Dastardly-alike vocals and the 'brothers' unique take on electronics. The twenty-five minute drum machine overdose It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time is a particular standout and a decent example of the duo's strangeness. Wildly detuned oscillations flail around the mix while piano noodlings take up space, all to the dogged accompaniment of coarse drum machine patterns. The appeal of the piece stems from just how bizarre and unnecessary it all seems. It has to be one of the least essential, yet most intriguing twenty-five minutes in all of electronic music. Interesting electroacoustic experiments arise on the second disc, with the like of Pneumonia Bridge making a link between Doctor Who-style Radiophonics and more conventional concrete sounds. Possibly weirdest of all, songwriting normalcy is in effect on the slightly hippyish sounding pseudo psych balladry of It Must Be Vibration, or the driving post-punk of Pointless" (Boomkat, September 2008)

Sheep From Goats [BOUCD 6615]

Released by Object Music as OBJ 9/10 in July 1980, Sheep From Goats promised '100 minutes of Solamar/Miro' and delivered precisely that over four sides of vinyl. With just 1000 copies of the double album pressed, however, the fruits of the esoteric collaboration billed as The Noyes Brothers were enjoyed only by a select few.

Steve Solamar and Steve Miro (born Escott) first met in 1966, and having both moved to Manchester the pair formed the band Joe Panic. Between 1975 and 1976 the group played around locals pubs and clubs, with Solamar on vocals and Miro on guitar. 'The basic structure was to commence with two verses of a song,' says Solamar. 'Then we would improvise with vocals, guitar and keyboard - often unrelated - before returning to the closing verse. These experiments shaped and moulded my vocal technique.'

Steve Miro adds: 'Joe Panic also used to do totally improvised songs, normally named by an incident or member of the audience on the night started by any member of the band, and described by Solamar and me as "spontaneous composition". As we were both highly influenced by Captain Beefheart, and also the Mothers of Invention, we all had strange names. Steve became Sol-amar, I became Eli 'Twang' Volcano, the bass player was Trajen, the other guitarist Oddball Freewhistle, and the drummer became Stick Man Thunder.'

Joe Panic split in late 1976, and drummer Alan Robinson became the manager of the newly opened Electric Circus. At first a heavy metal venue, on 9 December 1976 the Circus hosted one of the few gigs on the Sex Pistols' ill-fated Anarchy tour that was not cancelled, and hosted a return visit ten days later. Because Steve Solamar owned punk and reggae 45s, as well as Nuggets and the Stooges, he was invited as DJ on both nights, and after the Circus organized a weekly Sunday punk night at the end of April 1977, he became the resident 'punk' DJ on those nights. The Electric Circus remained open until October, after which Solamar also DJ-ed at Buzzcocks gigs. Meanwhile Miro, Robinson and other ex-Joe Panic members formed an opportunist punk band, The Slugs.

Early in 1978 Solamar decided to form a new band, Spherical Objects, and formed Object Music to release debut album Past & Parcel in July. A second album, Elliptical Optimism, followed in October 1979. A pioneering indie, and intimately involved with the Manchester Musicians' Collective, Object Music quickly expanded to release singles by The Passage, Grow Up and Steve Miro. Backed by members of Spherical Objects, the Miro single Up & About was released in late 1978, and followed by the album Rude Intrusions in 1980. In 1979 Solamar and Miro also released a joint single on Object under the pseudonym Alternomen Unlimited.

After the original Spherical Objects line-up disbanded at the end of 1979, Solamar and Miro spent more time recording together. 'I enjoyed performing and recording more improvisational music,' says Solamar, 'and these sessions were mostly with Steve Miro. He came up with the name Noise Brothers, which I wouldn't have chosen, but it was applicable, so I changed the spelling to Noyes.'

The various Noyes Brothers sessions were recorded between October 1979 and May 1980 at Graveyard Studio in Prestwich, a basic but artist-friendly four-track facility owned by Stuart Pickering and located in his basement. 'Steve Miro and I paid occasional visits to Graveyard to record the tracks,' says Solamar. 'After a few months of this, in 1980 we made two or three visits to record tracks for the Noyes Brothers, and this is when It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time and Away We Go were recorded. We then arranged to have two days each for solo sessions, and we did not discuss with one another what we intended to do.'

'These sessions were used in very different ways. Steve Miro used one day to record three sings with his wife, Jill, and one day when he sang three songs himself. I too recorded six pieces over the two days, but mine were some flights around Mars, Jupiter and Pluto, with some occasional visits to Alpha Centuri and, on Pneumonia Bridge, a cruise through a haunted cavern where I unexpectedly passed the Queen Mary. The title comes from the local nickname for a high footbridge over a creek that runs into Portsmouth Harbour from Gosport. I hardly ever listened to the records after they were released, as there was always new material to concentrate on, but I am now quote flabbergasted at how successful the multi-tracked improvisations on side three are, as these just reach out to places that nobody else was visiting.'

Steve Miro adds: 'Other influences on Steve and myself were Tim Buckley, Jorge Ben, Dino Valente, Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra, and dozens more drawn from nearly every type of music, including classical, modern classical and opera.'

Steve Solamar continues: 'The lyrics of Repercussions were previously written by me, and those on Away We Go and Bo Scat Um ID improvised in the studio by me and Steve. It's a sort of call and response, although it could more accurately be described as each of us expressing alternate bleats. Marlene, Night Sky Vision and the first four songs on side two were songs I had written several years previously, in "folkier" times. Dream was one of several songs that would develop into a free vocal improvisation. This is the only released example of this, although it doesn't go as far as I often did.'

Like much of the Object catalogue, Sheep From Goats defies easy categorization. Side four contained just one track, the lengthy It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, an equal collaboration between Miro and Solamar, and deeply unfashionable in 1980. Unsure of the reception the album might receive, the postal address on the sleeve was preceded by an invitation predicting complaints. But none came, and the album eventually sold out.

The striking sleeve images for Sheep From Goats were shot by Tim O'Sullivan at Ladybower reservoir in the Peak District, with other images taken around William Kent Crescent in Hulme. In 1980 the Noyes Brothers played their only live show, supporting the sole performance by the second line-up of Spherical Objects.

The Noyes Brothers returned in 1981, contributing the lengthy piece Good Question to Object compilation Do The Maru (OBJ 14), which also featured a Steve Solamar solo track, Forewarned. Besides Do The Maru, Spherical Objects recorded two more albums (Further Ellipses and No Man's Land), and Steve Miro released a second album, Second Sentence. However Object ceased trading during the late in 1981, after Steve Solamar resolved to correct a lifelong contradiction and become a woman. There would be no more Spherical Objects records, and just one more album by Steve Miro, the barely-heard Trilemna on Glass Records in 1984.

Alas, The Noyes Brothers were no more. Those eager to hear more, however, are directed towards Dubious Collaborations/Indiscreet Music (OBJ 002), an album of early experiments recorded between 1974 and 1976, and the 1979 single (OM 6) credited to Alternomen Unlimited (Facade b/w Connections), which like the Noyes Brothers is Miro and Solamar alone.

James Nice

June 2008