Steve Fisk

Over and Thru the Night

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While 448 Deathless Days had been his formal solo vinyl debut, Fisk had released a series of cassettes via K and other labels throughout the '80s. Over and Thru the Night cherry-picks them for a fine sampling of his rougher beginnings, exhibiting all the fun and off-kilter sonics of his later work with slightly less crisp recording quality. The opening track, "I Wish I Were Dead," is a masterpiece in and of itself, a sampling of some old cartoon character weeping, sneezing, and crying out the title phrase, looped over and over with maudlin violin music playing along. It's simple enough yet utterly harrowing as well as goofy, as perfect a demonstration of Fisk's ear for sonic tweaking as one could want. From there the collection skips about without regard to chronology, though most of the tracks come from 1985 and 1986. Some feature side performers from Pell Mell, the Screaming Trees, and others, but mostly this is Fisk on his own, freaking out just so. Most of the songs utilize a random vocal snippet from a movie, broadcast, or other source at the core, sometimes looped (like the introductory voice on "One More Valley"), sometimes left to run along as the music groans, moans, and swirls around it. Evangelists and general ranters are recurring tropes -- even Ronald Reagan -- with the combination of their usual fervor and the music's often creepy moods making for gripping results. Hints of Fisk's varying musical obsessions crop up again and again -- motorik/Krautrock trance drums, dub's deep, slow crawl, slamming hip-hop breaks -- stewed into a weird, unsettling combination. One of his most hilarious moments is none other than the Beatles' "Taxman," sampling and looping the original recording while adding extra drones, slowed voices, and other effects -- it's one of the best remixes around.

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