Although Atavistic is best known in most musical circles for their pioneering free jazz releases and reissues, the label has always maintained a strong sideline in noise rock. The live compilation CIA Via UFO To Mercury was originally released as a vinyl bootleg in 1995, but Atavistic reissued it, unchanged and on CD, in 1997. In 14 tracks by 13 Chicago-based bands, CIA Via UFO To Mercury documents a short-lived offshoot of the city's mid-'90s experimental rock scene where bands influenced by the squalling late '70s No Wave artists unleashed improvisatory gales of sound. Unfortunately, these bands tend not to bring anything new to the concept, and after several basically indistinguishable formless noise blasts with titles like "Tarantula Spasm Stomp," listener fatigue sets in. In small doses, CIA Via UFO To Mercury is rather bracing ? the opening track by the short-lived Scissor Girls, "Sequential," is actually an exciting blast of barely-organized chaos that recalls the very early work of the Slits ? but there is little here that wasn't being done better in Manhattan in 1979.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason