Birds of Mars

Past Events
February 10, 2019 at The Deuce, Northampton

December 23, 2018 at The Parlor Room, Northampton
FRIENDS & STRANGERS (2018. QVGA) dir. Chris Gentes


Words in quotes denote the beginning of a spoken word segment.
Most spoken word segments were usually followed by an instrumental section.

00:00 – START
02:00 – “Mother”
10:30 – “Once Upon a Time”
17:30 – “How’s Your Finger?”
20:00 – “Door”
24:00 – “Tommy”
29:00 – “Oh Listen to That”
30:00 – “This is what it feels like” + crew
38:00 – instrumental
43:00 – Haiku 1
46:00 – “People”
51:00 – Screaming
52:00 – “Four months to go”

01:00:00 – “Speed of light”
01:06:00 – “WTF?”
01:10:00 – Haiku 2
01:18:00 – “Stop”
01:25:00 – Instrumental
01:45:00 – “Anybody in There?”
01:53:00 – “Love What You’re Doing”

02:00:00 – “Where you going?”
02:14:00 – “Where the Boys Are”
02:17:00 – “Finale”
02:24 – END

Interview with Abortus Fever JANUARY 2019

Tell us about your musical career and interest in making sound.

Abortus Fever:

For starters I was introduced to many different things growing up. My brother grew up in the 70s and he was interested in Led Zeppelin and things like that. In his collection he had Radio Birdland lots of almost psychedelic type rock. In the 80s (in his 20s) he was interested in electronic and almost goth music like Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, the Cure and things like that. But he also went to New York and he got interested in Hip Hop, so there was lots of early hip hop music in the house like School AD, The Sugar Hill Gang.

My sister, being much younger than him, she listened to Kiss, Alice Cooper, and Blondie, so there was a variety of stuff in the house. With my parents being the generation before that my father listened to the Beatles, and my mother listened to lots of MoTown. So I was very interested in lots of different music growing up in that environment.

As a teenager, taking my own steps, I started with my brother’s music. I was more interested in the English experimental or pop music. So I started with The Cure, Bauhaus and Depeche Mode. In high school I was listening to Joy Division. I found some other like-minded people in high school and we all were saying’ “Check this out, and check this out, and check this out.”

I got really introduced to a lot of other things. I even looked through my brother’s record collection, things I hadn’t heard him play, that he had there that were of interest to me. Bands like Cabaret Voltaire. People were telling me in high school, “Check out the Sex Pistols. Check out the Buzzcocks.”

My buddy Chris Sloan told me no, you should check this out early anarchist punk Crass. I loved the total dissonance of it and not even worrying about playing your instrument properly. It was totally beyond the Sex Pistols. I had already known at that time about Sonic Youth, and they had a commercial success and I was like ok, it was of interest to me. I learned of their background, and Lee Rinaldo and Thurston Moore playing in Glen Bronco’s early band in the late 70s doing symphonies with twenty guitars. It was very interesting to me. That with Crass.

Then Chris introduced me to Japanese noise, and noise in general. I had no clue. My first thing that I listened to that was of Japanese noise was Masami Akita album and his moniker Merzbow, Rainbow Electronics. And what somebody would have thought of listening to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, that’s how I felt listening to Rainbow Electronics. I thought, “Oh my God this is insane. That somebody can…that this is a physical recording, a CD that somebody produced, that is out there, and that people are out there actually listening to this. I thought this is amazing. Anybody can and should make sounds with whatever they have.”

So I went out there and found as much things that were beyond the scope of traditional radio sounds. I was fortunate enough to get, through my father, a short wave radio. I started listening to different broadcasts. Just the sounds between the static and the frequencies between each station appealed to me, so I recorded it with my little tape recorder. Then I got further into it and found things that appealed to me, and applied them to that whole aesthetic. I forget when it was exactly, must have been in my senior year, searching around the radio stations I found a station in Stores, Connecticut, the University of Connecticut broadcast, and this guy JD did a broadcast called Dead Sun Rising. Totally all about experimental noise, a difficult listening broadcast. I obsessively recorded everything.

I did my first tape with my friend who introduced me to this sound concept. I called myself Abortus Fever, because of my aesthetic of interest in the visual art world. Through Francis Bacon being interested in gritty looking things. Mostly with anatomical medical text books. I had a set of medical encyclopedia textbooks that I grew up with, and I started making collages and things like that with it. I found one part in it that was called Abortus Fever. Its an old term for undulant fever, which was something that happened to people who lived on farm land. If you were exposed to farm animals undulant fever would occur. Asides from that I thought it was aesthetically interesting, the term Abortus Fever. So I called myself Abortus Fever.

At the same time I had also read, via my girlfriend, that Robert Smith of the Cure had mentioned that he was interested in a book called the Gormenghast novels. The song on the Faith album, The Drowning Man, is attributed to that. I read the book with my girlfriend, and this one character in the book is called Nannie Slagg, and I thought that would be a great title for a project. My friend Chris used it as a project for he and I doing early proto-sound Fluxus-like experimental sounds, So we did our first tape, a split tape Abortus Fever & Nannie Slagg, and I sent it to the guy in Stores, Connecticut and he played it on the radio. And it was amazing. It was my first experience being a semi-legitimate musician.

And at the same time I learned about the Flywheel Collective. I was also playing with other friends, and we were invited there and we openly played experimental things. Just playing around, nonsensical, whatever you feel. Almost being like a religious experience, like a shaman. Taking an instrument or making a sound yourself and making it an experience. So it was amazing thing to have that experience in my early years. It is always to this day mutating and fluctuating.

I get frustrated now with the limitations and the constraints of what is considered something, what it is or what it is not. People go to see – even noise music to this day people go and expect a certain thing.

I played several shows being semi-known in this area under the moniker Abortus Fever, and I feel it is mundane now to be even doing the things I did before. If you’re under a label that’s what happens. I feel things should go beyond. That’s how I feel about artists in the visual world. Paintings, visual depictions of your inner self. We should not be painting or expressing things that have been done for the past 100 years. We have to go beyond that. The same thing with sound, but the tricky thing with sound as well as visual things, is to get the audience, to get the people to be kind of roped into checking it out. To have them check out the message you have to have an aspect of something that is familiar. And that aspect of the familiar is problematic to me, because I can only do so much and I kind of have an aversion to that familiarity. Now I know it and want to go beyond it. That is pretty much where I’m at.

A Game of Pool (2019)

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