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Ike Yard - Collected 1980-82

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Artist: Ike Yard

Album: Collected 1980-82

Label: Acute

Review date: Sep. 14, 2006

If Swans, Glen Branca, Sonic Youth, DNA, et al, are reliable aural representations of New York City during a moment in history, I can only imagine the Rotten Apple at said specific time being one of the more terrifying locales on the planet. And in hearing Ike Yard’s contribution to the horror, I can’t help wondering if anyone was happy downtown in '81.

Ike Yard is essentially the vehicle for post-punk experimentalist Stuart Argabright. Argarbright, though certainly not as well known as other downtown heavyweights of the day, was involved with numerous seminal players and projects that stood at the nexus of techno, post-punk and the avant-garde. Perhaps the most user friendly of Argabright’s projects was the heavenly electro track “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight.” On the other end of the dance music spectrum (where the German minimalists hang out) sits Ike Yard. While the group’s sound can be difficult, it is at the very least fascinating. “M. Kurtz” typifies the Ike Yard aesthetic: there are beats, albeit minimal ones, and there are most certainly grooves in the form of deep, pummeling, insistent bass lines. Finally, Argabright’s monotone ramblings and the sporadic squalls of electronic noise crest over top (“oh the horror” indeed). The end result sounds like the soundtrack to a considerably more twisted version of The Warriors – as if the Warriors were trying to find safe haven in a loft party somewhere on Avenue A rather than Coney Island, and one of the gangs chasing them dressed and twitched as if they stepped out of a Robert Longo painting.

Of the 18 tracks on Collected, six are taken from the band’s 1981 debut EP on Disques du Crepuscules and six more from Ike Yard’s only LP, released on Factory in 1982. The remaining six tracks are all previously unavailable. Of particular note is the live version of “20,” recorded in 1981 at New Order’s New York City debut. In many ways, it’s that track the best exemplifies this release. Like all of the previous releases on the esteemed Acute label, this is a document of a time and place, unsettling though that time and place may have been.

By Nate Knaebel

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