The always excellent Soul Jazz Records have released a new DVD, 135 Grand Street New York 1979, a rough-hewn documentation of the No Wave scene, by Ericka Beckman. Featured groups in the film are Theoretical Girls, UT, A Band, Rhys Chatham, Chinese Puzzle, The Static, Morales, Youth in Asia, Morales, Steven Piccolo and Jill Kroesen. (In the mid-80s, I worked with Jill Kroesen, briefly, at a video post production facility in New York called Caesar Video Graphics. She was a really good designer as I recall).
Recently screened at the Museum of Modern Art and currently showing as part of Sonic Youth’s ‘Sensational Fix’ touring art exhibition around the world, the film has also screened before Glenn Branca’s most recent live shows in New York City.
In this documentary film, punk rock and non-musicianship fight it out with art world attitude. Garage band line-ups in varying degrees of musical destruction sit alongside post-everything poetry and cultural terrorism. Ericka Beckman’s film matches the rawness, minimalism and radicalism of the music - a fitting document and visual statement of new forms created out of New York’s anti-everything musical nihilism, circa 1979.
This film includes the only known footage of many No Wave bands of the period. It is a film about bands filled with painters, filmmakers, actors - and occasionally musicians - thriving and thrashing in the pulsating, vibrant post-punk world of New York where high art met low culture; where Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham, Wharton Tiers, Taro Suzuki and the others featured here made the connections between John Cage and Joey Ramone, between the questioning of art and ? and the Mysterians.
Thank you Steven Daly!