Emerging in the early 80s at the end of New York’s legendary No Wave scene alongside Manhattan comrades Sonic Youth and Swans, Live Skull reshaped the aggression of burned-out post-punk into heavy, guitar-driven rock. This new release showcases their evolution, with Side 1 featuring recently recorded tracks, whilst Side 2 digs into the archives and includes four tracks from their 1989 Peel Session, released here for the first time.
Struggle and chaos is nothing new for Live Skull. Mark C and his fellow founder, guitarist Tom Paine, were inspired by the nihilistic sounds of No New York and the dissonant walls of Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham. Live Skull funneled those influences into hard-edged music that valued melody as much as anarchy. “We loved the noise and the chaos that was happening in the No Wave bands,” says Mark. “But we really tried to fit it into a song.”
Over the next decade, Live Skull released four albums and three EPs with a rotating cast of 11 members, all of whom added new ideas to the group’s evolving sound. Their constant progression inspired New York Times critic Robert Palmer to call them “as challenging, as spiritually corrosive, and ultimately as transcendent as Albert Ayler’s mid-’60s free-jazz or the implacable drone-dance of the early Velvet Underground. It’s one of the essential sounds of our time.”
Live Skull stopped playing in 1990–but for Mark C, there was still more to be said. So he reformed the group in 2016 with bassist Marnie Jaffe and drummer Richard Hutchins. Last year, an updated line-up with C, Hutchins and bassist Kent Heine recorded the first Live Skull album in nearly three decades, the urgent, forceful ‘Saturday Night Massacre’. Now, just a year later and joined by guitarist Dave Hollinghurst, they return with ‘Dangerous Visions’, and this time everyone from the entire Live Skull history is involved.