I was recently contacted by Richard Pelletier himself and was kindly asked to remove the links to the 6FS rarities. They are available for full download on the 6FS myspace. Please visit the space and drop these guys some funds. According to Richard, the band is finishing up their new album and are planning a tour this coming spring/summer. I'm sure the band could use all the extra funds they can get their hands on. Also, the mp3 rips available on their site are a much higher quality than the ones I upped. Sorry for any inconvenience. The Sub Pop albums and live set are all still available.
For the most part, the world has all but forgotten Six Finger Satellite. All four of their full length releases have been out of print for longer than they ever were in print for. One of the band's main members, John Maclean, is now far better known as DFA's dark-disco king, The Juan Maclean. Well, it appears, that after close to a decade of inactivity, that Six Finger Satellite may be getting their due. Skyscraper Magazine has just published a full length feature on the tumultuous career of the band, which can be read in full at the bottom of this posting.
I stumbled across SFS sometime around 2001, which was also their final year as a band, albeit an almost completely different lineup from the initial incarnation of the band. At the time I was getting into groups like Brainiac and Trans Am, who coexisted at the same time as SFS, not to mention shared a somewhat similar aesthetic. A friend of mine recommended that I try and seek out some SFS albums. Now, because all of the albums were out of print, it took me a while to find a used copy of one of their albums. After a few months of patience I stumbled across a copy of Paranormalized for about 7 or 8 dollars. My infatuation with the band was immediate. I recall playing the album for anyone of my friends who would listen, and managed to turn a few of them on to this underrated and overlooked band of the 90s. Over the next year I was able to track down all 4 of their full lengths and even a 7 inch or two. By this point, the disco-dance-punk movement was in full swing, and groups like The Rapture, Radio 4, Liars and The Faint were all the rage. Most of the groups remained indebted to the initial blast of danceable post-punk; Gang of Four, ESG and PiL, all of whom had laid the foundation for this "new" movement of the early 00's. Surely some of these groups had to have been influenced by the jittery punk rhythms of SFS. Some of these bands must have witnessed SFS live at some point, or even copped one of their albums from an older sibling. These new wave of bands sure weren't letting anyone know if that was indeed the case. It seemed, for a moment, that the band would slip through fingers of the mainstream music media. There does, however, seem to be a bit more recognition for the band nowadays. First there were rumours of a new album, which appear to be true, and now there is a full length article in the widespread, well read Skyscraper. Is the band finally about to get their due?
The Pigeon Is The Most Popular Bird (1993) Sub Pop
Much more mature than their Weapon EP debut but still lacking the precision bite of the next few albums, Pigeon is a great entry point for anyone looking to get into SFS. The album was recorded by Bob Weston (Shellac's bass player and producer extraordinaire) and definitely showcases his penchant for a chunkier sounding rhythm section and explosive drum sound. In fact, Shellac was so impressed with this debut that they ended up naming one of their EPs after them, The Middle Finger is the Most Popular Bird. The band does share a kinship with Shellac as well as other "futurist rock" groups of the time like Brainiac or Unwound, who would also go on to near obscurity and cult status after disbanding. The main tracks on Pigeon are separated by short instrumental tracks that veer between short garage-y numbers and weirdo synth squalls. Personally I find them to get tedious after a while and cause the momentum of the album to start and stall. The next two albums would not suffer the same fate.
DOWNLOAD PIGEON IS THE MOST POPULAR BIRD HERE
Severe Exposure (1995) Paranormalized (1996) Sub Pop
Sister albums Severe Exposure and Paranormalized came out within a year of each other (1995 and 1996 respectively) and are worth examining together. Both albums featured a different lineup from the original incarnation of the band and were recorded at the band's newly built studio. The band had found it's focus, and Severe Exposure and Paranormalized were the results of a band who had fully immersed themselves their craft. Both albums are near-relentless in their assualts on the listener. Tracks rip out of the gate with metallic, harsh and ringing guitars and are backed up by menacing synth workouts, which would be pushed louder into the mix upon each successive release. The vocals are now spit out and shrouded in a layer of almost indecipherable distortion, giving the two albums an incredibly menacing feel. The rhythm section of SFS swings rapidly back and forth like a razor blade pendulum. The Big Black influence is strong on these two albums but so is the obvious debt to the dementia of early Chrome, which can be found in the slower paced tracks like Coke and Mirrors (Paranormalized). The track is a disco beat at half speed backed up by lazy, sleazy synths. A perfect soundtrack to a futuristic sci-fi horror flick taking place on the moon. Moments of lunar calm are very rare on these two albums but do offer a welcome and brief respite from the relentless, abrasive whiplash assault of most of the tracks.
DOWNLOAD SEVERE EXPOSURE HERE
DOWNLOAD PARANORMALIZED HERE
Law Of Ruins (1998) Sub Pop
Law of Ruins' album opener, Race Against Space, contains the same bite of the previous albums, but the clanging, distorted guitars are now sharing the stage with dance floor synths. The vocals still shred and frighten but are pushed a little farther back into the mix. The band, with the help of new producer, James Murphy (the dude behind DFA and LCD Soundsystem), are clearly going for a moodier atmosphere, rather than just pummeling the listener over the head for half and hour. There were a few complaints about the rhythm section being decimated (read article below), but I think that those are largely unfounded. The bass is incredibly prominent on all the tracks, and the drums, though not as thunderous as they once were, still deliver the necessary punch. This time around, the band seem to be dwelling in a kraut hole throughout this record. Sea of Tranquility Parts 1 and 2 find the band hammering out a repetitive riff and drum beat for close to 12 minutes, meanwhile, eerie synths weave in and out of the mix. 6FS were really on to something with Law Of Ruins, it's just too bad that they were never able to capitalize on it. John MacLean, who was largely responsible for the new direction of the band, would soon leave, causing the rest of the band to scramble for a replacement. A fifth album was recorded, Half Control, but would never see the light of day. Apparently, though, Load Records has plans to release it in the near future.
DOWNLOAD LAW OF RUINS HERE
Weapon EP (1992) Sub Pop
The Weapon EP was the demo that 6FS initially sent to Sub Pop. The label was enamoured enough to sign them and release the EP as is. Hearing it now, it's no wonder they were picked up by Sub Pop, as the EP sounds like a hybrid between the Jesus Lizard and Tad. By 1994, most of Sub Pop's "grunge" bands had dissolved or been signed to major labels, so it makes sense that, after hearing this demo, they signed the band up right away. I'm sure to Sub Pop's surprise, 6FS moved away from this sound rather rapidly with their ensuing albums.
DOWNLOAD WEAPON EP HERE--->taken down by request
Machine Cuisine 10" (1994) Sub Pop, and Companion Cassette (Self Released)
Here is what Trouser Press had to say about Machine Cuisine and it's accompanying mail-order only cassette...
"After collapsing behind a swirl of drug rumors, the band re-entered orbit with Machine Cuisine, a conceptual mini-album of eight songs on 10-inch vinyl. Temporarily restaffed as a scientific guitar-free trio, 6FS plays heartless Germanic proto-techno with amoral undertones. The pulsing flow is about as warm as Ian Curtis' ashtray, but the construction is genuinely clever and dryly hilarious. Robotic vocals revisit Devo's neurotic erotica, stoking the fires of computer desire on the opening "Love (via Machine)"; catchy electro-pops like "The Magic Bus" (an original) and "The Greek Arts" modulate G-funk style synth over tight Kraftwerk rhythms and intentionally trite lyrics. (The mail-order Machine Cuisine Companion cassette footnotes the platter with MX-80 Sound-inspired jams, a Suicide cover and much more Moog madness.)"
DOWNLOAD MACHINE CUISINE HERE--->taken down by request
DOWNLOAD MACHINE CUISINE COMPANION CASSETTE HERE
Massive Cocaine Seizure 7" (1996) Sub Pop
This was the last gasp of the Severe Exposure/Paranormalized era. Either one of these two tracks would have fit nicely on either album.
DOWNLOAD MASSIVE COCAINE SEIZURE HERE--->taken down by request
Clone Theory 12" (2000) Load Records
Recorded in 1996 after their Paranormalized album had been complete for Sub Pop, Clone Theory is made up almost entirely of electronics. Some of the tracks almost come of as extended pieces of the interludes on Pigeon. The album would be released 4 years later on Load Records.
DOWNLOAD CLONE THEORY HERE--->taken down by request
Thanks to COD-Music for the upload
Live--Grand Rapids, Michigan (10-15-95) Bootleg
As an added bonus, I've included a live set from a show in Grand Rapids, Michigan from 1995. The quality isn't the hottest but the manic energy of their live show still shines through pretty well. The setlist is entirely comprised of tracks from Severe Exposure and Paranormalized.
DOWNLOAD GRAND RAPIDS LIVE SET HERE
As promised above, here is the entire 6FS article from the most recent issue of Skyscraper (scanned, without permission, by yours truly. Apologies, Skyscraper).
Note: Click on the images to enlarge them. Right click to save.
Note: All 4 full lengths were ripped and uploaded by yours truly. Everything else (except for Clone Theory) copped from Soulseek over the last several years. All of these albums, singles and EPs are well out of print. Spread the seed. Also, there are several singles that I couldn't find on the interweb, namely...
Declaration Of Techno-Colonial Independence 2x7" split with Green Magnet School
Rabies (Baby's Got The) / Mistaken Street / Swing Alone 12" (White label 12") and
Man Behind The Glasses" (b/w "War Crimes" & "Dark Companion") [a.k.a. "Live At The A.C.I."] 7"
If anyone has these, please share 'em.