May 20, 2008

B-Sides (MUSIC & OTHER EPHEMERA): ‘Prehistory’ lessons from Circle X

Circle X’s PrehistoryNoise Pollution’s release last year of Bold Beginnings: An Incomplete History of Louisville Punk Rock has sparked a trend of sorts.David Grubbs, of Squirrel Bait fame, has released Prehistory, a long-lost recording from Circle X, one of the city’s first punk bands that began in the late ’70s.Grubbs, now a teacher at Brooklyn College, heard from Circle X’s Rick Letondre that the six-song record was sitting in Letondre’s storage space in upstate New York, untouched for decades. Grubbs has released the album on his Blue Chopsticks label, which is distributed by Drag City. “I think he just had a wild hair,” Grubbs said of Letondre, who didn’t have to ask his old friend twice.“It’s weird, you know. In 1983, when it came out, I was 15 years old,” said Grubbs, who first picked up a copy of the record at Beethoven’s House of Music at the corner of Frankfort Avenue and Stilz. “It’s taken me 25 years to wrap my mind around it again. I can’t believe what a strange, awesome record it is.”Prehistory is an angular, left-field take on punk rock, with sprawling, bizarre arrangements, atonal flash and spoken-word rhetoric, and dub. Circle X, whose members met at the Louisville School of Art, recorded it in 1981 after relocating to New York near the tail end of the No Wave movement. The band didn’t last long, breaking up after finishing Prehistory. Guitarist Bruce Witsiepe died of AIDS in 1995.Grubbs said there are more out-of-print singles and lots of unreleased studio material that will likely be released. “I’d love to see that happen.”LEO Music ’CastThis week, we talk to The Glasspack, who has just returned from headlining the Roadburn Festival in Holland. Hear it Wednesday at leomusiccast.podbean.com, or hit myspace.com/leoweeklyMat Herron is LEO’s Music Editor. Electronic displays of affection welcome at mherron@leoweekly.com