Lost Classics: Bowery Electric “Beat”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

bowery545c:: BOWERY ELECTRIC
Beat // Kranky, 1996

Though U.K. critic Simon Reynolds pointed to New York City duo Bowery Electric as a prime example of American post-rock back in ’95, the long view is somewhat skewed. Bowery principals Martha Schwendener and Lawrence Chandler never noodled around with the jazz or dub accents that later defined post-rock paragons such as Tortoise and the Sea And Cake. Bowery Electric wrote long, lingering compositions with murky bass, keyboards and vocals; the beats resembled a metronome heard through a thick fog. The haunting ambience of Beat fit somewhat with the then-popular Massive Attack and Portishead, but the album’s subsonic drone made it more of a minimal mood piece than a collection of songs. Still, when the beat is isolated to its murmuring bass vibrations on “Without Stopping,” it’s as astonishing a trick as anything DJ Shadow ever pulled.

Catching Up: Chandler is a composer/visual artist; Schwendener is an art critic.