1-2 Weeks


"Some of you may remember Circle X's corrosive, caterwauling, and unutterably fabulous self-titled EP, which was originally released in 1979 and reissued a little over a decade ago by Jim O'Rourke's and David Grubbs' Dexter's Cigar label. Now the story picks up again with the long-overdue first CD release of Prehistory, Circle X's first full-length album. Prehistory was recorded in 1981 and released in 1983 by Index Records, making them, strangely enough, labelmates with Wall of Voodoo. Circle X were formed in 1978 from the remnants of No Fun and the I-Holes, Louisville, Kentucky's first two punk bands. (No Fun, also featuring Tara Key of the Babylon Dance Band and Antietam, finally appeared on the excellent Bold Beginnings: An Incomplete History of Louisville Punk compilation.) Circle X got the hell out of Dodge quickly enough, settling upon New York, then Dijon, France, and then back to New York again. The self-titled EP is a lurching, squalling monster. Prehistory is a tire-burning left turn. The pendulum arc of Tony Pinotti's vocals still contain throat-shredding howls, but expands to contain croons, moans, speech. Bruce Witsiepe's lacerating guitar is dumped into a dubbish aquarium of reverb, and Rik and Dave Letendre worry obsessive polyrhythms nearly to death. After the trash-compaction of their first EP, this is the sound of unhurried, committed exploration. So where did Circle X fit in among their peers? It's fair to describe them as a genre unto themselves. They came from punk rock and art school and sounded like none of their potential allies. They arrived in New York at the tail end of No Wave, at the same time that equally ornery bands like Swans and Sonic Youth were getting revved up. Circle X are every bit as distinctive and attitudinal as Throbbing Gristle, PiL, Theoretical Girls, DNA, or Mars, and yet they don't particularly sound like any of these groups. After Prehistory, they resurfaced with four white-vinyl 7"s, (later collected as the box set The Ivory Tower) and the 1994 Celestial, an album for the then-fledgling Matador label. Bruce Witsiepe passed away in 1995, marking the end of the group. Critic Jordan Mamone hit the nail on the head when he wrote: 'Every rare utterance from these unsentimental adventurers possesses a passion and a manifesto-writing fervor usually reserved for turn-of-the-century culture movements.'"