Emerging from the early/mid '90s, indie-rock, lo-fi explosion was Providence's Space Needle, the brainchild of Scarce drummer Jud Ehrbar who, joined by Jeff Gatland and, later, four-track auteur Anders Parker (of Varnaline), forged a promising legacy before side projects and an inept label, Zero Hour, toppled the Needle. Now, a decade after the fact, Recordings 1994 -- 1997 (Eenie Meenie) cherry-picks key cuts from the band's two albums along with a 45, live tracks and a video.
On 1995's Voyager, Ehrbar and Gatland could see-saw between winsome pop ("Eyes to the World") and droney prog ("Dreams") with the best of 'em. The dissonant, Suicide-like instrumental "Scientific Mapp," however, with its grinding loops and persistent distortion, also marked the pair as SFX fetishists deploying their noise-for-noise's-sake aesthetic. The Moray Eels Eat the Space Needle (1997) saw the arrival of Parker, and an actual studio budget meant that the group could experiment more with texture and nuance. "Love Left Us Strangers" is closer to lounge-jazz than rock, while the cinematic, dreamy "Old Spice" suggests a marriage of Yes and Mogwai. (Speaking of Yes, Roger Dean did the futuristic sleeve artwork for Moray Eels.)
Recordings 1994 -- 1997 may function as an epitaph for a not-quite-legend, but it also provides a window into a period of indiedom that's probably destined to be lost to the dustbin of history. Aside from Guided By Voices, Pavement and Sebadoh, it's unlikely that lo-fi's practitioners will be remembered in 20 years' time. Pity, though -- Space Needle had a hard-to-quantify charm. It's hard not to like a band that titles a 16-minute cosmic freakout, one replete with upper-neck, Hendrixian fretboard strangulations and a friggin' drum solo, "Where The Fucks [sic] My Wallet?" Here Jud, take mine -- you earned it.
For more details go to www.spaceneedlemusic.com.