“Danielle Dax, the sexy punkish diva was on Fripp’s arm the next time we met in 1980. It was in a black hole style club under the Westway in London. I was there to see a concert by Metabolist and decide if I should invite them to participate in Miniatures. I did, with pleasure, on hearing their angular distorted motorik sounds.”
I claim the right to use the above quote (and its three links) as it is taken from my own blog post two years ago on Robert Fripp. He seemed to be out and about a lot that year (1980) so it was no surprise to see him at the Metabolist gig, as they, along with This Heat, seemed to have recently acquired a reputation for their particular style of hard-edged distorted beat music. I remember noticing with some pleasure how the darkness of the music and the venue was delightfully offset by the bright blonde presence of Danielle, who had an almost English rose look. This was before she transformed herself into a powerful, charismatic psychedelic Amazon – belied that night by the adorable soft golden peach-fuzzy bumfluff I noticed above and below her petal-like mouth. Alright, Morgan – down, boy!
The origin of this band’s name is not known to me, however I would be surprised if it did not come from the post-war Japanese architectural movement – evidence of which I still see at times in modern Tokyo. One such building, indeed an icon of the movement, is the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza, which was, amazingly, built in just 30 days. It’s pretty dilapidated now, but unbelievably, one of the capsules is available for an overnight stay. The Tower contains 140 capsule-style living units, aimed at bachelor salarymen, which feature a wall of appliances including a kitchen stove, a refrigerator, a television set, and – how cool is this – a reel-to-reel tape deck. Which brings us nicely back to music.
Metabolist’s entire output, recorded in their short career of 3 years or so, consists of just one album, three singles, three cassettes, and of course their Miniatures track. They released most of these recordings on their own Drömm label (which sounds like drum, looks like German, and is apparently Swedish for “dreaming”). Nothing seems to be on release any more, so it’s down to scouring ebay and similar places ( if you want to pick up the real vinyl or tape.
As usual, youtube comes to the rescue for the frustrated Metabolist seeker, and I have found what is probably at least half of their output there. Videos do not seem to be available, so may I suggest suggest watching this video with the sound turned off, (there are subtitles) while listening to Metabolist’s feisty fractured funk.
Gleanings are far and few on the old internet re this band, but Atlantis Audio Archive has perhaps the most info in one place – descriptions of their cassette releases “Goatmanaut” and “Stagmanaut,” free downloads of a 10-track live recording, and quite a bit re what the members have been up to since. A page named feuilleton has detailed descriptions of their music and a complete discography.
For computer music buffs, Simon Millward has become an expert on Cubase music sequencing software and VST synths, and has written several books on the subject.
Oops! Just discovered that some of their music IS actually for sale – a 14-track collection on CD, right here. Good to know! To whet your appetite further, here’s a brief summing-up from another site that offers 20 of their tracks for free online listening:
Metabolist were a UK experimental group forming in January 1977, consisting of Malcolm Lane (guitar, synth, vocals), Simon Millward (bass, vocals, synth), Mark Rowlatt (drums, percussion) and Anton Loach, with Jacqueline Bailey dedicated to designing the band’s record covers in a Suprematist style [click the following to enlarge] …
NOTE: you will be delighted at the alternative version of “Racing Poodles,” their Miniatures track!!!
Next up: Just wait 137 years…