As the resident bass player for renowned Manhattan comedy club Catch A Rising Star, Lloyd George Mair, Jr. worked alongside a host of iconic entertainers and comedians from the past 50 years inc. Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Kaufman, Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy, Larry David, Chris Rock and plenty more. This was a creatively vibrant and socially dynamic period in New York’s history marked by the unique meeting and synthesis of post-disco, post-punk and early hip-hop; shaped by a hybrid party culture in which cross-cultural music scenes (Afrika Bambaata, Anita Sarko) collided with artistic ones (Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat) as well as intellectual spheres (Sylvère Lotringer, Antonio Negri) on NYC’s dance floors (Danceteria, Mudd Club), offering unique social and sonic possibilities of interaction, openness and exchange.
As the 1980s progressed, together with increasingly tough Reaganomics, the crack epidemic, real estate inflation, demographic shifts and musicians and clubs catering to increasingly segregated audiences, the synergistic elements that first set the scene apart weakened severely from 1984 onwards. However, thanks to a dedicated underground, the forward-looking sensibilities of Mair, Jr. found an audience, gripping the imaginations of a select group of collaborators and peers from the so-called ‘cassette culture’ movement.
These were not simply ‘demos’, but fully realised art projects primarily traded with other like-minded artists around the world. All kinds of folk found this a simpatico space to make music, think aloud, drift in and out of focus.
Mair, Jr. started recording a dizzying array of home-baked cassettes, most of which remained unreleased or traded internationally. Captivated by the promise of possibility, his sound totally embraced the plastic potential of MIDI and digital, in all their unreal perfection. The sound of placeless, dream-like environments: movie sets,photo shoots, videogame backdrops. Dense webs of flickering neon, laser-strafed minimalism and thick sawwave synths.
This expansive second volume of rarities is drawn from Mair, Jr’s ‘Selected Rhythm Tracks 1988-1994’, a hidden archive of introverted electro-minimalist songwriting culled from over 30 years of private and unreleased cassettes. There’s the boogie of the opening ‘Rhythm Track’, rendered in such perfect hi-res, it approximates digi-Motown via sci-fi Library Music soundtracks. ‘The Escape’ strings the most plastic of trumpets over an avant- funk stroll that’s so laidback you feel like it must be hiding something. The Afro-tropicalia of ‘Winefride XL’ is a beatific series of polyrhythmic kalimba lines that you can imagine gathering and drifting over and over again, like tides. There’s a distinct cinematic quality in Mair, Jr’s sequencing, and most of all on the outro to the blissful sweet-sour synth spirals of ‘Winefride LIV’, which sounds like Angelo Badalamenti scoring Perry Henzell instead of David Lynch.