Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Million Year Picnic - (1984)

Imagine a blend of Gary Numan, early Pink Floyd, Jean-Michel Jarre and The Stranglers and you have a sense of the music. Add the mystery of a zealously guarded identity (he's believed to be Canadian) and someone who appears onstage with his face swathed completely in surgical bandages, and you have a clearer picture of one of music's true eccentrics. Who else released an instrumental LP that bills itself as playable at any speed? Nash first surfaced in 1976 as an electric violinist and mandolin player with vocalist, bassist and synthesizer player Cameron Hawkins as FM. Rejecting the conformity of AM radio, they experimented electronically in the manner of Brian Eno. Similar to Andy Warhol and his Exploding Plastic Inevitable live presentation that helped launch Velvet Underground, FM's hometown concert debut in Toronto blew away the crowd with an assault of visual images coupled with sound. It set the pattern for Nash's solo career, which began in 1978 in an audio-visual collaboration with painter Robert Vanderhorst, who would reappear later in Nash's career. Following his quirky vision, Nash wrote the music and played all the instruments, even handling the engineering and production at times during his first several albums. An exception was Daniel Lanois producing one tune from 1982 Nash album And You Thought You Were Normal. Nash has regrouped with different incarnations of FM during the years. While his unconventional ideas limit collaboration possibilities, he has recorded and toured with Numan. Nash scores soundtracks periodically, notably releasing a CD of his score for the 1991 Canadian cult favorite Highway 61, which featured singer Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys in a small role. Nash's first two albums were re-packaged on CD in 1997, and he continued to work on new material. (

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