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Mars - Helen Forsdale (No Wave! 1978)

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Uploaded on Apr 20, 2009

As a musical unit, Mars represents the total devolution of the Velvet Underground into almost total noise. The quartet of Sumner Crane, China Burg, Mark Cunningham, and Nancy Arlen formed in 1975 by jamming on VU tunes and slowly mutated from there. In about three years of existence, they recorded about half an hour of music

Helen Forsdale, changes are clearly beginning to occur. The bass-line is still solidly there, and its a doozey (Sonic Youth would later borrow it for Star Power on Evol). But above that, the guitars have (very intentionally) morphed into buzzing insects which do battle with Cranes now howled vocals. Its classic no-wave, perhaps the best song to come out of the scene. While you wont come out humming anything but the bass-line, chances are that if you heard it at a dance-club, your ass would shake a bit. Once again, this is the anomaly.

Mars - Helen Forsdale

1978

It's important to mention "Helen Forsdale," the band's most recognizable track and one of four songs produced by Brain Eno for the No New York album. "Helen Forsdale" is a proto Sonic Youth stomper that is as close as Mars comes to convention. It's the sound of a band on the cusp of learning its trade. For lesser groups "Helen Forsdale" would signal a direction to head in, a sound that could be carefully honed and shaped into something resembling a career. Mars immediately freed themselves from its shackles. It feels like they caught a glimpse of themselves in the mirror and threw a rock toward their reflection. It's difficult to imagine any contemporary band making such a decision, and it only adds further weight to Mars' fearless approach to their art.

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