Monday, September 3, 2012

New Wave for the New Week #161

From the release of their debut single, "Ignore The Machine," in 1982 through their present-day incarnation, few bands have staked out such singular musical territory as Alien Sex Fiend.  The fact is that, then as now, there is simply no other band that sounds like them.

Alien Sex Fiend is often lumped in with the Goth scene, especially since they cut their teeth playing at The Batcave in London, often cited as the home of Goth.  And sure, with their whiteface makeup and stringy Aqua-Net hairdos, they looked the part.  But to call them a Goth band doesn't quite convey what Alien Sex Fiend is all about.  Those expecting the somber chill of Bauhaus, the retro-glam of Specimen, or the lace-and-cobweb melodies of Siouxsie & The Banshees will find only slight shards of such sounds among Alien Sex Fiend's sonic attack.  Instead, the listener is met with rumbling pseudo-mechanical undercurrents, electronic bleeps and blorps firing from all directions, highly processed sheets of guitar noise, and the seeming lunatic rantings of frontman Nik Fiend.  Standard verse/chorus song structures are often only hinted at, and once you think you've finally latched onto an actual melody you are thrown off by a sudden sharp turn - or by the complete lack of one where it would be expected.

Their early albums as a quartet (Nik Fiend joined by his wife, billed only as Mrs. Fiend, guitarist Yaxi Highrizer and drummer Johnny Ha-Ha) are all excellent, if daunting, sonic explorations of the insane universe the band created for themselves.  Who's Been Sleeping In My Brain?, Maximum Security, and It - The Album each have rather distinct personalities, but each contains some must-hear moments.  Their high-water mark, however, is 1984's Acid Bath, wherein you'll find some of their best material: "In God We Trust (In Cars You Rust)," "Hee-Haw (Here Come The Bone People)," and "Attack!!!!!#2" lead a set that more than one reviewer has likened to a soundtrack for a horrific nightmare.

Highrizer and Ha-Ha left in the late 1980s, reducing Alien Sex Fiend to a husband and wife duo; this also freed Nik and Mrs. Fiend (real names: Nik and Chrissie Wade) to experiment more with electronic music and studio trickery.  They continued to issue albums at a regular pace (Another Planet, Curse, and Open Head Surgery, among others) as well some killer singles like "Buggin' Me" and "Now I'm Feeling Zombified."  They briefly re-expanded to a four piece unit with two new members, but for the past few years have reverted to the Fiend duo.  Not nearly as active or prolific as they once were, Alien Sex Fiend nonetheless continues to issue reports from the furthest outposts of musical sanity.

For this week's NW4NW entry, here are a pair of Alien Sex Fiend videos: their debut single, "Ignore The Machine," and the later-era "Buggin' Me." Enjoy!