turned new wave
turned math rock
powerhouse Milemarker initially rose from the ashes of the frenetic hardcore quartet Sleepytime Trio
. Ben Davis, Al Burian and Dave Laney formed the band in Chapel Hill
in the summer of 1997. They quickly practiced, wrote three songs, recorded a 7" and set off in a van to tour in a personification
of the hardcore "grab life by the fucking throat
and do it yourself
" ethos. In an attempt to alienate their audience, or at least confuse them and cause a reaction, their first LP Non Plus Ultra
1997) is nothing like their live shows. It's created almost entirely from samples
of other bands and tape loops
--in short, it's an electronic record, and it was released on Paralogy
The heights of the infamous Milemarker pretention come soon thereafter. They play a show behind an opaque black screen upon which was projected the word ENTERTAINMENT. Reportedly, two thirds of the audience demanded their money back. Soon, Roby Newton joined the band as 'lights.' She 'played' a light-projecting contraption during the bands sets, creating even more entertainment for the audience. In the summer of 1998 they are performing with shirts bearing the names Pestilence, Famine, Death and War while tapes of crazed preachers play behind them. In the fall of that year they recorded their second LP, Future Isms which returned them somewhat to their hardcore roots. Reportedly around three quarters of the album was created entirely on synthesizers masquerading as drums, guitars and bass. It sounds like a hardcore record dipped in molten steel--coming out all shiny and electronically smoothed over with beeps and bloops and synth drones.
By the time of their next album, Frigid Forms Sell in 1999, they were a full five piece band. Sean Husick plays drums, Al plays bass, Dave plays guitar and Roby plays synth. Ben plays anything he can get his hands on. They all sing. Frigid Forms Sell is, at times, much more a new wave album than a hardcore album. The synths take precendence much of the time, rivalling the guitars for dominance of the melodies and songs. After touring behind the album, the band moves to Chicago. Ben stays in Chapel Hill to pursue a solo career. It was released originally on Lovitt Records but re-released in 2002 on Jade Tree.
2001 sees the release of Anaesthetic AKA "The Pink Album" on Jade Tree Records. By this time the band has fully lost its hardcore roots, at least in terms of their sound. They are still a great example of the hardcore ethos--touring on their own dime, booking their owns shows, playing small underages venues and being steadfastly defiant in their music, never letting themselves be tied down by their audience's anticipations. Anaesthetic contains the math rock symphony "Ant Architect" which is easily one of the most mind-blowing songs released in 2001. This record sees Roby Newton taking over much more in the vocal department, having her vocals only absent from a single song on the record.
It's 2002 now, and the five song EP, Satanic Versus is soon to be released. Half of it was recorded by uberproducer Steve Albini on 2-inch analog tapes. The other half was digitically recorded by the band themselves. It contains four new songs and new versions of "New Lexicon" and "Lost The Thought, But Kept The Skin." It will be released on Jade Tree Records. Also available is Changing Caring Humans, a CD compilation of many 7" records and splits.
Al Burian also writes the popular 'zine Burn Collector while Roby creates, directs, writes, performs and generally produces puppet shows in her free time.
- the liner notes to the Future Isms record on Stickfigure Records.