Skoptzies was the first Industrial Rock band in Memphis, Tennessee. The band got its name from an heretical 19th Century Russian Christian sect that practiced genital mutilation in order to avoid the temptations of the flesh.
Skoptzies, which operated from 1983 to 1985, dealt with themes such as gore movies, drug and alcohol abuse, Elvis Presley, Deep South Chrome-like dark psychedelia, and Southern-fried Gothicism.
After two cassette albums on which the band was trying out different approaches and personnel lineups, Skoptzies hit its stride with their third album, Working My Hand Thru The Wheel, which documented their live performance at the Antenna Club in Memphis on November 4, 1984.
On a special page devoted to Working My Hand Thru The Wheel you can read a review by Jerry Kranitz, a 2019 interview with Skoptzies band leader Chris Phinney, listen to the album, and view 18 newly-published vintage photos from live shows and promotional gore pics.
Check it out here:
written by Jerry Kranitz
The first four tapes in the Harsh Reality Music label catalog have been digitized and are available online with reviews and corresponding interviews with Chris Phinney. We are off to the races with only 330+ more to go!
Click on red hyperlinks below to view information pages for each of the cassettes. Each of the album info pages contain Bandcamp streaming audio players (which are 120 kbps MP3), as well as links to the albums on Bandcamp where you can download them.
Electronic Cottage readers can listen below to high quality 320 kbps MP3!
Mental Anguish — Better Pull That Plug
features Phinney’s first recordings from 1982 and is a solo effort under the Mental Anguish AKA that he used for many years. The C60 tape consists of two side long improvisations that, though raw and chaotic, showcase the young artist exploring the possibilities of free-wheeling improvisational sound. As Phinney succinctly explains, “I was just trying to make my own stuff and see what would happen.”
The techniques at this point are basic, with Phinney employing an Akai 4-track open reel-to-reel, and little in the way of editing: “It was basically just improv and recording what we had. No overdubs or anything on that particular tape.” Regardless, it’s fascinating to hear him uninhibitedly flexing his creative muscles on these embryonic efforts.
Non Religious Sect — A Thorn In Society’s Palm!!
Recorded in 1983, Non Religious Sect is the first of what would become numerous collaborations and band efforts. Non Religious Sect teams Phinney up with fellow Memphis hometaper Mike Honeycutt, with whom he published the Malice fanzine. Honeycutt would also become a prolific hometaper, recording as Mystery Hearsay and was also a local Memphis DJ.
The tape is a C90 with lengthy workouts that are similar to the freeform improvisations heard on Better Pull That Plug. The duo have more instruments at their disposal and there are moments when the music
is downright… MUSICAL!
Still recording with the Akai 4-track reel-to-reel, Phinney explains that, “It was more just basically us kind of wanking around. He (Honeycutt) had a few more instruments than I had. But he wanted to do some recording so we did a tape for the label. Because he was starting his little label that he did a bit of. And I was doing mine so we got together and jammed.”
Non Religious Sect was an early milestone in that it launched what would become a wildly diverse series of collaborations, many of which would include locals that Zan Hoffman would dub the ‘Memphis Mafia’.
Macroglossia — Articulation Without The Tongue
is yet another collaboration from 1983, this time between Phinney and Richard Martin, who would go on to be a Harsh Reality regular and play on every tape release of Phinney’s long lived Viktimized Karcass band.
The music is still characterized by freeform improvisation that is noisy, sound experimental, and musical. But words are important too, especially ln the 36 minute ‘That’s What I Need’, which includes a comedy exchange rant in which the duo argue about red necks vs. rock vs. punk. Phinney recalls: “He (Martin) was a friend of mine. He knew Honeycutt. We got together and we pretty much did almost the same thing as everybody else. We were a little mellower except for our crazy chant that we went into about everything. Just using every derogatory word we could use as a joke.”
Phinney would later resurrect the Macroglossia name for HR031, this time featuring the quartet of Phinney, Richard Martin, Mike Jackson and Stuart Locke. Regarding the expanded lineup, Phinney’s comments provide insight into the anything goes nature of hometaper collaboration and the numerous ‘band’ names that would crop up in the Harsh Reality catalog: “I know we had Stuart Locke. He’s not even a musician, he’s just a fellow painter. We had him sit in. And Jackson of course is a musician. And that was pretty much kind of the beginning of… me and Jackson started doing our own improv with R.S.V.P., which we’ll get into. We did one tape as R.S.V.P. and then we turned into Cancerous Growth.”
Pungent Odor — Why Should We Play Their Game?
Pungent Odor is the first of the Harsh Reality ‘bands’. Though this was the only Pungent Odor tape (1983), Phinney considers it to be significant as a precursor to the band Skoptzies, who released several tapes and even performed live (stay tuned for Skoptzies in the next batch of tapes).
In addition to Phinney, Pungent Odor consisted of Mick Cock on bass and electric guitar, plus future Skoptzies members Kim Kruger on electric guitar, and Dave Grave on electric and acoustic guitars, bass and vocals. Phinney recalls: “It evolved into Skoptzies and was gonna evolve into something else, but it was me and Dave Grave and Kim Kruger, who was his girlfriend at the time who we had to teach how to play bass. We wanted a chick in the band. She was a big tall lanky redhead.”
Though there is no shortage of experimentation, Why Should We Play Their Game? is jam packed with psychedelic punk, spaced out groove jamming, wild electronics, lo-fi funk, and manic vocals.
Stay tuned for more as we work our way through the Harsh Reality catalog!
Hal McGee and I are happy to present
our 22nd collaboration since 1989
1. I know myself! 15:36
2. do not turn off your computer! 15:36
3. neck vertebrae & mechanical apparatus 14:03
4. chug it, don't go without! 15:34
by Chris Phinney and Hal McGee
recorded June - August 2018
in Memphis, Tennessee and Gainesville, Florida
sounds of everyday life
violin-uke, acoustic guitar, diddley bow, and canjo
analog and digital synthesizers
available on CDR by request
for $8 postage paid worldwide
PayPal to email@example.com
Harsh Reality Music
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
compilation produced by Chris Phinney
originally released on C-90 cassette
cassette cover typesetting by Carl Howard
This archival reissue is authorized by Harsh Reality Music label owner and compilation producer Chris Phinney.
The digital transcriptions are taken from Hal McGee's personal copy of the cassette.
Included are audio file transcriptions of the complete sides of the cassette, including the spaces in-between songs and at the beginning and end of each side, so that you can listen to the cassette sides as continuous listening experiences.
Prescott/Bohman: Whispering Wendy – Boston, MA
John Hudak: Mouth – Del Mar, CA
Indian Rope Burn: Flat Tire – Kent, OH
Minóy: Open Wide – Torrance, CA
Mental Anguish: Cough – Memphis, TN
Cephalic Index: A Jab in the Ass’ll Make You Come – Boston, MA
The Haters: Spanking – Vancouver, Canada
Semantics Could Vanish: Voweledge Accessory – Madison, WI
If, Bwana: Body By Bwana – Great Neck, NY
Die Rache: No Body –Nürnberg, West Germany
Odal: Nobody – Zaandam, Holland
blackhumour: dit dit dam isophate – Vancouver, Canada
M.A.P.: Love Mr. Bunny – Memphis, TN
Email to receive a free download code of BODY SOUNDS!
the Adventures of Taped Rugs Producer Charles Rice Goff III
an appreciation by Chris Phinney
Taped Rugs 06 06 Tour of the Southeast USA
Seven CDRs recorded in four states in June 2006. Includes an hour-long DVD.
Also comes with a little booklet with photos & written material.
Taped Rugs 06 06 Tour of the Southeast USA
North Carolina Disc One
First recordings made at Bret Hart's home. Goff had brought along several instruments & fx. Bret has tons of exotic & unusual acoustic & electronic instruments. Scotty Irving joined in on these sonic improvisations. They also recorded more sonic soundscapes at the Elsewhere Artist Collaborative. Brian Dunsmore joined in to play some Sonics as well. A great disc full of sonic mayhem. Some of the tracks were recorded by Benny Johnson also.
Taped Rugs 06 06 Tour of the Southeast USA North Carolina Disc Two
Bret & Goff did some more sonic improvisations joined by Ed Shepherd, some great music! The next day the two recorded at a abandoned cotton mill & at the site of what once was a calcium carbide factory. The two beat out & scraped out some very industrial sounding improv's. More improv of sonic proportion was recorded later at Bret's home. Some very great music indeed!
Taped Rugs 06 06 Tour of the Southeast USA Georgia Disc One
Taped Rugs 06 06 Tour of the Southeast USA Georgia Disc Two
Taped Rugs 06 06 Tour of the Southeast USA Florida
Taped Rugs 06 06 Tour of the Southeast USA Tennessee Disc One
The final leg of the tour.
Over the next three days Goff & Phinney recorded in Phinney's tiny but functional studio. All improvisational pieces, Eight recordings in three days. Phinney mixed them into four tracks. Used in these recordings were Goff's full battery of instruments he brought with him & Phinney's collection of synths, guitars, radios & other devices. This gave them a lot to work with to record these pieces of unique sonic madness. Two pieces of a sonic blend on this disc plus a piece Goff captured on micro cassette.
Taped Rugs 06 06 Tour of the Southeast USA Tennessee Disc Two
The tours Phinney took Goff on in Memphis had a strong influence on these recordings. Two more mixes of wild sonic experimentation plus a humorous collage of readings from the fence in front of Graceland that Goff recorded on his micro cassette recorder. These were the final recordings of the tour!
06 06 Tour of the Southeast USA
Video documentation of Goff's interactions during the tour.
The DVD showcases the artists
Andrew Chadwick, Dave Fuglewicz, Bret Hart, Scotty Irving, Hal McGee, Chris Phinney,
Ed Shepherd, and Charles Rice Goff III.
It also features visual & audio recordings in all of the states plus Nashville & airways & roadways while traveling.
Jack Engard hosted the Nashville leg of the tour.
Bret Hart & Charles Rice Goff 3 June 2006 Improvisation Outtakes
A bonus disc of revealing outtakes! Need I say more? Nah!
For a comprehensive directory of all media related to TAPED RUGS 06 06 TOUR OF THE SOUTHEAST USA go to this page at the Taped Rugs website.
Review, interview, video of package being opened, article, by my good friend Bryan Baker with whom I have done recordings, plus we started Tapegerm together with Scott Carr & J. Mundok.
One of my favorite bands today, Mazzy Star is very inspirational to me, especially the lyrics. The music makes me just want to do it in a electronic version. California band if you didn't already know.
The singer Hope Sandoval is originally from Memphis. She is one of my favorite female singers; has been for a long time. The band members are the ex Dream Syndicate, a great band to me in itself. Hope you enjoy as much as I do!
I used to run Harsh Reality Music, started the label in 1982 releasing my own music in various groups. They were Mental Anguish, Pungent Odor who became The Skoptzies, Misfeasance, Macroglossia, RSVP which became Cancerous Growth, Viktimized Karcass, Planet Zero.