Album of the Day: Controlled Bleeding, “Distress Signals I and II”

Since their inception in 1978, Long Island’s prolific Controlled Bleeding have been something of an anomaly. Experimental in the truest sense of the word, Paul Lemos (the group’s only constant member) and his numerous collaborators have always been in a state of constant reinvention, running the sonic gamut from art punk to EBM to free jazz, prog and krautrock and everything in between within the course of over 30 full-length records. Explicitly ambivalent when it comes to to cultivating an audience, Controlled Bleeding have nonetheless become the object of cult adoration, particularly due to the band’s early power electronics endeavors.

Distress Signals I, which features Lemos and frequent member Chris Moriarty, originally appeared as a cassette on Gary Mundy’s legendary Broken Flag label in 1984. It was the first release in Controlled Bleeding’s power electronics cycle, and stands as one of the most visceral, tortured, and overall finest American entries in the genre. Given the fact that Distress Signals I has never seen a proper vinyl release, it is fitting that Canadian imprint Artoffact Records are beginning their Controlled Bleeding reissue series with a lovingly remastered and restored edition of the classic Broken Flag tape.

If that wasn’t appealing enough, the label is also releasing Distress Signals II for the first time anywhere. Long rumored to exist, these lost recordings were the intended music for the original Broken Flag cassette. It is entirely different from Distress Signals I, though not an iota less scathing. Essential punishment.
—Michael Berdan

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