Blind Idiot God

Since the early '80s, instrumental rock trio Blind Idiot God (whose name is a reference to science fiction author H.P. Lovecraft) have combined elements of metal, dub reggae, funk, free jazz, and 20th century classical into an explosive brand of technical, aggressive music all their own. The group began in St. Louis, Missouri in 1982 when members Andy Hawkins (guitar), Ted Epstein (drums), and Gabriel Katz (bass guitar) were still teenagers. Initially a hardcore punk group, they began incorporating elements of reggae and jazz into their sound, and decided to remain an instrumental group when they couldn't find a suitable vocalist. Their self-produced demo cassette caught the attention of Black Flag's Greg Ginn, who signed the group to SST Records. The group moved to Brooklyn in 1986 and began searching for a producer for its debut album. Initially expressing interest in working with British producer Adrian Sherwood, the group recorded its self-titled debut full-length in early 1987 with Martin Bisi. Including the group's interpretations of compositions by Igor Stravinsky and the Meters, and concluding with three atmospheric dub reggae cuts, Blind Idiot God was a critical success following its 1987 release by SST.

The group began collaborating with similarly eclectic kindred spirits Bill Laswell and John Zorn. Laswell produced BIG's sophomore effort, Undertow, releasing the album on his Enemy Records label in 1988. Zorn contributed his unmistakable alto saxophone playing to the album's final track, "Purged Specimen" (which he composed for the group), and collaborated with the group on-stage, occasionally as part of a John Coltrane cover band called Ascension. Laswell reprised his producer role for the band's third album, Cyclotron, released by Zorn's Avant Records in 1993. While still technically impressive, the album wasn't as well-received as their first two outings. The group recorded its only song to feature vocals in 1993, collaborating with Henry Rollins to write and record the title song for the film Freaked, which was co-directed by ardent BIG fan Alex Winter. All three members of the group appeared on Sacrifist, the 1993 album by Laswell's band Praxis. Under the name Azonic, Hawkins released an experimental solo album titled Halo on Strata Records in 1994. The following year, he released Subsonic 3: Skinner's Black Laboratories, a split album with Godflesh's Justin Broadrick, on Sub Rosa. Katz contributed to Dub Terror Exhaust, the 1994 debut by Laswell's ambient dub project Automaton. Epstein left BIG in 1996, and the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Blind Idiot God returned in 2001 when Khanate drummer Tim Wyskida joined the band. Due to Katz's issues with hearing loss and tendonitis, the group didn't begin performing live again until 2006. Katz eventually left the band in 2012, and was replaced by Will Dahl. The group contributed three songs (its first material to be released in over 20 years) to Downloaded, Alex Winter's 2013 HBO documentary about Napster. In 2015, Blind Idiot God released their long-awaited fourth album, Before Ever After, on Hawkins' own Indivisible Music. Again produced by Laswell, the album contained material composed since the band's 2001 re-formation, and was recorded before Katz left the group. ~ Paul Simpson

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