Crawlspace

Indiana-bred, Los Angeles-based Crawlspace is an ever-mutating art punk experiment led by singer Eddie Flowers. A mixture of guitar noise, space rock hypnosis, punk aggression, and occasionally pretentious lyrics, Crawlspace is the sort of band that can fascinate and aggravate listeners at the same time, but most folks with a taste for hard rock experimentation will find much to admire on most of their releases.

Flowers was the lead singer in the Indiana-based Gizmos, the band that, along with their compatriots MX-80 Sound, pretty much defined early Midwestern new wave. Flowers moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 1979 and hooked up with guitarist Bill McCarter to form a band called the Idle Hands. By 1985, the duo's fellow Hoosiers the Lazy Cowgirls had moved to Los Angeles and looked up their old friend McCarter; Flowers and McCarter eventually formed a side project with Lazy Cowgirls bassist Keith Telligman and drummer Allen Clark, first under the name Big Dad & Ten Pounds of Swingin' Meat, then more sensibly under the name Crawlspace, derived from an early-'70s TV movie about an alienated teenager. Adding lead guitarist Mark McCormick and another Lazy Cowgirl, Lenny Keringer, to take over on bass so Telligman could also switch to guitar, Crawlspace recorded their first and most song-oriented album, In the Gospel Zone, in 1987.

The sole cover on that otherwise original album was a Hawkwind-style version of Can's "Little Star of Bethlehem," a choice that foreshadowed the more improvisatory future of the band. With a couple more lineup changes (Sarge Adam took over for Keringer on bass, and Bob Lee replaced Clark on drums), the group took a decisive step away from rock-based forms on their next two singles, "August" and "Ocean = You." Live recordings from this era later showed up on a pair of self-released cassettes, Cave Paintings One and Cave Paintings Two, showcasing Crawlspace right at the point where they were doing away with song structure entirely. Adam left in 1990, replaced by new bassist Joe Dean. This lineup recorded the hour-long live-in-the-studio freak-out Sphereality in 1991, but by the time the album finally got released the following year, Lee had left the band to join the more rocking Claw Hammer.

With their drummer gone, Crawlspace existed in a sort of limbo for a couple of years. Flowers and various other bandmates did some drummerless space rock duo and trio recordings, the highlights of which were self-released on the cassette Fields Rattle. In 1993, Clark rejoined, playing sax and trumpet instead of drums, and new guitarist Dave Fontana and drummer Greg Hajic joined the group. This lineup recorded two live releases, the cassette-only Shroom Tit Arithmetic and the radio session The Exquisite Fucking Beauty of Crawlspace, released on CD by Majora. With a variety of friends and even a few ex-bandmembers, this lineup then recorded The Dark Folds of Infinity Grow Pink with Desire and Et II, Bluto? By 1997, the band's lineup had solidified to a core trio of Flowers (now playing guitar as well as singing), Dean and Hajic, with occasional contributions by Clark and McCormick. The group's Slippy Sound label went into overdrive around this period, releasing 14 cassettes in 1999 and a dozen CD-Rs in 2000, including both new and archival material. In 2001, the proper follow-up to Et II Bluto?, Dogs Begin to Crawl, Snakes Begin to Howl, was released. ~ Stewart Mason

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