Today marks the release of Minimal Wave's 30th anniversary reissue of now-defunct Fort Lauderdale collective Futurisk's seminal synth classic Player Piano. Read Abel Folgar's review, and order a copy here. From our print edition, the story of the reissue follows below.
"We were the rejects of the rejects."
That's how Jeremy Kolosine remembers his stint fronting West Palm
Beach synth-pop act Futurisk in the late '70s and early '80s. While
active, Futurisk received a few complimentary write-ups from the local
press but never quite fit with the guitar-based punk bands preferred
by South Florida booking agents and concertgoers. After releasing a
seven-inch single in 1980 and the Player Piano EP in 1982, the band --
which also included, at various points, Richard Hess, Jack Howard, and
Frank Lardino -- went on permanent hiatus. Kolosine relocated to
Virginia and might have remained a forgotten footnote in local music
history if not for one James Murphy.
After the LCD Soundsystem mastermind and DFA Records impresario fished
out a copy of the Futurisk EP at a record shop on Bleecker Street in
New York City -- where Kolosine had sold them sometime in 1984 in an
effort to, in his words, "get rid of the last few" -- Murphy was so
enamored of the band that he decided to feature one of their tracks,
"Push Me Pull You (Pt. 2)" on the DFA-curated compilation for Parisian
fashion house Colette in 2003. At the time, DFA was also playing host
to a number of contemporary bands like Murphy's own LCD Soundsystem
and the Rapture, which were reviving synth-based music but also
renewing interest in their progenitors.
Like Murphy, New York-based DJ Veronica Vasickaa also loved obscure
synth music. In an effort to make early synth releases accessible, she
launched Minimal Wave in 2005 as both an online hub for fans to trade
rare vinyl and a reissue label. Subsequently, many long-forgotten
European and North American synth acts have received belated
recognition. Futurisk is no exception: It was Vasicka who contacted
Kolosine about a 30th-anniversary rerelease of Player Piano.
Kolosine sweetened the reissue with alternate versions of the EP
tracks and songs from the seven-inch, making it more of a Futurisk
Regardless, the Player Piano LP as presented by
Minimal Wave, out June 1, effectively captures the band's flair for
the dramatic, the keyboard melodies set in sharp relief to the arch,
heavily accented delivery of Kolosine, who moved to South Florida from
England when he was a teenager. "Lonely Streets," with its creepy,
Halloween-esque intro and glassily detached beat, demonstrates why the
band might have had difficulty finding an audience in its day even if
it's easy to hear how the band remains a relevant touchstone for John
Foxx-venerating acts on DFA and Modular.
With its shrewd mix of the synthetic and organic, Player Piano is
best described as the product of a band perhaps too far ahead of its
time. Futurisk was more than willing to explore, even if its artistic
decisions made it difficult to win fans or secure band members.
"Believe it or not, it was hard to find a drummer willing to play with
a drum machine," recalls Kolosine. "But Jack really embraced it. I
think what was different with us is that we didn't take ourselves too
After Futurisk, Kolosine moved on to a guitar-driven, now-defunct
collective in Virginia called Shakespace and composed experimental
music using videogame consoles. However, the marginalized-in-its-day
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Futurisk will likely remain his artistic legacy. One man's trash is
another man's treasure, but as Kolosine can attest, sometimes who that
other man is can make all the difference.
-- Jonathan Garrett