Transmission (featuring Jonathan Kane): s/t
Here is an extraordinary excavation from the buried history of the Downtown NYC scene: the unreleased, self-titled Transmission EP, recorded in 1981 - 82. Comprised of Jonathan Kane and Daniel Galliduani, the duo is one-half of the original version of the behemoth band Swans. Transmission both preceded and ran concurrent with the formation of Swans (Michael Gira was enough of a fan that he mixed Transmission's few live shows), and much of their material evolved into Swans tracks, including the standout "Weakling".
Even without the historical connection, this is a great record. Unclassifiable within any conventional genre, it recalls the improvisation and complex, trance-inducing beats of North African music while adding a crust of No Wave bluster and a enough percussive artillery to sink a small island. Galliduani, whose saxophone is so heavily treated and processed that it sounds like a wall of guitars, lays down drones then adds weird, fierce, Eastern-tinged polyphonics; meanwhile Kane is a frenzied dervish, generating complex, cross-tempos and rhythmic subdivision.
Imagine the Master Musicians of Jajouka (Brian Jones recordings, of course), powered with the crushing intensity of Swans, the twisted esoterica of Public Image's _Flowers of Romance_ and some unbelievably relentless drumming, and you'll get an idea of what we missed by not hearing this 25 years ago. _Transmission_ is not only an absolute must-have for fans of either Swans or Jonathan Kane's bruising present-day efforts (not to mention his fine work with Rhys Chatham and La Monte Young), but an essential missing link from that Lower East Side scene of yesteryear.