Spectre Folk "Live at Death by Audio"

by Arbitrary Signs

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    What is Spectre Folk?

    That’s a good one. I came up with the name for a 7” I self released back in 1999: “Home School” b/w “the Dirt Porch”. I only made 100 of them so it didn’t chart or anything.. but it was my first record and I dug it. Home school was a weedling creeky guitar line with super primitive percussion that kind of built up in a gradual crescendo.. long slow burn vibe. The flip was a total guitar/feedback blowout mining a sort of Skullflower vein. I was penpals with Whangeria schizo noise guru Witcyst at the time. I’d get weird packages in the mail with creepy red pills, potato chips, and cassettes. I really liked how he conceived of himself as a folk artist. I think one of his tapes was called “real folk” or something. This was years before wyrd folk and all that shit swept across the land and petered out. Anyway.. between Witcyst and my ongoing obsession with the Fall I came up with Specte Folk. I did the 7” and a few cassettes.. and that was it for a long time.

    When I moved to Brooklyn from Louisville about 10 years ago I decided to resurrect the Spectre Folk brand. I’d been doing Virgin Eye Blood Bros. and Valley of Ashes with Kris Abplanalp and Co. for a few years and I was gonna use this as some sort of solo/natural progression of this stuff. My grimy Bushwick kitchen, busted 4 track, and 2 am lifestyle yielded a cd for Cory Raybourn’s 3 lobed label and an lp for the brand new (at the time) Woodsist label…all rooted somewhere in the aesthetic I’d established on that first 7”. I played some gigs around New York at this time with a really cool band featuring percussionist John Truscinski.. who’s gone on to make some excellent records with Steve Gunn, and my wife Julie Tomlinson on synth. We even did a tour of England with Mick Flower (who’s name should speak for itself) on 2nd guitar. None of this stuff has been documented officially yet.

    After this I upgraded to a more professional sounding recording setup and befriended food/culture dude Peter Meehan. I partnered up with him to make the Arbitrary Signs a real record label.. our first release being the Compass, Blanket, Lantern, Mojo lp. He joined up on guitar for a new version of the band that has remained kind of loose in membership depending on who’s around to play the gig. On this particular recording the band is: Pete Nolan: guitar, voice.. Peter Meehan: guitar… Mark Ibold: Bass.. and Pablo Douzoglou on skins. It was recorded by Barry Weisblatt on his awesome binaural mic set up… the vocals are a little buried but I like the sound. The art is the original design by Robert Beatty for our Ancient Storm that was rejected by some unfortunate act of democracy… sorry Robert.

    Anyway… sorry for the diaristic/selfie nature of this rant. I’ve found that in this day and age of instant information it doesn’t pay to be mysterious and coy like it did when Jandek started putting out records. Just ask him, he’s probably playing at your corner dive bar with a funk band. Anyway that’s the story as far as I know it. Hope you dig the sounds.

    Pete Nolan 2014

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released May 19, 2014



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Arbitrary Signs Northampton, Massachusetts

Arbitrary Signs started way back in 1995 with a cassette release by the Uniforms. It's been the home of the Magik Markers, Spectre Folk, United Waters, MV and EE, Devin, Gary, and Ross and many more.


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