FM – “BLACK NOISE” LP (1977)

It doesn’t matter what genre; ANY album that has a track on it called “Slaughter In Robot Village” is gonna catch my eye. And, of course, if it’s prog, it’s tops in my book. Ground And Sky sez:

The least well known of the major Canadian progressive rock groups (including Rush, Saga and Klaatu), FM produced a classic in ‘Black Noise’ comparable in quality to any work by any of those other, more successful bands. FM’s recipe for success consisted of tight playing on a wide variety on conventional and unconventional instruments, sparse but compelling vocals and a knack for great melodies.

FM consisted of a trio of musicians: Cameron Hawkins on lead vocals, bass guitar and synthesizer, Martin Deller on drums and Nash the Slash on electric violins and mandolin. In addition, each musician plays other instruments throughout the work, which can give you an idea of the level of chops that these fellows had. The result is a varied and lush sound that carries the instrumentals as easily as the vocal-orientated pieces. Hawkins’ synthesizer is simply magnificent as he generates the spacey-sounding accompaniment to his (primarily) science fiction lyrics. Hawkins’ lyrics may turn off some listeners at first, as three of the eight songs (‘One O’Clock Tomorrow,’ ‘Journey,’ ‘Aldebaran’) deal with intergalactic travel and several others touch upon related fantastic themes.

Notable tracks on Black Noise include: ‘Slaughter in Robot Village,’ a wonderful percussion-orientated instrumental that tells the story behind it as easily as any lyrics would ‘Black Noise,’ the mini-epic of the album and, in my opinion, is the only piece that goes on too long; ‘Phasors on Stun,’ the rocking opening track (despite its title, this last piece has nothing to do with Star Trek). Another interesting piece is ‘One O’Clock Tomorrow,’ which changes at the three-minute mark into a remarkable Beach Boys pastiche.
If you enjoy more rock-orientated progressive music and can tolerate some science fiction in your songs, I’d definitely recommend this one. FM seem to have struck a fine balance between experimentation and good old rock and roll here, creating a minor classic along the way.

FM – “Black Noise” LP (ZIP file)

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21 Responses to FM

  1. Jim Donato says:

    This was the first album I bought after getting my first stereo in 1978! Moreover, I consider it the last, great progressive rock album. Sure, I cringe at the sci-fi lyrics 29 years later but the chops are HOT for this band and with NO LEAD GUITAR!!! That portion of the bandwidth is ably populated with synths, electric violin and mandolin. Hell, the echoplexed mandolin on the intro to “Phasors On Stun” is what I got hooked on by the slight radio play this album received – it sounded like hot synth sequencing but wasn’t! For some -real- hot synth sequencing, the title cut definitely paid off. Some would say it was overlong at 10 minutes, but I am not one of those. Nash The Slash left the lineup after this debut citing the rest of the band wanting to follow in a Yes direction, where he was mor interested in a King Crimson direction. Subsequent music I have heard [1981's uninteresting City Of Fear] bears this out while Nash The Slash went on to have an quite interesting postpunk solo career before rejoining with FM in the 90s. I have not heard the fruits of this reunion, but would be open to hearing it. As for comparisons to other Canuck prog bands [Rush, Saga] I wouldn’t bother. FM created more interesting music than Rush even at their postpunk best [Hold Your Fire] and Saga? Please!! Saga were Nerf Rock gods in my book! I don’t fault the placement of FM on your blog – it is one of a handful of progrock albums I TRULY enjoy listening to post 1978 – but the CD is in print and easily available for a pittance [being Canadian]. Don’t you think that posting full albums that are in print on your blog is something to be avoided?

  2. Jude says:

    apropos of nothing…

    is this, or is this not John Carpenter SINGING here?? I just can’t believe my eyes…

  3. Jim Donato says:

    What a perfect anti-spam word… Yes, that most certainly IS John Carpenter starring in a music video for his BTILC theme. I remember seeing this [once] on MTV back in the day. What a hoot of a movie.

  4. D.Moose says:

    Thanks for posting the FM album. I wish more people get a chance to hear this lost Prog classic!

  5. dan says:

    excelent post with Blacknoice now how bout city Of Fear I ccan’t play my LP anymore its worn out

  6. FM Fan says:

    Beautiful post. I had the chance to see them live opening for Gary Numan in Montreal.
    I am desperatly looking for their third LP “City of Fear”

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