Artist: Indoor Life
Title: Indoor Life
Cat No: CPT 407-2
Format: 2-CD / Download
Info: Discover one of the last US cult bands from the creative early Eighties disco and post punk period. Indoor Life – an undisputed delight blend of rock, new wave and hypnotic grooves, at that time often compared and collated with Tuxedomoon. Their first EP from 1980 was recorded by the legendary producer Patrick Cowley.
On two CDs, Elaste Records and Compost “Curated” Records releasing the complete Indoor Life catalogue, digitalised, re-mastered from original reels or vinyl, plus previously unreleased bonus tracks and remixes by Soft Rocks, Quaid, Mathias Schaffhäuser, Discodromo a.o. More remixes will be following on vinyl. The artwork of CD and poster were designed by Thomas Elsner, formerly, in conjunction with Michael Reinboth, founder and publisher of the legendary magazine “Elaste” (1980-1985). The 2CD containing a poster with photos, quotes and linernotes by Thomas Meinecke (FSK /Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle), Bruce Geduldig (Tuxedomoon), Jon Hassell (Fourth World), Stuart Matthewman (Sade), Finn Johansson (Macro Recordings), Mike Thorne (producer for Wire, Soft Cell, Nina Hagen, Bronski Beat, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Laurie Anderson a.m.o.). See all and more linernotes and quotes here below:
“Indoor Life is one of the few modern practitioners of beautiful music.” (Andy Warhol’s Interview, 1980)
Indoor Life are:
J.A. Deane composes, performs, conducts and produces electronic music, collaborating as well as touring with such diverse pioneering musicians as Jon Jon Hassel, Butch Morris, John Zorn, and Tim Motzer. He is also director of Out Of Context, an improvisational orchestra that pushes the boundaries of conducted composition. (jadeane.com)
Bob Hoffnar focuses his musicianship on playing steel guitar, performing, composing, recording and touring both solo and in collaboration, and appearing as a guest in various bands. His unique improvisational approach to pedalsteel explores the parameters of popular song, blurring distinctions between genres in unexpected ways. (bobhoffnar.net)
Joeseph Sabella plays vibes, marimba, wavedrum, and ipad – in lieu of traditional drums, and mostly in the service of electronic music. He plays together with J.A. Deane as the DJ Duo and in Deane’s improvisational orchestra, Out of Context, spending a good part of his remaining time cooking.
Jorge Socarras has newly recorded with DJ/Producer Mathias Schaffhäuser as electronica duo Fanatico, and as guest vocalist with the group Soft Rocks. His early Catholic recordings with synthesizer maestro Patrick Cowley were released on Macro in 2009. Socarras writes on the arts, and has completed three books of fiction, and havin his first novel published, called “The Immortal’s Last Breath” a horror-fantasy about a 3,500-year-old Tantric vampire in India. The book is both electronically and in paperback on Damnation Books: http://www.damnationbooks.com Soon completed a second novel, a noir fiction that takes places in the New York underground scene of 1980.
A current runs through some friendships that is a hot link to shared perceptions, ideas and dreams – the feeling that you’ve known someone, even before you’ve met them. Myself a part of Tuxedomoon, together with Snakefinger, and Indoor Life, we were three West-coast bands on tour in ’80, seducing and shocking the French public, who had tasted only the tip of punk, California’s ‘new-wave’ not having been seen there much before then. Indoor Life and Tuxedomoon were similar in some ways: drum machines, keyboards, horns, the ritualist shamanist quality of the singers sinewing around circular chord progressions. And intelligent musicians all, interested in a wide variety of arcana. Some years before that, as art students together, Jorge often enacted invented rituals in performances for the class. I always imagined him trying to evoke a sort of polymorphous joy and wonder. Upon listening to the material now, I’m struck by its relative timelessness; yet it is an iconic insight into the vibe of San Francisco at that time.
Bruce Geduldig (Tuxedomoon, filmmaker, performer)
Though being a Disco and a Post Punk enthusiast since a tender young age, Indoor Life admittedly passed me by for quite some time. In pre-internet days, all the media resources I had access to (which actually were as many music magazines I could afford to read and as many radio shows within reach I could listen to) proved their unreliability by not offering me any information about them. There was no good friend who discovered their releases in a record shop, and they escaped my digging fingers as well.
When I finally stumbled upon Indoor Life years later, while researching potential gaps in my extensive Patrick Cowley collection in the web, even the few low research details and low quality vinyl rips I could gather made it more implausible how this outfit could fly so below all radars, and more importantly, for so long. How could I unearth the entire catalogue of a phenomenal band like Philadelphia’s The Stickmen while still being a teenager, who had less information circulating, less releases and probably never toured outside the US, and totally overlook this one, which connected even more of my interests? A band from the golden days of San Francisco Disco and Post Punk, produced by the legendary Hi-NRG originator Cowley himself? Post Punk AND Patrick Cowley! It was puzzling to say the least, and it sounded too good to be true.
Only it wasn’t. The CD-R copy a friend in the UK had sent me (I may have had internet access by then, but file sharing was still way ahead) sounded even better. There was a notable absence of guitars, but not to be missed, as the bass played with as much heavy funk as anything featuring Bill Laswell, but with a different edge, in perfect unison with ultra-precise and similarly heavy funky drums, both often deviating to rhythm and groove of an almost feverish quality. The synthesizer sequences and sounds indeed were similar to what Cowley did on his famed productions in the Disco area, but here they were a whole lot more experimental and dark and added a congenial atmospheric edge to the proceedings. A plethora of weird effects and particularly this absolutely stunning and unique use of the trombone added even more. And on top of it, this charismatic voice, sounding like nobody else’s, singing words of strangely tainted romanticism and that kind of futuristic alienation that would not age awkwardly. Listening to it all I was floored, and instinctive attempts to compare it to other seminal protagonists of that time soon failed into nowhere. And as that meant seeking parallels to other music created in an incredible productive and innovative era, this of course was quite something. Indoor Life were an impressively smart archetype, ahead of their time in many ways. Like in hindsight, so many were not.
It was certainly predictable that I would purchase everything they did, even if it would take years. But I would as certainly never have predicted that I would ever be involved with what the person behind the voice had done with Patrick Cowley before Indoor Life, or that I would even get to know him, and find him to be one of the finest and most interesting persons I have ever met, and a good friend. But that’s another story. In the meantime, consider yourself very lucky that you have much quicker access to the genius of Indoor Life than I had. “Archeology”, indeed…
Finn Johannsen (Macro Recordings)
Letztes Jahr in Berlins Brunnenstraße, ein Donnerstag, Mitternacht, eine kleine, dunkle Bar mit dreieckiger Bühne. Auf dieser der legendäre Jorge Socarrás aus New York, Sänger nicht nur der kalifornischen New Wave Combo Indoor Life, deren eigenveröffentlichte und von Patrick Cowley produzierte erste Maxi ich 1980 glücklich in München erwerben konnte, sondern seit kurzem auch durch den um ein Dritteljahrhundert verspäteten Release großartiger Socarrás/Cowley Tracks unter dem Projektnamen Catholic verstärkt präsent – und in diesem Kontext jetzt auch hier auf der schummrigen Eckbühne, vor paar Tanzenden, Berliner Nachtschwärmern wie aus dem alten BRD- Fernsehen, zugleich wie von David Lynch gecastet, vor rotem Wandbehang, mental ganz bei Socarrás, der vor ihnen, sagen wir mal: Proto-House croonte, leider nur zwei Songs, die einen aber dahinschmelzen und träumen ließen von der Zeit, als Disco (nach der Disco Demolition Night, 1979) wieder in den Queer Underground abstieg, und in dem Zusammenhang auch von den genetisch maskulinen Disco-Duos wie Patrick Adams und Leroy Burgesssowie eben Patrick Cowley und Jorge Socarrás träumen ließen, wobei Cowley mit seiner vorangegangenen Produktionsarbeit für den großen Sylvester (You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)) und auch als Editor/Remixer (zum Beispiel seine legendäre Verlängerung von Giorgio Moroders I Feel Love) bereits Disco-Meilensteine gesetzt hatte. Klar nahmen die Indoor Life Tracks, die wir jetzt auf dieser so umfassenden wie umwerfenden Compilation genießen dürfen, großen Einfluß auf die gediegenere europäische Elektro-Szene der 1980er Jahre (ohne die sich wiederum später afroamerikanische House- respektive Techno-Musik gar nicht ausmalen läßt), sie lassen sich aber auch prima neben den etwa zeitgleichen New Yorker Proto-Leftfield-Disco-Entwürfen eines Arthur Russell anhören (nicht nur der eigenwilligen Posaunentöne wegen). Großes Hörerlebnis. Tiefe Dankbarkeit.
Thomas Meinecke, 2012 (Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle / FSK)
As DJ in the most legendary Downtown Manhattan clubs throughout the 80s (Mudd Club, Danceteria, Hurrahs, Club 57, Rock Lounge, Area, Palladium’s Mike Todd Room), I loved and played Indoor Life regularly. This even before I knew Jorge Socarras, so it was aesthetic, not personal. The denizens of the dance floors of that time bounced along happily whenever I threw on Indoor Life, so they obviously agreed. And, unlike many selections from the past, Indoor Life transcends that moment, those tastes. Dark, edgy, beautiful, intelligent, sultry… and you can dance to it! Be still my heart (but not my feet).
Anita Sarko (DJ, radio host)
I saw Indoor Life live in my hometown of Rennes in October 1981; I was 19 and this was the show of a lifetime – pure fascination. I’ve been diving into that evening’s magic ever since; I can still “see” it, live it. From the stage Indoor Life could touch you, move you, sensitize you physically and mentally, pour emotion tumultuously into your veins, push you into another inner state, like living a thousand lives at once, all your senses sublimated. I wasn’t simply watching the show and listening to the music; I was inside it, and at the same time it was happening inside me. Dino was like a giant, with sounds from out of this world, walking on stage with his disproportionate trombone, stretching it towards the crowd. Bob, with a black, five string bass, and dressed in black, was very concentrated and internal looking, yet his playing was very communicative. Joseph gave the beat, providing the ground and basis, but at the same time, had a light and sharp energy, his drumming floating in the air – like earth and air in one. And Jorge, the poet, dancer, singer, his voice going from soft and grave to the most moving and delicate treble – I was in his hands, dancing with him, seeing through his eyes, his words mine. Oh yes, now I know what they’re doing to me: It’s Voodoo!
Pascal Godjikian (singer, composer / La STPO)
I remember Indoor Life. I remember three concerts in 1981, two in Bordeaux, one in Poitiers. Even by San Francisco standards of that period, their instrumentation was highly unusual, with J.A. Deane delivering whirling lines on his trombone-synthesizer system (an orchestra per se) – a magical and unheard-of-before replacement of an electric guitar, and Bob Hoffnar’s bass playing alternating between spicy funky riffs and harmonic counterpoint. I remember Bob also operating two Uher 4000 reel-to-reel tape recorders, dispensing soundscapes during songs and crossfades between them, and even rhythm tracks when Joseph Sabella’s hands were busy playing an Oberheim synthesizer instead of his drum kit. I remember the intricate orchestrations, the density of the music, its fearless beauty. I remember Jorge Socarras’ poetry, chameleonic singing and ophidian body language. I remember words like “I look back and see the future/je regarde en arrière et je vois le future,” and “dig and dig and dig, the future waits beneath.” I remember that in a time when it was considered cool for musicians to look bored and sinister onstage, these guys smiled. I remember often thinking that Indoor Life was one of the greatest bands circa 1980, and perhaps the best kept musical secret of that era. For decades the only way for me to listen to this beautiful music was to play it inside my brain, lacking a turntable to listen to the poorly-pressed-on-cheap-vinyl compilation issued by Celluloïd. Every time I listen to “Archaeology,” I quiver with pleasure.
Laurent Dailleau (composer, musician)
The first time I came to New York in the early 80′s, everybody and everything just seemed impossibly cool and edgy. I was here for a week and went on a mad binge of nightclubs. But the main hangs for seeing live music and fashions were the Mudd Club, Danceteria and The Peppermint Lounge. Indoor Life were the epitome of everything the New York underground music scene was about. Experimental, new-wave, funky dance grooves with a charismatic theatrical show, courtesy of singer-front man Jorge Socarras.
Stuart Matthewman (Sade, songwriter, musician, producer)
“I met the Indoor Life guys around the time of my Possible Musics release. 1980 was an exciting time because there was so much cross-genre experimentation going on, and Indoor Life, classifiable as “rock” in the most general sense, was cultivating a musical language that spoke across different genres. It was as if we were from different tribes who understood each other’s dialects. Jorge Socarras would play my music over the house system before their concerts, and later, J.A. Deane became an essential member of my group through several different incarnations. Indoor Life’s unique sonic vocabulary stands out above the conventions of punk and new wave of the time.”
Jon Hassell (composer, trumpeter, creator of “Fourth World” music)
The first half of the New York 80s flew by in a blur for many of us. Building on the 70s, there was so much diverse
creative activity in a musically magnetic city where, unlike now, you could survive on dreams and thin air. There was time to develop. Indoor Life stick out clearly in memory, visually as well as musically: it wasn’t often you’d see a trombonist making odd electronic noises, lying on the floor while the others hopped around him. Unfortunately, there are no salacious or wild-eyed stories from my production of their last single. All we did was make a grand record that I still play for pleasure. It persists in the ears as moody, ambitious…and danceable.
Mike Thorne (producer for Wire, Soft Cell, Nina Hagen, Bronski Beat, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Laurie Anderson a.m.o.)
I have been a huge fan of Indoor Life since the beginning. In the early Eighties, I would play some of their distinctive songs like “Habibi” or “Voodoo” at Basement and Orly, the most exciting new-wave clubs in my hometown of Hannover. Their music is exciting, trippy – a strange mixture of psychedelic, new wave, and minimal cosmic rock – but for me the most intriguing aspect of their sound was in the repetitive moments, the loop aspect. Even if often compared with the sound Tuxedomoon, A Certain Ratio, or the more emotional and dramatic Eyeless In Gaza, the distinctive difference of Indoor Life was their riding high on trippy loops. This repetitive feel, using minimal ingredients of the American West Coast avant-garde rock scene, in combination with the beautiful, remarkable sough of Jorge Socarras’ voice, made them special and unique. Identified as US musicians in the same regional space with The Residents and Ralph Records, they also lent an ear to the European new wave scene. Furthermore, the studio input by Patrick Cowley had its special effect. (Jorge Socarras had previously recorded with the legendary Patrick Cowley as “Catholic,” first released on Macro in 2009.)
I reviewed the first Indoor Life EP and, a bit later, the self-titled album on Celluloid for Elaste, a multi-culture magazine that I founded and ran with Thomas Elsner around 1980 in Hannover. Such is (indoor) life! As soon as I told my college and long-time friend, Thomas Elsner, who is also an outstanding photographer and graphic designer, that Compost Records was re-releasing the entire back catalogue of Indoor Life, he immediately proposed designing the sleeve and doing the artwork. Back in the early Eighties, Thomas was DJing as well at the legendary Casablanca and Sugar Shack clubs in Hannover, and it’s abundantly clear that he played Indoor Life as well. In November 1982 we both moved to Munich, and kept running and publishing Elaste until 1985. Exactly ten years later, in 1995, I re- discovered all the Indoor Life EPs during a long-night private listening session with James Lavelle (MoWax) in my Munich flat. We both got on the Indoor Life ball again because their analogue music still sounded fresh to us. Endeavoring the Zeitgeist, tracks like „Voodoo“ fit perfectly with the trip hop of the moment. So we searched and tried finding a contact for Indoor Life to obtain a license for re-release, but were not successful. Another 15 years later I started to play Indoor Life tracks again because they fit well in my post-disco sets of leftfield, cosmic psycho- stuff and, surprisingly, I recognized Jorge Socarras’ voice on a Soft Rocks track from “The Curse On Soft Rocks” (2011 on ESP Institute). Finally, it was near the end of 2011 when I first got in direct contact with Jorge Socarras thanks to Matthias Schaffhäuser (Ware), who had forwarded me some new tracks he had recently recorded with Jorge under the moniker “Fanatico.” It was a real surprise and a pleasure to hear from Jorge in his swift reply, and that he not only knew of Compost Records, but had a collection of Compost releases, and had even used one of our tracks (A Forest Mighty Black) on a compilation he had made. It was also a nice surprise and a rather fortunate coincidence that Thomas Meinecke (Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle, FSK) had written keenly about Jorge Socarras’ musical and writing activities in his regular column in Groove magazine January issue 2012.
I’m really glad and encouraged to rerelease the Indoor Life back catalogue (all tracks remastered) on Compost Records / Elaste Records in various formats and in conjunction with some great new remixes by Soft Rocks, JD Twitch from Optimo, Discodromo, Sleazy McQueen, DJ Enne and others, making this “indoor life” even more comfortable and complete.
Michael Reinboth (Compost Records / “Elaste” magazine)
Indoor Life formed in San Francisco in 1980 and, due to fateful circumstances, we soon determined to challenge the status quo that a rock band be premised on guitar. In lieu of guitar we had J.A. Deane playing electronically treated trombone, creating sounds unlike anything in the genre then or now. Bob Hoffnar played bass with a bent for harmonic effects, and drummer Joe Sabella’s diverse musicality helped further free us from any prescribed sound. Myself coming from an art and performance background, I approached singing as an expressionistic medium.
In that first year we released an independently produced EP, relocated to New York, and formed a liaison with the French label Celluloid. We were especially eager to play for European audiences because they had a reputation for appreciating more avant-garde music, so when in 1981 the opportunity arose to tour Europe with San Francisco’s Ralph Records recording artists and cronies Tuxedomoon and Snakefinger, it seemed the perfect vehicle for us. The tour was billed as “California Wave” and generated quite a bit of advance press. While we also played in Belgium and Switzerland, the main focus was France, where Celluloid was releasing the first Indoor Life album.
These were tremendously exciting concerts for us because we found we could indeed perform with a great degree of intensity and spontaneity without being limited by our recorded sound. The Bordeaux concert of April 1, 1981 was exemplary in this regard. Bob Hoffnar comments: “The concert showed us at our best – a wild open band with more gas pedal than steering wheel – the way rock concerts are supposed to be. The use of improvised bi-tonalities was ahead of its time in that context. It was absolutely the time where I developed a big part of what has remained my musical voice.” As for the outrageous fun we had touring, that is the stuff of memoir.
After one more album (Relativity), two more EPs (J-Mark/Elektra) with legendary producers Mike Thorne and Kurt Munkacsi, a couple more tours sans Sabella, and several interim guest musicians, in 1987 Indoor Life disbanded for new pursuits. Today, Dino, Bob, Joe and I all still make music, if not all together, and are all thrilled at the prospect of
Compost rereleasing our catalogue together with the rich range of remixes by some remarkable talents. Despite working exclusively from second-source recordings, as none of the original masters were extant, the superb remasterings achieve a richness and depth surpassing any of the vinyl, so that even I am able to hear the music with fresh wonderment. Hopefully it can now reach many new, younger ears as well as titillate more seasoned listeners. Jorge Socarras (Indoor Life)
“Indoor Life is one of the few modern practitioners of beautiful music.” (Andy Warhol’s Interview, 1980) Glenn O’Brien’s column from Andy Warhol’s “Interview” magazine, December 1980 (Diana Vreeland cover) Glenn, who is now “The Style Guy” at GQ Magazine, was one of the most prominent writers on the downtown Manhattan music scene, and twice he wrote about Indoor Life for Warhol’s Interview.
“Indoor Life invents a new trance music, a voodoo ritual for the last urban night before the apocalypse.” (Actuel, French magazine, Actuel Hit Parade with Indoor Life as No. 1 pick.)
“One of the most exciting independent releases of the year… beautiful, hypnotic funk, which is very atmospheric, sculpted and dense…” NMR (New Music Report) Jackpot Essential New Music (1983)
“Indoor Life… go beyond such easy labeling (as techno pop). Theirs is a driving, compelling, hypnotic music, that yes, you can dance to. But it also creeps up on you when you’re sitting still.” (Billboard Top Album Picks, 7/16/83)