ST37 - "Frantic Search For Zero" (Blue Circle, CDR)

From Aural Innovations #15 (April 2001)

Not the proper follow-up to 'I Like To Talk, When There's Something To Talk About', this is a collection of rehearsal tapes, jam sessions, and other peripheral recordings. Their last such release was the 'John Deere Isolation Tank' cassette, also released on Blue Circle, back in 1994 and comprising of 1992-94 recordings. This one picks up the following year, and includes jams from 1995 through '98 (meaning a new volume must be in the works soon... good news!). There's a great variety of improvisation here, from powerful rockers to avant-jazz noodlings with unique textures. Several driving jams to remind you that ST37 are a band who have not turned their back on their punk roots, combining classic krautrock rhythms with heavy guitars and synth swoosh in the true spacerock style they excel at. Others, like "Lettres Nucleus", are more formless: a grinding, malevolant ambience. Certainly the most unusual track is "Stuck Like Chuck", five minutes of conversation while bandmembers try to figure out how to get out of the rehearsal room they've been locked in, and their subsequent rescue. Just more evidence that, despite some of their compositions being rather dark, ST37 are still a bunch of good-humored southern boys. And the 11-minute "Feeling Concave" is an ideal climax (followed by the laid-back "Need Ponents", sounding the most like part of one of their actual songs, and the brief, self-descriptive guitar drone, "Non-Ambient Ambience"), building from a noise-drenched free-form freakout to a spastic rocker, before settling into a real groove with soaring guitar and punchy bass. A must-have for fans of the band; those unfamiliar with ST37 would do best to start with their "real" releases like 'SpaceAge' on Black Widow Records - once you hear a couple of those, you'll probably soon be writing to their PO box to find out more about documents like this one.

For more information you can visit the ST 37 web site.
Contact via snail mail c/o ST 37; PO Box 4962; Austin, Tx 78765.

Reviewed by Doug Pearson

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