David Kane Retrospective (Nullstadt, Decay of Western Civilization, Demo K7)

If there’s one synth whiz that the US can claim and attest to, it’s the prolific David Kane. The name should be familiar with astute followers of this blog and others, for he’s had his hands in many killer projects over the years. Most famously, he’s partially responsible for the Trek with Quintronic material and the Celibates LP, both worth picking up if you haven’t heard them already.

So last on the slab from Greg’s personal stash comes a series of David Kane rarities which should please fans of the man as well as fans of forgotten new wave gems. Lots to digest here, but plenty to enjoy. Up first we have the Decay of Western Civilization 12”, a rather affordable and quirky piece of beat-heavy synthpop with Eastern culture references. Two versions each of these instrumental tracks. It was released in 1987 (though I believe the back sleeve says copyright 1986, so pardon the discrepancy on the mp3s). At the time, Kane was also moonlighting as a member of Electroman as well as lending his hands to various projects, which we’ll touch on soon. Here’s the details for this release:

Decay of Western Civilization- Baby Doe Rules 12” (1986/7)
1. Baby Doe Rules
2. Baby Doe Rules (Uncut Version)
3. Moo Goo Guy Moo Goo Gal
4. Remix Drumless

The next LP is a full length from Kane’s full time band, Nullstadt. It seems this one just recently appeared on the Willfully Obscure blog. (sorry for the double post, man!). I do agree with his assessment of this LP. The closest touchstone would be Japan’s Tin Drum LP, though it’s tough to get a fair shake on this record. There’s the occasional Eastern influence on this LP as well, tying it to the Decay 12”.

You can read more about Nullstadt here, on a page chronicling the band’s 2007 reunion (which included Celibates member Kent Weber, a frequent collaborator of Kane’s even to date). Lots of fun facts about the band, including hints at other material that has yet to see the light of day. A very cool account! One thing I’m slightly confused about though, is the year of origin on this one. On a comprehensive David Kane site, we see that this LP came out in 1985, yet the stamp on the sleeve claims 1988. Perhaps it was recorded during the band’s tenure and released post-mortem? Maybe there are more unreleased tracks to be heard! Well anyway, here’s the info on this one:

Nullstadt- Flesh (1988)
1. Manifesto
2. A Similar Crisis
3. Steinland
4. War Time
5. Walking On Unstable Ground
6. Reincarnation
7. Voices Out of Sight
8. China

Last but not least we have the real creme de la creme of this post, a demo tape consisting of early, unfinished Kane compositions. Many of these pieces would become Electroman and Alien Registration songs once completed, and many would never see the light of day. If I recall correctly from a conversation Greg and I had in person, many of these recordings were written on the fly, as Kane was giving synthesizer lessons to aspiring musicians in upstate NY. My understanding is that the students would learn and play over the previously existing backing tracks, making the student the real creator of the lead synth lines with Kane supplying the backdrop. Either way, plenty of music to be had here, as both sides of the tape span the full 45 minute allotment.

Many of the pieces here appear more than once in slightly different forms, while several span ten minutes in length. There are no tracklistings to be found here on this tape, just great unheard proto-compositions that should feel right at home for fans of the minimal synth/experimental/wave genre. DEFINITELY be sure to grab this one, if you check out any of these releases.

David Kane- Home Demos K7
(no tracklisting available)

*download it ALL here*

Hope you enjoy this post and again, many thanks to Greg for loaning out these prized gems (as well as the extra photo inclusions here) for all of us to enjoy!

5 Responses to “David Kane Retrospective (Nullstadt, Decay of Western Civilization, Demo K7)”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you Frankie, thank you Greg, thank you David!

  2. Greg in Florida Says:

    David Kane has performed in numerous bands/acts in the Western New York area for about 35 years, and is still an integral part of the musical culture there. I consider the late '70s through late '80s the era of the "Electric David Kane," with Kane having changed his style to a lounge/jazz act in the 1990s. He started out playing prog rock in a group called Pegasus when he was still in high school in the mid '70s.

    The music contained on the demo cassette consists of several Kane proto-tunes, along with some longer pieces in which Kane was instructing a student. Kane was basically the machine operator, with the student performing all the solos. Imagine getting synth lessons from the master himself!

    I want to stress that these were lessons, because David Kane was and is too good a musician to have sounded as amateurish as it would appear in several of these recordings.

    This cassette was given to me by the student, who was delighted by his progress. I was instructed not to share this with anyone, but after nearly 30 years, it's time it entered the public domain.

  3. Strange how you obtained these “student” recordings as one of these is me on my own in David’s studio…possibly he’s doing some TR808 manipulation but that’s about it. I don’t even have a copy of this.

    David and I went on to play together in a NY band called The Headhunters…far different sound than these tracks.

    Do you have more…I’d like to have a copy please.

  4. Greg in Florida Says:

    If you’re Jim M., you should keep track of your old friends. We’re not that hard to find. I’ve contacted Tim H., but I never could find you because your name is not uncommon.

    • Well yes I am Jim M, but you’re gonna have to refresh my memory because I know several Gregs! I talk to Tim often but he’s made no mention…

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