IS MONO PAUSE?
It has long been believed that Mono Pause was formed in 1993. It turns out that that is, in fact, the case.
Originally a duo from River Falls, Wisconsin, Mono Pause relocated to California to live out their twilight years in the comfort of the Sunshine State. Deeply rooted in a tape manipulation mode, their first public issuance was a submission to RRRecords' AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL double-CD project (RRR CD-14, 1993) entitled, "Come Into The Future". Indeed, they did eventually come, onto Bay Area stages, as a larger ensemble later that year. Live tape manipulations were augmented by instrumentation, and reports of early concerts indicate the deployment of slide shows, on-stage meditation and deep relaxation, headgear, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Tests, and sounds. Reports are mixed. At least one regular attendee of early Mono Pause concerts, a female, expressed discomfort with the group's name (originally taken from a scientific journal from the mid-1800's; the term refers to the moulting cycle of water fowl), claiming it represented something "very traumatic and unpleasant for women". ("We could have named the band Prostate Cancer," replied one member, "but it didn't have as good a ring to it.")
Surging forward against a tide of discomfort, Mono Pause recorded and released their first full-length item, a cassette entitled SET THE CONTROLS FOR THE HEAD OF THE DUCK (Qualipy #3, 1995; reissued on CD-R, 1997). The large ensemble is presented in an entirely improvised, long-form instrumental piece, originally issued as one side of a cassette with the B-side "to be released" at a specified date; buyers were instructed to send their cassettes to a mysterious address on or around that date to have the additional material dubbed onto their copies. Only one buyer responded. Undeterred, the Qualipy label reissued the original material on CD-R with the additional music appended (a concert by the band in trio form, apparently in front of an audience of two).
A six-month recording and performing hiatus followed, during which time members Gergis M and Gergis E took an extended sojourn to suburban Detroit, armed with hidden tape recorders; the two formed a side project called The Twelve Steppes, and from the vast archive of recorded and printed materials obtained on their journey released DEEP NORTH (PorestSound #001). This massive CD with read-along book is a peculiar and obsessive meditation on ethnic relations, regional food, irrationality, the midwest and the USA in general. 1996 saw The Twelve Steppes join forces with Mono Pause for a handful of epic DEEP NORTH "release party" concerts with material drawn from or inspired by the book and CD. A further "spin-off" unit was launched during this time, a trio of Gergis M, Conheim P and Shizuru M, called The Tone Locusts.
1999 saw the completion and release of Mono Pause's vinyl LP, PEEPING THROUGH THE LISTEN HOLE (Electro Motive Records/Qualipy CPA-019, 1999). With a rotating core of seven members, the virtually all-instrumental release veers from odd compositions to group improvisations to tape-based landscapes to unusual cover songs to acoustically composting materials in 37 minutes.
Mono Pause's already-sparse performing schedule became more so as the years progressed. Field reports have indicated a continuing interest in chameleonic behavior, as evidenced by "spin-off" groups The White Ring (right-wing ex-National Guard singing combo) and Neung Phak (true-life renditions of pop and traditional musics from Southeast Asia, with singer Diana Hayes); Neung Phak released a self-titled CD on Abduction in 2003 and the first recording made in North Korea by "American" musicians in 2005 ("Fucking USA" 7", also on Abduction). A notorious 2001 performance in San Francisco by The White Ring, as the opening act for beloved local pop stars Fuck, resulted in many gritted teeth and much impatience the day before Easter Sunday. Neung Phak has been seen seducing audiences with "fun" and "ethnic" performances as an appetizer, only to serve up a main course of durational on-stage comparing of band members' bodily scars and blemishes, free of musical accompaniment. A 2002 "Finland-Oakland International Cooperation Tour" of the western USA with band Aavikko triggered two 7" vinyl collaborations.
"Come Into the Future" / AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL compilation CD, RRRecords CD-14 [out of print]
ANNEX TO IDEA CASSETTE, Qualipy #1 CAS [out of print]
SET THE CONTROLS FOR THE HEAD OF THE DUCK, Qualipy #3 CAS/CD
HEARING RADIO THROUGH YOUR TEETH, Qualipy #4 CAS
"The Thoughts Were Being Removed from The Duck's Head", others / DEEP NORTH by
THE TWELVE STEPPES, PorestSound #001 CD
GIANT SUCKING SOUNDS, VOL. 1, Qualipy #5 CAS [out of print]
"Brief Lallation" / KNORMALITIES, VOL. 1 compilation 7", Dephine Knormal Musik, DKM03
PEEPING THROUGH THE LISTEN HOLE, Electro Motive Records/Qualipy CPA-019 LP
STUART'S SANDWICH, Qualipy #00 CD-R (ltd. insert in first copies of above LP)
"At the End of Yours" / LULLABIES FOR TOYWAR compilation / ETOY CD
"Discs and Lisps (1982 version)" / COOL BEANS! #14 Intoxication Compilation CD
"El Cebo" / FINLAND-OAKLAND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION split 7" with Aavikko,
Electro Motive Records/Qualipy/Seeland CPA-020/SEELAND 525
"Why Am I In Life?" / AZADI! compilation, Fire Museum Records FM#01/CPA-021
"A Spoken Word Story" (music on side A; uncredited)/ "Finland Group Aavikko meets Hit
Singer Kabar 7", Muysic For Peoples MUYSIC-05 [out of print]
AS NEUNG PHAK:
untitled bootleg CD-R (no label)
"Loog Thong 8" / AZADI! compilation, Fire Museum Records FM#01/CPA-021
self-titled CD, Abduction #25
"Fucking USA" 7" EP, Abduction #31
AS THE WHITE RING:
"The Monkey Song" b/w "Ecumenical Movement" flexi-disc, self-released [out of print]
HOMELAND SECURITY: IT'S IN YOUR HANDS educational videotape
"The Ballad of Eunice Stone" / COOL BEANS! #15 "Truck Truck Truckin" CD compilation
Contributors 1993-present may or may not have included the following persons:
Gergis M, Gergis E, Conheim P, Davis H, Stegall M, Pusser B, Shizuru M, Hall B, Soule G, Reilly M, Brownrigg J, Marino A, Allbee E, Serpa G, Sell B, Stin-G, Nolette J, Blue J, Liu P, Stamberger J, Hayes D.
THREADS OF CLOTH:
Mono Pause personnel are or have been connected to various other groups and projects. Among them: Porest, Ubzub, Fibulator, Negativland, Diatric Puds & The Blobettes, Crack:WAR, Three Day Stubble, Brown Whornet, Fuck, Malcolm Mooney & The 10th Planet, Corsciana, Wet Gate, The Roofies, Dynasty
CONTACT/ELECTRONIC MAILING LIST:
c/o Electro Motive Records/Qualipy
P.O. Box 1154
El Cerrito, CA 94530-1154 USA