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V/A \ Of Factory New York [FBN 55 / CD]

Factory Benelux and New Order present Of Factory New York, a benefit album released in 2014 to assist the late Michael Shamberg, who ran the NYC office of Factory Records during the celebrated label's 80s heyday.

Available on CD and double gatefold vinyl formats, Of Factory New York gathers together a selection of classic tracks by artists associated with OFNY including the John Robie remix of Yashar by Cabaret Voltaire, Do the Du by A Certain Ratio, Cool As Ice by 52nd Street, Love Tempo by Quando Quango, the Megamix version of Looking From A Hilltop by Section 25 and an exclusive version of Your Silent Face by New Order, recorded live on tour at Irvine, California, on 16 June 1989.

Homegrown American talent featured on the album includes Ike Yard, Thick Pigeon, Konk, Anna Domino and deejay/producer Arthur Baker. The cover art is based on an original 1983 design by Lawrence Weiner, the conceptual artist closely associated with Shamberg and Factory's Big Apple operation.

Unfortunately in 2006 Michael was struck down with highly debilitating mitochondrial disease. All artists featured on Of Factory New York have donated their work free of charge. Following Michael's passing Factory Benelux will now donate all revenues to an appropriate charity in his memory.

2xLP tracklist:

Side 1

1. A Certain Ratio Do the Du
2. Quando Quango Love Tempo
3. 52nd Street Cool As Ice

Side 2

1. Cabaret Voltaire Yashar
2. New Order Your Silent Face
3. Konk Baby Dee

Side 3

1. Section 25 Looking From A Hilltop
2. Streetlife Act On Instinct
3. Marcel King Reach For Love

Side 4

1. Thick Pigeon Subway
2. Ike Yard Kino
3. Arthur Baker Come On
4. Anna Domino Summer

CD tracklist:

1. A Certain Ratio Do the Du
2. Quando Quango Love Tempo
3. Konk Baby Dee
4. 52nd Street Cool As Ice
5. Cabaret Voltaire Yashar
6. New Order Your Silent Face
7. Section 25 Looking From A Hilltop
8. Streetlife Act On Instinct
9. Marcel King Reach For Love
10. Thick Pigeon Subway
11. Ike Yard Kino
12. Arthur Baker Come On
13. Anna Domino Summer

Available on CD and double vinyl. CD copies are dispatched in FBN slipcase. To order either format simply select correct shipping option and click on Add To Cart button below cover image, or else contact FBN by email.

Reviews:

"Acts aligned with Factory's New York office in the 80s unite for the benefit of gravely ill US creative lynchpin Michael Shamberg. Four stars" (Mojo, 06/2014)

"Best compilation this issue. Curators New Order have persuaded Cabaret Voltaire, A Certain Ratio and Arthur Baker to donate tracks to a compilation raising money for Michael Shamberg. Shamberg's signing policy was just as quixotic as that of his Mancunian counterpart Tony Wilson. The percussive post-punk clatter of Konk, pulsing electro pioneers Ike Yard and the dreamy croon of Anna Domino all deserved more mainstream acclaim. The minimal noodling of Thick Pigeon may be an acquired taste, but New Order completists will slaver over a euphoric, unreleased take of Your Silent Face on the Technique tour in 1989. It's a fitting tribute to Shamberg showing how the Factory ethos remain consistent across such a broad range of artists" (Classic Pop, 06/2014)

"This cherry-picked compilation is a prime summary of the label's early boundary-crossing aesthetic, mixing up post-punk indie bands with downtown electro architects, proto-industrialists and electrified jazz-funk units to give a taste of the era's exploratory essence. Highlights no doubt include Jon Robie's remix of Cabaret Voltaire's Yashar and the timeless megamix of Section 25's electro staple Looking From A Hilltop, plus the sleazy wasteland cruise of Ike Yard's Kino and avant street funk from Konk and 52nd Street. Without Michael Shamberg's direction, Factory's New York division might never have fostered the same kind of cross-pollinating relationship between two great cities" (Boomkat, 05/2014)

Of Factory New York [FBN 55 / FBN 55 CD]
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By the beginning of 1980, thanks largely to the success of Joy Division, Factory Records was already established as the most innovative record label in Britain, and perhaps even the world. After setting up Factory Benelux, it seemed only logical that the Manchester label would want to set up an American operation too. Indeed founder Tony Wilson's vaulting ambition knew no bounds. On a trip to the States in March, accompanied by Geoff Travis of Rough Trade, Wilson revealed to New York Rocker magazine:

"I actually believe in my heart of hearts that Vini Reilly, Joy Division and A Certain Ratio will one day be living in Beverly Hills, or preferably driving, Neil Young-style, around Canada. I believe they'll all be rich and famous and whatever else. As regards the other bands, I don't know - maybe they'll get rich, maybe they won't."

Travis had recently opened up Rough Trade Inc in San Francisco, and for all concerned America represented a New Frontier. Wilson soon recruited a scout in the shape of Michael Shamberg, an aspiring film-maker from Baltimore operating from a loft on 6th Avenue, who ran into the visiting British indie mandarins at a party for French magazine Actuel. "I met Tony at the Underground, a club on Union Square below Warhol's studio," Shamberg recalls. "Of Factory New York - OFNY - was his idea."

Relations were cemented in September when Wilson returned to the Big Apple with A Certain Ratio and New Order, both of whom were visiting the States for the first time. "ACR stayed in a loft in Tribeca," continues Shamberg, "which is when I made the film of the same name. I also filmed Ratio at Hurrah's, and met Martin Hannett in New Jersey when he was recording with them. Rob Gretton and I built a slow relationship. At Hurrah's I did not speak to him or the three-piece band [New Order] who were fumbling for who was going to sing. It was too depressing having waited for Joy Division."

If Shamberg was disappointed by New Order, Wilson found himself won over by ESG. Formed by Marie, Renee, Deborah and Valerie Scroggins, sisters from the South Bronx, the band's name was a snappy contraction of Emerald, Sapphire and Gold, and their sound minimalist, sultry art-funk. Having entered a local talent show, the Scroggins sisters were spotted by Ed Bahlman, owner of hip Greenwich Village store-cum-label 99 Records, which had already released Bush Tetras and Glenn Branca. When ESG were booked to support A Certain Ratio at Danceteria, Wilson fancied he heard "PiL meets Motown on the wrong side of the Triborough Bridge" and offered the band studio time.

During October of 1980 Factory would cut three landmark records at Eastern Artists Recording Studio in New Jersey, all overseen by visionary producer Martin Hannett. New Order taped Ceremony, their momentous first single, while Ratio recorded To Each..., an ambitious and much-anticipated debut album which fused Eno-esque ambience with muscular funk grooves. Using downtime donated by Ratio, ESG also cut three outstanding tracks with Hannett for release on 99 in America and Factory in Europe. These stellar New York recordings were awarded sequential catalogue numbers (FACs 33 to 35), but required further tweaking back in Manchester and would not appear until the following year.

Therefore, during 1980 the first releases via Factory US were instead an American pressing of Unknown Pleasures (FACTUS 1) and two bespoke 12" singles: She's Lost Control/Atmosphere by Joy Division (FACUS 2), and a 12" EP by A Certain Ratio (FACUS 4) featuring Shack Up and Do the Du as the lead tracks. Indeed these early vinyls would be manufactured and distributed by Rough Trade Inc in San Francisco. Back in New York, Shamberg focused his energies on publicity and circulated an early video compilation, Manchester to New York Direct (FACTUS 5) for use in hip Big Apple clubs such as Hurrah, Danceteria, the Mudd and the Rock Lounge.

Through Factory, Shamberg was also introduced to Michel Duval, lately co-founder of both Factory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule. No less ambitious than Wilson, Duval dreamed of founding a new art movement in Brussels and had already set about assembling a cosmopolitan artist roster. Via Shamberg he took on two groups from New York: Ike Yard, and Thick Pigeon. An experimental post-rock quartet formed in 1979, Ike Yard took their name from A Clockwork Orange and would issue mini-album Night After Night on Crépuscule at the end of 1981. At the same time the label issued cult single Subway by Thick Pigeon, a leftfield pop duo pairing soundtrack composer Carter Burwell with Stanton Miranda, Shamberg's romantic partner and previously a dancer with the prestigious Martha Graham troupe. According to a press release, the oddly-monikered duo constituted nothing less than "a walk through the civilization of your soul."

New Order returned to the States for a longer tour in November 1981, this time performing on both the East and West coasts. "When they came back to NY the clubs were fighting and not letting the band play other venues if they played theirs," explains Shamberg. "I suggested we do our own show, found the Ukranian National Home in the East Village and made the video Taras Shevchenko [FACT 77] with Barry Rebo and his crew. Anyway it was a great success. I was able to hold back the cameras and stay on shots and edited what you see, which I am very proud of."

Ike Yard were the opening act at the Ukranian National Home show on November 19th. "After the concert Rob took the tapes from me as I was drunk on Jack Daniels," Shamberg rues. "Ruth Polsky helped by counting the money and taking care of that business. And I went home." A few months later, in February 1982, Ike Yard opened for Section 25 for two shows during their first US tour. However plans for a live album by Section 25 from their first American foray (FACTUS 9) fell through.

Rob Gretton, meanwhile, got a major jones for New York nightspots. Keen to open a version of Hurrah or Danceteria back in Manchester, Factory took the lease on a cavernous former yacht showroom on Whitworth Street West. The Hacienda (Fac 51) eventually opened its ultra-modernist doors in May 1982, acknowledging its debt to the NY club scene by flying in ESG for the opening party. For Factory Records both New York and The Hacienda were game-changers, and within a relatively short space of time North American club culture subsumed North West existential angst. "With guitar, bass and drums you've got limited horizons," reasoned Bernard Sumner of New Order. "Spending a lot of time in New York clubs I heard this very strong rhythmic music and I thought, we could do that with the new electronic sequencers that are coming out now. Really, I kind of saw a gap in the market."

In November that gap was filled by FACTUS 8, a US-only mini-album featuring the classic proto-electro singles Everything's Gone Green and Temptation. Blue Monday and Power, Corruption & Lies would deliver further on this promise, yet before either of these landmark records reached the shops, however, New Order were back in New York recording with renowned hip-hop DJ and producer Arthur Baker. "Arthur had a Roland TR-808 drum machine that you couldn't change the programmes on," says Stephen Morris of the session in February 1983. "This machine was the sound of New York electro. It had all the things he'd done programmed into it - Planet Rock, Looking for the Perfect Beat, IOU, the lot. And he wouldn't let me alter them." Sumner agrees that the creation of Confusion in NYC was fraught. "There was a lot of tension. The one thing Arthur doesn't like about English records, he told us, is they're too neat and clean. And I agree. We first got into him when he did that rip-off of Trans-Europe Express. So Kraftwerk sued him, then he just put up the price of his records and paid the fine. I thought, what a fucking gall!"

New Order's own stately nod to Kraftwerk, Your Silent Face, opened side two of their iconic second album Power, Corruption & Lies, issued in America as FACTUS 12 in May. The exclusive live version featured on this OFNY compilation is dedicated to Michael Shamberg and was recorded by New Order at Irvine Meadows in California on 16 June 1989.

During 1982 Bernard Sumner also began producing electro-dance tracks for other artists on Factory, frequently in partnership with Donald 'Dojo' Johnson of A Certain Ratio. Their first signature production together was Cool As Ice, the second single by Mancunian soul outfit 52nd Street, cut at Revolution shortly before New Order flew out to work with Baker. Speedily released on 12-inch by Factory Benelux in June, Cool As Ice was praised by NME for its "crisp, crystal-sharp precision." Group leader Tony Henry explained: "Cool As Ice only came about because we asked Barney to come down and do a synthesizer session for us, and we started messing around with his Emulator and things. Trying to bring together different audiences, basically black and white audiences, was a handicap at first. Then we supported New Order, and I'm not joking, they all started laughing. Mind you, they weren't laughing at the end when they knew what they were dealing with."

"Cool As Ice doesn't have a colour to it," added bassist Derrick Johnson, younger brother of Donald. "That's the best thing about it, that it could have been done by a black or white band."

Unlike dedicated soul boy Rob Gretton, Tony Wilson appeared somewhat cool towards a track which sounded (to him) like a simple pop dance record, perceiving little artistic authority. Fortunately Donald Johnson passed the single on to Michel Duval at Factory Benelux, with OFNY also alerted. Cool As Ice soon made waves in New York as an import, after which Shamberg secured a licence with A&M. A smooth remix by Funhouse DJ John 'Jellybean' Benitez subsequently entered the Billboard dance top 30.

June 1983 also saw the release of Love Tempo, the second single by Quando Quango. Again produced by Sumner and Johnson, Love Tempo was a simple yet effective dancefloor groove propelled by Roland TR-808 rhythms and effects, overlaid with quirky keyboards and upbeat sax. "I was quite pleased with our first single," said Mike Pickering at the time, "but the new one's much better. The songs and arrangements are better, and we've learned a lot from Bernard. He's getting quite a whizz, really, and I'm personally interested in the crossover that's coming. I'm fascinated with the American charts. I think what's happening there will soon happen over here. Things like New Order, 52nd Street and our record are crossing over. The black stations in America that used to play totally black stuff are now playing Heaven 17, New Order and Thompson Twins."

As with Cool As Ice, Love Tempo was initially issued through Factory Benelux rather than Factory, then remixed for the American market by DJ/producer Mark Kamins, who also brokered a US release through Island dance subsidiary 4th & Broadway. Kamins (who had discovered Madonna) would also remix Reach For Love by Marcel King, another masterful Sumner/Johnson co-production which should have been a mainstream hit. With the benefit of hindsight, however, Shamberg regrets not pledging Quando Quango to Will Socolov. "He had Sleeping Bag Records with Arthur Russell. When Quando signed with a major I regret not giving it to Will, who was rightly pissed off."

Yashar by Cabaret Voltaire completed a stunning triple whammy. The snaking, Middle Eastern-flavoured track had originally appeared on 2x45, the Cab's final album for Rough Trade; the new Factory remix was issued shortly before the streamlined duo of Richard Kirk and Stephen Mallinder signed with Some Bizarre/Virgin. "With Mal spending more time in London I was doing most of the music myself in Sheffield," explained Kirk. "I was getting more and more into synthesizer stuff, less guitars and more sequencers. John Robie, who worked with Arthur Baker on early electro stuff like Planet Rock, heard Yashar through Michael Shamberg and wanted to remix it. We were a bit wary, it was only just early days of remix culture, but when the mix came in we went, 'Wow'. It opened up a whole new dimension, and that's how we ended up getting more and more into dance music. We'd always been into dance music but we'd never really been able to do it, but with the technology it became more possible."

Shamberg also ran the Cab's own Doublevision imprint in America, and Yashar was one of the few singles actually issued by OFNY itself. The New York office at 325 Spring Street was never flush with money, and for its first six years The Hacienda sucked cash from Factory in terrifying amounts. Rough Trade Inc folded in late 1983 owing Factory a sizeable sum, and in 1985 New Order would sign with Qwest/Warner for North America. Financial constraints meant that Shamberg licenced many OFNY projects to third party labels, so that other US singles by A Certain Ratio (Knife Slits Water) and New Order (Confusion) appeared through Mango and Streetwise respectively, while Blackmarket took on Act On Instinct by Streetlife, a martial hip-hop track by former members of Dutch band Minny Pops.

Ironically, one of the finest and most influential electro-dance singles released by Factory reached the States only as an import. Masterfully extended by Sumner and Johnson, Looking From A Hilltop by Section 25 appeared on 12-inch as FAC 108 in June 1984. "One of the best tracks from a great year for electro," enthuses writer Jon Savage. "Hilltop is all forward motion. At eight minutes the Megamix isn't a second too long: all the elements are subordinate to the irresistible Moroder-esque modulations, which give a framework over which the group and the remixers pour backwards synths, wailing rock guitar, and all manner of ambient noises. The 12-inch made waves in the UK and was a club hit in New York. It was also picked up by black radio stations in the Chicago area, and consequently fed into the early House scene."

"Hilltop was a really great record to make," confirms Donald Johnson. "Section 25 were so easy to work with, because like most of the artists we produced together they gave us free reign to create the perfect synergy between a great song and our developing production techniques. The rhythm track for Hilltop mixed powerful electronic Simmons drums with an acoustic kit (for accents), plus backwards claps and fast triplet Moog envelopes. Above all that you have these delicate floating vocals and keyboards, as well as FX adding extra texture. When we finally edited it all together it created a Man-Machine feel - timeless and classic, but with an edge too."

New Yorker critic Sasha Frere-Jones caught the Blackpool quintet at Danceteria in February 1985. "I went there to see The Treacherous Three, missed them and instead saw Section 25 playing to fledgling B-boys in the downstairs space. I'd never heard drum machines through a PA and had no idea how punishing they could be. I couldn't hear a single word but I couldn't get their weird sound out of my head. The next day I brought the only Section 25 12-inch I could find, Looking From A Hilltop (Megamix). Backwards drum machines flew out like sparks, but crazy funky, like someone here had programmed them, not some... some foreigner. The whole thing floated in the fjord between the icy Factory scene in England and uptempo NYC edit tracks by Big Apple Productions and The Latin Rascals. Charging and droning, Hilltop blowing my tiny mind."

Homegrown talent cultivated by Shamberg and OFNY veered more toward the leftfield and avant-garde. The first full album by Ike Yard, usually (if incorrectly) referred to as A Fact A Second, offered austere electronics and puzzling typography. "A conundrum to everyone but a few," offers Michael Diekmann today. "Our music already seemed to exist in another space/time continuum." By the time the album was recorded in May of 1982 IY's musical approach had shifted towards a full-fledged electronic, even industrial style, with the band deploying a Roland TR-606 drum machine, Korg, EMS and Arp synthesizers, sequencers, alongside with bass and drums. Guitar was limited to a brief appearance on Kino, which (unlike the rest of the album) was written and developed in the studio, and employed experimental techniques focused on the cymbal work and signal processing on the TR-606. During the session the band joked that they wanted to "emulate the sound of a dozen golf clubs beating out the rhythm on the roof of a VW Beetle."

After two oblique singles issued on Les Disques du Crépuscule, Thick Pigeon found themselves recording their first album not in New York but in Stockport. Too Crazy Cowboys was created at Strawberry Studio in the autumn of 1983, with Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert of New Order producing, plus backing vocals from Gillian's sister Kim. Smartly dressed by Lawrence Weiner, the album appeared on both Factory and Factory US a year later, although by then instrumentalist Cartel Burwell had already scored Blood Simple for the Coen brothers, and Thick Pigeon ceased to be.

Shamberg continued to direct New York artists towards Crpuscule in Brussels, which added Konk and Anna Domino to its crowded roster in 1983. Konk were an energetic no wave hybrid formed by avant-garde jazz personality Dana Vlcek in 1980, whose first single had appeared on Bahlman's 99 imprint. Energizing and frenzied shows combined with their DJ friendly 12-inch releases allowed Konk to travel between downtown clubs like the Mudd Club and into the Paradise Garage and Loft. Michel Duval picked up their second single (Konk Party) for just $200 in traveller's cheques, and subsequently flew the band to Belgium to record Yo!, their debut album. "We tried to capture the live show with the Crépuscule album," explains drummer Geordie Gillespie. "The energy of the live show was so intense that when we tried to capture it on record, but also tried to polish it up a bit, that became a contradiction I think." Be that as it may, Yo! contained some irresistible grooves and music, notably on Baby Dee and the longer, tighter version of Soka Loka Moki.

Born in Tokyo (although not Japanese), Anna Domino divided her childhood years between Michigan, Florence and Ottawa before finally settling in New York in 1977. This itinerant past goes a long way towards explaining her cosmopolitan musical style, which reached the ears of Duval via Shamberg and resulted in fragile mini-album East & West. Like Konk, Anna Domino relocated to Brussels to record, and in 1986 the polished dance-pop of her eponymous debut proper impressed sufficiently to warrant a release on Factory as well as Crépuscule. "Michael Shamberg and Miranda were great friends from the Mudd Club in the late Seventies," says Anna today. "In 1986, after a gig in Luxembourg, Duval produced a cassette and told me he had a surprise. As I listened to the Arthur Baker remix of Summer for the first time I said that all it needed was a transvestite chorus. Et voila, there they were! I did get a kick out of it."

No account of the New York-Brussels axis would be complete without mention of Deutsche Angst, a curious single by conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner and experimental composer Peter Gordon, issued by Crépuscule in 1982. Of the several visual artists associated with Shamberg and OFNY, Weiner remains the best known, as well as the most distinctive, his minimalist typographic style adorning several sleeves and concert posters (including New Order, Thick Pigeon, Section 25, Quando Quango) between 1981 and 1985. Indeed the artwork for this compilation is based on his poster for a show by New Order at the Paradise Garage on 7 July 1983.

OFNY also deserves credit for Compact (Fac 171), a 1986 installation by Peter Saville at the White Columns exhibition space on Spring Street. The show explored essentialist themes of secret communication, notably collages based on the arcane machine-readable marks hidden inside industrial packaging, such as juice and cigarette cartons. With White Columns situated in the same smart Port Authority building as the OFNY office, Compact seemed to mark a welcome return to pure artistic endeavour for Factory. According to Saville, however, Wilson's priorities had shifted. "When Factory first went to America, the whole thing was characterized by Michael Shamberg. Very much a kind of art, left-field take on New York, influenced by Michael. But there was a dramatic shift when Tony started to hang out with industry people in LA, and began to play at being a proto-mogul. Tony seemed to detach himself from Michael, and then you have the obvious East Coast/West Coast split, with the East Coast being arty, alternative and counter-cultural, which Tony kind of traded for the West Coast industry position. The axis shifted. It all went a bit Burbank."

Or Beverly Hills, just as Wilson had predicted to New York Rocker in 1980. "Tony drifted away," confirms Michael today. "But Rob asked me to make videos for New Order, which I did for many years and became closer to him." As their video producer Shamberg brokered collaborations with a raft of innovative directors, including Jonathan Demme (The Perfect Kiss), Robert Longo (Bizarre Love Triangle), Philippe Decouflé (True Faith) and William Wegman and Robert Breer (Blue Monday 88). Shamberg and OFNY also co-produced a feature film in 1987, Salvation!, intended as a satire on TV evangelism directed by Beth B. The soundtrack album issued by Crépuscule is well worth seeking out, featuring as it does specially written music by New Order, Cabaret Voltaire, Arthur Baker, The Hood and singer Dominique Davalos, previously a member of cult NY electro outfit Dominatrix alongside Stuart Argabright of Ike Yard.

In this context it's worth noting that our Michael Shamberg should not be confused with the other film producing Michael Shamberg, whose Hollywood credits included Pulp Fiction and Erin Brockovich. Nevertheless, in 1999 Michael finally got to direct his first feature film, Souvenir, starring Christina Ricci and Stanton Miranda and featuring a cameo by Kristen Scott Thomas. Tragically, while working on a new film project in London in 2006 Shamberg was struck down by mitochondrial disease, a debilitating illness that requires constant and costly medical care. He's now back in his home city of Baltimore.

"Michael has been with us from the very start," explain New Order. "Initially he was in charge of Factory New York, then became creative producer for all our early videos. He brought our attention to the early works of directors such as Kathryn Bigelow, Gina Birch, Robert Breer, Peter Care, Phillipe Decoufflé, Jonathan Demme, Robert Frank, Paula Greiff, Robert Longo, Bailie Walsh and William Wegman. Michael is very ill and needs constant medical attention. We want to help him, and played two fundraising shows in 2011. This new Factory New York compilation album will contribute further financial support towards Michael's ongoing care."

Thank you for buying this album!

James Nice