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MP3 Infant Bonds of Joy - Infant Bonds of Joy

Return to a simpler time of Union Carbide chemical spills, born-again Christian rants, and Regan era angst and silliness. This 1986 recording by San Francisco indy-band IBOJ could be labeled "a quirky mash-up of industrial/EBM, darkwave, and synthpop.

6 MP3 Songs in this album (26:18) !
Related styles: Pop: Dark Wave, Rock: Industrial Rock, Mood: Quirky

People who are interested in B-52’s Skinny Puppy The Residents should consider this download.

Infant Bonds of Joy (IBOJ) was a collaboration between three San Francisco musicians, Ricki Sara Bennett, Boe Davis and D.E. Kohls. Gregory Jones later joined the band as keyboardist for live performance.

During the spring of 1986, seven tracks were recorded on a 16-track deck to 2-inch tape at T+B Audio Labs in San Francisco. Norman Salant was the producer and Gregory Jones the engineer. Two additional tracks were recorded on a Mac II direct to half-inch at Anderson Jones Music in San Francisco, produced by Greg Jones and the Infants and engineered by Jones, with additional recording at Dave Wellhausen Studios in San Francisco, Dave Wellhausen engineer. The tracks were mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The resulting vinyl was released by Public Records, London, in June,1986 and contained eight tracks. This digital release offers six of the original eight songs.

The IBOJ recordings arose out of the work of two bands: the testosterone-driven, noise/punk-rock group WIMPY SAVAGE founded by Kohls and Davis, and ALMOST DICKLESS, a (nearly) all-female band (Mr. Kohls was the bass player) in which Bennett sang and played keyboards. Beyond an undefinable but undeniable quirkiness, the musical foundations of the two bands had little in common.

Kohls and Davis first met in 1980 and played together in the original line-up of i-TENSE, a no-wave/reggae band based in Lansing, MI. Davis would leave i-Tense to go on a two-year semi-straight-edge rampage in which he wore skin tight, sky-blue trousers and platform shoes, demolished small cars and tossed televisions off highway overpasses. His family was forced to intercede and had Davis relocated to Traverse City where they insisted he "try to be good" . Kohls continued to front i-Tense, a band that was once labeled "lame crud" by a delusional talentless drunk who thought he could write effective criticism. By the fall of 1982, Kohls'' carnal indiscretions led to his banishment from the Midwest. He landed in San Francisco where all the most exciting music (and carnality) was originating at that time. Kohls convinced Davis to get off his country-club dining, ascot wearing butt and join him in the City by the Bay. Davis arrived driving a crazy lady in her talking LeBaron, both of which he abandoned in the Tenderloin.

Bennett and Kohls met in the spring of ''83 masquerading as modern-day Brownings. Bennett''s musical history to that point was playing bass guitar in a bluegrass band so that hairy folk in overalls and boots could "clog". Sensing some sort of fate and her general hotness, Kohls belabored Bennett with compositions for his new project not relenting until she agreed to lend her quirky talents to his project. Later that year the three of them joined with Billy Mitchell and Catherine Eagle (former members of i-Tense and Lansing MI expatriates) to form the band DINNER NOISE that created a two-hour long performance piece "The Elephant Dance" that expounded on Kohls'' original framework.

Kohls and Davis then split off to form Wimpy Savage, a band based on the love of loud. When Wimpy Savage lost their drummer to the allure of hard narcotics, the search for a replacement failed to turn up anything human. Desperate to keep working, Kohls was sent off to get the next best thing - a drum machine - a contraption fairly new to the market (and finally reasonably affordable). This quest narrowly avoided disaster as Kohls was taken for a quick $60 in a Three-Card Monty game being held in the back of the 22 Fillmore bus on his way to the Guitar Center. The dedicated idiot-artist swore off food and alcohol for a couple of weeks so to return with the newly released Roland 707 Drum Machine.

The 707 had its limitations, which the gentle listener of these tracks will easily recognize. The lock-step rhythmic parameters inherent to the 707 were also quickly evident to the boys - it was not going to work with the Wimpy Savage sound.

Almost Dickless was sharing rehearsal space with Wimpy Savage. One night Bennett was pulled aside to see if she would be interested in experimenting with Kohls and Davis about what music might be made using the 707. The trio discovered the relatively new world of MIDI and started playing around getting the drum machine and a keyboard talking with each other.

The group began composing songs based on the keyboard/drum machine combination while retaining Davis and Kohls'' fetish for wild, loud guitars and recording "found" media on cassette tape. The trio decided to form a new band. The name "Infant Bonds of Joy", came from a passage Bennett found in Charles Dickens'' book "Bleak House". Because performing live was difficult due to the limitations of playing with a drum machine, it was decided to focus on making a recording of their set of new material.

Bennett had met saxophonist extraordinaire Normal Salant at an art opening or a taco stand (history is unclear about this) and they instantly hit it off. Salant had recorded with The Residents which raised him to god-like status to Kohls and Davis. Fortunately Salant was ambitious to try his hand at producing. His friendship with Bennett made his distaste for Kohls and Davis a bit more palatable and he at last graciously agree to work on the IBOJ record. Low volume rehearsals were held in order to terrify the noyze-boyz Kohls and Davis while enabling Salant to concentrate on the underpinnings of the compositions. Once satisfied with the music, Salant selected the Mission neighborhood based T+B Audio Labs to record. Co-owner Gregory Jones would engineer and mix the record.

THE MUSIC (Monkeys Playing Coconuts)
The Infants pull from a wide range of influences in this release. No two songs are alike and categorizing them is difficult. One blog has suggested "industrial/EBM, darkwave, synthpop." There are sounds reminiscent of other San Francisco bands at that time - The Residents, Flipper, Faith No More, Glorious Din, and The Dead Kennedys come to mind. Other influences suggested are SPK, Gang of Four, Talking Heads, James White, Bush Tetras, Grand Master Flash, and Devo. Additionally there is an undeniable "classical" element to much of the music, no doubt the result of childhoods spent in grandmother''s living room listening to Beethoven, Mozart and Leroy Anderson. A quote from Kohls at the time of the release states "you put three Aquarians in a studio together (he, Bennett and Davis are all Aquarians) you get monkeys playing coconuts".

First heard is "found noise" - captured radio programs with news of the Union Carbide industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, born-again Christian rants, and a radio play. A synchronized beat is introduced, undoubtedly the interface between keyboard and drum machine. A motif arises on keyboard strings and Davis claims "it''s good to be an American". Another tape section of a Southern minister segues back into the motif which expands and evolves into something really quite beautiful with keyboard strings, cellos, bass, and the 707 programmed like the drum section of a marching band. Patriotic? Cynical? Hey!
R. Bennett: Keyboards
B. Davis: Vocals
D. Kohls: Bass, Synthesizer, 707 programming, sequencer programming, tapes, bkg vocals
Michael Flanagan: bkg vocals
Greg Kohls: bkg vocals
Produced by Norman Salant
Recorded and Mixed by Gregory Jones

Lock-step 707 and keyboard tympani, a low-grinding synthesizer, a fingernails-on-chalkboard guitar. Again classical-inspired underpinnings. Nonsensical vocals - a few lines stick out "I''m in a bind - I''m way behind - my head they''ll grind - yeah yeah yeah yeah (scream)" Monkeys playing coconuts. Exploding fireworks, rolling tom toms. An ice-cream truck recedes in the out. Cool song.
R. Bennett: Vocals
B. Davis: Guitar, vocals
D. Kohls: Synthesizer, 707 programming, sequencer programming, tapes, vocals
M. Flanagan: Vocals
Produced by Norman Salant
Recorded and Mixed by Gregory Jones

After a silly opening keyboard riff the song turns serious. A grungy bass synth. Davis'' vocals sound like the Skinny Puppy singer. Crunchy guitar. Stoopid guitar solo takes off! Silly keyboard riff returns. What''s Davis singing about - Bernard Getz? Cowgirl woo-has! "People respond to aggression and violence - it''s what they understand."
R. Bennett: Keyboards, bkg vocals
B. Davis: Vocals, guitar (lyric credit)
D. Kohls: Synthesizer, 707 programming, sequencer programming, percussion, bkg vocals
Produced by Norman Salant
Recorded and Mixed by Gregory Jones

Track 4: WHY WHY WHY
This song was produced by Gregory Jones. A much different sound. Open air/reverb. It''s the blues! Hahaha. Blues and the 707. Jones plays a wicked organ solo followed by the goofiest slide guitar solo ever recorded. Why why why do you make me love you?
R. Bennett: Bass, bkg vocals
B. Davis: Vocals, slide guitar
D. Kohls: Guitar, 707 programming, percussion, bkg vocals
G. Jones: Organ, tambourine
Produced by Gregory Jones and The Infant Bonds of Joy
Recorded by Gregory Jones
Mixed by Gregory Jones and Ricki Bennett

Bennett''s musical and lyrical playfulness (fairie tales) and love of classical motifs open the song and later provide an interesting counterpoint to Davis'' powerful politically-focused rap (anti-Regan?). This song goes all over the place. Crazy.
R. Bennett: Vocals, keyboards (lyric credit)
B. Davis: Vocals (rap lyric credit)
D. Kohls: Guitar, synthesizer, 707 programming, sequencer programming, bkg vocals
N. Salant: Saxophone, bass
Produced by Norman Salant
Recorded and Mixed by Gregory Jones

A strange little song with just a couple synthesizers, an echoing marimba and a tasty Salant sax playing in the apartment across the alley…
D. Kohls: Synthesizer, marimba
N. Salant: Saxophone
Produced by Norman Salant
Recorded and Mixed by Gregory Jones

The Infants played a few live gigs but never found a drummer. With the direction of Jones the drum tracks were re-created on various other drum machines and moved to tape for the live performances.

The trio began work on a second album and recorded a number of songs in Kohls/Bennett''s home studio. These songs were played in live performance but ultimately the members would spend the next two years in the theater as writers, actors and musicians. Their most notable success was with Kohls'' two-act musical "How I Saved the World" starring Davis in the leading roll. The play was produced and performed in San Francisco in 1987 and Chicago in 1988.

Gregory Hale Jones eventually moved to Los Angeles, released a number of albums and worked on numerous projects including composing the soundtrack for The General''s Daughter (starring John Travolta). Greg passed away unexpectedly in 2004 at the age of 49.

Kohls and Bennett were married in 1986 and had a daughter, Sidney Rae, in 1987 but have since separated. Kohls and Davis are partners of a screenwriting/film production company, Wimpy Savage Productions.

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