These shows were often characterized by bloody hands, drunken sloppiness, and the drop kicking of guitars. Oblivious of its surroundings, the band played with reckless enthusiasm regardless of whether an audience was receptive, apathetic, or hostile. At the end of 1995, the burgeoning Ba Da Bing! label (run by writer and future Matador publicist Ben Goldberg) released Alger Hiss’ official debut, a vinyl mini-LP/CD entitled Settings For Nudes. Following a health-related leave of absence on the part of Mr. Mamone, the three-piece resumed activity six months later.
Mr. O’Rourke left and was replaced by guitarist-turned-bassist Jon Fine (ex-Bitch Magnet, Don Cabellero). Free of O’Rourke’s more melodic aspirations, Mamone relied on a heavier, more grounded approach that clearly elucidated his love of volume, complexity, chunky riffs, alternate tunings, and brief explosions of improvisation. In January 1997, Stephanie Oxley’s Feldspar label released the varied Graft Vs. Host, which compiled a remixed version of the early cassette with the original lineup’s final studio efforts.
The album–also issued on vinyl via Mamone’s Tangential imprint–was hailed by critics in the fanzine and alterna-glossy media. A year later, Fine and Majer departed. Mamone spent time finishing school, auditioning personnel, traveling, and pursuing his career as a rock writer. After a long layoff, Alger Hiss was reactivated in 2001, when Mamone was joined by bassist J Yung–whose simplified, deep low-end added even more weight to the sound–and drummer Frederick Schneider. A series of live dates ensued.
The following year brought another change of percussionists with the arrival of free-jazz-meets-hard-rock powerhouse Dalius Naujokaitis, a Lithuanian ex-pat who has collaborated with avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas and comprises one third of Nam, the psychedelic improv project that also features Mamone and former Subskin Cables guitarist Fernando Avila. Boasting a stabilized, harmonious lineup and its heaviest, most scalding material yet, Alger Hiss plans to make sporadic public appearances and recordings and to eventually exploit touring invitations abroad. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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