SimStim

A musical collaboration between Brian Mars and Dee Madden

Wow, its been some time since Dee Madden (Chim Chim) and I put the finishing touches on the last SimStim album. A lot has happened over the years: Dee's recorded new Penal Colony and solo works, and I have recently returned to production and DJ work trying to relearn in digital what I knew in vinyl.

In a fit of nostalgia, I listened to the album recently. Surprisingly, or not, it still seems fairly fun. We were always careful to try and not fall into stereotypical genre patterns - things that tend to sound dated as music and tastes change.

These were the original "headshots" I drew for our press kit (oh such hubris!) We came up with the idea for a "virtual band" with a crafted backstory when we first started working together in the early 90's. I choose to believe that Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett based The Gorillaz on our groundbreaking efforts. I choose to believe a lot of things that are probably not true. Anyways, the backstory is lost to the ravages of time and excess, but I do recall it had something to do with time travel back from an apocalyptic future... one that we may have had a hand in creating. (Then again that sounds a lot like the backstory we had for our industrial band Meinschlagen).

The album itself had a couple of different covers. Here they progress from earlier to later as they go left to right.

Jack In, Log On, Nod Out

SimStim released one full length album and a couple of EPs. Below is a track-by-track rundown of the album, Jack In, Log On, Nod Out (available on iTunes).

Ready To Begin / Patterns

After putting the SimStim project away for a couple of years, this is the song that got it rolling again. After seeing the movie Π (Pi), we knew we had to create a song based on samples from it. The opening sequence is from the original Rollerball movie.

(Love Is The Law) Love Under Will

Oh, our crazy flirtations with Uncle Al and his wacky band of sorcerers. The title is obviously a Crowley quote. And that is definitely not a Dead Can Dance sample. Nope. No way. Not a chance. We're not fools like FSOL were...

The Eternal Question

How many times in your life can you get Ice Cube to name check you in a song? As many times as you can splice him in with an audio editing program, that's how many!

Ghosts & Empties

A long with the name of the band, here is another nod to the man who created our future, or at least a dark dystopian view of it. To this day, William Gibson still ranks as one of the major influences on my ideas towards the uses (and abuses) of technology.

No Dancing

The vocals for this were rescued from a cassette tape recording of a performance Dee gave with his high school punk band. Add in some organs, a funky bass, and some sloppy rhythms and mix to taste.

Swamp Thing

The Chameleons, duh! It's funny. I can remember we were always throwing out ideas about how "this or that" song would be great to cover. Must have had thousands of ideas. We ended up only doing this one.

Truly Bitchen'

We have "Chinanski" to thank for this one. James was a guy we hung out with back in the day. James had, let's say, eclectic interests. One day he showed up with a cassette tape that we "just had to listen to". It turned out to be a recording some kids made while talking to an overnight security guard at Knott's Berry Farm over Ham radio or walkie talkies. His unique vision of the future became the vocals for the song.

Street Trash

This one is very simple. It was written with specific imagery in mind. Stephen King's The Gunslinger. Following the Man in Black across the desert and through the town of Tull.

Orgiastic

Dee worked audio miracles to extract that Germs sample from the rest of the song.

Parsifal

The vocal samples for this were taken from Truffaut's film version of Fahrenheit 451.

Jack In, Log On, Nod Out - Bonus Track

Before we put the SimStim project to bed, we put out one last single, Pass The Plate.

SimStim - Ultra Rare Trax

The following tracks were never formally released. They were early works in progress. Some got rearranged in to new tracks. Others were just left as-is. (Yes. That was my voicemail number back in 1993.)

Desdemona

T.W.E.A.K. (Therapeutic Waveforms Evoking Ambient Kaos)

Zaibatsu

The Sinful Adventures of Bhagwan Dass

Razorblade

It's been fun going through these tracks, thinking about the shows we played in lofts, clubs, parks, and farms. And yes, if you hear a story about a band that wore steaks instead of clothes, that was us at The Temple of Sound. Fortunately, no pics have surfaced to date.

A convenient zip archive of all the audio can be downloaded here for now.