For the park of the same name in Babylon, NY, see Argyle Lake Park
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|Origin||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Genres||Industrial rock, Industrial metal, Christian rock, Christian metal, hard rock, worldbeat|
|Years active||1994–1996, 1998–2000|
|Labels||R.E.X., Tooth & Nail|
|Associated acts||Circle of Dust, Klank, LVL, Celldweller, The Crucified, Stavesacre, CHATTERbOX, Drown|
|Past members||Klayton (a.k.a. Dread, Deathwish)
Argyle Park was an underground industrial rock supergroup founded in New York City in 1994 and active until 1996. Members of the group reformed under the name AP2 in 1998, and were active under that name until winter 2000. Signed to Christian music labels, the band suffered repeated controversies within the Christian music scene for not being positive and evangelistic enough in its lyrics and outlook. The project was named after an actual park in Babylon, Long Island, where the members of Argyle Park grew up together.
Argyle Park first appeared on a tribute album to 80s contemporary Christian music iconoclast Steve Taylor in 1995. The full-length Argyle Park album, Misguided, was released later that year on R.E.X. Records. The album was musically varied, combining elements such as techno, metal guitar, ragtime piano, horns, samples, and dark vocals and was credited in the liner notes to three pseudonymous individuals: Dred, Deathwish, and Buka. Dred, Deathwish, and Celldweller, another individual credited as the album's producer, were all aliases for Scott Albert of the underground industrial metal band Circle of Dust. Buka has never been officially identified, though according to a Facebook post by Klank, his real name is Chris Martello. Jim Thirlwell claims that Buka was a producer at MTV Sports. Misguided also featured a myriad of guest appearances from the Christian alternative music scene, as well as several from cult-status mainstream industrial rock bands of the time. These appearances include Mark Salomon, Dirk Lemmenes, and Jeff Bellew of Stavesacre, Jim Thirlwell (Foetus), Klank, Jyro Xhan (Mortal), Tommy Victor (Prong), and Lauren Boquette and Marco Forcone (Drown).
In the summer of 1995, Argyle Park made their only live appearance at the Cornerstone Music Festival in Bushnell, Illinois. The musicians onstage included Dan Leveler, who would later became a full member of AP2 under the alias Level. Argyle Park made one more recorded appearance in 1996, this time with a song on a tribute album to Stryper. Then the band announced that they were shutting down. In a later interview, Scott Albert cited clashes with R.E.X. over lyrical content, unrealistic expectations within the Christian music industry, and negative or "holier-than-thou" fan reactions to lyrical content as reasons for shutting down both Argyle Park and his main music project, Circle of Dust. In a different interview, Buka also described much of the negative reactions Argyle Park faced from within the Christian music scene.
In 1996, Buka had planned to start up his own record label called Backwoods Records. The first release was to be a split album that would feature songs by Klank, Buka's new project Soil, and Argyle Park. However, the record label and the split album never saw the light of day. A single song attributed to a band called Backwoods was then released later in 1996 on a Christmas compilation put out by Flying Tart Records. The two members of Backwoods were Buka and Level, thus pointing the way to the resurrection of Argyle Park in 1998.
Argyle Park "reopened" in 1999 under the name AP2, signing to alternative Christian music label Tooth & Nail Records. AP2 released one album called Suspension of Disbelief in 2000. Scott Albert, now using the name Klayton, produced the album and wrote only two of the songs while his younger brother, Level, did the bulk of the actual song crafting and Buka provided thematic direction for the project. Guest appearances were made once more, but not nearly as numerously as on Misguided: Klank returned, as did Mark Salomon, and Joel Timothy Bell of the Tooth & Nail punk band Ghoti Hook also provided some vocals. The music on Suspension of Disbelief was just as varied as that on Misguided, with the band this time experimenting with gabber techno, pop dance, drum'n'bass, R&B, punk rock, and metal. The members planned to keep the project open and release additional albums, but again shut down later in 2000, this time due to low sales through Tooth & Nail and a resurgence of the criticisms that dogged the band the first time around.
Reception and Controversy
Argyle Park courted controversy from the time of their first appearance, on the Steve Taylor tribute album, being criticized for their subtle changing of the meaning of the song by way of leaving out significant portions of Taylor's original lyrics. Though signed to a Christian record label, Argyle Park did not display any overtly religious themes on their album. The lyrics rather dealt with things such as suffering, pain, bitterness, violent emotions, being betrayed and taken advantage of, and losing faith in one's role models, themes summed up by Buka as "man putting too much faith in other men and men will always let you down". In so doing, Argyle Park flaunted the general expectation within the Christian music industry that bands will be positive and evangelistic. This, along with the generally dark image of the band, led to much of the criticism that Argyle Park faced from within the underground Christian music scene and music press. Listeners heavily and openly criticized the band and band members in online message boards and via email, causing the members personal insult to the point that they disbanded.
These same issues arose again when the band reformed as AP2. The members expressed disappointment, puzzlement, and frustration at the constant criticism of Argyle Park, which they said came only from within the Christian music scene, but were never apologetic, stating "there are enough fluff bands out there anyway [...] We're writing about real issues that have a real impact" and even anticipated the return of these criticisms with the release of AP2's album. Online debates and slander continued long after the disbanding of AP2, causing former members to occasionally post angry retorts and chastisements on the message boards and, if one post by Buka was to be believed, caused the band to scrap a proposed tenth anniversary remix project in 2004.
Apart from all the controversies surrounding both incarnations of Argyle Park, however, their albums have been massively popular within the genre and subgenres of Christian industrial and electronic music. A wide variety of bands that have appeared on the scene have cited Argyle Park and AP2 as influences in their biographies and press releases. Tribute albums have been proposed at various times, with at least a handful of cover songs recorded. The more recent success of Klayton's Celldweller has also resulted in renewed interest in his older projects, including both Argyle Park albums.
- Klayton (a.k.a. Dread, Deathwish)
- Dan Levler
- As Argyle Park: Misguided (1995, R.E.X. Records)
- As AP2: Suspension of Disbelief (2000, Tooth & Nail Records)
- Compilation appearances
- I Predict A Clone (1994, R.E.X. Records, tribute to Steve Taylor) - "Drive, He Said (D-Wee Dub)"
- Demo-lition II (1994, R.E.X. Records) - "Misanthrope 5:33" (slightly altered edit of the album track "Misanthrope")
- Can You Dig It? III (1994, R.E.X. Records) - "Misanthrope 5:33"
- R.E.X. '95 Sampler 3 (1995, R.E.X. Records)- "Gutterboy"
- Doom & Gloom: Visions of the Apocalypse (1995, Nesak International) - "Misanthrope" (album version)
- Sweet Family Music: A Tribute to Stryper (1996, Flaying Tart Records, tribute to Stryper) - "Lonely (Two-Timing Dub)"
- Cheapskates: Harder Side (1999, Tooth & Nail Records) - "My Sympathies (Rough Mix)"
- Though uncredited, short segments of two AP2 songs were used in the Hollywood film The Butterfly Effect.
- Biography "Biography at Allmusic". Retrieved March 30, 2007.
- "Argyle Park interview". The Garlic Press. 1996. Retrieved 2009-04-07.
- Powell, Mark Allan (2002). "Argyle Park". Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music (First printing ed.). Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. p. 48. ISBN 1-56563-679-1.
- "Circle of Dust interview". hmmagazine.com. 2003. Archived from the original on 4 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
- "Woodensoul". Facebook. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
- "SPINonline Conference With Foetus -- Jim Thirlwell". April 26, 1995. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
Jim Foetus : The guy from argyle park is one of the producers of MTV Sports which I do the voiceovers for and he asked me to do it at the end of a session and just gave me the script and I said why not? I heard the tape, it reminds me of the intro of Diamond Dogs, I think it blows away shit like KMFDM, etc.
- "Level interview". Automata. Retrieved 2009-04-09.[dead link]
- "AP2 interview". Automata. Retrieved 2009-04-09.[dead link]
- "Artist info at old Flaming Fish site". Archived from the original on 27 June 2003. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
- "Level interview". Ballistic Test 'Zine. Feb 1999. Retrieved 2009-04-07.
- "Archive of AP2.net". Archived from the original on 2000-12-04. Retrieved 2005-07-06.