|Birth name||Mark Flake|
|Also known as||MWF|
|Born||1960 (age 54–55)
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
|Genres||Avant-garde, Outsider music|
|Associated acts||Johnny J., LAM, the Ants, EllenM|
His surreal and expressionistic oil paintings have been exhibited across the United States, and his graphic art appears on album and compact disc covers throughout the States and in Europe and Australia, primarily on releases from the Wood Records avant garde and outsider music label which he founded, and with which he has an on again/off again relationship.
He has appeared on more than fifty albums and compact discs. His early releases were homemade cassette tapes released by his own cassette only label, Wyndam Garage.
In 1999, he founded Wood Records and gave compact disc releases of his back catalog, and has continued to release his own works at the rate of approximately two discs per year. The music runs through a wide variety of stylistic categories that includes everything from folk and experimental rock, to avante garde jazz, punk and noise, to serious chamber compositions and music concrete.
MWF is also known for a number of albums that parody other styles including metal and hip-hop. Radio Revolution described his work as "the perfect blend of Leonard Cohen and Captain Beefheart", but he has most often been compared stylistically to The Residents and to Frank Zappa.
His best known recordings are probably Selling Grit (1997), a more or less satirical pop rock album, and Singles on Wheels, (2001) a self-selected greatest hits compilation that included an edited version of the song "Monster Karaoke" which would be his best selling single. As a performer, he is best known as an electric guitar soloist and improviser, but has also released acoustic guitar works similar in style to the later works of John Fahey, albeit with a more sinister tone. As a guitarist, he has been part of a number of music ensembles, including the Blenders, the Willards, EllenM, and the Ants. His own live group, the MWF trio, has had a shifting line-up that has included performance artist and cornetist Barry Arthur and harmonica virtuoso Bhopal Whitaker. He has also produced a variety of collaborative works with artists such as San Francisco guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Indiana multi-instrumentalist Zed Salt, and North Carolina experimentalists The Optimysticals. In 2008, he worked as half of the duo, Wonderhell, with Ecuadorian percussionist Emmanuel Sortito.
His Wood Records music label has given release to albums by many artists from the U.S. and Europe, most notably Sweden's Johnny J and Italy's LAM. Flake has also appeared on a variety of tribute albums from other labels such as Blod Records of Canada's Tribute to the Eighties and a recent Roky Erikson tribute.
His early paintings have been compared stylistically to those of the [German Expressionists] and to the Surrealists, particularly to works by George Grosz and Max Ernst. They can also be characterized by a rich impasto and muted colors, particularly black and white mixed with earth tones.
The content of his art, particularly his early work, has primarily focused on a unique ability to find beauty and hidden meaning in the mediocre and banal. His work from the early 2000s became somewhat more colorful, more overtly political, and harsher in tone. Although still vauguely centered around a stereotypically mid-century American world of iconography, the paintings often describe threatening situations, particularly toward children and their relationships to the adult world of war, politics, and sex. His work changed dramatically in the 2010s with a series of paintings on the experience of cinema, handled with apparent complete ambivalence to the subject matter. Likewise, a Pop Art-ish series of monochromatic paintings of monsters from the Universal horror cycle paired humorously with vintage automobiles is uncharacteristically light in tone, but harkens back to some extent to the nostalgic eye for a symbolic America characterized by the content of earlier works.
He is the author of a novel, The Adventures of Weirdbeard the Pirate.
He scored and performed the music for "Blood Bank", a 2012 short horror film starring Erika Brodland, which he also wrote and directed, as well as making a brief acting appearance. He followed "Blood Bank" in 2014 with a surreal feature length black and white supernatural western, "Rancho Mysterio" also directing, scoring, and playing the role of the film's villain.
Crime Dog Bay (1986)
Big Seventies Songbook (1987)
In The Time of The Snail (1988)
Don't Mind over Don't Matter (1988)
The Goldie Year (1990)
Full Acoustic Jacket (1991)
Selling Grit (1997)
Perform Random Acts of Stupidity (1998)
2000 B.C. (1998)
Ice Milk (1999)
Songs of The Velvet Ghost (1999)
Hey Mister, That's Not Me (on Your Jukebox) (2001)
Monster Karaoke (2001)
Singles on Wheels (2001)
Letter Bomb (with Ernesto Diaz-Infante) (2002)
Fragmintia (with Zed Salt) (2002)
Howling MWF (with The MWF trio) (2002)
Word Spazz (2003)
Orange Soda Marmaduke (2003)
Live at The Pit (with the MWF Trio) (2004)
NoDa 7/4/06 (2006)
I Want to Play Classical Music (with Barry Arthur) (2007)
Dairy-O (with The Optimysticals) (2007)
Compositions for Small Ensembles (2008)
Devil Ray (2010)