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Martha Schwendener (left) and Lawrence Chandler (right)
|Origin||New York, United States|
|Genres||Shoegazing, psychedelic rock, dream pop, ambient, downtempo, trip hop, electronica|
|Associated acts||Echostar, Happy Families|
|Past members||Jon Dale
Bowery Electric's music defies easy classification. Part of the initial wave of American shoegazers and seminal members of the post-rock movement, the duo earned critical acclaim for experimentation across genres and mixing elements of ambient, drone, electronic / IDM, experimental, minimalist, and rock music with '70's soul soundtracks, disco, drum and bass, dub and hip hop. They were one of the first American bands to perform with a laptop (Mac PowerBook 170), mixer, and sampler on stage alongside bass, drums and guitars.
Lawrence Chandler and Martha Schwendener formed Bowery Electric in late 1993 and played their first show together at Brownie's in New York City in January 1994. With drummer Michael Johngren completing the trio, Bowery Electric played shows across the East Coast and recorded a double seven inch single with Kramer that they released on their own Hi-Fidelity label.
In the fall of 1994, very impressed by the debut single set, Kranky Records got in touch with the band. The debut, self-titled album was recorded with Mike Deming at Studio .45 in Hartford, CT in January 1995. Bowery Electric was released on compact disc and vinyl in mid-1995. As The Wire Magazine described it, Bowery Electric "weave chilled downbeat dirges via hazy sheets of distorted guitar (that sound as though they were recorded underwater), stumbling sluggish percussion and benumbed male/female vocals... the album works as a sustained moodpiece...". Or, as Chris Wodskou put it in the Sept. 1995 issue of Exclaim! Magazine, "Bowery Electric shimmer in the way a 20 foot sheet of metal shimmers and resonates when vibrated. A sharp pop confection with the blunt force of a three-alarm headache."
Simon Reynolds' seminal post-Rock article in the November 1995 issue of The Wire placed Bowery Electric in the forefront of "a distinctively American post-rock." The band returned to Studio .45 to work on the second full-length release with engineer Rich Costley. With the acquisition of samplers, the band's song writing process (which had always started with the bass track and drum beats) expanded. The resulting album, Beat, featured a drummer on four out of ten tracks, with plenty of subtly sampled beats and bass tones anchoring the bottom end. Lawrence Chandler told Alternative Press Magazine that "technologically [Beat] is the beginning of us learning our way around a proper sampler and software which allows us to work with samples on the computer. We can sample ourselves, manipulate sounds, create our own beats and basically work with fewer restrictions." Beggars Banquet Records licensed Beat for release in the U.K. and Europe and Kranky in the US With drummer Wayne Magruder added to the group, Bowery Electric began tours of the UK and North America.
In July 1997 Lawrence, Martha, and Wayne toured the UK. A John Peel Session, recorded on 20 July, was broadcast on BBC Radio 1 on 7 August. Melody Maker reviewed a show and noted that "for two people to be able to create such a huge, rolling epic sound is surprising; what really hits hard is just how huge it can be, how the inarguable and pulverizing beauty of BE's sound simply forces a slacked out crowd into its swell."
Also in 1997, Vertigo, a remix album consisting of tracks from Beat, was released by Beggars Banquet. Vertigo was among the first remix albums released by an indie band and featured a remarkable roster of avant-garde / experimental electronic music artists including Mark Clifford (Seefeel), Robert Hampson (Main), Colin Newman, Matt Elliot (Third Eye Foundation), John Roome (Witchman), Jon Tye (Lo Recordings) and others.
Lushlife was released by Beggars Banquet in early 2000. A headlining tour followed with support from local drum & bass DJs. The tour covered the U.K., Europe and North and South America. The band's final performances were at Endfest 2000 in Seattle followed by a sold out homecoming show at New York's Knitting Factory. The duo has not performed or released any recordings as Bowery Electric since.
Chandler has studied with La Monte Young, Pauline Oliveros, at The Juilliard School, and Goldsmiths College and is a composer and sound artist living in London. Appearances as a performer have been rare but he has played with Experimental Audio Research (E.A.R.), "a loose affiliation of non-resident sound makers including from time to time Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3, Spectrum), Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) and Eddie Prévost (AMM)."
Chandler has a new band called Happy Families. Their debut single 'New Forgetting' backed with a reworking of the Ramones 'I Remember You' was released on 7" vinyl by Sonic Cathedral in July 2013. Critically well received, Happy Families has been described as "beautiful, lo-fi shoegaze built on the legacy of classic influences like The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Suicide, Joy Division, Spacemen 3, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine.
- 1995: Bowery Electric (Kranky)
- 1996: Beat (Kranky, Beggars Banquet)
- 2000: Lushlife (Beggars Banquet)
- 1997: Vertigo (Beggars Banquet)
- 1994: Drop (Hi-Fidelity Recordings)
- 1997: "Fear of Flying" / "Beat" / "Without Stopping" (Beggars Banquet)
- 1997: "Black Light" / "Coming Down" / "Empty Words" (Beggars Banquet)
- 1997: "Blow Up" / "Electrosleep" (Happy Go Lucky)
- 2000: "Floating World" / "Lushlife" (Beggars Banquet)
- 2000: "Freedom Fighter" / "Soul City" (Beggars Banquet)
- 1997: "Blow Up" / "Electrosleep" / "Slide" (Peel Session)
- 1996: Monsters, Robots and Bug Men (Virgin Records)
- 1996: The New Atlantis (Space Age Recordings)
- 1997: Deepwater Black (Koch Records)
- 1998: After the Flood 2 (ae)
- 1998: A Tribute To Spacemen 3 (Rocket Girl)
- 1998: kompilation (Southern Records)
- 1998: Hekla's Selection (Reckankreuzungsklankewerkzeuge)
- 2001: Dark City Nights (Mascara)
- 2000: Chillout Basscapes 2 (Zoomshot)
- 2000: Musikexpress 40 (Musikexpress)
- 2001: Im:pulse Chill & Lounge Grooves (Indigo)
- 2002: Brain In The Wire (Brainwashed Recordings)
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- Ned Raggett (1997-08-25). "Vertigo - Bowery Electric | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- "BOWERY ELECTRIC - history". Brainwashed.com. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- Jon Pareles (1996-09-05). "In a Stasis of Sound: Dron-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-ne". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- Paul Lester. "New band of the day: Happy Families". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- "Review of Sola". AllMusic. Retrieved 2008-04-19.