Nihilist Spasm Band

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Nihilist Spasm Band
Nihilist Spasm Band with some of their instruments
Background information
Also known asNSB
OriginLondon, Ontario, Canada
GenresNoise, free improvisation
Years active1965 (1965)–present
Associated actsJoe McPhee
MembersJohn Clement
John Boyle
Bill Exley
Murray Favro
Art Pratten
Past membersArchie Leitch
Greg Curnoe
Hugh McIntyre

The Nihilist Spasm Band (NSB) is a Canadian noise band formed in 1965[1] in London, Ontario. The band was founded by Hugh McIntyre, John Clement, John Boyle, Bill Exley, Murray Favro, Archie Leitch, Art Pratten, and Greg Curnoe. Leitch has since retired, Curnoe was killed in a bicycle accident in 1992, and McIntyre died of heart failure in 2004. The band members are mostly local artists. They were one of the artists named on the Nurse with Wound list[2]

The term "spasm band" refers to a band that uses homemade instruments.[3] Indeed, most of the NSB's instruments are modifications of other instruments, or wholly invented by the members. In addition to the homemade instruments, members are encouraged to improvise. The range of the improvisation is such that instruments are not tuned to each other, tempos and time signatures are not imposed, and the members push the ranges of their instrumentation by engaging in constant innovation and ever-increasing volume over the course of a performance.[4]

Zev Asher's documentary film What About Me: The Rise of The Nihilist Spasm Band premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2000. Drawing from the inspiration of finding a copy of the Nihilist Spasm Band's first L.P. No Canada in the pile of 1970's ephemera in his family's basement; the documentary explores the legacy of the NSB as Canadian noise music pioneers.


  • The Sweetest Country This Side of Heaven (vinyl single, 1967; reissued on CD, 1996), Arts Canada
  • No Record (vinyl LP, 1968; reissued on CD, 1996; reissued on vinyl, 2000), Allied Record Corporation
  • Vol. 2 (vinyl LP, 1979; reissued on CD, 1996), Music Gallery Editions
  • 1984 (audiocassette, 1984; reissued on CD, 1999), Chimik Communications
  • ¬x~x=x (vinyl lp, 1985; reissued on CD, 1996), United Dairies Records
  • What About Me (CD, 1992), Alchemy Records
  • Live in Japan (CD, 1997), Alchemy Records
  • Every Monday Night (CD, 1999), Alchemy Records
  • No Borders with Joe McPhee (2xCD, 2001), Non Musica Rex
  • NSB Live at Western Front (CD, 2006), NSB
  • No Nihilist Spasm Band in Mulhouse (vinyl LP, 2007), Les Mondes Mental
  • No Borders to No Borders with Reynols (CD, 2007), Disques Hushush
  • Live In Geneve, Switzerland October 2006 with Fossils (cassette, 2007), Wintage Records & Tapes
  • theBESTweCANdo (best-of compilation) (CD, 2008), NSB
  • Nothing is Forever (LP, 2013), Wintage Records & Tapes, WRT-99
  • Breaking Wind (LP, 2013), Rekem Records, Rekem 04
  • No Record (vinyl LP re-re-release, 2014), Pacemaker Entertainment, Ltd., LION LP-136
  • Fluxus (vinyl Split-LP with Kommissar Hjuler, 2015), Psych. kg
  • Last Concert in Japan (CD, 2016), Alchemy Records, TECH-24486

Appears on[edit]

  • No Music Box — No Music Festival 1998 (6-CD box set, 1998), Entartete Kunst Recordings
  • no99 — No Music Festival 1999 (5-CD box set, 1999), Entartete Kunst Recordings
  • No Nothing — No Music Festival (6-CD box set, 2000), Non Musica Rex


Guest performers[edit]

  • Aya Onishi – drums, kazoo, "constant guest performer" since 1999
  • Owen Curnoe - Drums
  • Mark Favro - Casio keyboard
  • Galen Curnoe - guitar
  • Tim Glasgow

Previous members[edit]

  • Hugh McIntyre – bass guitar (1965–2004)[5]
  • Archie Leitch – slide clarinet (1965–?)
  • Greg Curnoe – kazoo, drums (1965–92)


  1. ^ Pareles, Jon (August 28, 1997). "A Really Old Noise Band Makes a New York Debut: For three decades, mixing nihilism and a kazoo". The New York Times. ProQuest 109778484.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Gold, Robert S. (1975). Jazz Talk. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. pp. 255–256. ISBN 0672520931.
  4. ^ Freedman, Adele (8 February 1978). "Music of Cruelty: The Nihilist Spasm Band wants the audience to suffer". The Globe and Mail : page A4. ProQuest 1238312217.
  5. ^ Martin, Sandra (24 December 2004). "HUGH MclNTYRE, MAKER OF 'NOISE' MUSIC 1936-2004". The Globe and Mail: page S7. ProQuest 1368502404.

External links[edit]