Allen Ravenstine + Albert Dennis
Smog Veil Records
Oh sure, now days you can download a functioning synth and recording tools to your phone, but way back in the ’70s it took a little more determination to explore new sounds and record demos. So Cleveland resident Allen Ravenstine was breaking new ground when he recorded his 15-minute composition “Terminal Drive” using his EML 200 synthesizer, running it into a Teac 3340 reel to reel tape recorder. Generally, that would be that, but Ravenstine, along with other Cleveland musicians were part of a group called Hy Maya, that sounded a bit like a cross between Kraftwerk, Cluster and Tangerine Dream. Once this group broke up in the early 1970s, various members kept jamming, and finally in 1975 something clicked when they starting working with Peter Laughter and David Thomas. You know them as Pere Ubu. Ravenstine would at first resist joining the group full-time, but finally relented, playing synth on the classic “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” and remaining in the group until the 1989 release of Cloudland.
This CD release of Terminal Drive is the first time anyone has heard the full, 15-minute piece (it was on Ubu box set Datapanik in The Year Zero in an abbreviated form). Ravenstine, along with bassist Albert Dennis created a weird, unsettling work that seems at moments like from a David Lynch film, full of ominous soundscapes and found noises. It sounds what you would imagine Cleveland would have sounded like in the mid-’70s, with dirty streets, pollution and a cratering downtown.
Ravenstine helped form the basis for Peru Ubu, who to this day travel the world dispensing their singular style of high weirdness, and although he’s no longer with the group, his sound – albeit evolved and fractured since 1975 – echoes in every note Pere Ubu plays. Not bad for a few days work.