Namanax is a noise project of Bill Yurkiewicz, Exit 13 front man and co-founder of the legendary Relapse Records.
Largely active in the mid-1990s, Namanax have since developed something of a cult following -- which is not too surprising as their records have a pretty unique, mesmerizing sound, as well as some of the coolest artwork ever.
Namanax's debut came in the form of a single-track EP called Multi-Phase Electrodynamics. Recorded and released in '93, it came in a card sleeve and is quite a rare creature indeed. All the Namanax records are OOP now but this first one I've never even seen*.
The full-length follow-up, Cascading Waves of Electronic Turbulence, was released in '96. Like the earlier EP, this was Mr. Yurkiewicz working live and alone, squeezing out a couple of long power-electronics-style jams. The nuclear power plant cover and the colourful insert of a pleasant autumn Pennsylvania scene help to evoke a sort of psychedelia unusual in the noise scene at the time, and sound-wise, it's a pretty crushing release.
Namanax took a quantum leap forward with their next recording sessions - 1997's Audiotronic and 1998's Monstrous - possibly because Yurkiewicz chose to work with James Plotkin (guitar wizard, and one of my all-time faves) and Kipp Johnson (who later formed Solarus, also with Yurkiewicz & Plotkin, though it sounds nothing whatsoever like Namanax).
From an interview with Jay Smith -
Q: You've recently put together a new release under the NANAMAX moniker called "Audiotronic"? Would you care to shed some light on the NANAMAX project and this new release and what it's about?
Bill Yurkiewicz: It was the first time i did NAMANAX in a real studio. I got Jim Plotkin to help me because he is a genius in the studio. It just came together, was improvised, and to me represents a logical progression for NAMANAX. I quickly grew tired of just doing straight forward harsh noise. I wanted to give it depth and personality. When I recorded Audiotronic, I also completed 4 more (tracks) of music very similar. The follow-up Monstrous will be released by Release during March 1998.
The difference between the first two releases and Audiotronic/Monstrous is monstrous indeed, one in which fairly rudimentary, albeit textured, pounding power electronics is replaced by immense washes of noise, samples and processed guitar waves, monster movie noises and screeching seagulls, underwater bloops and gargantuan death drones. I was totally gob-smacked by these later two records at the time they were released, and a recent listen shows they've lost none of their power or beauty. First rate meditation noise.
Unfortunately, that was about all there was to Namanax. After Monstrous came out, there were a few more tracks on compilations - "Released" off the triple-CD set Release Your Mind Vol. 2 (recorded during the sessions with Plotkin, I'm told), and "The Medicined Man" off the Gummo soundtrack are two that I managed to grab at the time - but no more records.
Namanax also contributed to a 3" CDR with Bastard Noise and a Japanese cassette comp called The Artificial Nerve Pt. 2, though I've never heard either of those releases. You can check out some unreleased Namanax tracks at their MySpace page - as of this posting, the following are available:
"Astronax Decoder" (6:27) - mellower stylee, sort of a cross between "Medicined Man" and something off Audiotronic.
"Macronumidian" (9:22) - a brutal PE-style track with bubbling lawnmower sounds.
"Three Shots Chased" (4:12) - circus sound loops, reminiscent of "Medicined Man" also.
In an attempt to make this rather large amount of huge, lumbering noisescapes even bigger, I cap these Namanax beauties with a couple of long form Exit 13 noise freak-outs - "An Electronic Fugue For The Imminent Demise Of Planet Earth"** off 1994's Ethos Musick, and "Snakes And Alligators" off 1995's ...Just A Few More Hits EP.
Finally, we'll close this off with "Uncoordinated Universal Time", long form crunchy noise beatz from Pica's The Doctors Ate The Evidence record (a 1996 project of Steve O'Donnell, with Yurkiewicz again supplying power electronics).
Namanax - Multi-Phase Electrodynamics
Namanax - Cascading Waves of Electronic Turbulence
Namanax - Audiotronic
Namanax - Monstrous
*I have since been sent a copy of MPE by Mr. Namanax himself, Bill Yurkiewicz! (see comments)
**this one originally came with a warning that it might fry your speakers so beware!