Wednesday, 23 December 2009


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
Bonus Trax

*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!


Bill Yurkiewicz said...

Give me your address and I'll send you a copy of Multi-Phase Electrodynamics! There are 11 other finished NAMANAX records that never were released including 2 seperate CD's recorded with Mick Harris at his studio in Birmingham, England... - Bill Yurkiewicz

scarfish69 said...

Is that really from Bill? I thought Relapse was relentless on keeping their music from being posted. Namanax is incredible, first noise I ever heard. Thanks for this post and thanks to Bill for being a cool guy! Hope you'll put it up if he comes through with Multi-Phase. Shame to hear about the unRELEASEd albums.

edit: out of print, what? Missed that part. In that case, pretty please with the Multi-Phase and the hey hey.

Pius said...

Yep, that is the man himself. I sent him my address and will add Multi-Phase Electrodynamics to the post once I get it.

And yes, thanks to Bill for his great response. Much better than a cease and desist letter!

Pius said...

Also, Namanax continues to have unreleased tracks on their MySpace page. Check out the 17 minute "Through The Far Side Of The Sun"!

scarfish69 said...

Thank you for the reply and the upcoming post. I must be missing something. I'm just not seeing the tracks on their Myspace. This may or may not interest you, one of my favorite blogs, specifically the Bastard Noise 7".

scarfish69 said...

Aha! Had to disable my flashblock plugin for tracks to appear on myspace. Nice.

scarfish69 said...

If Bill ever happens to stop by again, great job with Relapse and your music. Relapse/Release introduced me to so much awesome stuff. It's too bad the way things went, though.

Pius, just in case.

Iza Vipa

Pius said...

Thanks a lot, Iza. It is truly wonderful to finally hear MPE after all these years. I'm surprised how fully-formed Namanax's sound was, right out of the gate; I'd imagined it would be more grotty and lo-fi somehow.

And thanks again to Bill - I never did get your package in the mail - maybe somebody swiped it along the way?

Pius said...

And lo and behold, I just received Bill's package in the mail today! So strange how these things work...

Now that I'm actually holding Multi-Phase Electrodynamics in hand, I find it has a very unusual package, folded and stapled cardstock with more awesome images of Pennsylvania power stations (design by Cathode & Co.).

I also see it comes with a similar warning to Exit 13's "Electronic Fugue for the Imminent Demise of Planet Earth" - that this recording was designed to "deliver maximum gain structure" (ie. might blow up your stereo). So careful with your volume knobs out there!

And hi-voltage thanks to Bill Yurkiewicz at Last House on the Right!!!

scarfish69 said...

Well that was nice of him. Yeah I was surprised at the polished sound as well.

I remember hearing about people blowing their speakers when these albums came out. I don't know if any of it was true or just hype.

Nice blog by the way. Interesting mix of odd things.

Since I see you've put up Multi Phase my link will soon be dead.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be CRC errors in some files, could you fix that?