Hernia Retraction Accordion was formed by its 3 original core members (Michael Brito, Robert W. Lewis, and Peter Petrisko, Jr.) in September, 1989. Based in Phoenix, AZ, they pull together a wide variety of sounds and guest performers. To date they have released 3 studio cassettes (Choking on the Fumes 12/89, Infectious Damage 9/90, and Into The Lodge 4/93... the latter of which you might remember me deliriously raving about in issue #5), and one cassette (Breathing Soil 2/92) of material taken from live performances through Phoenix-based Orphanage Records. They have also appeared on the Ensemble Vide (France), MalLife 20/21 (USA), and Hijole! (USA) compilations. This band's name, in itself, is enough to create curiosity. This was demonstrated when they gained local notoriety through being banned from the airwaves of Phoenix's alternative radio station KUKQ. The brilliant reason for this banning, as quoted from the radio station master minds, was "Your group's name is, like, pretty offensive, dude." Ah, well said. And the sound? Ahhh... I can't claim to be overtly familiar with their origins, but what I've heard has sincerely impressed me with the full ranges of diversity. While they began as a synth-heavy, sample-laden, "post-industrial", electronic band, they slowly evolved toward a more acoustic-instrument oriented sound, still embellished with synthesis. By ambient, I don't mean your rave crowd redundancy. I mean anything from acoustic flamenco stylings to pseudo-soundtrack soundscapes to extravagantly somber compositional pieces. And the instrumental range... yes, anything from synthesizers to piano to trombone to kalimba.
To quote ex-member Robert Lewis, "Any object that makes a noise is a potential instrument in our hands. In the making of a song, everything but the kitchen sink goes into the process. Instruments have included the usual synths and guitars to the belt from a 9500 Xerox copier". As to why he is an ex-member: with the recording of Into The Lodge, Robert Lewis voiced objections to the editing in of audio subliminal material and left the band. He was replaced with the flexible additions of Eric Zang and Mary Spencer. HRA had always used subliminals as part of their aural experiments, but these latest pieces were deemed to be perhaps a bit too dark. I don't know, I can't recall slashing my wrists, sacrificing the cat, or summoning demons, after listening to said cassette, but then I suppose I could've done some of these things in my sleep... As would apply to a band which realizes its music partly through improvisation, and partly through the transcription of dreams. While HRA don't often appear live, their minimal amount of appearances have ranged in aspect from playing broken down cars for an audience of 70 homeless people to straight-out musical extravaganzas to more of a "performance art" orientation (ala, say, The Haters rather than your standard vein). Currently, Hernia Retraction Accordion is seeking label representation for the release of CDs. They have well over 2 hours of "listener ready" unreleased material, and much more in the works. With their incredible range in talent and diversity, I would deem it a mistake to not try to be the first label to send an offer their way. They do expect to be releasing a 7" or mini CD by this coming Summer.
Retraction Labs has expanded to selling releases by other bands of an acoustic-based, experimental, nature. Send a SASE for the catalogue.
PO Box 56942
Phoenix, AZ 85079