THE TIDE CAUSES IT: Deepen the Mystery with a Dive into NEEF 23
"23 is fresh, and if I had to categorize it for the uninitiated, I suppose I would say it sounds like friendly industrial music" - John Talley-Jones , Happy Squid Records. 1984
This 7" sleeve was letterpress printed by Bruce Licher
to house his 1984 reissue of NEEF 23 on Independent Project Records.
NEEF - a mysterious name for a musical ensemble - a name which may, on first hearing, seem stunning in a sort of nonsensical, jolting way - is the moniker for the musical output of these exploratory musicians: Brent Wilcox, Tim Quinn, Josh Adelson, and Ed Toomey,
who were joined for a brief period of time by Bruce Licher .
In the Independent Podcast Review interview (see link below) Bruce Licher further offers that the moniker NEEF was explained to him as being an acronym of the phrase
"Not Even Enough Food."
Founding member Brent Wilcox defined NEEF as "an organic improvising engine for generating neef." Brent also considered NEEF to be "a live evolving sonic sculpture bearing some resemblance to music."
That explains everything, right?
The name holds true to the wry humor and free spirit of the music of NEEF, and may attest to the radical spontaneity and incongruous congruity that surfaced amongst these fellow art students enjoying the camaraderie of studying and working together at UCLA in the late 1970's. That place and time offered these self-taught musicians a rich exposure to a melange of boundary-breaking conceptual ideas, such as those presented by well-known performance artist Chris Burden through his New Forms and Concepts art classes. In addition, the musical innovations of the No Wave Scene in New York City, documented by Brian Eno on the 1978 vinyl LP No New York, was inspirational to members of the group. Brent Wilcox's knowledge of and access to the equipment of the UCLA Audio/Visual Department allowed for the documentation of their musical experimentation.
Fellow musician and friend John Talley-Jones has aptly referred to this particular phenomenon of creativity as the "the late 70's period of manic DIY."
Please give a listen to this lively conversation in a 2023 episode of The Independent Podcast Review, as Jeffrey Brenneman and Greg Grunke speak with Bruce Licher, Tim Quinn and Josh Adelson about NEEF - 23 (IP 012).
Bruce Licher felt drawn to create a reissue of NEEF 23 on his Independent Project Records label in part because he felt that the music did (and still does,) stand up to the test of time. There we so few copies pressed in the original 1979 release (only 163!) Licher felt the music deserved a chance to reach a wider audience.
NEEF was the first group of musicians Licher had ever played with, as well as the first record he had ever recorded. Licher recalls that when he first heard his friends Brent, Ed, Tim, and Josh play in a coffee house on campus, he asked if he could join in for their next rehearsal. Licher had just purchased a cheap electric guitar and was ripe to experiment with finding interesting sounds and patterns of expression within the creative cacophony of NEEF.
The original NEEF 23 7″ was released by The Centipede Foundation in 1979,
The sleeve's abstract design was created via xerox of blank rubber stamp overlays and ink pen.
Check out these song titles:
Client In Trouble
Faceplate / Already In Progress
Radiant Transfer To Non-Grey Walls
The Mean Free Path
Staff Meeting Action Items
Heat, Death, And The Universe
Not Even Enough Food
Three-Toed Envy / Rolling Pullout Longitudinal Tilt
Bruce Licher went about creating the texture for the design engraving two pieces of wood in a most crude fashion... striking them with a hatchet! Independent Project Press had a large freight door in the side wall of the print shop that opened to an alley which held active train tracks running close by the building surrounded by gravel. Licher took the wood out to the alley and hatcheted the slashes into the surface of the wood blocks. He also used the indentations from the gravel on the reverse side to print the background white under the lines.
The original wood blocks that Bruce Licher used to letterpress print the textures seen on the NEEF 23 cover. The wood block on the left exhibits the marks left by the hatchet and the wood block on the right features indentations that occurred on the reverse side as a result of the gravel being pushed into the wood with each strike.
Listen below to the entire NEEF 23 EP:
The labels for Licher's IPR reissue were letterpress printed on brown kraft paper.
The background photograph
was captured by Licher while documenting a cement plant
in the Mojave Desert town of Victorville, California for his
short film, Copyright 1980.
I FACE IT
THE SOUNDS TEAR AT ME
LIsten to the interview above to gain more insight into NEEF's creative process.