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Encyclopedia > Mission of Burma
Mission of Burma
Left to right: Conley, Swope, Prescott, Miller
Left to right: Conley, Swope, Prescott, Miller
Background information
Origin Flag of United States Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Genre(s) Post-punk
Indie rock
Years active 1979-1983
2002-present
Label(s) Matador Records
Ace of Hearts
Website Official website
Members
Roger Miller
Clint Conley
Peter Prescott
Bob Weston (live sound)
Former members
Martin Swope

Mission of Burma is a post-punk band from Boston, Massachusetts, USA comprising guitarist Roger Miller, bassist Clint Conley and drummer Peter Prescott, with Bob Weston (originally Martin Swope) as tape manipulator and sound engineer. They were first active from 1979-1983, then reformed in 2002. Miller, Conley and Prescott share singing and songwriting duties, with Miller perhaps being the primary contributor. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_States. ... Nickname: City on the Hill, Beantown, The Hub (of the Universe)1, Athens of America, The Cradle of Revolution, Puritan City, Americas Walking City Location in Massachusetts, USA Counties Suffolk County Mayor Thomas M. Menino(D) Area    - City 232. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... A music genre is a category (or genre) of pieces of music that share a certain style or basic musical language (van der Merwe 1989, p. ... Post punk generally refers to the particularly fertile and creative period following the initial punk rock explosion. During the first wave of punk, roughly spanning 1976-1983, bands such as The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones and The Damned began to challenge the current styles and conventions of rock... Indie rock is a subgenre of rock music often used to refer to bands that are on small independent record labels or that arent on labels at all. ... For the song by the Smashing Pumpkins, see 1979 (song). ... 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... For album titles with the same name, see 2002 (album). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Matador Records is an influential record label, famous for a roster of highly-respected indie rock artists and bands. ... Roger Miller is an American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for co-founding the group Mission of Burma. ... Clint Conley is a musician from Boston, Massachusetts, best known as the bassist for Mission of Burma. ... Peter Prescott is either: A musician from Boston, Massachusetts, best known as the drummer for Mission of Burma. ... Bob Weston is an American musician, producer and recording engineer - though is not to be confused with the Englishman by the same name - Bob Weston, was the Guitar Player who followed on from Peter Green in Fleetwood Mac and who went on to play with Steve Marriott and Humble Pie... Martin Swope is an American musician. ... Post punk generally refers to the particularly fertile and creative period following the initial punk rock explosion. During the first wave of punk, roughly spanning 1976-1983, bands such as The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones and The Damned began to challenge the current styles and conventions of rock... Nickname: City on the Hill, Beantown, Athens of America, The Hub (of the Universe)1 Location in Massachusetts, USA Counties Suffolk County  - Mayor Thomas M. Menino (D) Area    - City  89. ... Roger Miller is an American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for co-founding the group Mission of Burma. ... Clint Conley is a musician from Boston, Massachusetts, best known as the bassist for Mission of Burma. ... Peter Prescott is a musician from Boston, Massachusetts. ... Bob Weston is an American musician, producer and recording engineer - though is not to be confused with the Englishman by the same name - Bob Weston, was the Guitar Player who followed on from Peter Green in Fleetwood Mac and who went on to play with Steve Marriott and Humble Pie... Martin Swope is an American musician. ...

Contents

Overview

Like many of their post-punk and no wave contemporaries, Mission of Burma's efforts are largely concerned with extending punk's original vocabulary without losing its essential rebellious spirit. What makes Burma's approach so distinct is their formal musical training and grounding in modern classical music (Miller had formally studied piano, tuba and composition in college) and to a lesser extent their faith in the sound of late 1960s and early 1970s proto-punk pioneers the MC5 and the Stooges, both from Michigan, Miller's and Swope's home state. No Wave was a short-lived but influential offshoot of punk rock centered in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s. ... 20th century classical music was extremely diverse, ranging from the late Romantic style of Sergei Rachmaninoff to the complete serialism of Pierre Boulez, and from the simple triadic harmonies of minimalist composers such as Philip Glass to the musique concrète of Pierre Schaeffer and the microtonal music adopted by... A short grand piano, with the top up. ... The tuba is one of the largest of low-brass instruments and is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the ophicleide. ... A composer is a person who writes music. ... Protopunk is a term used to describe a number of performers who were important precursors of punk rock, or who have been cited by early punk rockers as influential. ... MC5 (short for Motor City Five) was a hard rock band formed in Detroit, Michigan, USA in 1964 and active until 1972, comprising Wayne Kramer and Fred Sonic Smith (guitars) Michael Davis (bass), Rob Tyner (vocals), and Dennis Thompson (drums). ... The Stooges are an American rock band that was first active from about 1967 to 1974, and then reformed in 2003. ...


Using rapid shifts in dynamics, unconventional time signatures and chord progressions along with distinctive tape effects, Mission of Burma challenges the prevailing idioms of punk without losing its power and immediacy. On a purely intellectual level, Burma's approach is similar to that of Glenn Branca (another early Burma contemporary) and later Branca disciples Sonic Youth; however, the result is anything but a cold academic exercise. In music, dynamics refers to the volume or loudness of the sound or note, in particular to the range from soft (quiet) to loud. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... A chord progression (also chord sequence and harmonic progression or sequence), as its name implies, is a series of chords played in order. ... Glenn Branca (born October 6, 1948 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) is an avant-garde composer and guitarist. ... Sonic Youth is a seminal American alternative rock group formed in New York City in 1981. ...


While in early years Burma's audience was limited, with all their recordings released on Boston-based Ace of Heart Records, today Mission of Burma is widely acknowledged as one of the first groups to achieve the potential of modern alternative/independent rock, fusing punk and experimental music into some of the most influential music to come out of the American punk/no wave scene. Alternative rock (also called alternative music[1] or simply alternative) is a genre of rock music that emerged in the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s. ... Punk rock is an anti-establishment music movement beginning around 1976 (although precursors can be found several years earlier), exemplified and popularised by The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. ... For experimental rock music, see experimental rock. ... No Wave was a short-lived but influential offshoot of punk rock centered in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s. ...


History

Mission of Burma owed its origins to a short-lived Boston rock group called Moving Parts, which included Miller (a recent transplant from Ann Arbor, Michigan) and Conley (from Darien, Connecticut via the University of Rochester), keyboardist Erik Lindgren and drummer Boby Bear. While the members were all friendly, Conley and Miller were pulling the group towards a more hard-rocking, rough-edged sound than Lindgren wanted to pursue. When Moving Parts broke up amicably in December 1978, Miller and Conley began practicing and auditioning drummers, quickly selecting native Bostonian Prescott, formerly of the art-rock band The Molls. They liked his somewhat unusual technique; Author Michael Azzerad quotes Conley's admiration of Prescott's "upside-down beats." Erik Lindgren is American composer and keyboards player. ...


They took their name from a "Mission of Burma" plaque Conley saw on a New York City diplomatic building; he thought the phrase had a "sort of murky and disturbing" quality (Azzerad, 97). Burma made their debut in April 1979 as a trio, but later that month Miller wrote a song ("Nu Disco") that he felt would be improved by a tape loop. Miller contacted his fellow Ann Arbor refugee Martin Swope, with whom he had earlier written some John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen-inspired pieces for piano and tape. Swope was immediately enlisted as the group's live audio engineer and occasional tape-effects artist (and hence "auxiliary member"). His latter role grew gradually and steadily (both in the studio and in live performances, as documented on The Horrible Truth About Burma), until by 1981 he was adding tape work to most of the group's songs, and was regarded as an integral part of the group, appearing in group photographs and receiving equal credit on recordings. Seal on the building of German Embassies. ... Nickname: Big Apple, Gotham, NYC, City That Never Sleeps, The Concrete Jungle, The City So Nice They Named It Twice Location in the state of New York Coordinates: Country United States State New York Boroughs The Bronx Brooklyn Manhattan Queens Staten Island Settled 1676 Government  - Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) Area... This page is about negotiations; for the board game, see Diplomacy (game). ... Tape loops are loops of prerecorded magnetic tape used to create repetitive, rhythmic musical patterns. ... Martin Swope is an American musician. ... John Cage For the character of John Cage from the TV show Ally McBeal see: John Cage (Character). ... Karlheinz Stockhausen (born August 22, 1928) is a German composer, and one of the most important and controversial composers of the 20th century. ...


Lyrically, the band drew from dadaist techniques ("This Is Not A Photograph", "Nu Disco", "Go Fun Burn Man"), punk rage ("Fun World", "New Nails", "1970"), alienation ("Mica", "That's When I Reach For My Revolver", "Trem Two", "Academy Fight Song"), art ("Max Ernst") and romance ("That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate"). Miller's songs were typically more unorthodox, both lyrically and structurally. Conley's were somewhat more conventional and even anthemic: critic Franklin Bruno described Conley as a "hook machine"[1], and his songs have probably been most widely covered by other artists. Though Miller and Conley handled most of the singing and songwriting, Prescott contributes a few songs per record as well; he usually sings in a tuneful, drill sergeant's bellow. Dadaism or Dada is a post-World War I cultural movement in visual art as well as literature (mainly poetry), theatre and graphic design. ... Max Ernst Max Ernst (April 2, 1891 – April 1, 1976) was a German Dadaist and surrealist artist. ... A hook is a musical idea, a passage or phrase, that is believed to be catchy and helps the song stand out; it is meant to catch the ear of the listener (Covach 2005, p. ... A drill sergeant drills recruits in the U.S. Army. ...


Live approach

Prescott explained Swope's methods in a 1997 interview: "What Martin did ... was tape something that was going on live, manipulate it, and send it back in (via the soundboard) as a sort of new instrument. You couldn't predict exactly how it would sound, and that got to be the really fun thing I think we all liked. We wanted to play this hammer-down drony noise stuff, but we also wanted another sound in there."[2] Swope's tapework ranged from subtle and nearly subaural (such as the quiet shifting feedback sounds in Conley's "That's When I Reach For My Revolver"), to prominent and even jarring (such as the high-pitched two-note squeal in Miller's "Red"). Michael Azzerad's Our Band Could Be Your Life reports that "A lot of people never knew about Swope's contribution and were mystified by how the musicians onstage could wring such amazing phantom sounds from their instruments." Though his contribution is widely considered an integral part of Burma's sound, Swope very rarely appeared onstage, only occasionally appearing to play second guitar during encores. BBC Local Radio Mark III radio mixing desk In professional audio, a mixing console, mixing desk (Brit. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 is a book by Michael Azerrad (ISBN 0-316-78753-1). ...


Mission of Burma were rather popular in and around their hometown, and made frequent trips to New York and Washington DC. They mounted a few small-scale national tours, which were generally well-received (San Francisco-based Jello Biafra was a fan), but didn't expand their audience significantly, perhaps due to the fact that Indie rock networks for both live performances and record distribution were nowhere near as well developed as they'd be only a few years later. NY redirects here. ... Flag Seal Nickname: DC, The District Motto: Justitia Omnibus (Justice for All) Location Location of Washington, D.C., with regard to the surrounding states of Maryland and Virginia. ... This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... Eric Reed Boucher (born June 17, 1958), better known by the stage name Jello Biafra, is an American punk rock musician and political activist best known as the former lead singer and song writer of the Dead Kennedys. ... Indie rock is a subgenre of rock music often used to refer to bands that are on small independent record labels or that arent on labels at all. ...


Their live performances were notoriously hit-or-miss, and were usually far more rough-edged than their recordings; the Horrible Truth of their live album being an in-joke about their inconsistency. Boston critic and scenester Tristam Lozaw paraphrased a nursery rhyme to describe MoB live: "when they were good, they were very very good, but when they were bad they were horrid ... But that was the nature of the beast ... Because they took chances, you never knew whether you were going to get one of the most spectacular experiences of your life or if it was going a ball of incomprehensible noise." (Azzerad, 106) While the band's improvisational side and the unpredictable chaos of Swope's tape work contributed a little to this inconsistency, the two main factors were (as Lozaw implies) the live sound and the pacing and timing of their sets. When faced with a venue where the sound system or room acoustics weren't up to the task of conveying clarity along with the band's trademark volume, Swope always refused to compromise, and opted for volume. The band's set lists (composed by committee a few minutes before going on stage) could range from well-constructed to seemingly picked at random, and (aside from "Secrets" as a frequent opener and "All World Cowboy Romance" or a cover as an encore) there was a general reluctance to repeat any song placement or sequence that had worked in the past. The band's already-casual showmanship could disappear completely when they found themselves in the middle of a set that turned out to be badly put together. In contrast, when all the segues were working, and the venue's sound effective, Burma could milk the dynamic contrasts among the songs for thrilling and unexpected drama. A nursery rhyme is a traditional rubbish sony that edgar nursery invented while feeding a pig from his asssong or poem taught to young children, originally in the nursery. ...


Breakup and aftermath

Mission of Burma VS. LP cover

In 1983, after releasing their only full-length studio record Vs., the group disbanded due to Miller's worsening tinnitus, attributed in large part to their notoriously loud live performances -- during their farewell tour, Miller took to augmenting his usual small foam earplugs with rifle-range earphones onstage. Vs. has since seen wide praise; one review notes "very few American bands from the 1980s released an album as ambitious or as powerful as Vs., and it still sounds like a classic."[3] "New Nails" seems to set the stage for Sonic Youth, with jagged guitar and shouted lyrics like "The Roman Empire never died / It just changed into the Catholic Church;" this song shows a clear influence from Philip K. Dick's VALIS. Mission of Burma - Vs. ... Vs. ... Tinnitus (IPA pronunciation: or ,[1] from the Latin word for ringing[2]) is the perception of sound in the human ear in the absence of corresponding external sound(s). ... Vs. ... Vs. ... Sonic Youth is a seminal American alternative rock group formed in New York City in 1981. ... Motto: Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR) The Roman Empire at its greatest extent, c. ... The Roman Catholic Church or Catholic Church (see terminology below) is the Christian Church in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, currently Pope Benedict XVI. It traces its origins to the original Christian community founded by Jesus Christ and led by the Twelve Apostles, in particular Saint Peter. ... Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American writer, mostly known for his works of science fiction; additional to forty-four books currently in print, Dick wrote several short stories and minor works published in pulp magazines. ... It has been suggested that Black Iron Prison be merged into this article or section. ...


Miller and Swope then turned their attention to their side project, the quieter Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic (cofounded with their old friend Lindgren), which they both left in the '90s, Miller to produce several solo efforts and film scores, and Swope to semi-reclusion in Hawaii. Prescott remained active in the Boston music scene, forming Volcano Suns and later Kustomized and The Peer Group. Other than producing Yo La Tengo's debut record, Conley dropped out of music (working as a producer for a Boston television station); in 2001 he returned with Consonant. Birdsongs of the Mesozoic is a musical group founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1983. ... Volcano Suns was an American alternative rock band from Boston, Massachusetts. ... Yo La Tengo is an American indie rock band, based in Hoboken, New Jersey. ...


In the decades following their demise, Burma's reputation grew to nearly legendary proportions. Contemporary music critics point to their work as a pivotal turning point in North American independent music. Many bands have cited Burma as an inspiration, including Nirvana, Superchunk, Jawbox, The Grifters, R.E.M. (who regularly covered "Academy Fight Song" on their Green tour), Sonic Youth, Throwing Muses, Yo La Tengo, Fugazi, Soul Asylum, Pixies, Sugar, Guided by Voices, Catherine Wheel, Graham Coxon and Moby - the last three of which have covered Conley's "That's When I Reach For My Revolver." It should be noted here that when Moby covered the song for an MTV video, he changed the lyrics to "That's when I think that it is over." When questioned why, Moby responded that he did not want to promote gun violence. Nirvana was an American rock band originating from Aberdeen, Washington. ... Superchunk (left to right): Mac McCaughan, Jim Wilbur, Jon Wurster, Laura Ballance. ... Jawbox was a punk rock/indie rock/post-hardcore band from Washington, D.C.. Its members were J. Robbins (vocals/guitar), Bill Barbot (guitar), Kim Coletta (bass guitar), and Adam Wade & Zach Barocas (drums). ... The Grifters were a nationally popular and influential 1990s indie rock band based in Memphis who released albums on Doink, Sonic Noise, Shangri-la Records, and Sub Pop Records. ... R.E.M. is an American rock band formed in Athens, Georgia, in early 1980 by drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and vocalist Michael Stipe. ... Sonic Youth is a seminal American alternative rock group formed in New York City in 1981. ... An early band formation (left to right): Narcizo, Hersh, Donelly, and Langston. ... Yo La Tengo is an American indie rock band, based in Hoboken, New Jersey. ... Fugazi may refer to: an Italian slang term for something that is fake/not authentic. ... Soul Asylum is an alternative rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1983. ... The Pixies are an American alternative rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1985. ... Sugar was an indie rock band of the early 1990s led by former Hüsker Dü vocalist/guitarist Bob Mould. ... Guided by Voices (often abbreviated as GBV) was an extremely prolific lo-fi/indie-rock band from Dayton, Ohio. ... Catherine Wheel is an alternative rock band from Great Yarmouth, England. ... Graham Coxon singing in the video to Blurs Tender Graham Coxon (born Graham Leslie Coxon on 12 March 1969, in Rinteln, West Germany) is an English singer-songwriter, best known as the former guitarist in the rock band Blur. ... Moby(born Richard Melville Hall on September 11, 1965 in Harlem, New York, and raised in Darien, Connecticut) is an American singer and electronic musician. ... Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in the cafeteria at Columbine High School, shortly before committing suicide. ...


In 2001, Michael Azerrad's popular collection of essays Our Band Could Be Your Life chronicled the history of a handful of influential American bands from the post-punk era, including Mission of Burma. The publication of the book introduced Burma to an audience that had previously never heard of the band. Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 is a book by Michael Azerrad (ISBN 0-316-78753-1). ...


Reunion

In 2002, Mission of Burma reunited and began playing reunion shows with Bob Weston of Shellac (and formerly Prescott's Volcano Suns bandmate) replacing Swope at the mixing board and tape manipulation. In an interview Miller relates that "when we approached Bob Weston to fill Martin's position, we told him he could use current digital technology which accomplishes Martin's antics in an easier fashion. However, Bob opted for maintaining the original integrity, and uses a tape deck."[4] Weston regularly joins the band onstage during encores, playing bass while Conley plays second guitar. Shellac, at the Brandenburg Gate Shellac (sometimes referred to as Shellac of North America) is an American rock music group formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1992 by Steve Albini (guitar and vocals), Bob Weston (bass guitar vocals) and Todd Trainer (drums). ... An AKAI MPC2000 sampler // [edit] Overview The emergence of the digital sampler made sampling far more practical, and as samplers added progressively more digital processing to their recorded sounds, they began to merge into the mainstream of modern digital synthesizers. ...


A new album, ONoffON, was produced in 2004 by Bob Weston in conjunction with Rick Harte and the band, and released on Matador Records on May 4. The album finished 90th in the Village Voice Pazz & Jop critic's poll. Snapshot, a live recording of the reunited MoB, is an iTunes exclusive. ONoffON is the second album by post-punk group Mission of Burma, their first studio recording after their nineteen year haitus. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Matador Records is an influential record label, famous for a roster of highly-respected indie rock artists and bands. ... May 4 is the 124th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (125th in leap years). ... The Village Voice is a New York City-based weekly newspaper featuring investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts reviews and events listings for New York City. ... The Pazz & Jop critics poll is a highly influential poll of music critics run by The Village Voice newspaper. ... The correct title of this article is . ...


In September 2005, the band began recording their third studio album, tentatively titled (among other names) Aluminum Washcloth. Production duties this time were again handled by Bob Weston. Rechristened The Obliterati, the new album was released on Matador on May 23, 2006 and was named as the 33rd best record of 2006 by Pitchfork Media and placed 50th in the Pazz & Jop poll. 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... In September 2005, Mission of Burma began recording their third studio album, the second since their 2002 reunion. ... May 23 is the 143rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (144th in leap years). ... For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ...


Discography

Studio albums

Vs. ... ONoffON is the second album by post-punk group Mission of Burma, their first studio recording after their nineteen year haitus. ... In September 2005, Mission of Burma began recording their third studio album, the second since their 2002 reunion. ...

EPs

Signals, Calls and Marches is an EP by the band Mission of Burma. ...

Singles

  • Academy Fight Song b/w Max Ernst (1980)
  • Trem Two b/w OK/No Way (1982)
  • Dirt b/w Falling (2004)

Compilations and live albums

  • The Horrible Truth About Burma (1985)
  • Mission of Burma (1988)
  • Forget (1988)
  • Let There Be Burma (1990)
  • Accomplished: The Best of Mission of Burma (2004)
  • A Gun to the Head: A Selection from the Ace of Hearts Era (2004)
  • Snapshot (2004)

Video

In 1983, now legendary post-punk icons Mission of Burma performed two highly regarded farewell shows at the Bradford Hotel in Boston. ...

External links

  • www.missionofburma.com - Official band web page
  • Matador Records - Reunion release
  • Rykodisc - Reissues of original material
  • sherihausey.com/mob - Band photos by Sheri Hausey
  • Mission of Burma collection at the Internet Archive's live music archive
  • obliterati.net - Band wiki
  • http://missionofburma.com/burmakitty.html - Burmakitty's unofficial Mission of Burma fan web site
  • [5] - Not a Photograph - The Mission of Burma Story
  • [6] - Interview with Clint Conley on NPR's Here and Now on 9/6/06

  Results from FactBites:
 
Matador Records | Mission Of Burma (4491 words)
Discussing Boston's Mission Of Burma in the context of their being one of the most influential groups of the past 30 years is all fine and good, but it does a slight disservice to their status as a living, breathing, insanely-vibrant rock'n'roll band in the year 2006.
Mission Of Burma will be playing Democratic Gain's "Jumpoff" party, happening July 25 at Boston's Avalon amidst all the DNC hoopla.
Mission of Burma will be performing January 17 in New York City at Irving Plaza, in March at the SXSW convention in Austin, and in April at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Camber Sands.
Mission of Burma: Information from Answers.com (2179 words)
While in early years Burma's audience was limited, today Mission of Burma is widely acknowledged as one of the first groups to achieve the potential of modern alternative/independent rock, fusing punk and experimental music into some of the most influential music to come out of the American punk/no wave scene.
Burma made their debut in April 1979 as a trio, but later that month Miller wrote a song ("New Disco") that he felt would be improved by a tape loop.
Mission of Burma were rather popular in and around their hometown, and made frequent trips to New York and Washington DC.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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