EMPOOL

Psychedelic Noise
(1976 - 1978)


BREAKING NEWS 2017

Feeding Tube Records plans to release a full LP's worth of Empool Music sometime in 2017!


 

                                                               BAND MEMBERS:  All who ever participated in rough order of significance

                                                                                           LAURENCE MILLER: composer,  guitar
, voice, and prerecorded analogue sounds-capes
                                                                                           ANDRE CYNKIN: guitar, bass, and organ
                                                                                           BEN MILLER: "electrified" alto saxophone, guitar, voice, bass, and drums  (Ben composed several pieces with recorded sound-scapes)
                                                                                           ROGER MILLER: drums, bass, guitar, and occasional voice
                                                                                           MAT SMITH: light-man (homemade color organ key triggered light system)
                                                                                           RICK SCOTT: electric piano
                                                                                           PETER (last name?): drums
                                                                                           ERIC (last name?): drums
                                                                                           T.R. "prepared" guitar
                                                                                           MARTIN SWOPE: guitar
                                                                                           
BOB BANTA: bass
                                                                                           LESLIE ORLIN: Viola
                                                                                           DAVID SWAIN: Tenor Sax



BAND HISTORY  (1976 thru 1977)

EMPOOL was an experimental existential psychedelic noise band which Laurence Miller put together.  The band was formed to accompany the creation of it's Ann Arbor Arts Rag couterpart, EMPOOL III, one which he was largely responsible for.  NOTE: Another name for the band considered was WETT DREAMS, later used as a title for one of his pieces.

Long Story Short: The band continued in various battered forms with a mix of schooled and not-so-schooled musicians, until fall 1977 when it finally melted completely into Ann Arbor's Art-Punk band, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS.

The band began in August 1976 as a fixed trio: two musicians and a "light man". Miller had been introduced to a musician named Andre Cynkin. With rock-jazz fusion, free-form improvisation, and general psychedelia -- the two hit it off right away, forming the central hub of the group. Mat Smith played the lights, hammering on his homemade color organ light system, keyboard operated. The three rehearsed together to improvise thoughtfully over prerecorded background tracks which Miller would create, using cheap sound on sound analog recording equipment.  These multitrack collage soundscapes were an integral part of each improvisation.  A good deal of the taped sounds were "found", using novelty records such as the 1950's children's record  Bozo the Clown at the Bottom of the Sea  and the 1960's story-theatre record,  Famous Monsters Speak.  Miller also used  Radio Shack SFX  records, and  educational materials, as well as his own music. Some of the original material he used was guitar feedback, while more obscure sounds were created for example by rubbing a wet rag over a window pane producing horrendous screeching sounds. Many of these backing tracks were often treated during the recording process with the same analog foot pedal FX that EMPOOL members performed with. 

Miller mapped out working guidleines to the various improvisations for the three to feed off of. Mat's "aurora borealis" enhanced Miller and Andre's musical performance as they all improvised together, always (for better or worse) under the influence. This cacophony proved to be an impressive sight & sound experience for a garage band at that time. Plans of an actual flexi-disc single were on the back burner, sadly never brought to fruition.


As the fall of 1976 progressed, a drummer (remembered now only as Peter) was introduced to the band, forming the only actual rock combo version of Empool. Mat Smith, Andre Cynkin, and their prerecorded soundscapes were temporarily set to the side as Miller and his two brothers, Roger and Ben, began working out a different set of material.  Avant garde originals guided by low level jazz/fusion intelligence with a slight influence from Brian Eno's solo rock music.  The excitement didn't last.  EMPOOL always struggled in this ongoing balancing act between the two genre camps; Avant Garde Rock and Pure Psychedlic Noise.

Before the beginning of the new year, 1977, EMPOOL had again launched it's way back into psychedelic free-form group improvisations against prerecorded soundscapes. Andre Cynkin was brought back, though Mat Smith was no longer involved. This return focus was partly due to the work it would have taken in order to pull off a well organized band, which Miller may not have been able to do, what with the on going presence and progressive use of recreational drugs.

Actual band mates came and went through EMPOOL'S carefree revolving door, with Andre and Miller always holding the fort.  This collective was playing at higher volumes now, improvising with little or no attention paid to any mapped guidelines. Drums and bass were employed time to time, though rarely acting as a traditional "time/tonal based" rhythm section.  EMPOOL's sound was a densely layered wall-to-wall cacophony, self described as a "3D atmospheric collage happening".

NOTE: Some members had no trouble whatsoever drifting off into that no-man's land, exploring the unknown with complete disregard, while others at times suffered the anchor of theory and it's conventional tedium.

Spring 1977
April brought about the long awaited publishing of local literary arts rag EMPOOL III, as well as the band's demise. Empool had an in-house performance to celebrate the publication -- the band's 2nd gig. Andre recalls playing organ, Miller on guitar, very possibly with Mat Smith back on the "lights", and possibly with Ben Miller as well.  Ben doesn't recall a thing, and as for Laurence Miller, it's a peripheral blur at best.

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS Arrive...
Around that time, Cary Loren and Niagara (the nucleus of another local outfit from Ann Arbor, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS) began dropping in unexpectedly during EMPOOL'S jamb sessions. Though some of  EMPOOL'S members had jambed with Cary & Niagara on occasion in 1976, this was the official meeting of the minds as it were.  For whatever number of reasons and explanations affordable, in a very short time, EMPOOL was now improvising over tunes written by Cary & Niagara, exclusively. Though far more linear and conventional by all standards, EMPOOL enjoyed the distraction as Cary & Niagara afforded them full-freedom to interpret their songs however they chose. With the rumor that Ron Asheton would join ranks, soon followed by MC5's Michael Davis and talks of financing a vinyl 45 rpm single, EMPOOL and DESTROY ALL MONSTERS soon became one band -- a brand new incarnation of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. (Note: Both D.A.M. and EMPOOL were "reasonably ignorant" of the other, and yet each had their own counterpart art magazine.)  EMPOOL enjoyed a couple nice final sessions over the course of the summer and into the fall of 1977 through just a few spare moments in 1978. 

ANTIDOTES: Some of the wildest sounds they came up with were from the oscillations produced by hot wiring the main lines off a gutted-out Webcor reel to reel taperecorder.  An accidental discovery.  Also favored were the effects of snipping scissors, marbles dropped into a bowl, rags ripped and paper torn. Once, in the middle of a full blown session at Feltch St., Laurence noticed his brother Roger on the floor, huddled very close to the recording microphone, muttering something under his breath for the longest time.  It wasn't until Laurence later heard the playback that he fully appreciated Roger's manifestation.

 "...what?.... what? ... what? ... what? ... what? ... what? ... what? ..."

One of Miller's most fond memories was during their 3rd and last actual performance. A home-warming party at the soon to be notorious Monster Party Palace ~ "The Cube" ~ in the fall of 1977. Shortly after the band began improvising, Miller literally filed all the strings off his Stray Ray Star Trek guitar (a homemade slide, modified electric Kay guitar, with one pickup near the bridge and another mounted on the neck near the nut). One by one each string snapped until they'd all been shorn off.  Miller then walked out of the room as a symbolic act to calling off the show.

"Could anything possibly top that?", Miller thought.

Folks were only then beginning to show up.  All the better for that anti-pop, existential mentality Miller supported at that time.  The band continued.  Miller lost interest and grabbed another beer.


ROGER MILLER  "... I always considered Empool to be WAY ahead of it's time: in plunderphonics, in noise music, etc.  EMPOOL was doing what is now called "noise music" years before that name was coined. I consider that in some ways Empool predated Byrne and Eno's MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS, due to Empool's reuse of material.  And it was active the same time as, say, The Residents were starting up ..."

BEN MILLER  "... Empool had a significant influence on my musical sensibility ..."


THE END of EMPOOL
EMPOOL fizzled out altogether as 1977 passed on into the world of punk rock music, gigs, studio work, and 24/7 pardy-hardy. The rest is D.A.M. history.

In closing, EMPOOL did not amount to much in the real world, with only three house party performances. Those days didn't offer coffee shops and art hangouts where one could freely perform such music, as in the case of today's alternative scenes.  Thankfully, EMPOOL recorded 95% of their sessions, if not on home gear, and was certainly ahead of it's time in the use of found sound and open ended free form improvisation, and full of innocent naivete.

NOTE: In 1994 Miller reconvened the band for a one-time recording project, using what few original players to whom he was still in contact. Brothers Roger, Ben, Rick Scott, and Lincoln Yaco (a friend who never actually played in the band but was a major player in the EMPOOL III arts rag).  Sadly, Andre Cynkin (mainstay of Empool) was not present, though Miller did sample and use feature segments of Andre's playing, pulled off the master tapes.

In this bastardized version of EMPOOL, they recorded their two avant garde rock songs; OPAQUE MYSTERY and AT GAME WITH THE LOGO. Plans were to get it pressed on vinyl to accompany the 20th anniversary publication of EMPOOL III, neither of which came into fruition.




December, 2014    CARY LOREN:

"Laurence Miller had a band called Empool, playing free-psychedelic music -- very experimental ‘out there’ space jazz, and
worked with a revolving group of musicians. This was the only band we knew of doing anything similar to D.A.M. in 1976. 
Niagara and I essentially merged our songs into that scene which was a short-lived middle phase of D.A.M."


 



EMPOOL III
The Band's Arts Rag Counterpart

1st Issue (c) 1977



                                                                            Editor: Doctor Zero
                                                                            Joint Editor: Larry Miller
                                                                           Asst. Editor (Production) Debbie Randall
                                                                           Typography: Paul Remley and Julia Goodman
                                                                           Blood Donors: The Patients
                                                                           Cover: Linc Yaco and Carol Mohr

                                                                           CONTRIBUTORS (alphabetical order):
                                                                           Ingrid Good / Artist
                                                                           Julia Goodman / Artist
                                                                           Jimm Juback / Writer
                                                                           Arnold Lelis / Artist
                                                                           Cary Loren / Photography
                                                                           Ben Miller / Writer
                                                                           Larry Miller / Writer and Artist
                                                                           Roger Miller / Writer and Artist
                                                                           Carol Mohr / Caligraphy
                                                                           Mike Mosher / Writer and Artist
                                                                           Niagara / Model
                                                                           Paul Remley / Writer and Artist
                                                                           Jan Schnoor / Artist
                                                                           Curt Schultz / Artist
                                                                           Martin Swope / Writer
                                                                           Link Yaco / Writer and Artist
                                                                           Dr. Zero / ?

2nd Issue (c) 1998



                                                         Joint Editors: Laurence Bond Miller and Link Yaco

                                                         CONTRIBUTORS (alphabetical order)
                                                         Orin Buck / Fractal Artist
                                                         Jimm Juback / ?
                                                         Arnold Lelis / Artist
                                                         Cary Loren / Photography
                                                         Benjamin Rush Miller / ?
                                                         Laurence Bond Miller / Writer and Artist
                                                         Roger Miller / Writer and ?
                                                         Michael Raymond Mosher / Artist
                                                         Link Yaco / Interviewer, Writer and Artist
                                                         Larynx Zillion / Interviewee
                                                         Cover and end piece by Mark Homola

                     The original idea of pressing an Empool 45rpm for this 2nd issue was scraped for reasons unknown.
                     The idea changed in favor of a flexi with my current band of the day, LARYNX ZILLION'S NOVELTY SHOP.
                     That was never fully realized either...





COMPUTOR WORLD
~ Fall 1976

Conceived by Laurence Miller

Laurence Miller: Guitar and prerecorded soundscape (highspeed pianos)
Andre Cynkin: Organ

Empool - Computor World.mp3 Empool - Computor World.mp3
Size : 4.069 Kb
Type : mp3



REPERCUSSION (excerpt) ~ Fall 1977
Conceived by 
Laurence Miller
Guitars, bass, microphone feedback, scissors, marbles, etc, and prerecorded SFX
Empool - Repercussion.mp3 Empool - Repercussion.mp3
Size : 4.813 Kb
Type : mp3



OPAQUE MYSTERY
"Live" @ OLIVIA HOUSE ~ Dec 31 1976
Written by Laurence Miller
The actual recording from above said photgraphs:

Laurence Miller: Guitar and voice
Andre Cynkin: Guitar
Roger Miller: Bass
Ben Miller: Drums
Empool - Opaque Mystery Live.mp3 Empool - Opaque Mystery Live.mp3
Size : 4.849 Kb
Type : mp3



IMPROV UNTITLED 1 ~ 1977
Guitar improvisation
Empool - Improv 1.mp3 Empool - Improv 1.mp3
Size : 5.797 Kb
Type : mp3


IMPROV UNTITLED 2 ~ 1977
Group improvisation

Empool - Improv 2.mp3 Empool - Improv 2.mp3
Size : 1.327 Kb
Type : mp3


The major players in EMPOOL (Laurence Miller, Ben Miller, Roger Miller, Andre Cynkin, Rick Scott and special guest Linc Yaco sitting in on lead vocals), recorded two songs in 1994.  OPAQUE MYSTERY and AT GAME WITH THE LOGO (MP3's below). These were to be released as a single sandwiched into the 2nd publication of the EMPOOL arts magazine, a publication which never truly came to pass.


"STUDIO 1994" AT GAME WITH THE LOGO {Version A}
Written by Laurence Miller

Dr. Zero: Vocals
Laurence Miller: Drums, drum machine, castinets, bass, guitar(s), engineering production
ORDER OF SOLOS
Ben: Alto saxophone
Rick Scott: Keyboard
Roger Miller: Keyboard sampler
Laurence Miller: Guitar
Andre Cynkin: Keyboard and Guitar


"STUDIO 1994" AT GAME WITH THE LOGO {Version B}
Written by Laurence Miller

Dr. Zero: Vocals
Laurence Miller: Drum machine, bass, guitar(s),
engineering production
ORDER OF SOLOS
Ben: Alto saxophone
Rick Scott: Keyboard
Roger Miller: Keyboard sampler
Laurence Miller: Guitar
Andre Cynkin: Keyboard and Guitar


"STUDIO 1994" OPAQUE MYSTERY
Written by Laurence Miller
Laurence Miller: Drum machine, bass, keyboard, guitars, lead mosquito, and vocals

EMPOOL STUDIO 1994 - Opaque Mystery.mp3 EMPOOL STUDIO 1994 - Opaque Mystery.mp3
Size : 3.105 Kb
Type : mp3



Original cover art for EMPOOL's single, which again, never came into fruition.
(1977 Artwork by Laurence called SUNKEN GARDENS, and mid 80's Band Name Graphic)



PHOTO GALLERY


 EMPOOL "live" New Years Eve performance at OLIVIA HOUSE campus party
Dec 31st 1976 
 

Cary Loren and Niagara of Destroy All Monsters managed to merge with the band later, as the night grew on, along with other friends.
Seen here in this first picture, we have EMPOOL in the opening bars of their first number, OPAQUE MYSTERY.



    Roger Miller on bass                                                                             Laurence Miller on guitar and voice

 Andre Cynkin on guitar                                                                                               Ben Miller on drums
(clipped at the left there)                                                                                                (behind Laurence)




Ben Miller on drums, keeping a keen eye on his chart...
      

 

EMPOOL seen here as a duo, along with a prerecorded soundscape performing a piece called DADA DATA
Ben Miller on guitar                                              Laurence Miller on guitar


 Andre Cynkin on "treated" organ, tweaking the dials.
(Leslie Orlin to the right, playing the viola)

                                                                                                            



                                                                                                                 REHEARSAL PICS Spring 1977


Andre Cynkin and Ben Miller, proudly displaying a freshly broken bass string...


Ben Miller and Andre Cynkin sharing a thought, with drummer Eric, back in the shadows, setting up.


Rick Scott (later of BIRDS OF THE MESOZOIC fame) double checking the
reel to reel tape recorder, while Andre Cynkin sets up his Farfisa...


Laurence Miller with cigarette and beer in one hand, clearly prepared...

Laurence Miller seen here, staking an "Emplic Salute".


Andre Cynkin carrying gear down stairs while Laurence is seen behind, hiding in the furnace room for a lark.


Laurence's gear: An Epiphone 335 w/Echoplex, along with various MXR, Electro Harmonix, and Dan Armstrong FX pedals hooked up through his double chain of bass amps - Kustom 200 / Gibson 100



Ben Miller blows his brains out on his C-Tenor saxophone solo for the 1994 recording of AT GAME WITH THE LOGO.







                                                        Last but not least, something only just read about on the Internet while googling the word, EMPOOL

                                                       EMPOOL (The Water Treatment Works) WATER INDUSTRY ACT 1991: SECTION 19(1)(b)
                                             THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD, AND RURAL AFFAIRS:
                                              is satisfied that Wessex Water Services Ltd "the Company" is supplying water from the Empool water treatment works which may be at risk of exceeding the standard for the prescribed concentration of nitrate.
                                             This means that the Company  is likely to contravene its duty in respect of supplying water which meets the  Regulations under Section 68(1)(a) of the Water Industry Act 1991and meets 
the  requirement set
                                             in regulation 4(2)(c) of the Water Supply (Water Quality)  Regulations 2000.