Of the four bands that recorded for MindWalk, North is by far the most obscure in terms of what is known about their history and character. Ironically, the sparse, minimalist aesthetics of their lone, untitled 7" perfectly encapsulates the anonymity that surrounded them as much then as it does now. We are certain of a few things: The four members of North (most of their names are completely unknown to us) rose from the ashes of a few Philly bands of interest, such as I Am Heaven, Goodbye Blue Monday, and Elements of Need, they recorded the two untitled songs for the 7" by themselves at a church in Philly (yet nothing is known about the recording session, other than that it took place over a few weekends), and they were associated with a post-punk music scene in Philadelphia which MindWalk was otherwise estranged from. It is remarkable how little was ever known about them; almost the same could be said for Rigid, since they didn't share any camaraderie with other MindWalk bands either, yet Jeff Bogle was at least familiar with their (tragic) story.
Part of the motivation for putting out their record was Machiavellian, to be sure: there was a sense that if MindWalk could work with a band from the Philly sect, that it would help to draw the other MindWalk acts in their community, which would lead to more recognition for the label, and maybe some better local shows. But the project of North and the set of aesthetics they had in mind for their music and presentation was of particular interest to Jeff Bogle at MindWalk as well, since they were feeding off of the minimalist styling of Lungfish, one of his favorite bands at the time. Also, the label needed a fresh, new band to work with, because at that point, only Drill For Absentee remained. Since the members of North had all been in previous bands who had toured America a few times over, there was a sense of optimism in this release; they seemed to possess the work ethic that was lacking in the other two MindWalk artists and would be willing to get out on the road. I recall a few meetings with the members of North taking place at Jeff Bogle's pad on South Street -- there was a lot of excitement about the record, indeed.
Of course, North turned out to be the least-productive of the four MindWalk bands: they never toured, never endeared themselves to the label or their label-mates, and seemed to have played only a handful of shows, one of which was the "MindWalk Night" showcase at the Khyber Pass in Philly -- probably their swan song as a band altogether. It's the kind of thing that we can sit back and laugh about now, but at the time, the failure of their 7" may have sparked the coming catharsis which would eventually lead to the dissolution of MindWalk. A lack of passion and interest is what kills a small record label, and up until North's release, MindWalk had avoided that problem; the Rigid and DFA 7"s received strong reviews and radio play, and were even selling quite well by small label/1990s standards.
Luckily, that sense of disinterest that North adopted towards promoting their band is nowhere to be found in the music on their 7" the two tracks are quite passionate, and their overall vibe fits seamlessly into their obscure character: songs built on a single, repeating riff, layered with dynamic, lo-fi textures. If you like the musical direction of Lungfish with an anonymity that makes The Residents seem like scenesters, then North is worth checking out.
by Adam M. Dinwiddie]
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