Beginnings are auspicious things

Rope Cosmetology was formed in August 2008 by Tom Smith, Balazs Pándi, Ryan Parrish, Feri Kovács and Tim Lane Seaton. Their debut album, Discoteca Festival, was released in January 2009 on Smith’s Karl Schmidt Verlag imprint. Since then, the quintet have issued five more KSV albums (Spezial: Gedankengefüge (Compound Thought), Diffusion de la rue de la Double Identité, and Hinterzimmer-Apotheke (leibt) illegal Meztgerei, all from 2009; The Honey Fox in Hare’s Longing, from 2011, and their latest, Disunion Strips, released in May 2012) and have a double-disc album (tentatively titled November Cirrhosis) forthcoming on forward-thinking Tel Aviv label Heart & Crossbones. “Ropecosm” (as fans know them) are currently at work on their eighth album, a self-titled work for which seventeen new compositions have been recorded. The eponymous release is currently being mixed by Ryan Parrish at his studio in Richmond, Virginia.

The group have been described (by Parisian journalist-artist Eva Revox) as a “gang-bang Arkestra,” (by Germany’s Radio Flora) as “a ruminative sigh that flips into overdriven violence,” (by UK art zine Level 4.2) as a force “segmenting the syntactic failures of an ailing art’s adjuration,” and (by US mag UVA) as “a strong contrast between dissonant, free-flowing improvisation and the stronger, steadier rhythmic drive less characteristic of [same).” Which probably means that Ropecosm are considered to be purveyors of aggressive, noisy free-jazz, but with songs. (Or something within that orbit.)

Feri Kovács (HU)

Tenor saxophone, Trumpet, Vibraphone, Piano, Background Vocals

Feri has been a mainstay of the Hungarian free-music scene for decades. The antic soul of Rope Cosmetology, the multi-instrumentalist is the group’s perferred spokesperson. (Feri’s command of English is nothing less than wondrous.) A list of credits would extend kilometers, and securing one would likely prove impossible — Pandi keeps the Internet entirely at bay.

Feri Kovács

Balazs Pándi (HU)

Drums, Electronics

Balazs was a member of To Live and Shave in L.A. during their final (and arguably greatest) tour (2008, through fourteen European countries), and has been the drummer for noise music legend Merzbow since 2009. He regularly collaborates with Justin Broadrick, Jamie Saft, Trevor Dunn (Fantomas, Melvins, Tomahawk, Mr. Bungle), Donald Miller (Borbetomagus), Mats Gustafsson, Takafumi Matsubara (Mortalized / Gridlink), Joe Morris, Venetian Snares, Metallic Taste of Blood, Wormskull, DJ Scotch Egg, and a host of other electronic, jazz, metal and noise artists. He resides in Budapest, and has been a member of Rope Cosmetology since the group’s formation.

Balazs Pándi

Ryan Parrish (US)

Drums, Electronics

Ryan sprang to fame as the drummer of thrash favorites Darkest Hour, but had long pursued parallel noise-improv tangents with Richmond, Virginia-based duo Suppression. Like the other members of Rope Cosmetology, Parrish juggles multiple projects and personas as a matter of course. His solo ambient project, Years, has been well-represented on record. Ryan also performs with Iron Reagan (including members of Municipal Waste), Highness (with members of Christie Front Drive, Pg. 99, and City of Caterpillar), and Fat Wreckords artists Smoke or Fire. It takes a lot to bring the percussionist to his knees, but seven or eight single-malts usually do the trick.

Ryan Parrish

Tim Lane Seaton (US)

Bass, Electronics, Backing Vocals

Tim joined Tom Smith’s ur-noise/improv group Peach of Immortality in early 1988, and recorded and performed with POI until their dissolution in the spring of 1991. Seaton lived and worked in Atlanta, Georgia throughout the 1980s, curating the performance space Klang!, recording his seminal solo bass album Tidal Bass Generator and managing Walking Fish, the studio where Peach of Immortality recorded the legendarily feral Taxi zum Shoah album. After recording Taxi, Tim moved to Los Angeles, working for the man writing jingles and lane-splitting. In LA he soon joined LAFMS-aligned outfit Milk, touring non-stop until 2008. Seaton has been with Ropecosm since its 2008 formation.

Tim Lane Seaton

Tom Smith (DE)

Voice, Electronics, Texts

Over the past 33 years, Tom has been involved with a series of extraordinary ensembles: Boat Of (1979-1983), Peach of Immortality (1984-1991), Velvet Monkeys (1984), Pussy Galore (1985-1986), To Live and Shave in L.A. (1990-2010), A AAL Aachen Nevada Jim (1996-1999), OHNE (2000-2008), Sightings Tom Smith (2003-present), Memories of Underdevelopment (2000-2003), Three Resurrected Drunkards (2008-2010), Thieves’ Who’s Who (duo with Wouter Jaspers, 2010-present), Merkwürdig Riechen (2011-present), Psychotic (co-founded with Aaron Dilloway and Kevin Drumm in June 2012), and Rope Cosmetology (2008-present).

He has issued recordings on countless labels and has performed throughout North America and in more than 40 countries since 1980. His prolific Karl Schmidt Verlag imprint, begun in October 2008, has issued over 250 albums and books, with no cessation in output likely.

Tom has produced and mixed albums and tracks for a diverse roster of artists, including Chicago no-wave stalwarts Scissor Girls and Duotron, the Electric Eels’ Brian McMahon, (After That It’s All) Gravy, Sucking Coeds, Frosty, Sightings, Xiu Xiu, Harry Pussy, and many others. He wrote, mixed and produced the majority of TLASILA’s 200-odd releases, most of the albums created for the lamented Smack Shire imprint, and scores of those created by performers alligned with KSV.

Smith has authored six books (the latest, Victims’ Youthquake Style, will be published in October 2012) and has written cultural criticism for Bananafish, Forced Exposure (the 80s magazine), the Chicago Reader, Blastitude, Ugly American, and a host of other journals, zines, corporate slummers and xeroxed fly-by-night one-offs.

The New York Times has described his musical work as “wildly inaccessible, specializing in gargled, tangled constructions that gesture violently, if mystifyingly, toward something familiar.” The Wire described his written work as “insanely ambitious, wrestling with transfigurative verse juxtaposing the snot and bodily fluids poetry of gonzo rock aesthete Richard Meltzer with the Herculean symbolism of Ezra Pound.

Tom Smith