I’ve been part of the NYC underground music scene since the early 1990s. I formed my first industrial band, S.H.R.I.K.E., in 1991, inspired primarily by SWANS and bands on the Wax Trax! and Nettwerk labels, playing local shows in my suburban New York region of Rockland County. After S.H.R.I.K.E. ceased to exist in 1992, I began a second project, OIL ROTS RUBBER, with my friend Graham Udelsman, who’d previously fronted another local industrial band called DRENCROM, with whom S.H.R.I.K.E. had often performed.
I became an active member of the industrial music community, working as one of the countless flyer “distributors” and initiating an ultimately failed magazine project for Neville Wells and Tony Fletcher, promoters of the long-running weekly event Communion at the infamous Limelight, and writing reviews and interviews for IndustrialnatioN magazine. With Wells’s help, eventually I was tasked with running a short-lived club night of my own, called The Void, at a venue in Yonkers, New York. I would meet my future friend and collaborator Derek Rush at this time, when Wells sent me to have flyers printed at the Kinkos where Derek worked.
My industrial project continued to evolve, changing names frequently until eventually settling on NAVICON TECHNOLOGIES, ultimately becoming a solo effort from 1993 to 1996. In 1997, while studying electronic music in college, I began working on new material with a classmate named Scott Walker, under the name NAVICON TORTURE TECHNOLOGIES. While early material also included vocal and visual input from my longtime friend Elle Gaston, romantic/sexual tensions between she and I ultimately necessitated her departure from the project. Later, Scott and I recruited a third member, Christian Mesiano, from the same class where we’d met.
NAVICON TORTURE TECHNOLOGIES (NTT) saw its first official release in August 1997, in the form of AMALGAM: A Collection of War Poems. This was a split CD featuring lo-fi ambient noise and power electronics from NTT, along with NEGATIVE EIGHT (a genre-bending electronic side project of the grind/industrial band NEGATIVEHATE), whose members happened to live just around the corner from me.
As an outlet for this album, and with the idea of more to come, I initiated the foundation of the ANNIHILVS label. The CD release was celebrated with a show at Creative Universal Studios, a local rehearsal space in Suffern, New York, where Chuck Scandura of NEGATIVEHATE worked.
The show’s lineup consisted of JAMES PLOTKIN, VAGINA DENTATA (previously known as CLOT, a band fronted by the poet and author Tricia Warden, who had published two books via Henry Rollins’s 2.13.61 imprint), and rounding out the show were EBM act SIDE 3, as well as (of course) NEGATIVEHATE and NAVICON TORTURE TECHNOLOGIES.
Jim Plotkin and Tim Wyskida met for the first time at this show, as Tim was friends with Scott Walker. Plotkin and Wyskida would go on to become very close friends, and form KHANATE with Stephen O’Malley and Alan Dubin some years later, planting the seeds of their longtime collaboration after that band dissolved.
At the tail end of 1998 into 1999, after I had parted ways with both Scott Walker and Chris Mesiano, I began working with Tim Spann, of the New Jersey-based project ABFALL, whose website, Noiseweb.com, doubled as a tape label. It was Tim who first led me into the more unknown corners of the noise scene, releasing early NTT solo material on compilations. He continued as a collaborator for several years, often performing as a member of NTT into the mid-2000s. Also based in New Jersey, the Loud Cat tape label released the first two cassettes by NTT, Listen Alone and Kissing the Sun on Her Spine, in 1998.
Once again having reverted to a primarily solo project (with a rotating group of collaborators) by 2000, NTT slowly began to gain more exposure as the Insanity cassette on the flighty West Coast industrial label LSD Organisation was released, shortly before the Analog Artifacts CD-R on ANNIHILVS, until a deal with Malignant Records finally introduced NTT to the world-at-large with the Scenes from the Next Millennium CD, which was mixed and partly recorded at NEGATIVEHATE’s garage studio. Jim Plotkin aided Chuck Scandura with mastering, using BDN’s Innerwar as reference, which led to the original master being rejected by the label for being too loud.
During the life of the project, NTT birthed more than 11 cassettes, 7 full-length CDs, over 45 CD-R releases, and more than a dozen remixes and compilation appearances. NTT released CDs on Blade Records (Italy), Cranial Fracture Recordings (Australia), Eibon Records (Italy), Immanence Records (UK), Malignant Records (US), and NCC Records (US). Limited CD-Rs by NTT were released by Stridulum Recordings (Italy) and PACRec/Troniks (US), and NTT appeared on compilations and remix albums released by Ant-Zen, BFI Unit, Chondritic Sound, DTA Records, Hive Records, Horch!, Invasion Wreck Chords, L’Ame Electrique, Megahertz, Objective/Subjective, Pre-Feed, Spectre, Word Made Flesh, and many more.
Between 1999 and 2007, NTT collaborated with, remixed, or was remixed by several respected names in the underground scene, including THE BIPED PROJECT, CENOTYPE, CONVERTER, COPH NIA, HERBST9, I BURN, IRM, KLANGSTABIL, LEFTHANDEDDECISION, PNEUMATIC DETACH, SYNAPSCAPE, WILT, SALT, and many more.
Over a twelve-year period, NTT came to be renowned in the industrial music scene for a unique combination of searingly vicious vocals, hypnotic loops, and dark atmospheres infused with an emotionally honest lyrical content not found within traditional Power Electronics. Often collaborating with numerous like-minded artists to incorporate a variety of styles, illustrating an ability to take different forms of industrial music and apply my signature twist, I coined the term “Power Romance” to describe NTT, a phrase abstract enough to encapsulate the various concepts, styles, and sounds that encompassed the project, yet descriptive enough to differentiate myself from my influences. A limited CD-R bearing this name was released in 2001.
Peripheral to my activities as a performer and burgeoning label owner, I co-founded the live event Atrocity NYC in 1998. The original group of promoters included the local New York DJ Krieg, Matt Slagle and Alex Violi (the duo known as SIDE 3), the New Jersey–based DJ Q Mindsolvent, and the now-inactive noise DJ duo NOIZGUILD, among several others. The goal of Atrocity was to combine experimental noise and industrial dance music in order to gain more exposure for the noise scene in New York, which at the time was all but nonexistent.
Atrocity initially took place weekly at The Bank, but eventually became monthly until The Bank closed down. Atrocity started up again with DJ events at Korova Milkbar and downstairs at CBGB Gallery 313. Ultimately, we joined forces with the upstart event Malfunction for a slew of live industrial noise shows at The Pyramid.
Aside from regular DJ appearances, I was involved in organising the following events from 1998 to 2001 (among others):
NOVEMBER 15, 1998 @ THE BANK - MANHATTAN, NY
EXERCISE IN DISGUST (EID)
APRIL 15, 1999 @ THE BANK - MANHATTAN, NY
THE NOIZGUILD PROJECT
MARCH 6, 2000 @ THE PYRAMID - MANHATTAN, NY
THE NOIZGUILD PROJECT VS. NTT
APRIL 19, 2000 @ THE PYRAMID - MANHATTAN, NY
JULY 27, 2000 @ CBGB - MANHATTAN, NY
AUGUST 11, 2000 @ CBGB 313 GALLERY - MANHATTAN, NY
THE NOIZGUILD PROJECT
NOVEMBER 16, 2000 - ACHTUNG AMERIKA! FESTIVAL @ THE FRYING PAN - MANHATTAN, NY
THE GREY WOLVES
LES JOYAUX DE LA PRINCESSE
MARCH 27, 2001 @ THE PYRAMID - MANHATTAN, NY
THE LOTUS EATERS (JAMES PLOTKIN, AARON TURNER, STEPHEN O’MALLEY)
APRIL 11, 2001 @ THE PYRAMID - MANHATTAN, NY
MAY 8, 2001 @ THE PYRAMID - MANHATTAN, NY
THE NOIZGUILD PROJECT
JULY 20, 2001 @ CBGB - MANHATTAN, NY