The original iteration of Mal Occhio was active from 1980 to 1982. Composed of members from San Francisco & Los Angeles, they produced dense atmospheres of sound from invented instruments, electronics, industrial percussion and samples. In the spirit of psychic automatism, surrealists Thom Burns, Steve Lock, Byron Baker, Jhim Pattison and friends sought to use sound as a canvas for their desires.
As Thom Burns wrote, “The group agreed to rely, as much as possible, on found objects and invented instruments…if it was necessary to use traditional instruments like the cello and electric guitar (which were never played normally), it was only a temporary expedient until an alternative was cooked up. The result was music of both comic surprise and darkness. The performances sometimes broadcast a malevolent tonality that went way beyond the expectations of the group and sometimes a Marx Brothers style chaos in which they felt right at home…it was their intention to go with the spirit of chance & surprise wherever it took them.”(1)
Other Mal Occhio players include Raman Rao, Brooke Rothwell, Alice Farley & Laurence Weisberg. Most band members took part in the 1983 Harvest of Evil exhibition in Columbus, Ohio. In more recent times they played for Laurence Weisberg’s memorial gathering and collaborated with Joyce Baker, Brian Lucas and Will Alexander. You can hear some of their classic music as well as more recent live recordings, including their collaboration with poet Will Alexander, by following the link below.
Craig S. Wilson
- Thom Burns, in the Mal Occhio 1980-82 CD liner notes.