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Chrome

Chrome

HistoryChrome was formed in 1975 by Damon Edge (real name Thomas Wisse: drums, vocals, synths, production) and Gary Spain (bass guitar, violin) in San Francisco. They recorded and released their first album, The Visitation, along with John Lambdin (guitar) and Mike Low (guitar, vocals). After recording The Visitation, Edge sent the album to Warner Brothers to see if they wanted to release the album. A Warner Brothers A&R representative told Edge that the album sounded like a "messed up Doors album"; to Damon Edge, this was a compliment. The label did not release the album, so Edge set up his own label, Siren Records. Edge was 19 years old when The Visitation was released. After the recording of the first album, singer Mike Low left the band, to be replaced by new guitarist Helios Creed.Chrome's commercial and artistic breakthrough came in 1978 with their second album, Alien Soundtracks. The album began as Ultra Soundtrack, a soundtrack for a radical San Francisco strip show, but was rejected for being too radical. During recording, Chrome largely abandoned conventional rock compositions, instead employing cut-up and collage techniques and heavily processed sound to create a kind of sci-fi punk style. The album was given four stars out of five in the UK music paper Sounds, and Chrome began gradually to gain a cult reputation in the UK and in Europe.After recording Alien Soundtracks, John Lambdin left the band. Their third studio album, Half Machine Lip Moves, was released in 1979. Half Machine Lip Moves continued in the vein of the previous album, but heavier, with Creed's feedback guitar more to the fore. Edge's rough and ready drumming on this album included hitting pieces of scrap metal. Half Machine Lip Moves remains their best known work, and was listed at number 62 in The Wire's list "100 Records That Set the World on Fire (While No One Was Listening)".Half Machine Lip Moves and their 1979 EP Read Only Memory cemented the band's growing reputation in the UK and led to the band being signed to Beggars Banquet Records for their fourth album, Red Exposure. By this time Chrome consisted solely of Edge and Creed. The album marked a move away from the more frenetic style of the two previous albums, with more use of drum machines and synthesizers.In 1980 Damon Edge married Fabienne Shine. She went on to collaborate with Edge on several Chrome albums; her vocals appear on the Chrome album 3rd from the Sun.After a further EP and single, Chrome again expanded to a quartet with the addition of the new rhythm section of John and Hilary Stench. This lineup existed circa 1980–1983, and produced the albums Blood on the Moon, 3rd from the Sun, and Raining Milk (the latter was only released in France). The songs from Raining Milk would later be released in much longer versions on the albums Chronicles I and Chronicles II. The title track from 3rd from the Sun was covered by the band Prong on their 1989 album Beg to Differ.In 1983 Edge moved to Paris. Shine introduced him to her band and a new lineup of Chrome was formed. Edge and his wife would later separate. Damon Edge continued to release albums with various (mainly Europe-based) musicians under the Chrome moniker over the next decade.In August 1995 Damon Edge was found dead in his Redondo Beach apartment in California; the cause of death was heart failure. Edge had been in contact with Creed and talked about reforming Chrome; sadly, this never happened.After she and Edge separated, Shine continued to compose songs. In 1997, after Edge's death, she released an album titled No Mad Nomad. The title referred to her late husband. In 2004 she began working and touring again with Helios Creed.A Helios Creed-led version of Chrome that featured previous members John and Hilary Stench released a series of albums and toured between 1997 and 2001. In recent years Creed has reactivated the Chrome name.Musical styleWhile studying at the California Institute of the Arts, Damon Edge became influenced in making unusual sounds; this progressed after a trip to Morocco where he heard a lot of Arabic music. In his head he began putting a beat behind the music and started coming up with ideas for songs. Chrome's music contains a lot of atmosphere in the sound production. There are a lot of three- and eight-note melodies, usually layered with an atonal drone backed by a rhythm section. This sort of atmosphere was influenced by the music he had heard in Morocco. About six months after that trip, Edge began forming a band and recording his new music. During the 1970s, Chrome's music did not fit into any particular music scene in America. People found it hard to know how to book the band, or deal with promoting and distributing their music.

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