Steve Piccolo – Domestic Exile LP (MENT029)
Debut album from 1982 by former Lounge Lizards bass player & founding member STEVE PICCOLO, featuring bandmate EVAN LURIE plus G. LINDAHL.
A hidden gem of minimalist beauty, mixing a post-punk/DIY/lo-fi aesthetic with art-rock & spoken poetry.
Steve Piccolo has been in active since the mid-1970s in music, theater, performance art, sound installations, video and film soundtracks.
In 1979 he started with the Lurie brothers the “fake jazz” / No Wave band the Lounge Lizards.
“Domestic Exile” was recorded one year after the seminal Lounge Lizards debut, at a time when Steve was living a schizophrenic existence: working at Wall Street by day and going to clubs and art spaces almost every evening (he was one of the artists filmed for the “135 Grand Street New York 1979” No Wave documentary).
Early on, Steve was influenced by Mose Allison, Tom Lehrer, Randy Newman and “people who put thoughtful witty lyrics onto rather standard pop music”. In just two weeks, Steve wrote the collection of songs which would form “Domestic Exile”. Somebody described them as “Neurotic City Folklore” – as the lyrics dealt with living in NYC, urban angst, isolation, yuppies, nuclear paranoia…Titles like “Young and Ambitious”, “Modern Man”, “Businessman’s Lament”, “Bleecker Street”, “Superior Genes”…The idea was to use these songs for a sort of “side project”, originally conceived more like a soundtrack for performance art and less like a band.
The recording took place at the ZBS Foundation in New York, engineered by Bob Bielecki (a collaborator of Laurie Anderson and La Monte Young). Steve sang, played electric guitar, bass / double bass and percussion. He was joined by Lounge Lizards bandmate Evan Lurie on Farfisa keyboard (the same one he used on the first Lounge Lizards album) and G. Lindahl on synth.
The trio even played live a few times, including a benefit concert for Public Access Synthesizer Studio at CBGB.
After “Domestic Exile” was finished, Steve played the tapes to some record labels in New York and although one of the tracks, the catchy “I Don’t Want To Join A Cult”, was an underground hit in Manhattan – even Debbie Harry (Blondie) wanted to do a cover version – no one expressed interest in releasing the album.
Soon after, Steve went to Italy and “Domestic Exile” was finally released on a local label, housed in a cover very similar to the first Lounge Lizards album.
The result was a minimalist art-rock masterpiece which could be described as a lo-fi version of John Cale’s “Music For A New Society”.
Sadly, the quality of the original pressing was not very good (cheap, noisy vinyl) and there was a mistake with a couple of song titles / running order on Side 1. These issues have been fixed for this new reissue.
“I was always fascinated by society’s total dropouts, and by the idea of surviving completely outside the system, without an identity, papers, money, job, family. But not without friends… that would be unthinkable, unnecessary cruelty.” – Steve Piccolo