RANDOM HOLD TAKES A MUSICAL STAND

The Aquarian (Philadelphia), 23rd July 1980

Following Random Hold's Central Park concert, synthesizer player David Ferguson noted that most Americans are totally unfamiliar with the meanings of the group's song titles and even with its name, for that matter. The group (bassist Bill MacCormick, drummer Pete Phipps, guitarist David Rhodes and Ferguson), making its first tour of the U.S., opened for Peter Gabriel.

"Central Reservation" a song from the British band's American debut LP, Etceteraville (Passport), "doesn't have any meaning over here; it's not a clear term," explained Ferguson. "In England, it's the grass verge on a motorway. The song," he continued, "was originally conceived as a song about driving cars down motorways and about certain emotional expectations of doing that at night - the excitement of not knowing what's in front of you. Over here, some people have taken it to be about a love affair that had gone wrong."

Ferguson suggested that the group's vagueness was perhaps intentional, designed to allow the listener to draw his or her own interpretation. In 1976, Ferguson and Rhodes, Random Hold's nucleus, worked together on a project called Manscheinen. They played a form of music akin to Robert Fripp's Frippertronics, "only a bit more dangerous", as Ferguson put it. With Rhodes playing guitar into a series of black boxes that Ferguson constructed, Manscheinen performed mostly small gigs at experimental theaters. The duo also composed the soundtrack for a puppet show called 'The Long And Lonely Journey Of The Spermatazoa'.

Two years later, they decided to branch out by writing rock tunes, still employing the same "feeling for noise." Does Ferguson feel that Random Hold's music might be too esoteric for most listeners?

"In England," he stated, matter-of-factly, "we don't fit very comfortably into radio programming, and I don't think we fit very comfortably here either. The airwaves, both here and there, are dominated by history lessons. I work on the general principle that it's a good idea to turn radios off. What I think we're doing," he added, "is taking a stand with the music and our viewpoints as well, a stand which disapproves of a lot of the stuff we see around us. Instantaneous acceptance, in a way, would be a harmful thing." Ferguson decided that if Random Hold's music were accepted on an a grand scale, most people would choose to employ it as "coffeetable music," which would be equally unnerving.

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