Karen Cooper Complex – ShinJukub Boardwalk

What a DAMN fine and ultra cool album this is!

For readers of my blog who are new to the music I add here, you are in for a real treat here. For readers who are familiar with the NWWL and with the classics – enjoy this stroll into memory lane. This is a snazzy little 1981 LP that (again) is as yet unreleased.  Take a listen…

This is the uber cool second track from this album.  This is a unique take on the post punk ‘thing’ with a huge dose of total mind-fuck tossed in for good measure. The roots are with the band Bomis Prendin, whom Karen Cooper Complex’s Bill Altice played with before this – and the influences are there, you can feel it, but I think this album stands all by itself with its emphasis on a free art concept. There is something very ‘set your mind free and your body will follow’ about this album. The album doesn’t follow the paths laid out through sound art, but rather seems to be tripping through gallery space with the heady nod to freak-out.

Like the guitar work?

Here’s a little love from Mutant Sounds:

The tip that this feels like it’s coming off instead is one that shares some of the inscrutable lopsided charm of Tom Fazzini, the off the cuff wacky gal whimsy of The Inflatable Boy Clams and Y Pants and, when the freakiness is foregrounded, a whiff of Milo Fine’s old Residents-damaged unit Teenage Boatpeople. Hopefully, some enterprising reissue label will snatch this one up, as it’s too good to exist only in the ephemeral form of a download.

Karen Cooper herself had been part of I Saw a Bulldozer, where she was one of the “three or four female vocalists who wrote Surrealist-style ‘Exquisite Corpse’ lyrics and chanted them in unison in front of a band, coming across something like a female, beatnik version of the Last Poets, who were more interested in art than politics.” Bill Altice’s liner notes also observe that four of the group’s eight members were DJs at Richmond’s local independent radio station, where they ingested local freeform radio signals and regurgitated them through a warped mess of re-imagined psychedelic free jazz and Pretty Things, like this track…


Frank passed away of type I diabetes mellitus in 2004, and ‘Shinjuku Birdwalk’ was digitized by Bill and released in via a Richmond independent label Artifacts / yclept in 2010.  So it is available.  I still think it’s a miracle albums like this float around without being ‘claimed and colonized’ by those looking for the big bucks.