A recently rediscovered song by Alan Vega called “Muscles” is getting a new life on a just-released posthumous album, Mutator.
The track is cold, grimy, echoey, and unsettling, as any track by the late Suicide frontman ought to be, as he sings about “life in the Rainbow Room” and yelps wildly. Vega, who died in 2016, recorded the song and the rest of the album between 1995 and 1996 with his longtime collaborator Liz Lamere but ended up shelving it; the music recently resurfaced in what is now known as the Vega Vault.
A video for the track features imagery of Vega in black and white and small blasts of cover, as well as glimpses of some of the singer’s artwork. Film director and onetime Jesus and Mary Chain bassist Douglas Hart made the clip using photos culled from Vega’s archives by Michael Handis, creative director of the Vega Vault.
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“When I was 15 years old, an arts show on British TV called Riverside showed the video for Suicide’s ‘Frankie Teardrop,’” said Hart, who has previously made clips for Primal Scream and Pet Shop Boys, in a statement. “This video became for me the nexus between music and images. Those sounds and frames have haunted and sustained me for 40 years. So to be involved in bringing the Vega Vault to life for ‘Muscles,’ blows my fucking mind — a dream project for me.”
“The Vega Vault’s visual collection showcases the true spectrum of Alan Vega’s persona with intimacy — the artist, the poet, the musician, the style icon, the unifier, the polarizer,” Handis said. “Douglas Hart’s touch pushes these rare and unseen images beyond their digital threshold, mutating static stills into a full-on optical assault. This kinetic approach to the archival photography mirrors the blazing spirit of Alan Vega — primitive yet simultaneously futuristic. And totally cathartic.”
Vega’s label previously released a couple of other songs from Mutator, “Fist” and “Nike Soldier.” “Our primary purpose for going into the studio was to experiment with sound, not to ‘make records,’” Lamere commented in a statement. “I was playing the machines with Alan manipulating sounds. I played riffs while Alan morphed the sounds being channeled through the machines.”
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