As time progresses, Shifted’s Avian label seem to be getting more and more confident releasing full-length works, maturing from the string of 12”s and EPs which made up their early discography. The latest comes in the form of Fit For Purpose by 400PPM, channeling the raw aggression of ’80s industrial and punk scenes into a range of dirt-caked percussive rollers.
New York based producer Shawn O’Sullivan has been operating under the 400PPM guise since 2013, providing Avian with a range of increasingly unhinged technoid experiments. This latest LP seems like a culmination of these ideas, straddling a line between the no-frills 4/4 reductions of Sähkö, with Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti’s industrial leaning work.
With the album released mid-May, we decided to invite O’Sullivan to talk over five of his most memorable gigging experiences.
My first gig in Japan, and my first time in Asia - a beautiful experience in the Niigata mountains. I was deliriously jet-lagged, and played one of my best live sets ever as the sun came up. After I played live, I did a DJ set. The crowd was starting to gear up for bed, but there was one super enthusiastic man in the crowd. Whenever I played something with a slightly heavier kick, he would get down on his knees and raise his hands in pure joy. I played for him, gradually getting much harder and faster than I’d intended to play, with the crowd building back up in numbers and enthusiasm. Super lysergic and totally life-affirming. So much love for the Rural crew.
The first time I ever played records in public. I grew up in Fairfield - best known as the transcendental meditation town. The Beat Box was a sort of youth club in a small basement in the back of a restaurant parking lot. They had turntables and a crappy sound system.
I opened with Patrick Hernandez’s ‘Born to Be Alive’ (a track I’d learned of from DJ Entox’s ‘Disco Bloodbath’ mixtape, and one I adore to this day). The five or so people in the room lazily bobbed along. I started cutting in a noise track - I can’t remember what it was exactly, maybe the Fraughman record on Bloody Fist, or possibly a Masonna or Merzbow track. People seemed confused. I mixed into a Somatic Responses track, and everyone immediately ran out. I played for another 45 minutes or so and went home. When my dad asked how my set went, I told him “I cleared the room. It was great!”
My parents were involved with the Transcendental Meditation community, so we got good tickets for this David Lynch Foundation event. It was a pretty over-the-top affair, with like; Moby, Sheryl Crow, Seinfeld, and a gazillion others. Unsurprisingly, the music wasn’t really my cup of tea (Badalamenti was great), but I’ll forever remember it for two amazing moments.
One: with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney on stage for the first time together in fourty years or whatever, my aunt turns to Katie, my wife, who’s a huge Beatles fan, and says “wow, Ringo really can’t sing at all can he?” Katie responded, with tears of joy running down her face, “I know. It’s so great!”. Two: “this is kind of a….vocal meditation”, mutters Eddie Vedder. He exudes rich-folk’s humble bravado as he spurts non-verbal melismas into a loop pedal. “Ahhhh…..ooooooeeeee…AAAAoooh”. It was the single worst performance I’ve seen in my entire life. Oh, and Seinfeld - he’s a funny guy!
Will Burnett aka Speculator aka the legendary Willie Burns used to do a party with Jacques Renault and Sam Delarosa (who I’d later form the band Led Er Est with). Defying all logic, the party happened weekly at the Tribeca Grand hotel. Summer ‘06 they had Martial Canterel (Sean McBride, also of Xeno & Oaklander) play - I’d been a fan since his “Confusing Outsides” LP on Genetic, and was surprised to discover he lived in New York.
He played an amazing set - nothing from the LP I’d loved, but much darker and more minimal, closer to John Bender. I spoke with him afterwards, gushing about his set, and he told me about the Wierd party, which was still happening at its original location, Southside Lounge in Williamsburg. The Wierd party was my home for many years to follow, and Sean McBride a dear friend and inspiration to this day.
Melvin! My younger brother had raved about Traxx to me many times. He’d been going to see him at parties in the Midwest while I’d gone off to college and then New York. This was one of the first times I’d seen him play - maybe I’d caught him once or twice before in the basement of M Shanghai. His session in Detroit that year was simply incredible. Have you ever felt the gauntlet being thrown down? Traxx’s challenge to the world stands uncontested. That night, he played lots of unreleased material from Jamal Moss, JTC, D’Marc, and crew, mixed with unparalleled energy. In the era of peak-MNML/micro, this was the antidote.