Sometimes the greatest bands arrive from the most unlikely of places and slightest of circumstances. Sometimes, even less. “We came from nothing,” says Ashrae Fax vocalist Renee Mendoza, now a full decade removed from the release of their final work, Static Crash!. “We were art kids growing up in a town that didn’t have shit in it.” Yet that stagnation brought Haran together with producer and guitarist Alex Chesney, for a partnership driven by the desire to create, and ultimately destroy, through the power of their music.
Static Crash! is magic, one of the most gorgeous collections of Gothic ethereal pop/noise of its kind to rise from the American underground in decades. One could easily believe its origin to be from 1983, or 1993, or even 2013. But its 2003 release found few takers, outside of a small but dedicated local following. At a time when rock & roll was obnoxiously forcing its way back from the morass of pre-millennial digital aimlessness and DJ culture – and at the same time was being fought on the other side by the glitzy shallowness of electroclash – Ashrae Fax was finding ways to inject warmth and confidence into a mothballed musical form. Its eight songs take chances that most all had forgotten about, delving into the solitary power of Kate Bush, the esoteric directions of groups like Dif Juz or the Durutti Column, and the brash iconoclasm of prime-era Siouxsie & The Banshees, ballasted by stretches of ambient interlude and ear-damaging chaos.
Released in true DIY fashion on spray painted CD-Rs, Static Crash‘s legend somehow grew even as the group fell apart. In 2005 the album was reissued on cassette, and six years later, North Carolina label Hot Releases offered to press up Static Crash! on vinyl in an edition of 300, which quickly sold out. Copies finally made it out to music writers, many of whom connected with the music on the very first spin. Off to the Internet they fled, trying to find more information on this group, and it’s there that they found bits of information put together by Mendoza. Support swelled, and a whisper campaign finally found its way to Mexican Summer, who have committed to releasing the entire Ashrae Fax discography as well as an all-new album in the coming year, beginning with Static Crash!. To mark this occasion, Ashrae Fax is reuniting to play live, beginning with a handful of North Carolina performances and landing at Raleigh’s esteemed Hopscotch Music Festival later this year.