Algebra Suicide – Feminine Squared LP+DVD
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Algebra Suicide was the married couple Lydia Tomkiw (lyrics/vocals) and Don Hedeker (guitars/keyboards). They formed in Chicago in 1982, and their first four song EP, “True Romance At The World’s Fair”, was self-released that year. It featured a 60’s Vox Guitar Organ, a precursor to the synthesizer guitar, and a Multivox Rhythm Ace drum machine. In 1984 they released a second 4 song EP, “An Explanation For That Flock Of Crows”, ditching the guitar organ but adding the Casiotone MT-40. The “Big Skin” cassette was released in 1986 and featured 13 new compositions with more complex arrangements. A compilation album, “The Secret Like Crazy”, was released in 1988. It collected 20 tracks picked from the first two EPs and the Big Skin cassette, plus unreleased songs.
“Feminine Squared” is an 18 track compilation that collects all 8 songs from the first two EPs, 4 songs from the “Big Skin” cassette, 4 songs from “The Secret Like Crazy”, a song from the “Pas De Deux” compilation, and a previously unreleased song. Lydia and Don call their approach “Avant Garage” citing inspiration from Patti Smith, Frank O’Hara, Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed. Don plays guitar in a hauntingly stark style like Glenn Branca, Tom Verlaine, or Vini Reilly. He then adds Casio keyboards and minimal electronic percussion, creating a moody, atmospheric backdrop for Lydia’s poems. Lydia’s words span a broad range of twisted real-life observations, and are delivered in a deadpan fashion with her distinct Midwestern accent.
All songs have been remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The vinyl comes housed in a glossy black and white jacket featuring the cut up faces of Don and Lydia from “An Explanation For That Flock Of Crows” EP. Each LP includes a newsprint zine with lyrics, photos, liner notes, and clippings. Also included is a full length DVD featuring a 12-song Algebra Suicide concert from 1984, recorded at the Noise Factory in Chicago. Though Lydia passed away in 2007, her genius lives on in these recordings. Please respect her decadence.
Here is a glimpse from the bonus DVD included with each LP: