Men In Black "The Fung"
This tape from 1990 was created by Chris Gross but was never released at that time. It is a sprawling, eclectic presentation originally intended as a C90. Chris is known now for his sublime, droning and electronic work but in the early 1990’s was all over the pace with casio noodling, bedroom antics, eclectic maelstroms of DIY ethics. It’s fun, it’s personal and it’s large.
This tape was created in 1990 or so but never came out. Why?
The most immediate reason was that my 4-track recorder was starting to malfunction and eventually broke down; some of the tracks on “The Fung” are rough mixes that I was able to make while the machine still worked. I had just gotten a new job in ’89 but was still pretty broke, so I decided to put off finishing the album until I was in a better position to do it— but by the time I was, I had gone on to other projects. And the “Men In Black” movie eventually came out, so I didn’t know about the legality of using the name!
Were you actively trading a lot of tapes at that time?
Not as much as I wanted to. People in other countries were sending me their tapes, and at one point I was so strapped for cash that I couldn’t afford to send them any of mine in return. (My apologies to anyone who didn’t get a tape from me!) And with my new job and some family emergencies taking up most of my attention, I just decided to hang it up for a while. I kept selling tapes as long as there was a demand, but I stopped putting out any new ones after the second Men In Black album (“Failure Mode Analysis”). I kept making music, though, and started getting more into computer-based recording and software synthesizers; “Voltage” and “Eclipse” contain a lot of material that was recorded during that time. It wasn’t until I moved back to Pennsylvania that I had the breathing space to actually put the albums together and release them commercially.
Talk about collaborations. Do you like doing them? And what appeals about this process?
I haven’t collaborated very much, but I’ve always enjoyed it. I especially like going into a collaboration with a very general idea of what we are going to be doing and then watching that idea start taking on a life of its own. When other people want to work with material I’ve already come up with, they usually have carte blanche; I like to see their own take on what I’ve done.
In much experimental music it is hard for me to get a perspective on the creators nature or personality. How valuable is inserting your own self into a musical work?
I think it depends on the requirements of the individual work; there are times when you want to step forward personally, and there are other times when an idea hits you so clearly that you want to stand back a little and let the idea speak for itself. I’m especially prone to that second situation, so I usually don’t put myself in the foreground except to put my name on an album— and even then I’ll sometimes use a pseudonym! But I guess the fact that I had that particular idea probably says something about me…
Why did you call this album “The Fung”?
I had once read a magazine article mentioning Gary Numan’s album “The Fury”, but due to a typo they called it “The Fung” instead. I liked the word because it conjured up images of Oriental funk and filed it away for future use. One of the songs on the album came close to my mental image of what “the fung” might sound like, so I gave it that name and ultimately made it the title track.
What’s the best way for people to contact you and find out more information?
My current address is: 609 South Sterling Road, South Sterling, Pennsylvania 18460. I may be moving later in the spring, but I’ll still be coming here on the weekends and will be able to pick up any mail that comes to this address. My e-mail address is zmib23 ( at ) ptd.net; I’m also on MySpace and Facebook, and there is a YouTube channel for my videos (UtilityRecording1), so I can be reached through any of those as well. Here are the URLs: