Here's a fun game to play with experimental musicians: degrees of separation from John Zorn. Today's contestant is Andrej Nebb. Let's see, Nebb's off/on collaborative partner in Holy Toy was Lars Pedersen, whose brainchild When has releases on Chris Cutler's ReR label. Cutler's first band was Henry Cow, which also included Fred Frith, who was in Naked City with John Zorn. Four degrees, not bad I guess.
Andrej Nebb hooked up with Pedersen for the electronic-krautty Holy Toy only after having fronted post-punkier De Press; Nebb established himself as a fixture in Oslo's music scene in the early 80s. The Block To Block album in particular is solid. Get a taste with On Top (MP3). To be honest, sometimes Nebb's vocals can be pretty painful - although sometimes his missed notes and broken English can also be very charming.
Holy Toy, like De Press, put out a lot of records of varying quality, some of it very good. For my money, their best material is the stuff written only by Nebb and Pedersen without any others to clog the creative process. Some nice person posted a very good music video of the power duo performing in Holy Toy's prime, around '85. Nebb's keyboards are too low in the mix, but thankfully Pedersen makes up for it with awesome drumming reminiscent of Lark's Tongue era King Crimson.
Nebb must be a pretty big egotist...late in the video, you can see that his name is embroidered on the back of his jacket.
(Five more mp3s follow...)
I've got this recording here called "Mechanical Grave". Not sure who plays on it other than Nebb and Pedersen and I'm not sure exactly when or how this was released. From the little info I've been able to garner, I belive this to be an early incarnation of Holy Toy, in effect a demo tape (if anybody has more info, speak up!). The music itself sounds more like De Press than later Holy Toy - two good pop writers taking a first stab at experimentalism, with a foot in each world. A varied release evoking early Devo and Kraftwerk, with many nice avant-noise, techno and no-wave moments.
After a few years with Holy Toy, Nebb returned to De Press and continues to release records with that band. I, er, wouldn't recommend checking out this stuff. Lars Pedersen, however, hasn't fallen off yet and has made much excellent music under the When moniker. For a few years now, When has been getting attention at WFMU - a nice recent music video is up on YouTube. This new stuff is upbeat, quirky, sugary, sample-laden pop and contrasts with the darker, abstractier plunderphony of early When. The Writercakebox retrospective gives a good cross section of When's history to the new listener.