The secret history of American rock is loaded with visionary bands whose initial existence met with confusion, derision, and zero appreciation. Consider Debris, a brain-bending avant-rock trio that sprouted from the unlikely environs of Chikasha, Okla., in the summer of 1975. During their one-year existence, they played only four live shows, but spent countless hours practicing in the Static Disposal Subterraneous Office (aka bassist Chuck Ivey's basement). In December 1975, the band recorded its sole album in seven hours at an Oklahoma City studio. They released 1,000 copies on their Static Disposal label in 1976, then disbanded when guitarist/vocalist Oliver Powers, struggling to reconcile his newfound Christianity with rock, could see no future for the band.
From its cryptic, reverse-image, bondage-themed cover to the spastic auditory hallucinations within, it's no wonder the record bewildered everyone initially, but the psych-punk masterpiece soon became celebrated amongst collectors. Static Disposal, a band-authorized reissue on the San Francisco-based Anopheles label, more than does justice to the Debris legend. On the 11 original album tracks, angular rock riffs are slathered with esoteric surprises from modulators, synthesizers, and a circular saw to some seriously bent extemporaneous guitar solos. Lyrically, the songs range from pure dadaist ("New Smooth Lunch") to the only slightly less surreal religious themes of "Witness" or "Leisurely Waiting." Starting with an opening track reminiscent of Mission of Burma, "One Way Spit," the '76 album's tracks insinuate a pantheon of '70s and '80s underground rock reference points: Pere Ubu, MX-80 Sound, and the hyper-obscure Canadian band Simply Saucer were some of Debris' comparable contemporaries.
The band was influenced more by the likes of Captain Beefheart and Roxy Music, as well as the Stooges and John Cale, both of whom are covered in this CD's bonus tracks. While the 10 additional songs are less essential than the original album tracks, they're welcome nonetheless; culled from band practice tapes, they chronicle heartland innovators bravely honing a vital, subterranean proto-blat against overwhelming odds. The accompanying 28-page booklet reads like a documentary you will never, ever see on VH1: Oliver now works in the U.S. Capitol basement, drummer Johnny Gregg used proceeds from his last five copies of the album to put new wheels on his car, bassist Chuck went on to the nascent L.A. Dangerhouse/Masque punk rock scene. And now, some 25 years later, Debris has finally emerged from its Oklahoma basement.