Welcome to my Astro-Man archive

This site is meant to be a visual archive of every variation of every Man... or Astro-Man? 7" single ever released. Most of what you'll see here comes from my personal collection. As information pours in I will post it, so please comment if you think you have something to add. I have no intention of posting MP3s here. I'm sure you can find the music elsewhere. This is just an attempt to collect information about the band's prolific creation of singles into one spot. If you can get past the fact that I rarely clean my scanner, I think you'll enjoy what you find here.

Use the Table of Contents on the sidebar if you are looking for details on a specific 7".

Friday, March 22, 2013

Astro Analog Series: Volume 3

Astro Analog Series: Volume 3 is a 7" single released in late April of 2013 by Henry Owings of Chunklet Magazine. It is available through the Chunklet website. The record was pressed on three different colors of vinyl: clear (200), purple (a chunklet.com exclusive and the same color as the foil seal), and black. The clear version sold out during the first few days of the pre-sale. In August of 2013 it was repressed on clear red vinyl. 

This record is the third and final installment in a series of 7" singles that will culminate in the release of a full length record in May of 2013. Like the others in the series, it was mostly recorded in Chicago in February of 2012 with longtime Astro-cohort Steve Albini. It features original members Star Crunch (Brian Causey), Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard (Rob Del Bueno) and Birdstuff (Brian Teasley). Rounding out the band is Athens-based guitarist and space nurse in training Avona Nova (Samantha Paulsen).

The a-side is the song "Disintegrate" with guest vocals by Liz Durrett. It was recorded by Daniel Farris at Ole Elegante, Birmingham, Alabama. The B-side features two tracks that are exclusive to this release: "Baby's First Spacewalk" and "Defcon 0." Both of these were taken from the February session with Albini. As they are being touted as exclusives, they will not appear on the full-length.  

The record itself is packaged in a custom chipboard, die-cut cover (the same sleeve used for the first two in the series). This time it will feature a purple and silver sticker seal, identifying the release as Chunklet Industries catalog number CHK7-004:

Here is an early design mock up of what the record would look like. The center is meant to look like the color made from seeing the blue center label through the red acetate window. This color seems to be meant to correspond with the color of the foil sticker and one of the color vinyl options:

The records arrived at Chunklet headquarters on April 25th. As promised, the vinyl colors were black, clear and purple. The purple looks to be at least partially translucent. Purple also corresponds with the foil sticker that seals the packaging. The center labels are turquoise blue with yellow text. Owings posted this picture to social media:

And here is a photo of the red vinyl repress, also courtesy of Owings:

When I ordered my copies of the single I asked Owings to not seal one, so I could scan it for the blog without having to defile one. He did one better; he sent me this:

That's correct, a customized/ruined nerd copy of the single! Here are both sides of the record. Note that the copy was taken from the few junk 45s that were stamped out between the clear and black vinyl pressings. The result is a clear vinyl record with multiple black streaks:

In lieu of a proper picture sleeve, I was given a couple of cardboard stiffeners with extra stickers from all three singles and the yellow and red acetate windows from volume 1 and volume 3:

Quirky? Yes. Awesome? Double yes. This curious package/graffiti probably has its roots in a story Owings told me years ago about the time he visited Tom Hazelmyer at Amphetamine Reptile Records HQ. I interviewed Owings about a book he was putting out. We started talking about record collecting and he told me that he had once asked Hazelmyer if he had any red vinyl copies of the first "Dope, Guns and Fucking in the Streets" compilation singles left. Hazelmyer took one from a filing cabinet, pulled it out of the sleeve and scraped it over the floor a few times before giving it to him. A single that was worth several hundred dollars on the collector market had just gone from mint to shitty at the hands of the label owner.

Fast forward many years and I ask Owings to not seal a record I'm buying from him so I can photograph it first for my blog. He proceeds to send me a copy without a picture sleeve, with a dozen extra foil seal stickers, in a color that wasn't even commercially available (clear with black streaks was not one of the three vinyl color options), but first he scribbles on the center label with a sharpie and calls me a record nerd. Insulting, sure, but the story makes the record special even if it is difficult to resell. 

Owings also recently posted a picture of the test pressings for the release. According to the label stamp, there are 15 of these out there. Here it is:

Here also are a few scans of my test pressing--front and back, and in and out of the sleeve:

Of the three singles in this 7-inch series, this one is the best. The truly awesome part is that the full-record is even better.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Astro Analog Series: Volume 2

Astro Analog Series: Volume 2 was a 7" single released during the first half of November, 2012 by Henry Owings of Chunklet Magazine. It is, and will be available through the Chunklet website until it sells out. The record was pressed on three different colors of vinyl: clear (200), light green (a chunklet.com exclusive and the same color as the foil seal sticker), and black. The clear vinyl version sold out within a couple of hours. 

The record is the second in a series of 7" singles that culminated in the release of a full length record in May of 2013. Like the first in the series, it was recorded in Chicago in February of 2012 with longtime Astro-cohort Steve Albini. It also features original members Star Crunch (Brian Causey), Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard (Rob Del Bueno) and Birdstuff (Brian Teasley). Rounding out the band is Athens-based guitarist and space nurse in training Avona Nova (Samantha Paulsen).

There are three new tracks on the single. The first two, "Communication Breakdown Pt II" and "All Systems To Go," will appear on the upcoming full length. A third track, "Chemical Cats," is exclusive to this release. Both sides spin at 45 RPM.

The record itself came packaged in a custom chipboard, die-cut cover. It was the same sleeve used for the first one in the series. This time it featured a blue-colored acetate window on one side of the sleeve. When the yellow center label is seen through the blue window, the color blend effect seems meant to mimic the color of the foil seal--the same color as one of the vinyl colors. Here is a scan of the empty sleeve:

The top was sealed with a green and silver foil sticker identifying it as Chunklet Industries catalog number CHK7-003. Here is a large image of the sticker that will seal the finished single: 

And here was an early mock-up drawing for the single. Note that the catalog number is listed as CHK7-002 on the center label, an error that was fixed for the actual pressing:

Later, as the single became available for pre-order, the colors of the center label were reversed in the mock up. Here's what the single looked like on the pre-order page of the Chunklet website:

When the records arrived at Chunklet HQ, and before they were packaged up, Owings posted the following picture online. As it turns out, the center label looks nothing like either mock up. The vinyl colors, though, were just as promised. Here it is:

the center label--a yellow field with light blue lettering
I was able to snag a copy of each which, as a collector, I really don't want to open. I did get a second copy of the green vinyl version to open and play. Here is a close up of that record:

The record was repressed on red vinyl in May of 2013. Here is a copy of the red repress, on a shelf next to the 2nd repress of Volume 1:

The dead wax near the center label bears the following transcription: 
        A side -- "My goal now? I want to be the all being, master of time 
                        space and dimension." 
        B side -- " . . . then I wanna go to Europe . . ."

When the disc was still in pre-production, several testers were sent out to be listened to and approved or reworked. If you've ever wondered why I keep this blog, it is mostly because at this stage of the game I will occasionally get one of these tests to listen to and give my opinion. This morning's mail greeted me with this package:

It looks like Henry at Chunklet has designed his own 7" record shipping envelope. I love that it sports a warning to the letter carrier to not bend it, but to also keep it out of the sun. Classy. Inside was the most recent test press. This test is limited to 15 copies and was done by a company in Columbus, Ohio called MUS I COL. It was a true test press, with bits of junk vinyl on the outer edge and a center hole so small I had to widen it with the small blade of a pair of scissors so it would fit on the spindle. It was pressed on what I can only describe as "not exactly black" vinyl. 

As had become de rigueur with Chunklet test press records, the test singles were placed in plain white sleeves that were then stamped over with the name "Chunklet" and any pertinent details (like catalog number, number in series, etc.). Some of the stamp ended up on the paper sleeve and part of it ended up on the center label. Where this one is a little different is that the center label didn't offer a completely blank slate--there were markings from the pressing plant already there. Here is a picture Owings posted of the pile of test pressings:

Here is a scan of the one he sent me, number 9 in the series of 15:

And as I mentioned above, the record is not exactly black. When I first looked at it, it looked like a severely dusty thrift store record. As I went to blow the excess dust away I realized that it was just the color of the vinyl, an opaque, mottled black with traces of grey or white mixed throughout. Here is a scan of both sides of the vinyl record itself. Note how rough the record looks, and how the Chunklet HQ stamp is only on one side (and only on the spaces that the paper sleeve didn't cover): 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Astro Analog Series: Volume 1

Astro Analog Series: Volume 1 was a 7" single released in August, 2012 by Henry Owings of Chunklet Magazine. It is currently available through the Chunklet website. The single jumpstarted a series of three 7"s that culminated in the release of a full length record in May of 2013. It was recorded in Chicago in February of 2012 with longtime Astro-cohort Steve Albini. This is the first release of new material featuring original guitarist Star Crunch (Brian Causey) in more than a decade. Crunch is joined by fellow original members Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard (Rob Del Bueno) on bass and Birdstuff (Brian Teasley) on drums. Rounding out the band is Athens-based guitarist, and first full-fledged Astro-Woman, Avona Nova (Samantha Paulsen). In case you missed it, her Astro name is a palindrome.

There are three new tracks on the single. Side A features the instrumental song "Defcon 5." Side B starts with "Anti-Matter Man," a track where Starcrunch actually sings, and finishes with "Dr. Space," an instrumental tune that features the accordian stylings of one Jeremy Jacobsen. The first two will figure somehow onto next year's full-length, but "Dr. Space" is exclusive to this release. The record was cut direct to lacquer at Chicago Mastering Service and the artwork is by Aaron Draplin.

The record itself came packaged in a custom chipboard, die-cut cover with a yellow acetate window on one side (and nothing on the other). The top is sealed with a foil sticker identifying it as Chunklet Industries catalog number CHK7-002. Here is an artist spec and early concept drawing for the single:

This is what the chipboard sleeve looks like in reality, with the foil sticker broken and the record removed. Note the yellow-tinted center from the clear acetate window:

Here are a few assembly pictures from Chunklet headquarters' Facebook photo stream. The first is the roll of foil stickers used to seal individual records, and the second shows several stacks of assembled sleeves (chipboard outer sleeve with acetate windows attached) awaiting the arrival of the records from the pressing plant:

The roll of foil stickers used to seal individual records

Assembled sleeves. Note the sleeve in the foreground with the red acetate window.
This a preview detail of the third volume in the Astro-Analog series.

The center label on the disc is red with yellow text. Here is the artist spec used in the printing of the label:

The vinyl record itself was available in three different varieties: clear, translucent orange and opaque black. The clear variety was limited to 200 copies. The orange one was exclusively available from the Chunklet website. It is also the color that matches the foil seal sticker. The black copies were the ones distributed to record stores. Here is a tweeted photo from Henry Owings that shows all three variations:

I purchased all three varieties of the single, and I got an extra orange copy to open and play. Here is a closeup shot of the orange version of the record:

There was also a second pressing, or re-press of the single after the clear and orange variations sold out. The second pressing looks identical to the first in sleeve and center labeling. The difference is that it was done on clear red vinyl. Here is a photo of the re-press:

There is also a second repress on gold vinyl that went on sale in May of 2013. Here it is, on a shelf next to the red repress of Volume 2. It's the one on the left:

The dead wax bears the inscriptions: "so now I have a Google phonic stereo with a moon rock needle" and "It's okay for a car stereo, wouldn't want it in my house."

There was a series of 12 test pressings of this one. I managed to get my hands on number 5. Here it is a photo of the pile of tests, and a close up shot of my copy:

Check out how the rubber stamp graphic goes from sleeve to record and back to sleeve. Gorgeous.

And, though there was no official insert with the record, some shipments came with swag from Chunklet HQ. Like, for instance, this:

this is pretty close to actual size

THIS JUST LEAKED. A preview of things to come:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

For Immediate Release: Your Weight on the Moon reissue!

The UK was always especially receptive to Man… or Astro-Man?’s odd mix of traditional surf music, campy sci-fi schtick and southern charm. British radio mainstay John Peel played their debut EP on his show and would eventually have them do several of his “Peel” sessions in studio over the years. From this initial contact a highly impressed One Louder Records struck up a relationship with the band. In December of 1993, One Louder released the masterpiece Mission Into Chaos 7” single. Here's the cover of that one:

The band went on to tour the UK and their outrageous live shows (flaming computer helmets, 50s b-movie graphics and tesla coils) won them a legion of British fans.

In August of 1994, One Louder put out the genre-defining and ground-breaking Your Weight On The Moon 10” record pictured at the beginning of this post (on black, silver, pink and glow-in-the-dark vinyl). Fans were hooked. Even though the band was relatively unknown stateside, Your Weight actually charted in the UK—entering the independent charts at No. 7.

In May of 1995 the Return To Chaos EP was released on One Louder, packaged in a top secret dossier format and with a track so secretive its name was classified. The EP charted at No. 4 in the top 10 independent singles chart. The band had conquered Great Britain. Here's a shot of that one:

One Louder would go on to co-release the Deluxe Men in Space EP with Touch and Go, and the Live Transmissions from Uranus picture-disc LP, but it was these first three UK releases that solidified MOAM?’s legacy overseas. All three records have been out of print for years, and even the label has disappeared. And even though the band continues to record and even tour (yeah!), it is for this early ‘90s period that a majority of their fans will most fondly remember them.

So here’s the good news: Overground Records is reissuing the early One Louder records. This reissue compiles Your Weight On The Moon with the two EPs in a 16-page booklet. It is the first time that some of the tracks have appeared on CD, and it’s the first time in a while that the music from the two singles has been easily available. And for the vinyl enthusiast in all of us, and staying true to the One Louder/MOAM? historical model, the record is also being put out as a limited 12” picture disc. Here is a mock-up of the front side of the picture disc artwork:

Since this is a dumping ground for Astro-man releases, I thought it would be an appropriate forum to drum up some support for the reissue. You should consider picking it. You can order the CD HERE. The 16 pages of liner notes alone will be worth the moderate price tag. For the limited vinyl, you'll want to go through a local record shop. Anyway, here are the techno-specs:

Your Weight On The Moon
Label: Overground

Cat. No. OVER 127CD / 127LP (limited picture disc)
Barcode: CD 689492106225 - LP 689492108267

Release Date: 26th September 2011

Your Weight tracks:
1. Rocketship XL-3
2. Secret Agent Conrad Uno
3. Electrostatic Brain Field
4. Shockwave
5. Taser Guns Mean Big Fun
6. F=GmM(moon)
7. Space Patrol
8. Happy Fingers
9. Destination Venus
10. Polaris

Mission Into Chaos tracks:
11. Name of Numbers
12. Of Sex and Demise
13. Madness in the Streets
14. Within a Martian Heart
15. Point Blank

Return to Chaos tracks:
16. Classified
17. Secret Agent Conrad Uno
18. Point Blank
19. Goldfinger

Overground Records, PO Box 1NW,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE99 1NW

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Spectrum of Finite Scale

A Spectrum of Finite Scale was a self-released, tour only Man... or Astro-Man? album available only on CD. It was limited to 1,000 copies, and was for sale on the band's 2001 tour in support of A Spectrum of Infinite Scale.

There were 13 listed tracks on the disc, and a 14th “hidden” track that was actually song number 32 (placed after 18 silent tracks that were each four seconds long). Musically it was an experimental collection of tracks performed by members of the Astro Staff Live Division, in isolation or in pairs. In other words, it was a series of songs written and played by band members and road crew, with a few extra folks thrown in for good measure. Everyone on the recording had some kind of an Astro-Man connection. Here is a list of the eight performers:

Blazar The Probe Handler
Coco The Electronic
Trace Reading
The Brannock Device – Live Sound Coordination
Q-Beam – Live Visual Control
Andy Baker
Shannon Wright

Birdstuff, Coco, Blazar and Trace were the official line-up of MOAM? when this disc was released. For some reason, "Monkey Wizard" is dropped from Coco's name. The Brannock Device and Q-Beam were both members of the band's tour crew, with Brannock being the sound guy and Q running the merch table and helping with projection/lighting. The other two are a little more peripheral. Andy Baker played bass on track 6. He also was the recording engineer for tracks 1 and 6 and is responsible for the disc’s mastering. He had previously played in the affiliated band Servotron, alongside Birdstuff and former MOAM? guitarist Dexter X. As a member of Servotron he was known as Andro Series 600. Here’s an old Servotron press photo with an arrow pointing to Baker:

If this appearance by Baker is enough to merit his inclusion as an official band member, then the only member of Servotron in the above photo that never went on to play in MOAM? was the woman: Proto-Unit V-3.

Then there’s the curious case of Shannon Wright. Wright had previously been a member of the Astroman family, part of the Gamma series of Clones. As one of the two guitarists in the Gamma Clones, her name was Carol. Here are two grainy shots of Wright taken during a Gamma Clone performance in September of 1998 in Signal Hill, California:

Where the case for Wright’s full inclusion in the MOAM? pantheon really comes into focus, though, is when you consider that she toured with the band proper, replacing Blazar on the South American/Brazilian tour of 2001. On tour she dropped her Gamma Clone name and took the official Astroman moniker SW6. This, coupled with her playing guitar on "After All the Prosaic Waiting... the Sun Finally Crashes into the Earth" on this recording, really makes a strong case for her legitimate Man… or Astro-Man? membership. Recently, Astro-Man ad nauseam contributor Abraham Lincoln III found a picture of Shannon Wright/Carol/SW6 performing with the band in Brazil. It is the only photographic evidence I’ve ever seen of the full-fledged Astro-Woman:

(That photo is the property of Flickr user withlasers). Note that, in the photo, Wright is wearing Blazar's jumpsuit!

To bring the rest of this recording into visual focus, here is a scan of the front and back of the CD booklet:

And here’s a scan of the front and back of the tray card, and of the disc itself:

And, finally, here’s a track listing with a breakdown of exactly who contributed to each track:

1. After All The Prosaic Waiting... The Sun Finally Crashes Into The Earth
Shannon Wright (guitar)
2. The Limitations Of A Serial Machine
Blazar The Probe Handler
3. MO₂
Trace Reading
4. Halfway To The Infinite
Coco The Electronic
5. Space Helmet
Coco The Electronic
6. All The Quietest Whispers
Andy Baker (bass)
7. Mt-52 Tone/Magnus Opus
8. Tolerance In A Transitory Universe
Blazar The Probe Handler
9. Analysis Paralysis
The Brannock Device
10. Man Or Man-Machine?
Coco The Electronic
11. The Potential Energy Of Roger Stone
Trace Reading
12. Mortimer Butomite's Pocket Of Capacitors
Coco The Electronic
13. Fig. A: Dispersion In Full Spectrum Pattern
Blazar The Probe Handler
32. Untitled
Personnel: ???

And for those of you that are scouring the Internet looking for a download of this disc, consider this section of the liner notes: