The Fourth Man

These 15 tracks were originally released as two limited run CD pressings between 1994 and 1996, totaling about 1500 copies. The songs were a consolidation of cassettes put out independently between 1992 and 1994. The majority of tracks were initially recorded as demos to be “shopped” to record labels, the intention being that someone would see the nascent talent in the murk and start throwing money at us so we could buy better equipment, get studio access, quit our day jobs, and develop tragic drug habits. Major label interest never really developed, so we just started putting/handing them out ourselves.

Eventually we got the interest of Factoria Records, a very new and very independent label, run by Andrew Amy. Through Andrew, we started getting wider exposure, live shows, and eventually pressed the CD, which at the time seemed like a big deal.

Once the CD came out, internal conflict and other issues flared up, resulting in a very slow and possibly regrettable collapse of the project.

The first time I heard the master pressing of the CD in the summer of 1994, it was with a combined sense of accomplishment and disappointment. Besides some glaring oversights in the mastering process (the 3 tracks from the “Sick” EP were noticeably quieter than the rest of the album – something I chose to correct this time around), our jump from analog cassette to a digital medium seemed simultaneously belated and premature. Many of these songs had been recorded two years previously, and some were finished years before that, so in that particular case the CD was a long time in coming. On the other hand, it had been put out too soon in my opinion, since it had been my intention to eventually have the opportunity to record and mix them in a real studio before having them “released”.

I'd always felt like the CD should have come with a disclaimer, a series of excuses, or some sort of apology for its’ shortcomings. So here it is, 20 years later, as I blink back tears of shame and say... sorry.

T4M 1994 - CD Front Cover Front Cover T4M 1994 - CD Tray Card Back Cover

In our defense, we lacked a proper understanding in the art of getting a good mix. Also, the mixing channels on the four track cassette units we worked with were poorly suited for what we were doing. One consistent issue we came up against during the process of recording and mixing the songs was a bottleneck in terms of our ability to properly separate the various instruments on to individual tracks and “mix” them in the traditional sense. Multiple instruments came straight out of the stereo outputs of the samplers and synths onto the tape, with very little control of the EQ, effects processing, and stereo placement. Having that additional control would have helped in dealing with some of the sonic issues that ended up on the CD. We never did make it into a studio with more than 4 tracks, a larger mixing board, or with any sort of recording budget. We literally recorded in basements, bedrooms, and a walk-in closet. Oddly enough, after hearing these versions so many times, I’ve gotten used to the low fi sound of them – sort of.

It was pretty stunning that, after the CD came out, we started seeing positive reviews in ‘zines and started doing interviews for something that was essentially a demo. Granted, there were some criticisms - observations made that some of the tracks sounded like they’d been recorded in a basement. We really should have had an advisory sticker on the front warning people of precisely that.

Label interest and further releases might have developed on an alternate timeline, but within 6 months of putting the CD out, issues that had been bubbling under between Gabriel and myself continued to ramp up. I started working with Numb at this point, and that became more of a priority. T4M continued to do periodic live shows, as well as nearly an album’s worth of new material, which never saw the light of day. By about 1998, Gabriel and I had completely lost touch with each other, and after 6 years of doing cranky and morose electronic music, I was pretty burnt out on the diminishing returns, so I put T4M up on blocks in the front yard, so to speak.