The sound of Theoretical Girls is like a well-oiled machine that nonetheless has several moving parts sticking out of it.
As Theoretical Girls' drummer, Wharton Tiers works magic, keeping these difficult arrangements (and divergent stylists) on one page.
Theoretical Girls split up in 1981, and shortly thereafter Glenn Branca went onto prominence as a semi-classical composer of noisy, massed electric guitar symphonies.
Theoretical Girls were a major group in New York no wave, but their reputation mainly rests on one small-run 45 containing two songs that was issued on their own Theoretical Records imprint in 1978.
The 19 selections heard on this disc, the first release from Acute Records, vastly improves Theoretical Girls' fortunes, albeit more than 20 years late.
On the Acute disc Lohn is the primary writer and singer on all the material included, although the others pitch in backing vocals from time to time. There is little detail provided as to the origin of the recordings, and no notes to speak of, but some are obviously live, others are from rehearsals and yet others may be low-budget studio recordings or demos.
Certainly these recordings are better preserved, or at least more carefully transferred, than the average no wave artifacts that have surfaced so far on CD.
Margaret De Wys demonstrates that among no wave keyboardists (such as the Contortions' Adele Bertei and DNA's Robin Crutchfield) she had a unique sound, particularly shrill and disjointed, yet amply fitting the bill.
Alternate versions are given for some titles, and in the case of "Chicita Bonita" this is particularly helpful, as the alternate has entirely different surface elements, yet the structural underpinning is the same.
Some may believe, if they are aware of the late-'70s New York no wave scene at all, that the genre begins and ends with the Brian Eno-produced compilation No New York.
But only four bands are found on that album, and in truth there were dozens of New York-based groups that fell into the no wave category represented only by a single or two, a ROIR cassette, or nothing.
The two versions of "Chicita Bonita" are only six seconds apart in length, although they sound wholly different.
The band's theme, "Theoretical Girls," succeeds in being hypnotic, compelling, noisy, innovative, and catchy all at once with its counting and repetition; indeed, the word "innovation" could be applied to any number of the pieces included here.