Conveniens | Conveniens

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United States - Illinois

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Rock: Space Rock Avant Garde: Sound Art Moods: Instrumental
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by Conveniens

Unique and eclectic instrumentals "falls between the cracks of jazz and rock"
Genre: Rock: Space Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Rain Kite
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4:08 $0.99
2. Know It Ain`t
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6:57 $0.99
3. Morning Lobotomy
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1:24 $0.99
4. Barney Klark
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4:09 $0.99
5. Regular Grind
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2:52 $0.99
6. Druhm Rum
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3:05 $0.99
7. Procession of Bone
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3:16 $0.99
8. Afrisha`nki
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5:06 $0.99
9. Blink
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11:34 $0.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
Conveniens was formed in 1984 with the release of Conveniens debut LP self-titled Conveniens. Consisting of John Maz-drums, percussion and David Sterling Smith- synth, piano, organ.

John Maz was once tagged as being bionic for inhumanly precise drumming. John's current approach to drums is more textural than rhythmic.

David Sterling Smith's major influences were, Keith Jarrett and Cecil Taylor. Dave's approach to music is more like painting or soundscaping.

There motto:"Although impossible, try to do what hasn't been done before and keep it accessible". Keyword here, accessible. They never wanted to go to far off on the deep end for the sake of sounding different or excessive selfindulgence.


RAIN KITE: an interpreted version of an alternate approach to the blues.

KNOW IT AIN"T: starts with a straight two-four beat then enters a textural realm, so the title.

MORNING LOBOTOMY: offbeat neuro synyh, surgicial inflection, a glorified migraine.

BARNEY KLARK: a dedication to the world's first known artifical heart recipient.

REGULAR GRIND: a regular tune with their own grind added.

DRUHM RUM: featuring Maz on double bass drums, toms and {cocktail glass chinging} cymbals.

PROCESSION OF BONE: ominous, haunting pomp for special occasions {organ, synth, primal drums}.

AFRISHA'NKI: featuring David Sterling Smith accoustic grand piano, over lying synth, accompanied by Maz's appropriately placed cymbals.

BLINK: rock reggae drums with a free wheeling lively upbeat piano leads up to crescendos 'til it totally drops off, where did they go?

The Conveniens LP was orignally released in 1984 on vinyl and the recording engineer was Iain Burgess.

The Conveniens CD {re-mastered} was released in 2006 and the pre-mastering engineer was Mark Richardson. There is also a hidden and somewhat surreal interview W/Conveniens on the CD that was not on the LP.


to write a review

dane hansen

Oh man
This came into our college radio station on the new releases last month, and I've been playing a track off it on my show ever since. The drumming and piano work is so well placed, but it feels so un-pretentious and fluid in a sea of bad jazz releases and stifling, stilted indie rock.

oberst gregor / discos veveos

finally the beginning of a conveniens cd library?
as a longtime conveniens fan I was superglad to discover this cd version of their first album. I am from germany and bought their first two albums in mint condition in 1987 out of a bargain bin in paris. from that time on I loved them and still today do. the music is so nicely avantgarde and imo perfect for sci-fi reading or general the futuristic film inside your head. the extremely cool and inspiring coverart works its share on the overall impression of a great band that fortunately is valid and present even today. the third album "clear" opened up new horizons and with "at" in the early 90s they became more musical and less structural/improvised. nevertheless, for those who look for true musical originality and musicianship with a good heart that is inspired and weird but not overintellectualized each conveniens record will bring joy. I hope that "victims of convenience" will be available soon!!! in gemm in the 90s I saw a funnily commented listing of this album: "arizona keyboard industrial, but good!" I like this message very much.

Zorro DuPont

Deserves a good listen.
I remember the drummer John Maz. He used to hangout at the Exit in Chicago with the hardcore. But Conveniens was and is different. More like a hi-tech garage band. There are some interesting things going on here and Conveniens deserves a good listen.

Chris Alfano

A review I wrote back in July
Convenience Records
(no My Space profile at this time)

Originally released in 1984, Conveniens’ self-titled debut album was a musical beast that no one was prepared for. While occasional nods to such high-profile new wave acts as The Cars, The Police, and Devo were present in the band’s sonic arsenal, keyboardist David Sterling-Smith and percussionist John Maz were clearly doing something that was ahead of its time. In between the aforementioned points of accessibility, Conveniens had a habit of throwing everything from free-form jazz to industrial soundscapes into the mix. Simultaneously approachable and yet menacingly unfamiliar, this was music written for those who knew that owning a couple of Frank Zappa and King Crimson albums wasn’t enough to earn a place among the avant-garde or musical elite.

While never being fully embraced in their own element, the members of Conveniens had a decidedly unique approach to their respective instruments and songwriting methodology. John Maz stated on more than one occasion that while some think of the drums as mere timekeeping devices, he saw them as a means for creating “textures”. Similarly, Sterling-Smith once stated that he thought of himself as less of a musician and more as a painter. In essence, Maz and Sterling-Smith interpreted the sounds they created as flashes of color and consistency.

Interestingly, it seems as though the band incorporated the above philosophy into this album’s cover art as well. A series of metallic tubes descends from the top of the cover like a gathering of unnaturally formed stalactites. Hexagonally-shaped figures (carbon rings, maybe?) appear to be randomly suspended in various forms; some stable, some in a transitional state. All of these figures are set on a photographic backdrop which resembles a rust-colored mountain range. It would seem as though the presence of these seemingly unrelated elements symbolizes a merging of the organic (carbon rings) with the man-made (metallic tubes) and the natural (mountains). But it isn’t until one becomes immersed in the music of Conveniens that any of this becomes apparent.

This album’s festivities begin with a track called “Rain Kite”, which feature a surreal, hovering riff that calls to mind the work of Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes. However, this track’s overall appeal is pretty far removed from anything the 80’s pop scene ever produced. As Sterling-Smith spins and weaves his keys through the earthy, analog rhythms of Maz’ drums, the sense of looseness and improvisation harkens back to the formative years of Pat Metheny and Weather Report.

Second track “Know I Ain’t” highlights Sterling-Smith’s expert keyboard technique, as he takes the place of an entire horn section with his right hand while emulating a hypnotic bass line with his left. Maz responds with some sparse drum patterns that go heavy on snare and hi-hat, much like Stewart Copeland in his prime. Toward the middle section, Sterling-Smith takes a turn toward the experimental with an odd merging of Gary Numan-inspired melodies against a grinding church organ.

“Morning Lobotomy” impresses me as one of the bands more adventurous tracks, with a jazz-inflected piano intro that gradually joins the drums into a vortex of screaming synth waves and cacophonous overtones. The noise alternately waxes and wanes in the mix as Maz and Sterling-Smith hold down a steady rhythm in alternating time signatures.

Further highlights are found in the tracks “Druhm Run” (with its frantic double bass patterns and melodic interplay that suggest Mike Oldfield circa Tubular Bells), the appropriately titled “Procession of Bone” (featuring tribal percussion accompanied by eerie organ tones and a haunting keyboard melody), and “Blink” (an 11+ minute epic that sees Sterling-Smith hitting full-throttle with atonal, off-time scalar runs that would make Cecil Taylor smile).

Around the time of this album’s initial release, Conveniens proposed the following motto: “Although impossible, try to do what hasn't been done before and keep it accessible”. After giving this considerable thought, I can say with confidence that they have succeeded. Their supporters may be few and far between, but there are few bands (active or otherwise) who can claim to have accomplished everything they wanted to on their debut album. But back in 1984, this little-known duo from Chicago managed to do just that.