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Group Members: Joe Turner And The Seven Levels
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Judging from their affinity for psychedelic pop/rock (with some improv elements thrown in as well), the Boston quartet Abunai! are major admirers of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. The band originally formed during the mid-'90s, when Dan Parmenter (bass), Brendan Quinn (guitar), and Joe Turner (drums) got together to jam -- all of whom had previously logged time with other local groups. Shortly thereafter, multi-instrumentalist Kris Thompson (organ, synthesizer, theremin) signed on, rounding out Abunai! to a four-piece. Signed to the indie label Camera Oscura, the quartet issued a pair of albums during the latter part of the decade -- 1997's Universal Mind Decoder and 1999's Mystic River Sound -- which resulted in coverage in such renowned publications as Magnet, Rolling Stone, and Alternative Press, plus airplay on the BBC's John Peel show. For their third release, 2000's Round Wound, Abunai! condensed several years' worth of improv jams at their rehearsal studio into a single disc's worth of tunes. In addition to his Abunai! duties, Thompson also leads an experimental side project, the Lothars, comprised of several theremin players.
Abunai! was a psychedelic rock/space rock/folk rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, USA primarily active from 1996 to 2001 on the Australian Camera Obscura record label.
The band formed in 1996 after the four members began performing extended improvisational sessions. Though the band members played a variety of different instruments and all provided various vocals, the general live performance lineup was Dan Parmenter on bass, Brendan Quinn on guitar, Kris Thompson on keyboards and Joe Turner on drums. The name Abunai is Japanese in origin and translates as 'look out!' or 'watch out!'
Due to musical and writing connections to the Ptolemaic Terrascope the band was asked to play the first Terrastock festival in Providence, Rhode Island in 1997, where they also sold copies of a self-released and titled cassette taken from their initial sessions. Tony Dale, who had founded the Camera Obscura label the previous year, was in attendance for their set and offered to release the group's material. Abunai! remained with the label for its subsequent three albums and two EPs, though the band also released songs on a variety of compilations elsewhere.
The band's debut release, Universal Mind Decoder, appeared later in 1997; the title was a reference to a working title for the Byrds song "Change is Now" from The Notorious Byrd Brothers.
Abunai!'s second release, 1999's The Mystic River Sound, was created and presented as a supposed compilation album covering "the seedy, sour suburbs north of Boston," referencing both numerous album compilations of small psychedelic and rock scenes as well as the Turtles album The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands. All songs on the album were written and performed by the group, with false group names acting as musical or local in-jokes and references.
The group's final full length release, 2000's Round Wound, was conceived and presented in the form of a classic Dean Markley Strings package, with the album title written in the company's logo font and the artwork and overall layout similarly parodying the look. Underground cult New England musician Bobb Trimble appeared on the song "Buzz Bombb." Released simultaneously with Round Wound was Deep Mu Flux, an EP on the small Camera Obscura sub-label Camera Lucida which contained three instrumentals.
The members of Abunai! announced in 2001 that the band was on hold for the foreseeable future while the group concentrated on other projects, including Joe Turner's promotion and organizing of the fifth Terrastock festival in Boston in 2002. The final release by Abunai! appeared in 2003; like Deep Mu Flux, Two Brothers was a limited edition EP on Camera Lucida containing two versions of the title track as well as a live recording of "Lord Hampton" from the fourth Terrastock festival in 2000.
Since 2003, the band has played occasional reunion shows, including a 2006 date in Providence, Rhode Island as a part of a preview show for the sixth Terrastock festival and a 2010 show in Boston for the Deep Heaven Now Festival, along with experimenting with so-far unreleased recording sessions. In August 2010 the band made all its releases available for full download for a short period via Bandcamp."Abunai!: Believe the Lie". Retrieved 26 August 2010. "abunai". Retrieved 2010-08-26. "Camera Obscura catalog listing for Universal Mind Decoder". Retrieved 26 August 2010. "Abunai! Discography". Retrieved 26 August 2010. "Camera Obscura catalog listing for Universal Mind Decoder". Retrieved 26 August 2010. "Cellars by Starlight". Retrieved 26 August 2010. "Camera Obscura catalog listing for Round Wound". Retrieved 26 August 2010. "Camera Lucida releases". Retrieved 26 August 2010. "Camera Lucida releases". Retrieved 26 August 2010. "Abunai!: News". Retrieved 26 August 2010. "Deep Heaven Now Festival". Retrieved 26 August 2010. "Bandcamp: Abunai!". Retrieved 26 August 2010.