"This bizarre release spans the career of one individual (Stephen Nester), three of his projects, and the years 1982 through '94. Describing most of these songs as soundtrack pieces or complex club-geared instrumentals would only be fair if the movie had a warped dream sequence and the club allowed timber wolves to roam around and snack on lethargic onlookers. Jim Thirlwell either borrowed from Nester or influenced his compositions, because fans of Foetus' more experimental orchestral material will groove on this chaotic offering." -(HUH MAGAZINE)
Composer and visual artist Stephen Nester has undergone -- and survived -- a number of aesthetic incarnations. The erstwhile HAPPINESS BOY evolved into SLAP, and following an extended creative hiatus resurfaced as BELT. The abstract electronic music he made and continues to make, however, has not changed. It remains as fierce, provocative, and unwavering as ever.
The sounds: visceral, insistent, resonate. At once a pulsating melange that presents a bracing sonic swipe at the senses (and sensibilities); alternately a lush soundtrack for (post-)modernity. With the release of 1995's Ghost Stories, Nester's multiple musical identities converge and compel as he fuses ideas past and present. This judiciously edited collection documents his long-time explorations into the mystery of banal reality. Manipulation of neutral machines yields an intensely personal vision, stripped bare of ornamentation and artifice, yet imbibed with emotional content.
"I am interested in the structures that man has used to hang his emotions on," emphasizes the composer. "My work is my own way of trying to fix the transitory."
- 1981-1983: Co-founder along with Edward Bobb of the duo THE HAPPINESS BOYS. Produced relentless instrumental electronic music which eschewed commercialism. Released two extended play records, Meat Parade (1982) and Resident Alien (1983). Performed in a variety of Miami, FL, venues, from cultural institutions to new wave nightclubs. Commissioned to score music for dance, film and video. Featured on the Meet the Composer Series broadcast nationwide over National Public Radio.
- 1984-1987. Solo work as SLAP. Continued in the electronic vein, but added elements of melodic intervention with strings and percussion. Performed at New York City's famed Kitchen Club.
- Four acclaimed records and one compact disc:
- Eden Now (1984): "...dark urbanistic studies in raw mood..." - Sound Choice
- Pratique (1986): "Urban voodoo music -- not for the faint of heart." - Keyboard
- Downtime (1986): "...the sound textures flow almost as if visible." - Beef
- Songs From the Cross (1987): "Slap has become a master of the art --- and the pain --- of noise." - The Miami Herald
- Bed of Nails (compilation - 1987): "An excellent overview of an intriguing artist." - Keyboard
- 1995: Solo work as BELT. Produced Ghost Stories: a CD collection of previously released and unreleased tracks from the music of THE HAPPINESS BOYS, SLAP and BELT. All material reworked and remastered.
Stylistic differences notwithstanding, the sounds of THE HAPPINESS BOYS, SLAP and BELT manifest one constant: rhythm, texture and space take precedent over melody, all the while, creating meaning. In the end, the listener is left bearing the indelible reminder that he has been drawn inextricably into the eternal discourse on what it means to be human.