Friday, July 2, 2010

The Purkinje Shift

Here is the download: Purkinje Shift Discography

Here is the track breakdown:
1-2 from the "Nine Twelve Seven" single
3-8 from "Nickel Waves and Carbon Stars" album
9-14 from "Five for the Road and One for the Ditch" album

Also, here is their set from the Thomas Peake Memorial show: Purkinje Shift at Eyedrum 2009-12-20

The Purkinje Shift: Benjamin Davis, Gary T. Flom and Scott H. Robbins - show them some respect. They existed between 1996 and 2000, they had two guitars and no bass (although I always thought of Ben being the rhythm/bass element and Gary being the lead guitarist of the band), they toured with Man or Astroman?, they played in suits, they didn't stop between their songs, and they were one of the tightest live bands I have ever seen. The band was instrumental, both in terms of having no singer as well as ushering in (along with Galanas Cerdd) the new wave of instrumental postpunk to exist in Atlanta through the late 90's (i.e. Ocelot, Plastic Plan, Mock Heroic, Moreland Audio, etc.).

Here is a quick interview with them before their show last year at Eyedrum. I probably should have done it later in the day when there would have been fewer interruptions, but whatever:

JJ: 2000 was when you guys played last, correct?

BD: Correct, the Moreland Avenue Tavern was our last show.

JJ: And it was the last show for the tavern, right?

GF: Probably, it’s a used car lot now.

JJ: And your first show was at the Moreland Avenue Tavern.

BD: Correct, we actually have a video of that.

GF: We actually played with
San Agustin at our first show.

JJ: Who played your last show?

GF: Just us, we played an hour of material.

JJ: Full retrospective.

GF: Full hour.

Lee Corum: Sweet – can I have one (motioning to the beers)?

BD: Dude, this is a Purkinje Shift interview here.

JJ: Scott, you moved away at that point, right?

SR: Yeah, I moved to Providence, Rhode Island.

JJ: When did you move to France?

SR: Fall of 2004.

JJ: You haven’t played in any bands since?

SR: Not since 2000 – I’m not some whore like these guys.

JJ: But you were in Rebar and Barrel before, so it’s not like Purkinje Shift was your only band.

SR: No it wasn’t – just the last one.

BD: And
John Brown too.

JJ: So why did you guys decide to play today?

GF: Primarily because the three of us knew Thomas Peake, and he wrote an article on Purkinje Shift in Creative Loafing. I think it really helped us a lot with that, and when we heard the show was going to happen, Ben and I wanted to get on the bill with our new band (Lumens). I told Scott about Thomas, and he was going to be in town that week, so why don’t we try to do it? We can learn a few songs and practice, and if it doesn’t work we just won’t play. It went well, so we are going to play a tribute.

JJ: San Agustin is playing as well, so it’s a nice lineup. So from the post punk scene, you guys and Galanas Cerdd were the first fully instrumental bands from Atlanta at that time, but kind of ushered in all the instrumental bands that came after, like Ocelot, Mock Heroic, etc. through the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

BD: Originally I was going to sing, but when I started singing on one of our songs, it sounded like Seely, so we were just like “none of it”.

At this point, Eric from Hell Mach Four comes in and completely crashes the interview.

JJ: It wasn’t intentional to make an instrumental band?

BD: It started out with three guitarists, Sadek Bazarra was the other guitarist, and when that fell by the wayside we were like “well, we have to have vocals”, and it just didn’t work. I wanted to sing punk rock style at that time, because I had just been in Habeas Corpses.

JJ: But there was a gap, it had been a year and a half or so between Habeas Corpses and Purkinje Shift? So you had enough time to decompress?

BD: Yeah. I was playing in Charlie Parker at that point.

JJ: From the Purkinje Shift starting at that time, it seemed like such a break, as Barrel was coming from a post punk style, and then Purkinje Shift came in and most of the punk element was out, and it was almost like a jazz band in a way, but maybe because it was instrumental, maybe it was because you started wearing suits, maybe it was because of the artwork of the releases, it came across that “this isn’t your house show band”.

BD: Definitely, it was loud but it was straight up.

Now Rick Moore interrupts and inadvertently shuts down the interview. No problem, Lumens goes on and plays a great set, and then Purkinje Shift showed everyone exactly how it’s supposed to be done. Definitely one of the best bands of their genre, anytime anywhere.

Please check out Ben Davis' blog for plenty of live recordings by Purkinje Shift and his related bands. Thanks Ben, Gary and Scott for everything.

Here is the artwork for all the Purkinje Shift releases:


  1. One of my favorite ATL bands. I thought this was a very exciting time for local music.
    -Kelsey W.

  2. Can I be in this band too?
    cade lewis