OYC formed by Tim Horberry, Roger Horberry and Andrew Hulme as an escape from the ham-fisted Gothic nonsense the two Horberry boys had been playing previously. Clare Elliott is soon drafted in because she could play the flute.
First gig 3rd October 1982 at The Newshouse, Nottingham. Instruments included dog bowl and half a beer barrel, as well as taped rhythms, syndrum, bass and trumpet. Seven people and a dog listened to what the optimistic OYCers hoped sounded like 23 Skidoo cross Cabaret Voltaire. It didn't.
More gigs around Nottingham, mostly at the now defunct Ad-Lib Club, including one supporting Factory outsiders Crispy Ambulance. Roles stabilised into TH on percussion, RH on bass (and - amusingly - occasional vocals), CE on flute, AH on tapes and any other non-musical stuff. Bought Roland 606 Drumatix drum machine and SH09 synth.
First recordings on Tascam 4 track pursuing the idea of "ambient disco" - thankfully aborted and lost.
First publicity came with a mention in Dave Henderson's Wild Planet column in Sounds. Letters of interest began to arrive from odd parts of the world, the start of an on-going correspondence with like-minded obscure music fanatics.
OYC leave Nottingham to get educations in Leeds, Sheffield & Warwick. In Leeds AH moves into a house with a four-track studio in the basement. In the spartan effects rack was a machine that changed OYC forever: a Powertran digital delay with a 1.6 second/4Khz looping feature - instant soundscapes at the push of a button.
RH, CE and AH recorded "Four Sketches" in July 1984 using this primitive sampler and promptly converted to Eno-esque ambience. Three of the Four Sketches turn up on "Primitive" in 1997.
Other recordings include the ambitious 20 minute flute loop piece "Transcontinental Levitation" a soundtrack to an experimental film that would later become part of the Ikon video "Peripheral Vision".
Through contacts in Leeds OYC begin recording an album for Gordon Hope's obscure A-mission record label. One side featured the last of OYC's electronic output, the other featured ambient/ethnic material developed with the Powertran.
First album ("Scene in Mirage") released in summer 1984, edition of 500 copies with hand-screened colour applied to monochrome covers. Sells out immediately to become a collector's item.
A-mission decide not to re-press the first album so "Scene In Mirage/Soundtracks" becomes a cassette release on AH's own Final Image label along with an accompanying video.
OYC record a second album in four days at a commercial eight track studio in Nottingham featuring a proper (albeit monophonic) sampler. Also a new effects rack and a great engineer - John Kaukis. The whole experience underlines how important a good engineer can be in an unfamiliar studio. Overall sound a miscellany of Eno, Hassell and Michael Brook.
Towards the end of the year played two underwhelming gigs in Amsterdam (La Palet) and Nijmegen (Diogenes), the start of a long association with NL Centrum & The Netherlands.
Second album ("Into Dark Water") released in 1000 copies with duotone sleeve on Final Image. Attracted good reviews, including more stars in Sounds than Prince and Madonna albums released the same week. Inexplicably, sales fail to match either of these artists. "IDW" sets the OYC sound template for the next decade - ethnic/found percussion, sound textures and loops with flutey bits on top.
In response to their sound being compared to Popol Vuh, OYC play the UK Electronic Music Festival at the glamorous Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford in the West Midlands.
While the rest of the world was jackin' its body, discovering loose fit and getting on one matey, OYC continue to plough their lonely ambient/ethnic furrow, recording their third album in a commercial 16-track studio in Nottingham. Engineered by resident knob twiddler Joe King it featured guest percussionists Dave Chandler and Maneesh Chandra.
"Peyote" finally released as OYC's first CD on the Swedish Multimood label. It sounded like a more detailed and intense version of IDW, with heavier percussion and a darker emphasis. These two releases represent classic OYC ambience.
"Peyote" sells out its 2000 pressing and is licensed to Projekt in the US who turn it into a mini-West Coast phenomenon. OYC HQ (a bedroom in Acton, London) is flooded with fan mail from America.
RH is asked by a flatmate to come up with an OYC dance 12". The result - "Monkeywrench" - uses samples from "Peyote" and is released on the woefully misnamed Optimism Records. It is OYC's first single and promptly disappears without trace.
OYC have always been up for a good argument and whilst attempting to record a fourth ambient/ethno/percussion album - entitled "Earth Science" - serious tensions within the band erupt like a plague of boils. OYC split! Clare settles down to wedded bliss in Rotherham, Tim does a PhD in Derby, Andrew and Roger decide to continue.
Through their association with Nottingham's Squaredance Studios, OYC - working under the name Symetrix - release a series of dance 12" for Time records and R&S offshoot Global Cuts. The idea - never fully realised - was to weld their trademark ethnic percussion with house beats. The Symmetrix experiment revisited the "ambient disco" theme from OYC's earliest days - beating The Orb by a decade.
AH also begins a new project A Small Good Thing with Tom Fazzini and Mark Sedgwick from Leeds & Hull releasing the ambient work "Slim Westerns" on Portland's Soleilmoon. The start of several releases in the 90s that explore his interest in pushing Ambience into other genres.
"Into Dark Water" is re-issued on Holland's Staalplaat label as the "Undercurrents" CD with extra material culled from the abandoned "Earth Science" sessions.
Six years after playing in Holland OYC get invited back! With just eight weeks to prepare and no material, instruments or personnel, Roger and Andrew kiss and make up with Tim and draft in mates Malcolm McGeorge, Dan Mudford and Peter Woodhead. After some furious last minute rehearsals they play a very decent gig in front of several hundred punters at de Vredenburg concert hall in Utrecht.
Refreshed and renewed, OYC start building their first studio in the loft of Malcolm's house in Clapham. A new second generation OYC is born. To celebrate, the first of many OYC Christmas Currys takes place - the first held at the ever-classy Kennington Tandoori (free wine with every order over £25).
More European gigs including support slots for Biosphere and Main. The lineup is now RH (bass/perc), AH (perc/stuff), PW (sampler), DM (perc), MMcG (keyboards) with Joe Gardiner (sax). OYC play the first "Ambient Weekend" at Amsterdam's Melkweg with Higher Intelligence Agency.
Begin recording a new album. Some early sessions take place at an unusual eight track studio in Southall run by expert knob twiddler Rob Jenkins, proud owner of an impressive collection of modular knick-knacks. More of him later (much later - see 2003/4/5).
The album - "Equator" - is finished at the Clapham studio with Paul Schutze co-producing and is edited on an Avid system - the first OYC release to feature cross fades between tracks. Its released jointly by Staalplaat and Soleilmoon, the first 2000 with laser-etched sleeves.
OYC's last European dates are in Paris, Amsterdam and a music festival hosted by the magazine Gonzo Circus somewhere in Belgium. Paris is agreed to be the best ever OYC live performance, whilst the Belgian one of the worst. OYC never perform in their second generation phase again.
Following the (relative) success of Equator, OYC release a remix EP of the standout track "Sunchemical" featuring seven mixes by various combinations of OYC members and outsiders. The name of the album came from AH glimpsing the words on a train journey, little knowing where they came from or what they mean. A "cease and desist" order from US printing giant SunChemical soon clears that up. The release sells out but is not re-issued.
RH moves to Amsterdam. In his absence the remaining OYCers play the Noise Museum festival in Nevers, France, calling the group O Yuki Conjugate + Sons of Silence = Spoke as a hymn to the humble bicycle. The live recording of this concert was released on Noise Museum. Flushed with success they play other gigs including Rotterdam, where RH has the bizarre experience of sitting in the audience and watching the band he's been in for 13 years. In response he starts recording his washing machine and microwave, sounds later to form the backbone of the Alp project.
"Primitive" is released in a limited edition of 2000 on Staalplaat. With various solo projects on the go, RH and AH record a limited edition seven inch single for Syntactic Records of Vienna called "Circulars".
OYC goes into hibernation as AH concentrates on A Small Good Thing and a host of other projects including a solo album with Paul Schutze. RH completes the first Alp CD, a minimalist project based on his location recordings of Amsterdam. Both Alp and ASGT released on Soleilmoon Recordings of Portland, Oregon.
2nd generation OYCers Dan Mudford, Pete Woodhead & Joe Gardiner go on to minor success with their own outfit SONS OF SILENCE.
Despite the apparent parting of ways, the OYC Christmas Curry still going strong.
OYC Christmas curry.
OYC Christmas curry.
OYC Christmas curry.
Still more OYC Christmas curry.
With RH busy raising screaming children in Yorkshire, AH begins a new, unnamed, project. The enterprising Rob Jenkins - of the group Stone Idols - suggests a collaboration using his own studio in West London. In classic Conjugate style though, the recording process is endlessly drawn out because of AH spending half his time in America.
AH still recording with RJ. Tracks mounting up but still no overarching theme or name. Still very off/on because of time constraints.
Roger asked to provide fresh pair of ears for the mixing and editing of the much-delayed and still nameless AH & RJ album. A trial session is arranged, which goes so well it is decided the record should come out under the name OYC. A third incarnation of OYC is born! (1st: 1983-1991 TH, CE, RH, AH; 2nd: 1991-1996 DM, PW, MMcG, RH & AH). The theme is "dirty ambient".
The new OYC CD is finished. Provisionally entitled "Euphoria" (precisely because it isn't) it is unlike anything OYC have done before. Prevarication over exactly how to release the album means release is delayed until 2006.
Prevarication over and one small name change later, "The Euphoria of Disobedience" (as it's now called) is released in a limited edition of 1000 on OYC's own label. To celebrate this joyous event the sleeve is enhanced with a unique hand-cast clear resin tile. At the same time all OYC's back catalogue is released in MP3 format via iTunes. Further recordings are tentativly scheduled for release in late 2006 (but don't hold your breath).
Bit of a special year for OYC. First we played two gigs (our first since the late middle ages), the first in May at The Fleapit in achingly hip Hoxton, the second in September in just plain achey Stoke Newington. But even more exciting was OYC25, our silver jubilee celebration. All OYCers past and present converged on a ropey rehearsal studio in west London for a day of freeform ambient noodling. The result was strangely magical and should get a proper release in 2008. By our standards a packed year.
Work progressed on OYC25. Originally due to be released one year after being recorded, in classic Conjugate fashion this deadline went by without anyone noticing. Or caring.
OYC25 is finally ready! Just in time to mark our 27th year. AH has created an accompanying DVD of archive material that should have completists chomping at the bit.
High on life after the release of OYC25, the band put together Ambiguism 1983-1987, a four album vinyl boxed set that includes a reissue of our first two albums with bonus tracks, two additional full length LPs of unreleased material, a 7” single of our first ever recordings, a DVD, a large-format poster and detailed listening notes that give a unprecedented insight into the world of OYC.
Exhausted after so much activity, OYC take a well earned rest. All year.
Roger dusted off the OYC bank cheque book and bought some new gear in the form of a multitrack looper and gritty guitar pedals. Resolutely low tech and hands-on, it’s like MIDI never happened. These purchases may eventually translate into new material, but don’t hold your breath.
Out of the blue we were contacted by a group of US filmmakers operating under the name Lullskull about providing the soundtrack to their web series Northbound. Happy to oblige, chaps! Set in an abandoned, post-cataclysm wilderness, Northbound follows a handful of survivors as they eke out a daily existence and slowly unravel the mystery of an event that killed millions in a single day. Not a comedy, then. See for yourself here.
Cherry Red Records released “Close to the Noise Floor”, a four-disc box set compilation of early 80's electronica featured not one but two OYC tracks, including ‘Disco Song’ the first ever track we recorded way back in 1983. Packed with good stuff from all your favourite obscurist weirdos. Get it here while it's hot.