About TimeShard & Some History
TimeShard were comprised of Steve Angstrom, Psy, and Gobber – the band was born out of the UK Free Festival scene where ramshackle P.A. systems built to pump out a mix of punk, psychedelia and dub during the mid 80s were soon repurposed to deliver pounding beats of primitive electronic music.
Timeshard began when the three members got together in 1988, each performing in the post-punk bands Radio Mongolia and F , the three founders shared a love of synthesiser music and experimental artists and so decided to explore and experiment in a new sonic project.
The live electronic music scene of 1989
At that time “house” was finding a home in the UK underground rave scene and Acid House was brand new and about to collide with the psychedelic punk of Squat Rock. There was no fixed idea of what an electronic live act might be, as House music was a studio creation and nobody had any idea what it might be like as a live music or a performance.
There was no template. TimeShard were influenced by bands as diverse as The Residents, Can, Tangerine Dream, Magazine, Faust, Adrian Sherwood, Brian Eno … to name just a few.
The live electronic performance scene grew exponentially and sub genres didn’t exist in this amorphous cloud of creativity. There were many bands who were highly experimental, each trying new ways to take electronic music onto the stage. No method was fixed, and rules were non-existent.
Ancient Technologies, ancient times
The technology was still fresh and the sounds were raw and new. Dance music was not codified. The “vintage” drum machine the Roland TR909 was a mere 3 years old when TimeShard began. The first affordable sampler the Akai S900 was only one year old.Likewise the TB303 was only 4 years out of production. Electronic dance music was the music of cultural, spiritual and technological reclamation.
Timeshard began borrowing technology and recording whatever was to hand. Toy keyboards, records from charity shops, editing tape loops and picking up synth bargains with their meagre cash.
There was no intent to make “dance music” but rather to make sound collages and trance inducing noises. Influences ranged from The Residents to Tim Blake, from Eno and Can to Steve Reich.
There was no template at the time for live electronic dance music, looking back a story thread can be made by journalists – but back then there was no established framework or a rule book. Everyone band trying for live electronic music was exploring their own potential for experimentation.
TimeShard experimented with tape, borrowed multitracks, cheap downtime in local recording studios, borrowed synthesizers and in the first couple of years performed some very strange dub inflected trance music for confused listeners.
Early Cassette Albums (1990-1994)
TimeShard released their music on cassettes and sold them through mailing lists, and by 1991 had built a following for their live performances.
Crystal Oscillations (1994)
Liverpool dance music shop and record label 3 Beat offered the Shardies a chance to record an album and release it on vinyl and CD, so a deal of some kind was signed and the three hairy weirdos and their friend and manager travelled down to London to record in a state of the art recording studio. Peer Music Publishing (the Publishers of Timeshard) had their own studio and it was a hit factory for all kinds of top chart acts. The Shards had the night shift, from 8pm till 8am. A week in the studio cost a bunch of money so the whole album was recorded in 5 nights.
To add a little bit of spice the band decided to write two of the songs in the studio, which came as a suprise to most people involved. Title track Crystal Oscillations was one of these two which were jammed out on the spur of the moment.
The poor engineer and producer nearly had a heart attack when the band decided to create the song on the spot – understandable because the tight schedule required two songs to be recorded and mixed each night, so writing two new ones was really putting that deadline under pressure! Somehow it all worked out.
Though local label 3Beat had paid for the recording of
Lucky for everyone that Gobber was (and is) friends with the members of Eat Static via their Ozric Tentacles connections. Eat Static and their friends were creating big waves with the MegaDog live electronic music events – and DJ Michael Dog had decided to start a label to release the sounds of that unique festival-influenced scene
Somewhere, in the depths of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this earth with envious eyes. But that’s nothing to do with what I was talking about, in fact, that’s the start of War of The Worlds. Forget I even mentioned it.
Michael invited the TimeShard crew to London, the headquarters of Planet Dog/Ultimate records, who were keen to take on the Crystal Oscillations album which was not yet released on 3Beat and would fit much better within the Planet Dog and Megadog family.
A couple of joints later and the gang were off on a Planet Dog adventure. Releasing Crystal Oscillations on the Planet Dog Records / Ultimate label in the UK in 1994, and on Mammoth Records in the USA in 1995
So, Timeshard exited 3-Beat records and Crystal Oscillations was released by Planet Dog records.
Touring and gigs for a decade
Timeshard took to the road for most of a decade, gigging across Britain, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium and the rest of Europe. Spending life in the back of a van covering many thousands of miles, most often sleeping on the floor of a promoter’s house. Sometimes sleeping on top of the equipment. It was not glamorous but it was a lot of fun performing to large crowds who loved the strange thumping psychedelic trance and also the band’s increasingly weird stage outfits
Gigs at festivals including several Glastonbury appearances and also festivals now vanished such as the Phoenix, or the more weird and wonderful privately organised festivals with a gathering of a few thousand people were highlights.
What Happened to TimeShard?
Timeshard made their living being in the band it was a precarious life. One year the van broke down on route to a gig, the inability to make that gig meant we didn’t get paid for that gig and all the others we couldn’t make which ought to have followed that week. It left a hole in finances and we started to think perhaps it was time to call it a day. The endless touring began to take it’s toll on the shardmobile, the musical equipment and the members health. Also we were skint!
Gobber had always run his sound system, using his mixing expertise to put bands on stage, so began to focus more on that. Psi and Angstrom had become captivated by the (then new) technological marvels of the internet and wanted to investigate an online creative venture like animations, game music, and that sort of thing. Psi and Angstrom did some online music compilation albums for the early internet and foolishly thought it was a good idea to do more of that.
Current times – where are TimeShard?
These days they are all still friends and see each other every now and then.
Gobber still makes music (occasionally giggling under the name “Monsters from the Id”) but mostly keeps his vintage stack of synths in the studio making space noises .
Psi strums a guitar occasionally but no longer releases music and he works within the internet, moving electrons around.
Steve Angstrom still makes music and releases it, and talks in the third person in a very dis-concerting manner. He has a website at https://angstromnoises.com with music, and some tutorials for making synth sounds and songs.
Will TimeShard ever reform & play a gig?
It’s extremely unlikely. Very, very very unlikely. We still chat amiably about the old gigs, and have a laugh about the various things which happened, but to put the band back the way it was would be like rewinding time, and we all know that’s not possible … right? 😉