Maximillian Colby

It's a rare and curious situation when an artistic force of magnitude on the scale of Maximillian Colby appears and then abruptly dissipates. Initially not greatly known outside their native state of Virginia, the quartet of Drew Ringo, Dave NeSmith, Tom Richards, and Bob Baynor never truly knew the scope of their influence on a mid-'90s subgenre of hardcore music punctuated not only by fractured walls of sheer noise but also filigreed instrumentation. Maximillian Colby certainly provide one of the definitive snapshots of this style of music and have a quality reminiscent of, say, Gravity Records' back catalog, but they manage to overstep mere layers of screams and feedback into a realm more droning and haunting.

Beginning in Harrisonburg, Va., at James Madison University in the early'90s, the four men produced intricate compositions on one hand clean, repetitive, and mellow, but on the other, brash and jagged. Perhaps that's the allure of Maximillian Colby: there's always a sonically unstable element to them. Control and temperance are always jockeying for position with splatter and chaos; howls mix with picked chords to emerge as music of a singular quality.

The foursome flung out a raw, unharnessed energy to produce sketches of sprawling beauty and rumbling roars. For Maximillian Colby, a premium was placed on mood, not necessarily crystallized thought. A quick glance at the lyrics sheet might reveal words that appear as greeking, or random text used to see how a CD layout would look. But the sense one gets when listening to the unified channels of Maximillian Colby's lyrics and music is that narration of specific instances didn't matter to them. In other words, it's all about conception and impression.

It was their terrifyingly earnest approach towards composition that resonates in their first 7" on DC's Nervous Wreck Kids, two compilations on Whirled Records, and their near legendary split 12" with Canada's Shotmaker. Sadly, the band came to a complete halt following the sudden death of bassist Baynor in 1995. While Richards didn't continue onto other musical projects, Ringo and NeSmith followed their stint in Maximillian Colby with Sleepytime Trio, Supine to Sit, Rah Bras, Bats & Mice, and a host of other bands. Maximillian Colby finds glimpses and refractions of itself as the progenitor in this long list of projects.