The Squid's Ear Magazine

Surplus 1980: Pigeon Obstacle Course (Surplus Industries)

Created out of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and drummer/percussionist Moe Staiano's Mute Socialite, this 7-piece improvising rock band turns rock on it's side in mostly instrumental, energetically complex and twisted rock pieces with acerbic social narrative, the band employing three drummers, bass & two guitars, piano and trumpet from Darren Johnston.

Price: $12.95


In Stock

Quantity in Basket: None

Log In to use our Wish List Shipping Weight: 4.00 units

product information:

Label: Surplus Industries
Catalog ID: G1506
Squidco Product Code: 28006

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: Czech Republic
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded at Santo Recording Studio, in Oakland, California, on October 21st and 22nd, and November 4th, 5th, and 22nd, by HL Nelly.


Melne Murphy-guitar, glockenspiel, Bundt pan, vocals

HL Nelly-bass

Mark Pino- drums, cymbals

Moe! Staiano-percussion, vocals, Bundt pan, prepared guitar, marimba, bells, drums, molodica

Bill Wolter-guitar, piano, prepared guitar

Darren Johnston-trumpet

Feona Lee Jones-piano

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Surplus 1980 is a San Francisco Bay Area-based post-punk band founded in 2009 by former Sleepytime Gorilla Museum multi-instrumentalist Moe! Staiano.

As alluded to in its name, Surplus 1980's music takes cues from the angular bands of the 1980s such as Dog Faced Hermans and Diagram Brothers and fuses it with the heavy, fierce attack pioneered by The Ex and The Fall to create their own blend of modern no-wave angst. Combined with Staiano's playful lyrics, Surplus 1980's music is a thick slab of out-jazz, with more than a dash of punk ferocity.

Staiano originally created Surplus 1980 as a studio-only collaboration, with the goal to further a musical journey begun with Staiano's previous no-wave instrumental group, Mute Socialite. After recording, Moe! assembled a live configuration of the band with guitarist Bill Wolter (Inner Ear Brigade). The line up coalesced with the addition of guitarist Melne, drummer Mark Pino and new addition, HL Nelly on bass.

Surplus 1980's debut album, Relapse In Response, was released in 2011 on Staiano's micro-indie label, Dephine Knormal Musik. Moe! plays most of the instruments himself, but the recording also features a noteworthy stable of musical collaborators including Carla Kihlstedt, Matthias Bossi, and Dan Rathbun (Sleepytime Gorilla Museum), guitarist Ava Mendoza (Mute Socialite, Fred Frith), violinist Meredith Yayanos (Faun Fables), and cameo appearances from Andy Moor (The Ex) and G.W. Sok (the Ex, King Champion Sound).

In 2013 Surplus 1980 released a new work, Arterial Ends Here, which features the current live band, as well as another vocal/lyrical collaboration from G.W. Sok, and orchestral textures from clarinetist Aaron Novik, percussionist Jordan Glenn and oboist Kyle Bruckmann.

Two new recordings were done in 2017 and 2018 - a new full-length record, and the Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensembl, which includes every musician that has played with Surplus 1980, current and past, performing as a whole. The instrumentation composed of three drum kits, five guitars, bass, contrabass, saxophone, oboe and keyboards.

Since 2011, Surplus 1980 has played shows all over the region with some of the Bay Area's most notable creative music luminaries, including Fred Frith Trio, miRthkon, Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack O' the Clock, Moetar, Dominique Leone Band and Grex. In 2012, Surplus 1980 was one of the 8 bands chosen to participate in Undercover Presents' "Black Sabbath Paranoid," a unique show in which an influential album is chosen to have its songs reinterpreted with the personal vision of different artists."-Dephine Knormal Music

Artist Biographies

"Melne Murphy is a West Coast guitarist known for the bands Surplus 1980, Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensembl With G.W. Sok, Têtes Noires."

-Discogs (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Mark Pino began playing drums at the age of 13. He has performed in the SF Bay Area and other parts of the country since the early 1990's. Mark has shared stages and playing situations with many talented individuals, and is grateful to all of them, most of all those who have shared their insights with him. He considers himself a band player, first and foremost. He also plays percussion with Cloud Shepherd, The Ruminations, and other experimental/improv groups. More on his work is available at"

-Acousmatique (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Moe! is conductor and composer for the Moe! Staiano Ensemble, (formerly Moe!kestra!), a large-ensemble avant garde orchestra, which can feature over 30 musicians playing everything from violins, clarinets and cellos to drum kits, oscillators and electric guitars. Moe! Staiano Ensemble performances are high-energy, electrifying experiences that create unique and memorable soundscapes that intrigue and beguile.

Moe!'s innovative solo percussion shows feature prepared drum kit, found objects, audio looping and the inventive use of a "percussion guitar" woven in with performance art, which always gets the audience involved and eagerly expectant of what might happen next.

Moe! also fronts Surplus 1980, a post-punk band that continually evolves its journey of no-wave progressive and percussive musical exploration. Surplus 1980 features Moe!'s bracing guitar and wry wordplay and a wide palette of timbres from the multi-instrumentalist members of the group.

Over the years, Moe! has worked with a veritable who's-who of the Bay Area creative music scene, including Ron Anderson (the Molecules, RonRuins, PAK), Tom Nunn, Vacuum Tree Head, Z'ev, Amy X Neuburg, Ava Mendoza, Nurse With Wound, David Slusser, Karen Stackpole, Ches Smith, Michael Evans (God Is My Co-Pilot), Caroline Kraabel & John Edwards (Shock Exchange), Gino Robair, William Hooker, Tom Dimuzio and has performed with all these plus Henry Kaiser, Mark Growden's Electric Pinata, Amy Denio, Cheer-Accident and sfSoundGroup among others.

Solo Percussion

Moe! performs solo percussion shows, some are based around a modified drum set and looping, while others include "playing" a variety of found objects. His performances are always interesting and engaging, and often include the audience as a participant, as well as observer.

Moe! Staiano Ensemble (formerly Moe!kestra) is a large-ensemble avant garde orchestra, which can include over 30 musicians that play everything from traditional classical instruments and percussion to contemporary mainstays like electric guitars and drum kits.

Moe!'s ferocious conducting leads the ensembles through his own compositions--epic forays into sonic landscapes from pastoral and evocative to jagged and frenetic.

Moe! has created over ten works for his ensemble, including the dramatic and safety-glasses-encouraged "Piece No.1: Death of a Piano"--which climaxes with a frenzied crescendo and Moe! destroying a piano with a sledgehammer.


Moe! has collaborated in small ensembles with notable musicians such as Amy X Neuburg, Aram Shelton, Jordan Glenn, Thollem McDonas and more."

-Moe! Staiano Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Since settling in San Francisco in 1997, Canada-born trumpeter/improviser/composer/songwriter Darren Johnston has collaborated and recorded with an extremely diverse cross-section of artists. His interests rotate around composing instrumental music, writing songs, and performing all styles of jazz, experimental and purely improvised music, as well as traditional music of the Balkans, Greece, and Macedonia.

He has performed and/or recorded with luminaries such as ROVA Sax Quartet, Fred Frith, Myra Melford, Ben Goldberg, Matt Wilson, Mark Dresser, Marshall Allen, and many others.

As a composer, he has written for jazz and/or non-idiomatic improvising groups, big bands, string quartet, and even a multi-generational choir, with songs based on a collection of immigrant letters. He has written for dance companies such as Amy SeiwertÕs Imagery, Deborah Slater, Axis Dance, Robert MosesÕ Kin, Liss Fain, and others, as well as for dance films."

-Darren Johnston Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Pigeon Obstacle Course 4:49

2. Temporarily Present 11:56

3. 261 7:43

4. Perilous Night No. 4 1:45

5. Failure of Commitment 7:04

6. Question After Ended Questioned 6:01

7. A Motivated Song About Procrastination 7:12

8. Is That Better? 7:34

9. Morale Is High 6:12

Related Categories of Interest:

Rock and Related
Improvised Rock
Improvised Music
West Coast/Pacific US Jazz
Septet recordings
Song Based Music
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Rock Forms

Search for other titles on the label:
Surplus Industries.

Recommended & Related Releases:
Other Recommended Releases:
Surplus 1980 + G.W. Sok
Kremlin Gremlin [VINYL 7'']
(Surplus Industries)
Charming Hostess
The Ginzburg Geography
Phantasmagoria [VINYL]
(577 Records)
(577 Records)
Bright Green Field
(Warp Records)
Lucas, Gary
The Essential Gary Lucas [2 CDs]
(Knitting Factory)
Bitter Banquet
Surplus 1980
Pigeon Obstacle Course [VINYL + 7'']
(Surplus Industries)
Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensembl With G.W. Sok
Forget All This
(Music a la Coque)
King Champion Sounds / Surplus 1980 (Moe! Staiano)
Split [7" VINYL]
(Tractor Notown)
Spectral (Dave Rempis / Darren Johnston / Larry Ochs)
Empty Castles
Frith, Fred / Darren Johnston
Everybody's Somebody's Nobody
(Clean Feed)
Mute Socialite
More Popular Than Presidents and Generals
(Dephine Knormal Musik)
Johnston, Darren
Edge Of The Forest
(Clean Feed)
Staiano's, Moe! - MOE!KESTRA!
2 Rooms Of Uranium Within 83 Markers: Conducted Improvisations, Vol.II
(Edgetone Records)

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought:
Allbee, Liz
(Relative Pitch)
Fielder, Alvin / David Dove / Jason Jackson / Damon Smith
The Very Cup of Trembling
(Astral Spirits)
Arcane Device
Circuit Dreams
Garcia, Violeta / Chris Pitsiokos
(Relative Pitch)
Ashley, Robert
eL / Aficionado (2021)
(Lovely Music)
Lopez, Brandon Trio
Live at Roulette
(Relative Pitch)
Ulher, Birgit / Damon Smith / Chris Cogburn
The Eternity-Cult
(Balance Point Acoustics)
Jone, Jean Claude (JC) / Raymond Boni
Visions of Sound
Doneda, Michel / Frederic Blondy / Tetsu Saitoh
Spring Road 16
(Relative Pitch)
Belisle-Chi, Gregg
KOI - performing the music of Tim Berne
(Relative Pitch)

The Squid's Ear Magazine

The Squid's Ear Magazine

© 2002-, Squidco LLC