Sunday, September 11, 2005

cult of the week - Tiny Desk Unit

artist: Tiny Desk Unit

title: Naples

year: 1981

label: 91/2 x 16” Records

personnel: Susan Mumford (vocal), Michael Barron (guitar), Bob Boilen (synth), Terry Baker (bass), Lorenzo Jones (drums)

tracklisting: take me to paris, napping in japan, standing there, couscous

cotw say…

major players in the States’ other notable synthpunk scene (i.e. in and around Washington DC), TDU’s peculiar art has remained curiously and criminally absent from the reissues’ list.

more structured and relaxed than their eponymous debut (live) album, ‘Naples’ sees TDU on top form. the semi-tonal, new wavey vocals of Susan Mumford are offset by a tight, fluid and genuinely funky rhythm section to great effect. meanwhile, synth player Bob Boilen (?!) squeaks, gurgles, drones and bleeps his way through the EP’s four tracks a la Pere Ubu, leaving Michael Barron’s angular guitar work to positively shine. of all the tracks, it is perhaps the cool opener ‘Take me to Paris’, that successfully crams the most in.

along with being proclaimed as having one of the best band names ever, Tiny Desk Unit really should have more than just a mere footnote in the history of the American alternative scene.

erik -


tinydesk said...
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tinydesk said...
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tinydesk said...

Thanks Erik!

These days I still make squeaks and gurgles. You can hear my music at
On that site there is also some rare video footage of Tiny Desk Unit and some unreleased songs as well. And it is all for the taking.
For the past 17 years I’ve been directing NPR's All Things Considered, and started an online music show for them called All Songs Considered.

A small footnote
Tiny Desk Unit was the first band to set foot on the stage of DC's 9:30 club, and as the way this crazy world works, these days I host web casts for NPR from the 9:30 club.

Thanks for the kind words; you've made my day!
I'll pass your thoughts along to some of the other band members.

Bob Boilen