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FM biography
This trio came from Toronto around the end of the 70's but got slightly over-shadowed by the profusion of bands exploding all over the album charts. I mean with RUSH, TRIUMPH, SAGA, MAX WEBSTER etc.. It is no wonder some could not get their share of sunlight, among which GODDO, MOXY, ZON, SANTERS and most certainly FM. Their first Lp full of a weird sort of hard rock with strange studio tampering alerted most potential fans that this was a very particular band with their lead violinist Nash The Slash playing as a mummy and Martin Deller at the drum seat as well as Cameron Hawkins on bass. Unfortunately, their crazy frontman opted for a fairly successful solo career (crazy videos on MuchMusic - the equivalent of MTV in the early 80's) and the remaining duo had to find Ben Mink as a replacement but they never managed to regain the magic of their first album. They will still manage another three albums.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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Nearfest 2006: DeluxeNearfest 2006: Deluxe
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$12.53
$17.68 (used)
Direct to DiscDirect to Disc
Remastered · Import
Esoteric 2013
Audio CD$7.54
$6.55 (used)
Black NoiseBlack Noise
Remastered · Import
Esoteric 2013
Audio CD$12.01
$12.98 (used)
City of FearCity of Fear
Remastered · Import
Esoteric 2013
Audio CD$10.14
$9.06 (used)
SurveillanceSurveillance
Remastered · Import
Esoteric 2013
Audio CD$10.14
$15.26 (used)
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Ben mink (FM) Foreign Exchange Canada 33rpm progressive rock LP album record Ex+ USD $1.49 [0 bids]
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FM Surveillance Canadian 33rpm progressive rock LP album record Ex+ Ben Mink USD $1.49 [0 bids]
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More places to buy FM music online Buy FM & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
  • AmazonMP3: Search for FM DRM-Free MP3 Downloads @ AmazonMP3 (USA Only) | AmazonMP3 (UK Only)

FM shows & tickets


  • HRH AOR 3 on 12 Mar 2015
  • FM at Bedford Esquires on 13 Mar 2015
  • FM + Hand of Dimes at Yardbirds Club, Grimsby on 3 Apr 2015
  • FM + Hex + Lawless at Civic Hall - Nantwich on 4 Apr 2015
  • Frontiers Rock Festival on 11 Apr 2015
  • FM - Heroes & Villains Tour on 1 May 2015
  • FM - Heroes & Villains Tour on 2 May 2015
  • FM - Heroes & Villains Tour on 3 May 2015
  • FM - Heroes & Villains Tour on 5 May 2015
  • FM - Heroes & Villains Tour on 6 May 2015
  • FM - Heroes & Villains Tour on 8 May 2015
  • FM - Heroes & Villains Tour on 9 May 2015
  • FM - Heroes & Villains Tour on 10 May 2015
  • Graspop Metal Meeting 2015 on 19 Jun 2015

FM discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

FM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.04 | 88 ratings
Black Noise
1977
3.90 | 48 ratings
Headroom: Direct to Disc
1978
3.47 | 36 ratings
Surveillance
1979
3.11 | 29 ratings
City of Fear
1980
3.10 | 11 ratings
Con-Test
1985
1.88 | 8 ratings
Tonight
1987

FM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

FM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Nearfest 2006
2014

FM Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.17 | 6 ratings
Retroactive: Archives I
1995

FM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

FM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Black Noise by FM album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.04 | 88 ratings

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Black Noise
FM Prog Related

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars 1977's `Black Noise' by Canadian trio FM is their one sole defining near-classic album! While the band seem to constantly be compared to Rush and Saga (likely simply due to the similar Canadian background), there's really not too much on this album that sounds like those two acts. Instead, despite offering a few accessible and melodic rock tracks, `Black Noise' jump backs and forth between Kansas-styled violin-driven instrumentals and deep space synth dominated atmospheres not far off the 80's Eloy albums. Violin player, the future charismatic and fascinating performance artist Nash the Slash makes such a big impression here that the follow-up albums, while some of them not being without their own strong merits, couldn't hope to make the same impact as this one does.

Sleek vocal rocker opener `Phasers on Stun' drifts the closest to Saga, but with more opportunity for plentiful swirling mini-moog spirals and gleaming synths all round. The only thing that lets it down are some cheesy laser gun sound effects throughout, but they're hardly surprising when you look at the track name! `One O'Clock Tomorrow' races through several ideas within six minutes, with low-key violin, shiny synth outbursts and foot tapping vocal passages to open and close. The first instrumental `Hours' could have appeared on any early Kansas album (if they'd been looking after an alien colony on the moon as opposed to a grounded dirt farm back on Earth!), driven by searing violin, colourful synth loopiness and breakneck drum soloing all racing together with incredible energy. `Journey' is a pleasing pop-rocker with a chorus so catchy and memorable that it could have appeared on an early Alan Parsons Project album.

The short but joyful and upbeat instrumental `Dialling for Dharma' offers groovy slinking synths bubbling under atmospheric violin and some bashing drums. The absolute highlight of the album is another instrumental `Slaughter in Robot Village', a spiky, brooding spacerocker almost in the manner of early Hawkwind, full of urgency and thrashing power. Heavy and dramatic, snaking violin slithers along the background behind heavy pounding drumming and delirious synths. If you're curious about this album, do yourself a favour and investigate clips of this piece, and it will convince you right away to hunt the album down! `Alderberan' could almost be an outtake from the first three Collins- led Genesis albums, a sweet dreamy melody with a distant `Afterglow' quality floating throughout it. The almost ten minute closing title track is most ambitious of all, a spacey epic with long ambient passages, electronic drones, hypnotic vocals and rising mantra-like violin, with a nice run of grumbling slab-thick bass near the end.

Amazingly for an album that features no electric guitars, `Black Noise' still seriously rocks with great power and finesse. It achieves a perfect balance of accessible melodic rock music with impressive progressive technicality, the two woven together to strong and exciting arrangements. That combination is really not so easy to achieve, but FM get it spot on here. Nash the Slash would depart after this album, but the band would go on to record `Headroom: Direct to Disc', well-regarded by fans of the band. But the career highlight will always `Black Noise', a truly essential classic Seventies prog work.

Five stars.

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 Headroom: Direct to Disc by FM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.90 | 48 ratings

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Headroom: Direct to Disc
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Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars Nash The Slash would soon get off the FM vehicle, as he thought that the presence of a drummer forced the band towards more commercial music.Ironically he pursued a solo career, which was way more commercial stylewise, compared to FM's early albums.He was replaced by Ben Mink, yet another violin/mandolin player of Canadian-Polish descent, who had previously played in the Folk Rock act Stringband.In late-77' the new FM trio visited the Phase One Recording Studios in Toronto and recorded a second album with the direct to disc recording method, lacking the use of recording tapes.The album was originally released in 1978 as ''Direct to disc'' on the small Labyrinth Records, while a few other reissues have surfaced later, some of them under the title ''Headroom''.

The album consists of only two sidelong tracks, each clocking at about 15 minutes.''Headroom'' is the introduction, a 5-theme piece, which combines elements from Jazz, Space Rock and Electronic Music.In fact this time FM sounded more focused and determined on the style they followed.Their sound was very polished and refined with melodic violin drives by Mink and a spacey bass performance by Hawkins, surrounded by the omnipresent synthesizers in an electronic enviroment.The music is pretty smooth with DIXIE DREGS references and very limited vocals, often passing through Lounge Jazz moments, ending up to be trully ethereal, but lacking some of the debut's dynamics.''Border crossing'' is divided in four parts and sounds a bit more Electronic-drenched that the opening piece, but also a bit more versatile.One certain reason are the opening notes, performed on electric mandolin and the constant change of moods.Electronic ambiences, Fusion orientations, a slight Neo Prog feel during the vocal parts and strong Classical hints towards the end, reminding of EDDIE JOBSON.There are however a couple of dead holes with minimalistic synths and effects in here, while FM insisted on playing on the dreamy side of Art Rock with the gears down and the atmosphere remains pretty calm all the way.

I could say that FM's approach on this effort was pretty genuine.But not passionate enough to keep the listener's full attention due to the lack of inner dynamics.Nice album for background listenings and propably for anyone into CLEARLIGHT-like Space Fusion...2.5 stars.

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 Black Noise by FM album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.04 | 88 ratings

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Black Noise
FM Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars FM's black noise presents a talented trio sounding like a massive band thanks to Deller, Hawkins and Nash the Slash's fearsome technical chops and exciting, energetic compositions. Nash the Slash is the standout performer on here, making his sole album appearance with the band before he departed to continue his own eccentric solo career, because between his violin, mandolin and glockenspiel he is able to incorporate a dizzying variety of unexpected sonic textures into the band's work. Far from your typical power trio, FM here have a sound based on a mixture of symphonic prog, jazz fusion, and other genres of 1970s art rock and at points are able to attain a strange futuristic sound reminiscent of the electronic music of the coming decade. A prog classic.

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 Headroom: Direct to Disc by FM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.90 | 48 ratings

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Headroom: Direct to Disc
FM Prog Related

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Despite having lost their original (and very original) frontman Nash The Slash, FM managed to find some kind of deal that had them enter a studio and engrave directly a disc. This DTD process had become quite rare by the late 70's and was sometimes still used for demo acetates. This process implies that the direct engraving forbids any kind of mixing and production work, even down to overdubs, etc? So whatever was played in the take was final. Sure the band actually took four takes of each tracks of this "EP", and chose the better one. As you can guess, the "untouchable" results can be relatively raw and even have a jam feel at times, but fear not the overall results is astounding: difficult to be more demanding, and while not improvised, the music takes a slight JR/F slant at times, to counter (or complement) the space rock; the latter still being their main influence.

Just two lengthy instrumental tracks over this EP (lasting just about a half-hour), but both of them are divided in four or five movements. Opening on Headroom (giving the album's other name), the trio embarks on a breakneck speed movement, where Billy Cobham would not disown Deller's drumming. Yes, the feeling is very much JR/F during the Tyra movement, but as soon as the composition calms down the Reflections movements, the mood goes spacey (but not cosmic), but once the tempo picks up, it gets jam-like, notably in the closing movement Scarberia (a nickname for the eastern-county Scarborough, extending the Toronto city limits way out east). On the flipside, Border Crossing also reaches towards JR/F sonics, Mink almost pulling a Santana-like solo around 2:30. More spacey effects (sometimes dissonant) are happening during the second movement, The only time vocals are to be heard, they're muffled in deeply in the mix at the start of the third movement, but this doesn't mean that the track comes back to a sense of normalcy. Indeed, when FM crossed that border, there was no turning back, but the trio almost loses itself two thirds of the way into their cosmic expedition. Once they finally find their way, it's a slow jazzy violin (between Ponty and Lockwood) return to base.

This limited-number release DTD album had become quite rare (I lost my vinyl copy somewhere crossing the pond), because it had never seen, a reissue, beit in vinyl or on CD, until early 2013, when Esoteric finally released it, along with the splendid Black Noise and the band's following two albums (also never released legit), still with Ben Mink. Personally, if DTD/HR is absolutely essential, I find that both Surveillance (79) and City Of Fear (80) fail to maintain the level of their first two albums, so unlike this essential album, they're quite expandable, partly because they hold shorter AOR-formatted songs. In the meantime, despite the change of violin/guitarist (always a big gamble), DTD is definitely worthy of the excellent debut Black Noise.

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 Black Noise by FM album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.04 | 88 ratings

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Black Noise
FM Prog Related

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

5 stars A lost gem, eh?

Indeed, these canucks are a rather pleasant surprise since I thought having heard everything Canada had to offer. FM is canadian as a moose with a Maple Leafs shirt dipped in maple syrup. The sound is typical Canada 80's and I might add that it's the closest sound to Rush' Signals I've heard so far. Good thing, I'm mad about Signals. Oh, and Neil Peart wore a tee of the band in an old Rush interview...that's what got me curious.

Everything is very well played, and even if they're only 3 (e-violin, drums, keys), they pack a rather thick sound. Not everything is perfect taste unfortunately, some parts are what I call a 'space-ballad' (alderberan and such) that only the 80's could regurgitate. Apart from the occasionnal cheese factor, this band is original (underlined) and somewhat spacey...think dry ice smoke with green laser.

In the recent years I fell for a band called Singularity. I thought their approach was irresistible, with lots of hypnotic synths and reverb vocals. Well I'll be damned, they ripped off FM. Like big time. It's sad to find that one of your favorite band is a clone, but I'm consolated by the finding of the anthologists of that particular sound!

Classic and original etherial sound. Colorful as the laser shows of the early 80's.

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 Headroom: Direct to Disc by FM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.90 | 48 ratings

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Headroom: Direct to Disc
FM Prog Related

Review by Gooner
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Run! Do not walk to pick this up. It has now been officially released on CD on the great Esoteric Recordings label. 2 long tracks of prog rock greatness from the underrated year of 1978. It has all the hallmarks that fans of King Crimson, SFF, UK, mid-period Hawkwind and jazz rock have come to enjoy. If you relished FM's "Black Noise"...this one really kicked the door down for what FM was capable of. Tight, super-human drumming from Martin Deller, stratospheric vocals/spaced out keyboards from Cameron Hawkins and the warm yet at times rustic sounding electric violin of Ben Mink taking it over the top (yeah...THAT Ben Mink! The guy on Rush's "Losing It" from Signals). A little on the improv. side at the times but nothing too crazy like the crash and bang of Henry Cow. This is all "space". A soundtrack for riding the rings of Saturn. Recorded live directly to a lacquer in the studio with no overdubs. This is the real deal. Definitely a Canadian prog rock classic.

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 Surveillance  by FM album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.47 | 36 ratings

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Surveillance
FM Prog Related

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Third album of FM named Surveillance from 1979 is equaly loved by me as previous one. This time they gone almost Saga in manner of composing in places with more AOR atmosphere on some pieces with more mainstrema sound, but overall is more then ok , really, no bad moments at all. Still plenty to enjoy here, for prog listners like short Orion, Sofa back both excellent instrumental pieces showing that they are still in bussines. Also I like the vocal arrangements, nice smooth vocal parts, warm tone providing by Cameron Hawkins specially on Random harvest, really nice tune. Closing track Destruction is another highlit for me, strong one, intelligent instrumental parts. Seventh heaven has some great synthesizers, a nice one. All in all I like it, to me is same succesfuly as Direct to disc even as a clear mainstream direction. 3 stars rouned to 3.5.

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 Headroom: Direct to Disc by FM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.90 | 48 ratings

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Headroom: Direct to Disc
FM Prog Related

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars FM from Canada were a quite promissing band in late 70s opening concerts for Rush, Saga, etc and releasing a handfull of albums untill disbanding in 1988 as far as I know. Direct to disc was the second offer from this discret band issued in 1978 on vinyl and only this year 2013 the album saw the re issue on CD on Esoteric. Here we have only 2 pieces clocking around 32 min both, one piece for each side, and they are like a long jam session where each musician done a fairly decent job. To me FM sounds ike a combination of Jean Luc Ponty, because of Ben Mink violin giving a jazzier atmosphere, some spacey moments with intresting keyboards and all melted with prog rock ingredients, the result is intresting for sure. Specially the second track Border crossing is more close to my taste, but aswell the first is ok for sure. I like it, maybe as much as their next one Surveillance even they almost gone Saga in that period. 3.5 stars to this one, quite underrated band .

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 Headroom: Direct to Disc by FM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.90 | 48 ratings

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Headroom: Direct to Disc
FM Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I guess there was room in the late 1970s for only one superstar Prog Rock trio from Canada, and FM wasn't it. Their reputation never extended very far below the 49th parallel, maybe because the band employed a violin / mandolin ace instead of an electric guitarist, and played (at least on this album) a style of jazzy but accessible Space Rock that didn't lend itself to the increasingly narrow radio format referenced in their own name.

It's unfortunate too that the band's best album remains their least heard. The studio master disc was apparently lost, leaving only a limited handful of now very rare vinyl LPs to represent FM at its creative zenith (my own digital copy is a secondhand dupe, only recently re-acquired after stupidly purging the record from my music library long ago).

But the album was a unique achievement for the group, and well worth the detective work needed to find it today. The lack of magnetic tape in the original recording process provided a state-of-the-art clarity rarely heard in the pre-digital dark ages, but more than that the technique liberated their music in a way the band would never recapture. The performances, and the music itself, was looser here than anywhere else in their sporadic discography, and at the same time tighter than ever, presenting two LP-sides of spontaneous yet well-rehearsed jams, miles away from the more commercial, song-based output of other FM albums.

The authoritative punch of the opening bass lines (imagine Geddy Lee auditioning for a spot in the Mahavishnu Orchestra) paces off an introductory duel between keyboard / bass guitar player Cameron Hawkins and new violinist Ben Mink, replacing Nash the Slash after the latter defected to pursue a solo career. Each suite flows smoothly from one (mostly instrumental) movement to the next, seamlessly blending rockier synth and violin workouts with episodes of cybernetic, free-form Space Rock, showing none of the clichés (musical or lyrical) of the band's earlier "Black Noise" album.

It's hard to believe the entire thing was performed live in the studio, and even harder to reconcile the exciting results with the relative sellout of "Surveillance", released by the same line-up the following year. Call it what you want: bad timing; marketplace pressure; a lack of confidence in their own abilities...for whatever reason, it's a two-fold pity that a) the sound of the album was never developed further, and b) the original disc was misplaced. This kind of negative karma never happened to that other Canadian Prog trio.

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 Black Noise by FM album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.04 | 88 ratings

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Black Noise
FM Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Guilty pleasures don't get much guiltier than this prime slice of Canadian Prog Rock. And not only guilty, but hereby convicted in the court of hindsight and sentenced to a slow, painless death by analog nostalgia.

Any overview of the music is going to read like a damning litany of Progressive sins: the ham- fisted sci-fi themes (including a song titled "Phasors On Stun", complete with Star Trek sound effects); the cheesy synthesizer runs (left over from the last Rick Wakeman album); and other assorted transgressions against good taste, like a violin/mandolin player with the dubious nom-de-prog of Nash the Slash, who would later tour alongside Gary Numan while swathed head-to-toe in surgical bandages, like Claude Rains portraying "The Invisible Man" (take a look at his undisguised mug shot on the inner LP sleeve to see what he was hiding...and why).

The musicianship is what saves the album, and the contagious songwriting. Every track has its hook, and every hook is catchy as hell. Nash the Slash (real name Jeff Playman, which apparently lacked the necessary rock star cachet) was a talent to be reckoned with, always challenging keyboard wizard Cameron Hawkins with his virtuoso electric violin solos, most effectively in the ten-minute title track. And Martin Deller was one of the smoothest drummers this side of Bill Bruford or Curt Cress, practicing an assertive yet swinging style that never failed to rock, even at its most subtle.

I loved the album as a kid, when I was too young to know any better. But only now, as a more jaded adult, can I fully appreciate its proggy charms, precisely because of (and not despite) all the dated clichés. It helps, of course, to have been there when the album was new. But, unlike a lot of music from the mid-1970s, the FM debut can still be heard without prejudice.

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