Performance artist Robin Crutchfield moved to New York City in the mid-1970s to participate in the growing Soho and Tribeca art scene. Robin’s first solo performance art show occurred on January 29th, 1976, in the storefront space of Stefan Eins' 3 Mercer Street Store. It was a gender-bending, exercise in self-confrontation entitled "Mommy, Me, Bandage", with garish makeup, and props like bevelled mirrors and apron strings, and scissors, and a cutout of a 1950's illustration of a stereotypical nurse, and dozens of miniature sexless plastic baby dolls which encrusted his body, attached by adhesive tape.
After some critical success as a performance artist, he crossed over into music co-founding the experimental No Wave noise band DNA, which recorded tracks for the No New York album with Brian Eno. After a year with DNA, he departed to form his own musical project, DARK DAY, with an array of various guest performers including Steven Brown of Tuxedomoon, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, Nina Canal from Ut, and others.
His first album, “Exterminating Angel” is named after the Luis Buñuel film of the same name. On this album the band is Robin on synthesizers and vocals, Phil Kline on guitar/bass, Barry Friar on drums and guest Steven Brown of Tuxedomoon on saxophone. All 13 songs on “Exterminating Angel” use cheap synthesizers to create cyclical, machine-like keyboard riffs as a foundation for the moody, Teutonic music. Lyrics were derived from cut-up methods similar to those used by the surrealists, fluxus artists, and William Burroughs and Bryon Gysin and pit the subjected against their torments and tormentors.
Charles Ball, co-founder of Lust/Unlust Records, had the debatable idea of putting out a promotional 12" for the first Dark Day album "Exterminating Angel" after the album's release instead of preceding it. And instead of choosing an upbeat club-oriented dance-type song as others were doing, he chose the most dirge-like song on the album, it's closer "Trapped". Robin fought tooth and nail in disagreement with him over its release, and they planned to meet at the studio to finalize some work for the flipside when Charles was called away and had to be late.
“Don’t sweep me under the rug. I ain’t dirt. I’m only human.”
The time was already booked and rather than watch the engineers sit and twiddle their thumbs, Robin talked them into allowing him to play at the board with the tapes flipped over in reverse fashion, selecting the best bits from each song on the album, bathing them in a wall of echo, and riding the faders in and out to create six undoings (new mixes) of the original songs. He was thrilled with the results and persuaded Charles to allow him to use this material for the B-side, if Robin agreed to give in on his decision for the A-side. At about that time, a close friend of Robin’s had gone missing and his body turned up a week later in the East River. His death remains a mystery, but in light of his demise, Robin dedicated the six songs (Exterminations) to him creating a sense of closure on the Dark Day of that time, taking time off to grieve, to rest, and to rethink, only to regroup later with different musicians and a different sound.
Notable songs on the album include ARP’S CARPET, A minimal cycle song for synthesizer based on the carpet-like loopy shapes of Jean Arp’s flat three-dimensional constructs. Three unrelated phrases asserting a reason to exist and not be taken for granted, while claiming the excuse of human imperfection. Also NO NOTHING NEVER, A cut-up from a child’s book on unusual house pets from squirrels to chimpanzees, set up to depict the harboring And care taking of a strange almost inhuman child, like The Elephant Man or Kasper Hauser, defiant in his insistence to exist on his own terms. The mystery female vocal, was Robin's own, sped up in emulation of the matter-of-fact, deadpan delivery of Annette Peacock and the quirky counterpart of “Is That All There Is” by Peggy Lee.