MOEV is an electronic music group specializing in synthpop that recorded primarily on the Nettwerk Records label (with publication by Atlantic Records). Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, their most successful album was Yeah Whatever in 1989, which combined dark, solemn, anthemic lyrics with disjointed beats, trickling electronics, and occasional spoken-word samples.
MOEV was originally formed by friends Tom Ferris and Cal Stephenson back in 1981. After some initial demos they added the voice of Madeleine Morris and the guitar of Mark Jowett to form a solid four piece. The first recording output of the group was “Zimmerkampf” which only saw vinyl and tape releases and has never appeared on an official release CD (except as part of a compilation collection). Poor album sales resulted in their label (Go! Records) going bankrupt leaving the band to find another publisher for their work.
1984 saw a number of important changes and milestones for the band. They signed to the newly formed Nettwerk records label. Madeleine Morris left the band and was replaced by Michella Arrichiello. With their new record label and singer on board, the band entered the studio to record Dusk and Desire which was released in 1985. The album was a bit poppier than early releases, and “Took Out The Lace” became a small club hit. (Interestingly, the album was distributed in the US by hip-hop label Profile.)
Through 1986 and ‘87 all original remaining members of the band left but for founder Tom Ferris. He was joined by new vocalist Dean Russell and multi-instrumentalists Kelly Cook and Anthony Valchic. The band released Yeah, Whatever in 1988, a moody synth record quite removed from the dance-pop of “Took Out The Lace”, but reminiscent of their earlier work. After the title track began to climb the college radio charts and receive some MTV support, Atlantic licenced the album in the U.S. The followup single “Crucify Me”, a largely instrumental track highlighted by the alienated spoken-word sample “Properly sedated” from the film THX1138, became another club hit. Further singles “Wanting” and “Capitol Heaven” are fine exemplars for the album, which is driven throughout by strong sampled percussion and ever-present melodic bass guitar lines, often reminiscent of the bass guitar work of New Order’s Peter Hook.
Valcic left soon after Yeah Whatever; the remaining trio released Head Down in 1990. The album continued in the vein of Yeah, Whatever but traded the brooding electronic anthems of the former album for a more traditional songwriting approach with a lighter overall tone and more polished production values. Although the majority of the instrumentation for Head Down was still electronic in nature, the feel of the album verged away from the industrial militarism of Yeah Whatever. Notable tracks include “In and Out” (featuring backing vocals by Sarah McLachlan) the title track “Head Down” and the seething heat of “Noise”.
Moev ceased recording after Head Down, and in 1991 released Obituary Column (Ha), a complation of early demos and singles, the “Alibis” EP, and 12” mixes. Lead singer & lyricist Dean Russell succumbed to AIDS in 1994 and the band effectively disbanded.
In 1998 Tom Ferris reignited the MOEV flame with a brand new lineup and recorded the EP “Suffer” which featured several new tracks and remixes. Again featuring female vocals (this time by Ferris’ wife Julie Ferris) the band seemed posed to make an astonishing comeback; however, no further releases or information from the band have been forthcomthing.
The compilation MOEV - The Early Years was released in the late 1990’s which collected the original “Zimmerkampf” album and Rotting Geraniums 12” single onto one CD.