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Episode 444: December 9, 2019

Ruhr by SvenEpisode 444 of Brainwashed Radio: The Podcast Edition is live

This podcast series is now officially 15 years old! We're celebrating basically like we do every episode with a ton of new music. This episode features Wire, Robert Haigh, Sean McCann, Scorn, Natural Snow Buildings, Jessica Ekomane, Raime, Cabaret Voltaire, Cold Beat, and Ilyas Ahmed.

Thank you Sven for the picture of your commute through the Ruhr district of Germany.

NOW AVAILABLE through SPOTIFY and AMAZON (links below) in addition to the other platforms.

Review, share, rate, tell your friends, send images!

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2019 Readers Poll: Nomination Round Now Open

2019The end of the year is upon us, which means that it's time once again for an Annual Brainwashed Readers Poll. As the longest running online interactive music poll which allows the readers to BOTH nominate and vote, we once again open up the nomination round.

As always, please review all the releases that have been entered before submitting, because if duplicates are entered, your whole entry will be deleted!

Nomination round will run for 2 weeks. Voting round will begin December 22nd and last through the end of the calendar year. Results will be posted in 2020.

Thanks to all for your continued readership and support.



Forced Exposure New Releases for Week of 12/9/2019

New music is due from Jim O'Rourke, Joy Overmono, and Peter Brötzmann, while old music is due from Gas, Biting Tongues, Comateens, Magma, and PLVG.


Fovea Hex, "The Salt Garden III"

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This third installment of Fovea Hex’s excellent "The Salt Garden" trilogy brings the series to a close on an unexpectedly uplifting note, as Clodagh Simonds' ensemble transform their signature haunting and meditative hymnals into joyous, light-filled ones.  Much like its predecessor, however, The Salt Garden III has also been released in an expanded edition with some bonus remixes.  In this case, however, the remixes are a track-for-track reimagining of the entire EP by Headphone Dust's Steven Wilson.  In essence, that offers two significantly different versions of the same EP, as the Wilson remixes take these four songs in a more shadow-shrouded and meditative direction akin to the previous EPs.  Naturally, both are a delight, as Fovea Hex is a project like no other, occupying an enchanted and timeless realm of sublime, organic beauty.


Lee "Scratch" Perry, "Rainford" and "Heavy Rain"

cover imageIt is hard to overstate Lee "Scratch" Perry's influence on Jamaican music, hip-hop, and evolution of electronic music, as everyone who has ever used sampling or any dub-inspired production techniques is part of a continuum that he played a massive role in conjuring into being.  For the most part, his most visionary work was recorded during the white-hot creative period in the '70s when Lee was obsessively recording at his Black Ark studio in Kingston, but his career after (allegedly) burning down his studio (to purge it of evil spirits) has objectively been a strange and erratic one with Perry embracing a sort of cosmic jester persona.  He has always remained a boldly original thinker, however, and has continued to fitfully release some fine albums whenever he finds a sympathetic foil.  One of the earliest artists to fill that role in Perry's post-Black Ark era was Adrian Sherwood for 1987's Time Boom X De Devil Dead (a union that was reprised two decades later with The Mighty Upsetter).  With Rainford and its dub companion Heavy Rain, those two dub heavyweights are reunited once again (and at a time when both artists are experiencing a bit of a well-deserved renaissance).  Both albums boast their share of killer material, but Heavy Rain is the more focused and uniformly strong of the pair.


Ebony Steel Band, "Pan-Machine"

Ebony Steel Band are a primarily eleven-person group of Trindadian and Caribbean musicians most well-known for paying tribute to other bands. Not to pay disservice to their original works, as they have produced Steel Away! (1976), Best of Steeldrums (1990), and Carnival (1998), but still, no one can deny their ability to breathe new life into classic songs. After their tribute to The Beatles with 2010’s Popular Beatles Songs - Caribbean SteelDrums, director Ian Shirley challenged EBS to cover Kraftwerk, one of the most classic and enduring pioneers of electronic music in history. Their effort was a complete success.


Cam Deas, "Mechanosphere"

cover imageI certainly grouse a lot about the seemingly endless tide of modular synth albums being released in experimental music circles these days, but there are a handful of artists who induce me to marvel at the truly incredible potential of such gear instead.  One such artist is erstwhile guitarist Cam Deas, who absolutely floored me with last year's brilliantly twisted and phantasmagoric Time Exercises.  Happily, this latest release returns to roughly that same squirming, tormented and mind-dissolving terrain, but the world of the more spacious and nuanced Mechanosphere evokes a somewhat different feel than its more explosive and abrasive predecessor.


Parashi, "Tape from Oort Cloud", Spykes/Parashi, "Braille License Plates for Sullen Nights"

cover image Having recently put out a double disc package with Anthony Pasquarosa, and another collaboration with Noise Nomads, the Albany, New York area noise master Mike Griffin has managed to compile yet another set of spacey, at times aggressive, but always fascinating abstract electronics.  The first is a full vinyl LP of solo work, courtesy of the always amazing Sedimental label, and the second a collaborative release with meme slinger John Olson.  Griffin’s style is consistent between the two work, but the differing contexts give each a unique and distinct feel, differing from one another.


My Cat is an Alien/Jean-Marc Montera/Lee Ranaldo, "MCIAA XX Anniversary"

cover imageThe Opalio brothers close an exceptionally productive year with this third and final release of 2019.  I suppose just about every My Cat is an Alien release could be described as a live album, given the duo's devotion to "spontaneous composition," but this one is live in the traditional sense: it was performed in front of an actual audience.  More specifically, it is a document of a 20th anniversary concert that the brothers gave in their hometown of Torino back in 2018.  As befits such an auspicious occasion, the Opalios were joined by a pair of their favorite collaborators: Lee Ranaldo and French composer/guitarist Jean-Marc Montera.  Needless to say, it is always fascinating to see what transpires when unpredictable outside elements are invited into Maurizio and Roberto's shared consciousness and this release is no exception, as the quartet gradually wind their way into some truly uncharted frontiers in mind-melting, cosmic psychedelia.


Hands To, "Scrine"

cover image Scrine is one of the earlier works from Hands To, the name solo artist Jeph Jerman was working with at the time.  With the project's first release just a year before in 1987, he was already a seasoned practitioner in the mid to late 1980s noise cassette scene.  Even at this stage his work was highly conceptual, using his environment as a primary source for his compositions.  Compared to his later works under his own name, however, there is a major emphasis on the sounds of urban and suburban environments, and a raw, rough edge that summarizes that era of noise perfectly.


Marcus Fjellström, "Exercises in Estrangement" and "Gebrauchsmusik"

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Like a lot of people, I am guilty of failing to properly appreciate Marcus Fjellström’s deeply unconventional and haunted vision during his lifetime, but Miasmah's Erik Skodvin has long been a tireless champion of the late Swedish composer's work, as the label was home to much of Fjellström work from the last decade.  After hearing these reissues of Fjellström’s earliest two albums, I now fully understand why Skodvin was so passionate about his work: these two albums lie somewhere between a viscerally disturbing nightmare and a macabre fairy tale.  I suppose that is not exactly surprising stylistic terrain within the Miasmah milieu, but the execution is what matters and Fjellström was on an entirely different plane than just about anybody else in that regard.  At their best, these two albums make me feel like I am plunged into an intense and hallucinatory dreamscape filled with terrifying ballets, haunted clocks, and blood-soaked puppet shows.


Jessica Ekomane, "Multivocal"

cover imageThis debut full-length from the Berlin-based Ekomane shares a lot of conceptual common ground with Caterina Barbieri (one of Important's previous break-out synth sensations), though the two artists have radically different approaches to composition.  For example, both artists are quite enamored with using slow shifts in repeating patterns to wonderfully hypnotic and near-psychotropic effect.  Ekomane, however, largely eschews hooks or anything resembling conventional songcraft in favor of a visceral, slow-motion onslaught of phase-shifting fragments in immersive quadraphonic sound.  Given that focus on intensity and psychoacoustic sorcery, I am not sure that this live document from 2018's Ars Electronica festival quite captures Ekomane at the peak of her powers, but the opening "Solid of Revolution" is certainly a beguiling introduction to Ekomane's distinctive aesthetic.

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