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Podcast Episode 428: August 11, 2019

Mural by TimothyEpisode 428 of Brainwashed Radio: The Podcast Edition is now live

New episode with music from Purple Mountains, Silver Jews, Stephen Mallinder, Matteo Uggeri, Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie, Wolfram, Carla dal Forno, Purling Hiss, Philippe Besombes, Esplendor Geometrico, and Emptyset.

Timothy supplied the photo of his mural in Wolverton.

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

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David Berman, 1967-2019

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Our hearts go out to the friends and family of David Berman, a beloved cult figure who was one of the most brilliant and poetic lyricists of his generation.  He was best known as the sole constant member of Silver Jews, which he formed with Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich in the late ‘80s.  Though Malkmus and Nastanovich were soon drawn away by the demands of their other band Pavement, Berman kept the band going with a shifting array of like-minded collaborators (1996's The Natural Bridge with New Radiant Storm King is a personal favorite).  Throughout it all, Berman remained a deeply reluctant live performer with an open aversion to touring, though he occasionally did public readings of his writings.  Consequently, he surprised everyone by finally touring with Silver Jews in 2005 in support of Tanglewood Numbers.

Berman released one more album after that tour, then famously ended the band in 2009, vowing "to stop before we got bad" and planned to instead devote himself to undoing the influence of his lobbyist father ("I am the son of a demon come to make good the damage.").  Eventually, however, Berman was drawn back to music, unveiling a new project (Purple Mountains) that debuted on Drag City in July.  At the time of his death, the ensemble was poised to embark upon their inaugural US tour.

Many wonderful tributes have been written about Berman's life and work this week.  This is an especially fine one:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/postscript/david-berman-made-us-feel-less-alone

 

Forced Exposure New Releases for the week of 8/12/2019

New music is due from Merzbow & Vanity Productions, Michael Cashmore, and Prurient, while old music is due from Poison Idea, Maxine Funke, and Dila.

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Forced Exposure New Releases for the Week of 8/5/2019

New music is due from DJ Vadim and Jman, Spectral Wound, and Bana Haffar, while old music is due from Placebo, Meredith Monk, and Marica Griffiths.

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The Deontic Miracle, "Selections from 100 Models of Hegikan Roku"

cover imageThis second installment of Blank Forms' ongoing Christer Hennix archival series is quite a radical departure from the wonderful Selected Early Keyboard Works, which is a hell of a surprise as both albums originate from roughly the same period (Stockholm, 1976).  The key difference is that Keyboard Works was composed of (mostly) solo rehearsal tapes made during the Dream Music Festival, while Hegikan Roku captures the ensemble's actual public performance.  In fact, it was to be The Deontic Miracle's only public performance, as Hennix wryly notes that the trio were "the most rejected band ever formed in Sweden."  While that is somewhat heartbreaking, it is easy to see why this project was not warmly embraced: challenging art is often described as being "ahead of its time," but The Deontic Miracle must have seemed like they existed outside of time altogether.  Even by today's standards, an amplified Renaissance oboe and sarangi trio playing dissonant, Just Intonation drone music would likely clear a room instantly (as would a lot of other albums that I like).  As such, this is definitely one of Christer Hennix's most difficult releases, but it features some very bold and uncompromising work indeed.  It is wonderful to see it finally surface.

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Lea Bertucci, "Resonant Field"

cover imageThis latest release from Lea Bertucci ambitiously follows in the footsteps of Pauline Oliveros' landmark Deep Listening album (1989), though site-specific performances are certainly nothing new for the NY-based saxophonist/composer.  In this instance, the site was the Marine A Grain Elevator at Silo City in Buffalo, which NNA Tapes describes as a "silent, hulking concrete corpse" that stands 130 feet tall.  Unlike Oliveros, Bertucci chose to make her celebration of extreme natural reverb largely a solo affair, using the 12-second decay of the cavernous enclosure to create a rich haze of sustained drones and ghostly harmonies.  After the initial performance, however, she reworked the material with the aid of some collaborators, so the final album is a bit more complex and layered than a solo sax performance might have been.  Not much more though, as Resonant Field's primary appeal lies in those original performances, making it a very different animal than its more composed predecessor Metal Aether.

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øjeRum, "Alting Falder I Samme Rum" and "Forgotten Works"

cover imageEvery now and then, I plan to have a productive evening, get sucked into a Bandcamp rabbit hole, then wonder where the hell my night went.  I first encountered Paw Grabowski's øjeRum project during one such plunge last year and quickly fell in love with 2018's Selected Organ Works tape.  Notably, Grabowski does not seem to share my time-management issues, as he has released roughly ten more albums since then (three of them in the last month).  Needless to say, he is a difficult man to keep up with and tracking down which releases are especially inspired is a legitimate challenge.  These two recent ones are quite good ones, though they take very different directions.  The stronger one is arguably the newer Alting Falder I Samme Rum, which intermittently contains some of the most beautiful examples of Grabowski's blurred, slow-motion vision.  Forgotten Works, on the other hand, is exactly what the title implies: a collection of unreleased songs spanning nearly a decade.  It is quite a well-curated one though, as the Vaknar label unearthed some surprising gems that had miraculously eluded release up until now.

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Joseph Allred, "O Meadowlark"

cover imageI first encountered Joseph Allred on a massive compilation of American Primitive guitarists that I believe surfaced on the Dying For Bad Music blog sometime last year, but my ears must not have been working that week, as the experience did not leave a strong impression.  In my defense, my ears were likely hopelessly numbed by the sheer volume of relatively similar (and often wonderful) artists who have worked in that vein over the years.  John Fahey cast a long shadow and inspired a lot of dazzling instrumental performances, but the best compliment one can pay such an iconoclast is to use the American Primitive style as a mere starting point for a distinctive new vision.  And if there is one thing Joseph Allred has (besides virtuosity), it is definitely vision, as O Meadowlark is an impressionistic suite of songs that abstractly chronicles the travails and ultimate transfiguration of Allred's alter-ego Poor Faulkner.  Of course, there is a long tradition of storytelling among steel-string guitarists, as it adds some welcome depth and color to what could otherwise just be a mere display of instrumental prowess.  To his credit, Allred is on an entirely different level in that regard, as his stories are singularly strange and unique ones and he channels them vividly.  This is a fascinating release.

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Félicia Atkinson, "The Flower And The Vessel"

cover imageThis latest album was composed and recorded in "impersonal hotel rooms in foreign cities" as Atkinson ambitiously toured the world while pregnant, making plenty of field recordings in far-flung locales like Tasmania and the Mojave Desert along the way.  I am not surprised that those conditions were particularly amenable for her hushed, dreamlike, and ASMR-inspired vocal work, but I did not expect the underlying music to be quite as fleshed-out and hauntingly lovely as this.  While Atkinson cites both Japanese flower arrangement and childhood memories of French impressionist composers as significant influences, her elegantly fragmented and floating reveries are uniquely and distinctively her own.  I do wonder if the Ikebana influence was the final missing puzzle piece for Atkinson's artistic vision though, as The Flower And The Vessel strikes me as her strongest release to date.  Her aesthetic has not changed all that much (nor would I want it to), but her intuitions for focus, clarity, and balance have definitely become stronger and more unerring.

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Brutalism, "The Charged Void"

cover image In stark contrast to his role in The Holy Circle, Terence Hannum's Brutalism project clearlydraws from noise and black metal, but the end product is distinctly different.  The fact that the name is referencing his interest in Brutalist architecture and not the violence associated with various metal genres makes it clear that he is not aping genre clichés but instead using some of those signifiers to create something entirely fresh with The Charged Void.

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Ron Morelli, "Spit"

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This is kind of an excitedly anticipated album in some circles, as it is the first solo release from the man behind the influential L.I.E.S. imprint.  Morelli's resume is deceptive, however, as Spit is a very backwards-looking, primitive affair rather than a dispatch from the cutting edge or a bold statement of intent.  That said, it is still quite a likable one–it just sounds more like a home-recorded industrial experiment from early '80s Sheffield or Manchester than anything resembling underground dance music circa 2013.


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