US CD Brainwashed HAND003
Thighpaulsandra - music
Daniel McKernan - artwork
Amanda Lepore - model
This is the score to an interactive video installation by New York-based visual artist Daniel McKernan titled Is Evolution Evil?, which featured the world's #1 transsexual, Amanda Lepore. Thighpaulsandra has been a member of Queen Elizabeth (with Julian Cope), Spiritualized, and Coil and has released four full-length albums on his own. Amanda Lepore has recorded music with the Fatal Art Syndicate, has been featured on TV shows like Entertainment Tonight, and has a Swatch watch, "Time Tranny," which was at one point the fastest selling limited edition Swatch! Daniel McKernan took photographs and video of Amanda and combined them with music from Thighpaulsandra to create the exhibition which opened in June of 2005 in New York. Included as enhanced content is a video of the installation with narrative by McKernan, an essay on Is Evolution Evil?, and schematic. The music is three movements mixed by Thighpaulsandra into one long piece which is just as eerie and precious as a superstar like Amanda Lepore is.
The work of Brainwashed as a record label actually began with new releases, and Thighpaulsandra makes his first appearance on the roster with The Lepore Extrusion. A departure from his musical collaborations with the likes of Julian Cope and Coil as well as his own full-length recordings, this is Thighpaulsandra gathering and continuously mixing the score he developed for Daniel McKernan's multimedia installation Is Evolution Evil? The Lepore in question here is New York's Amanda Lepore, the self-proclaimed number one transsexual in the world and the focus for McKernan's imagery. It's easy to see why the perv in Thighpaulsandra may have been drawn to the project: Lepore is runway fierce, visually striking, photo shoot-ready and an aspiring musician--the yin to RuPaul's yang, having given herself completely to her kink and transforming it to lifestyle. Thighpaulsandra's wavering, chiming, high-frequency bell tones, faint woodwind touches, and sci-fi synths portray just about none of that. These soundscapes are engaging enough on their own, and at forty-five minutes that's always worth acknowledging, yet the interplay of the pleasant and the disturbing seems anathema to the subject at hand or at least her current place in divadom. Acknowledging their presence in McKernan's exhibit, Thighpaulsandra's psychoacoustics fail to make sense as part of that whole. Maybe, however, that concern is the point--Lepore and her extrusions (the penis she once had, the breasts that helped replace it) are all about what makes sense to whom, in particular what made sense to her when she was still physically a he. Maybe the pleasant and the disturbing are what Lepore needs to recapture; in that case, Thighpaulsandra's soundtrack is more than appropriate. - Adam Blyweiss, e|i.
The spectral haze that opens The Lepore Extrusion is reminscent of Thighpaulsandra's work with Coil, a fluttering drone offset by slow-motion sound effects. It creates an eerie and dark presence, quite at odds with the hyper-glam persona of its subject, that gradually attracts a series of tones and timbres to pierce the shadowy cosmic glow. The second section of this single 45 minute track is more minimal with suspended tones, casting off gliding electronics into the stark alien terrain. Metallic clanging fashions a somewhat vague melody in the final section above a shimmering drone, before a series of random processed computerised sounds are unleashed. As those sounds gradually dissipate the space age synth music returns, culminating in a swirling vortex of pure black sound. The Lepore Extrusion disc is expanded with a behind the scenes peak at Mckernans' video installation which forces the viewer into the mindset of an exhibitionist, an essay entitled Is Evolution Evil? Surgical Transformations as the New Punk Aesthetic in the 21st Century focussing on gender, transgender, fame and celebrity with emphasis on the body modifications and gender transformations of Orlan, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Amanda Lepore. The work of Thighpaulsandra varies greatly from the electronic group improvisations of Rape Scene and Chamber Music to the colourful idiosyncracies of his I, Thighpaulsandra and Double Vulgar solo releases, The Lepore Extrusion is perhaps the most structured and restrained piece from this talented Welsh musician, whose impressive discography takes in Coil, Julian Cope, The Waterboys and Spiritualized. The Lepore Extrusion is part of Brainwashed's Handmade series released in an edition of 500 handmade letterpress sleeves. I picked up a signed edition from Thighpaulsandra.com and you shouldn't waste time here as The Lepore Extrusion is a darkly alluring electronic and synthesizer score. - Tony Dickie, Compulsion
Claiming that this release is Thighpaulsandra's darkest yet is a hefty statement with a discography as blood-red as his, but it's true nonetheless. Left to his devilish devices outside of his Spiritualized/Coil work, the Welsh experimentalist has moved between live group improv and tightly rehearsed pop efforts, but nothing quite this disturbing. The Lepore Extrusion, a single 45-minute soundtrack, sets its sights on further mining his retro-futuristic synth world. Chopped and squeezed, this might have once even made a heartless backing for one of Coil's lengthier Sleazyless drone pieces. Thighpaulsandra actually crafted this suite from three separate pieces from a Daniel McKernan exhibition, but the split isn't visible at all. Concentrating on a dark ambient drone, terrible noises tower over recurring patterns, an air of restrained human violence generated in the steely cold. This heavily shadowed and brooding HAL-9000 theme finds its strength in the polypharmacy effect of multiple elements swimming into the mix. Sometimes a few untreated sounds slither out from the rubber-lined dungeon mix, ending up as another ingredient in the escalating drones. Through the dusk, you can sometimes make out a melodic refrain circling its black heart. Visual outtakes from McKernan's exhibition are also included on the disc. It's probably not necessary to check out this material in any particular order, but just for a bit of background to the theory of the event, I would recommend reading the "Is Evolution Evil?" essay before checking the video. Unlike many of Thighpaulsandra's other efforts there's no overt controversy this time in the artwork; the image of Amanda Lepore's surgically enhanced face seems unlikely to offend. Of course, if transsexual silicone breasts (that jiggle) aren't your thing, then it might be advisable to just stick with the music. - Scott McKeating, Dusted.
The good thing that here too the CDRom contains the video and other working plans for the installation. The music of Thighpaulsandra is just one piece of forty-five minutes for synthesizers and electronics. And you bet these are real, old analogue beasts of machines, producing a highly cosmic sound of gliding tones, square waves and whatever sines possible. It's a beautiful work, even without seeing the installation itself, of space synth music of perhaps not always a too original kind, but it's surely a great work. - Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
Now for some culture you boorish philistines. Whether or not 'The Lepore Extrusion' strictly qualifies as a single is anyone's guess, being that it's 45 minutes long, lengthier than, say, 'Is This It' or 'Horse of the Dog'. It's an ambient piece soundtracking Daniel McKernan's New York-based interactive video installation "Is Evolution Evil?", it features transsexual Amanda Lepore, and was recorded on Gollywog farm. Like you do. It's certainly mood altering and deeply intriguing, though you really need to spend a bit of time with it, preferably with headphones on. What it adds to the installation we have no idea - having not seen it - but as a stand-alone piece of work it does wonderful things to your imagination if you let it. Like all the best things in life 'The Lepore Extrusion' is beautiful, mysterious and a little bit strange. By the way, there are only 500 copies in the world so you might want to get moving if you want to get hold of one. - JA, Play Louder
It is throughout a sedate work far removed from the complex hyperactive genre shifting work that Thighpaulsandra has produced before. The first part is very reminiscent of late nineties Coil or perhaps some of their Ans material. Slowly evolving harmonious drones with distant sounding effects and undulating waves of electronic synth. It's a meditative opening that has an eerie atmosphere of dread and the unknown. A sound like a tolling bell sounds throughout the piece. It's difficult to determine where the second part of the piece come in but I think it's around twenty minutes. The mood shifts down a gear and the sparseness of the music is increased. High-pitched tones and revolving patterns of sound emerge from the fog of drone tempting the ear with the purest of sounds. Fans of Asmus Tietchens Menge series will find much to appreciate here. A few vaguely organic sounding concrete elements are added to the mix but generally the mood remains very alien and detached. The final part of three album adds sounds that could be derived from metal pipes or an organ. Tinkling metal sounds build and a few times a slight melody is detected. Here there is more that resembles Thighpaulsandras previous work. Off kilter sampled sounds and bizarre tonal soundscapes. It's involving but seems more suitable to the gallery setting than the personal stereo. - Duncan Simpson, Musique Machine