March 31, 2009
US CD Killer Pimp PIMPK011
Ken Ueno - voice
Jon Whitney - 808
Thomas Worster - guitar, Nord Micro Modular
Recorded 2006 at Deadverse Studios by Oktopus.
The second full-length release from Blood Money is the first to be both conceived and recorded completely together. For this, the trio of Ken Ueno, Jon Whitney, and Tom Worster joined Dalek's producer/sound wizard Oktopus in the Deadverse Studios to commit to tape songs formed through dedicated rehearsals and perfected in their live performances.
In the three years since the debut, Axis of Blood, Ken Ueno has spent a year in Rome (winner of the 2006-2007 Rome Prize), had numerous orchestras perform his works worldwide, and has accepted the position of Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Tom and Jon remain in Boston and are now forced to collaborate over long distances.
Blood Brotherhood is notably more song-based yet stays very close to the heart of the group: the intensity of noise, the freedom granted through improvisation, the power of rhythm, and the humanity of introspection. While the introduction of a professional studio has granted them the ability to multitrack numerous layers the group has, for this recording, chosen to remain with its main instrumentation: vocals, Nord Micro Modular, and Roland 808, with very slight guitar added on one song.
Sometimes even avant-garde classical music doesn't afford the aesthetic freedoms that the truly restless hunger for. To that end, cigar-chompin' composer and academic Ken Ueno has joined up with Tom Worster and Jon Whitney to form Blood Money, a trio that attempts a meditative inversion of the power electronics aesthetic. "Blood Brotherhood" is not a linear or normal song-based record, but it is completely shorn of the tiresome masculine histrionics that permeates much noise music. In its place, with the barest of sonic tools, are songs mostly based around less than a smattering of accidental percussion, a thin lattice of electronic hums, whines and static buzzing, and the tightly simmering vocals of Ueno, delivering through clenched teeth and muted microphone, an otherworldly hybrid of Dionysio D'Arrington, Telepathik Friend, tuvan throat singing, Diamanda Galas and speaking in tongues. Some of the earlier numbers with just the spooky tom of a single drum, mosquito-like keyboard hum and vocals that seem to be attuned to an alien language, unsure of each syllable remind me of a summoning at midnight under the haunted walls of a hundred-years old fortress. Ghost ships pass through a fog-shrouded inlet. Metal snakes shed their skin and consume diamonds. Another time, stretching every syllable to the breaking point, Ueno proclaims a coming release, as the undulating noise pulses drop out, and all that is left is the flickering murmur of a cathedral organ. "Blood Brotherhood" is a bold symbiosis with silence, a joining of irreconcilable opposites for a haunted inner peace. As an art statement, in conception and execution, "Blood Brotherhood" often hedges close to fucking stunning. Whether you'd want to listen to it repeatedly? Well, let's just say that there are handy pop-psych exams no farther than your internet browser far more qualified to judge that than I. - Matthew Moyer, Movement
Here's another one courtesy of the new batch on Brainwashed captain Jon Whitney's Killer Pimp label. This time around it's Jon's own band, Blood Money, whose first release and subsequent live footage slayed. This time around the trio (it also includes Ken Ueno and Tom Worster) enter the studio with their Nord Micro Modular, Roland 808, vocals and, on one track, good ol' fashion geetar in hand. The result is pretty zonked out discourse between noise, metal, industrial and drone that hits the mark right where it needs to. And dig this: produced by Oktopus, who does Dalek's stuff too... wild. The whole disc starts out with a head-nodding, brain-kneading synth line as the trio ease their way into "Bloodlust," a pretty hearty crevice of dirt infused electronics. Odd vocal babble comes in as the machines continue having their say, grinding and crunching their way into some pretty industrial sinisterizing. The unit has no problem with taking their time here, using the seven minutes beautifully as they grind themselves deeper and deeper into the pavement itself--if they haven't won you over at this point, trust me, it just isn't gonna happen for you. If they have then lucky you, there's over forty more minutes of it! Lucky me. "Peri" opens with a soft tapping and gentle drone that eases some of the weight of the last one, winding and bending high analog bat cries around Ueno's gutteral vocalizings. A lot of the time these sorts of vocals don't quite pull it off for me in this environment, sounding way too much like some dude trying to sing along to some basement style lurch... I just don't buy it. But Ueno's really something special, displaying a knack for sounds that fall just outside of human tonality. The result is a legitimate blend with the electronics, which means that the interaction is all the more supple and deep for it. Beautiful. And if you needed more Ueno (which you did), you can get it on "Voice Untouched By Conversation," a solo workout that really displays the depth of his instrument. Elsewhere, Blood Money display their continued wealth of sounds. Whitney's 808 rhythms on "Secret Rapture" drive a cacophonous frenzy of industrial scrape and feedback that bounces along without getting too high off the ground as it always manages to let you know gravity's got its hold pretty well when it slams you back down. "Damascus" might be the gentlest thing presented, with light tinkling and airy, bell-like drones that hover sparsely and gently without ever losing the edge that keeps it afloat in the first place. The following "Showa" continues the drone while managing to present some mid-song warbles that keep it nice and creepy. As "Black Nature" infers, it is a dark and static grind into the heart of the beast, thick as mud. The closing "Horizon" meanwhile, takes its time as the longest track here as it manages to culminate all of the angles explored thus far into a slow and steady buildup of dense electronic wash and vocal chant. By the end, it moves into an almost psychedelic realm of intersecting lines and harmonious interplay that works wonders. Blood Money's working one of the most original sounds I've heard in a long time, and is something truly experimental in an age when a lot of shit claims that. Truly their own thing, this album sees Blood Money deepening its roots as it moves further down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. Out March 31st, a good day just made better. - The Ear Conditioned Nightmare