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Forced Exposure New Releases for 2/19/2018

New music is due from Skullflower, Dita Von Teese, Postcards, and Certain Creatures, while old music is due from The Monochrome Set, David Toop and Paul Burwell, and King Tubby.

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Alvin Lucier, "Criss Cross/Hanover"

cover imageNow in his late 80s, Alvin Lucier has had a long career of radical compositions that explore phase interference, the resonance of spaces, and deeply unconventional sound sources.  Although his output has certainly slowed in recent years, he remains as idiosyncratic and experimental as ever, recently becoming interested in unexplored possibilities for the electric guitar.  The first half of this album is just such a piece, as "Criss Cross" was composed in 2013 for Stephen O'Malley and Oren Ambarchi (who perform it here).  O'Malley and Ambarchi return for "Hanover" as well, albeit as part of an ensemble that roughly mirrors the 1918 Dartmouth Jazz Band pictured on the album cover (Lucier's father was the violinist).  Needless to say, nothing on this album sounds even remotely like guitar music, though "Criss Cross" is not a dramatic departure from some of Lucier's previous work with competing phases.  The nightmarishly spectral chamber music of "Hanover," on the other hand, is quite a large (and harrowing) surprise.

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Ekin Fil, "Ghosts Inside", "Inflame"

cover imageThe Turkish artist Ekin Fil (also known as Ekin Üzeltüzenci) follows up her excellent 2016 LP Being Near (also available on Helen Scarsdale) with two distinctly different, yet both exceptional new releases.  The reasons for these differences are obvious, with one being a conventional album and the other a film score, but each also cast a focus on different aspects to her work, with the former emphasizing her unique pop sensibilities within a traditional song framework, while the latter her approach to electronics and production.

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Lea Bertucci, "Metal Aether"

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My first exposure to this NYC-based alto saxophonist/composer’s work was last year's excellent All That is Solid Melts Into Air cassette, which featured some wonderfully snarling and churning double-bass drones.  For her follow-up, Bertucci returns to NNA Tapes for a full-length LP sans string ensemble, focusing instead on her own solo performances.  Naturally, her saxophone plays a large role, particularly in the fluttering and reverberant minimalism of the opening piece, but Bertucci also has a deep fondness for tapes and field recordings, resulting in an unusual and absorbing mélange of saxophone squalls, bloodcurdling squeals, simmering reveries of uncomfortably dissonant drones, and languorously dreamlike soundscapes.

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Silvia Kastel, "Air Lows"

cover imageRemarkably, this is Silvia Kastel's first solo full-length album, which is an improbably late milestone given that she has been prolifically releasing a steady flow of unusual and inventive tapes and collaborations for almost a decade.  Her aesthetic over the years has been quite a chameleonic and unpredictably evolving one, blithely delving into noise, no wave, sound art, modular synthesizer experiments, and a genre-blurring array of other excursions.  Characteristically, Air Lows is similarly hard to categorize, but its shadowy, deconstructionist vignettes are certainly a good fit for Blackest Ever Black, evoking the feel of a sleepwalker slowly making their way through an abandoned landscape of urban decay.  Some of these pieces are admittedly more fully formed than others, making for a bit of an exasperating whole at times, but the stronger moments definitely have a darkly languorous allure.

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Alan F. Jones & Derek Rogers, "Cedars"

cover image Cedars is the second collaboration to be released between electronic artists Alan F. Jones and Derek Rogers, though unlike the previous Repetend, Parallax (2015), this is a live recording, rather than a studio collaboration.  Recorded in May 2017 in Dallas, Texas, the single piece that comprises this album highlights the different, at times contradictory approaches Jones and Rogers have towards art and composition, and the whole performance seems to be defined by these contrasts, yet somehow the overall sound gels together brilliantly.

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Vanessa Rossetto, "Fashion Tape"

cover imageThe artwork and title of this new tape captures the vibe that Vanessa Rossetto conjures up early on rather well:  a sort of 1980s damaged mélange of consumerism and high art that is as visceral and to the point as it is conceptually high-minded.  What follows is a complex mix of electronic composition, treated field recordings, and who knows what else, making for a wonderfully nuanced, extremely compelling cassette of equally beautiful and abrasive sounds.

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Stromstad, "New Devoted Human"

cover imageNorway's Kristoffer Oustad and the Finnish duo of STROM.ec (Jasse Tuukki and Toni Myöhänen) are no stranger to dreary, aggressive electronic music, so a collaboration between the two comes as no surprise.  I have some familiarity with both artists and I have been a fan of everything I have heard from them so far, but it was rarely surprising or unexpected in sound.  With these two projects coming together, however, the final product stands out even more uniquely than their solo material.  New Devoted Human is richer, more complex, and more fully fleshed out than I expected, and has an impressive amount of depth and complexity that is strong and memorable on all fronts.

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Kazuma Kubota & Mei Zhiyong, "Session June.12.2016"

cover image Both Kazuma Kubota and Mei Zhiyong are relatively new to the realm of harsh noise, but they have individually worked with some of the biggest names associated with the genre, such as Macronympha, Torturing Nurse, and Kazumoto Endo (among a multitude of others).  This collaborative session is refreshingly no frills and stripped to the barest foundations of what traditional noise is and should be, and at a time in which so many artists are stepping away from the style, it is wonderful to hear something that is as classic and timeless as this.

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Jóhann Jóhannsson, 1969-2018

Everyone at Brainwashed is devastated at the unexpected loss of composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Brainwashed was first made aware of him through his releases on Touch and 4AD, and I had the pleasure of spending a brief amount of time with him while on tour in the USA, thanks to Adam Wiltzie of Stars of the Lid, who helped book his tour and provide sound for the shows. Since then, Jóhannsson has composed music for films such as Prisonders and Arrival, earned Academy Award nominations for best original film score for The Theory of Everything and Sicario, and won a Golden Globe for the score for Sicario. Our condolences to his friends and family.

 
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Review of the Day

Low, "C'mon"

cover imageSince parting from Kranky after 2002's Trust, Low have been at a crossroads. Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, the band's guiding lights, have experimented with Low's blueprint, slipping into costume as a proper rock band on The Great Destroyer, then deconstructing that sound on Drums and Guns. Both are littered with great songs, but sound restless and unfocused in contrast with Low's previous work—the distinctive, low-key beauty that had drawn me into their world was often missing, at odds with their forays into dissonance and distortion. For their third Sub Pop album, Low have discovered a wonderful middle ground, merging the simplicity of their early recordings with the scaled-up production of their last two albums.


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