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Alan Vega, 1938-2016

2016 has claimed yet another undeniably important musician of our lifetime. We are all heartbroken at the loss of Alan Vega here at Brainwashed and are thankful for his years of contribution to music, challenging not only the institution of pop and rock, but even challenging the conventions within the punk scene of the '70s, most significantly alongside Martin Rev in Suicide. Vega remained active in music both with Suicide and other collaborations through last year and our hearts go out to his family and friends.


Forced Exposure New Releases for 7/18/2016

New music is due from Pan Sonic, MJ Guider, Søren Kjærgaard and Theresa Wong, and Darling, while old music is due from Alan Vega and Marc Hurtado, Jack Rose, King Tubby's Aggrovators and Revolutionaries, and Nurse With Wound.


Wire, "Nocturnal Koreans"

cover imageWire’s latest mini-album is a somewhat darker, subtly more experimental, and arguably superior sister to their self-titled 2015 release.  In fact, these songs were all written during the very same period, but they were split off into their own release because they ostensibly shared a path directly opposed to the aesthetic of Wire: the self-titled album was a deliberately no-frills document of what the band actually sounds like when they play together in a room, while Koreans documents what they can achieve with studio enhancements and liberal editing.  Despite those very different approaches, the two albums do not actually seem all that different to my ears.  I guess I was hoping for a bit more of a radical departure than this.  While there are a few intriguing exceptions, Koreans mostly just sounds like more of the same hook-heavy and slightly off-kilter songcraft that I always expect from Wire.  That is certainly not a bad thing, but Nocturnal Koreans is definitely more solid than revelatory.


Solo Andata, "In The Lens"

cover imageFor their fourth record, the duo of Kane Ikin and Paul Fiocco took a different approach, and decided to revisit fragments of previous recordings that lay forgotten on various hard drives and cassette tapes for a multitude of years.  Beginning with these elements, they then reworked the material and recorded new parts, making these recordings a sort of hybrid of unreleased works and new material.  Because of that, In The Lens may at times feel more like a collection of songs rather than a full-fledged album, but that is no major detriment considering how well these compositions are executed.


MJ Guider, "Precious Systems"

cover imageAfter a bit of a long slumber, Kranky has resurfaced with the first full-length from New Orleans’ Melissa Guion.  Guion’s previous discography is a bit lean, as she has previously only released one cassette back in 2014, but she seems to have quite a fully formed aesthetic that will no doubt delight fans of the Kranky milieu.  In fact, it is quite hard to discuss Precious Systems without making favorable comparisons to Grouper, as Guion is quite a similarly enthusiastic proponent of hazy, reverb-swathed vocals.  Musically, however, MJ Guider is far more indebted to shoegaze and gauzy 4AD-style Romanticism, crafting propulsive and hook-filled songs that feel artfully hollowed-out and slowed to a narcotic crawl.


Anna Zaradny, "Go Go Theurgy"

cover imageGo Go Theurgy is Polish composer Anna Zaradny's first album in eight years, following 2008's Mauve Cycles.  Like that release, there is a significant amount of experimentation and abstraction to be heard on this record's two side long composition, yet for all its dissonance there is clearly order here.  Order that takes the form of deconstructing and rebuilding more conventional pop and electronic music elements into completely unique contexts. It is challenging but captivating all the same.



Concrete Mascara, "Perennial Disappointment"

cover imageNew Jersey based harsh electronics trio Concrete Mascara have a handful of limited releases since their inception in 2011, but Perennial Disappointment is only their second full length album, following 2014's Blossoms of Shame.  The title is obviously a tongue-in-cheek, self-effacing joke, however, because the eight songs that comprise it seethe with menace, creating a dark, violent environment via aggressive vocals, destroyed electronics, and perverse attempts at building rhythm.


Steve Flato, "Simulation of Another Thing"

cover image San Diego’s Steve Flato has remarkable and unpredictable range—from structured harsh noise (Mara’s Daughters) and hallucinogenic sine assaults (Salon de Flato) to mathematical ambience (This Is Our Last Cry Before Our Eternal Silence), and now, with Simulation of Another Thing, orchestrated soundtracks. Recorded with a trio featuring trombone, tuba, and French horn, Simulation blends melody, voice, field recordings, and improvised noise across three varied and affective songs (with an emphasis on the sinister). It comes in at a concise 30 minutes, but Flato packs a lot of great performances and unusual choices into that space, including one that combines the reassuring voice of a hairdresser with the steady pulse of a drum machine.


Klara Lewis, "Too"

cover imageWhen I heard Klara Lewis’s self-released EP back in 2012, I was deeply impressed with how effectively she shaped her "found sound" collages into song-like structures, but worried that such an abstract and purist approach would be extremely limiting in the long run (it is hard to craft hooks without vocals or instruments, obviously).  As it turns out, my misgivings were largely unfounded, as Lewis has proven to be quite adept indeed at finding inventive and varied ways to exploit her unusual palette.  In fact, she seems to only be getting better and better at unlocking its deeper possibilities rather than backing herself into a corner.  That said, the content of Too probably will not surprise anyone who picked up 2014's Ett, though it may be a little less rhythmically focused.  That is not a detriment though.  In fact, it may even be liberating, as Too definitely feels more rich, otherworldly, and emotionally resonant than its predecessor.  More importantly, it features "Beaming," which is a work of absolute brilliance.


Christian Fennesz & Jim O'Rourke, "It's Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry"

cover imageOver the years, I have come to be extremely wary of any collaborative releases involving artists I like, as all they tend to fall into one of two categories: disappointing compromises or (much more frequently) tossed-off improvisations.  Consequently, I did not have particularly high hopes for this album, particularly since so many recent Fenn O’Berg releases have failed to live up to their enormous potential.  Happily, however, It’s Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry largely delivers upon the promise heralded by its luminous participants.  Given that Fennesz has a much more distinctive aesthetic than the chameleonic O’Rourke, it is not surprising at all that this sounds a hell of a lot like a Fennesz album at times, but the line separating laptop-era O’Rourke from Fennesz is a very blurry and narrow one.  In any case, this is quite a strong album, albeit one that starts to lag a bit in the second half.


The Eye: Video of the Day

American Music Club

YouTube Video

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Review of the Day

The Ex, "Turn"
The Dutch collective known for their anarchist/punk-based, communal, and musical style mishmoshing tendencies blast out a powerful two-LP/CD set of all new material. Engineered once again by Steve Albini in Chicago, Turn could easily be the strongest album of the year. In the three years since their last full-length recording, Dizzy Spells, the Ex have kept busy touring places on this planet most people would be afraid to go, making a few ATP appearances, collaborating on more In the Fishtank recordings, and working in various combinations on other peoples records.
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