Episode 588: August 14 2022

Picture on the top of a glacier in Peru by JoshuaThis one's an all new episode with all new music from The Veldt, Hagop Tchaparian, Four Tet, Bailey Miller, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Elaine Howley, Jabu, Sofie Birch and Antonina Nowacka, Ami Dang, Ellen Arkbro & Johan Graden, Courtesy, and Locrian.

Thank you Joshua for the picture on top of a glacier in Peru.

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1984 Hits

Eve McGivern

I love the smell of vinyl.

 

(Any weirdness at the site front-end, blame her.)

 

 

 

 

 

953 Hits

William Ryan Fritch, "Built Upon a Fearful Void"

cover imageThis latest double album from the California-based Fritch is something of a culmination of two separate long journeys, as it took eight misfortune-filled years to complete and it also concludes Lost Tribe's "Built Upon a Fearful Void" series. While I am not necessarily sure that Fritch himself would agree that the end result was worth suffering through the gauntlet of lost hard drives and water-damaged tape reels that he had to navigate to get to this point, Built Upon a Fearful Void nevertheless meets my dauntingly high expectations for any major new statement from the composer. That said, I am certainly curious about how much the album changed between the ruined tape reels and Fritch's decision to abandon "what remained of the salvaged material" and "rerecord the album entirely using only faint flickers of the old tapes and cassettes." On one hand, some magic simply cannot be recaptured, yet that loss is balanced by the fact that Fritch's work seems to only get better and better with each passing year. In any case, anyone who fell in love with Fritch's work from 2019's Deceptive Cadence will likely love this album too (particularly its first half), as Built Upon a Fearful Void is another impossibly rich and vivid plunge into a dreamlike and cinematic vision of bittersweet Americana (and some other very likable other things as well).

Lost Tribe Sound

According to Fritch, Built Upon a Fearful Void is intended as "a two-part record—meditating on lost epochs, feeble mythologies, and the many deep gulfs in human knowledge and perception," which are certainly themes that resonate more than I would like right now. While I am not sure how the shifting vistas of each individual disc are intended to explore the different conceptual themes, it is quite clear that each disc works as a self-contained album with its own thoughtful and satisfying dynamic arc. While the same instrumental palette ("pipe organ, reed instruments, voice, viola da gamba, prepared piano, pedal steel, viola d’amore, and banjo") remains roughly intact for both of the album's halves, the emphasis shifts emphatically towards more drone-inspired pipe organ meditations for the second disc. In broad terms, that means that the more orchestral first disc is a closer relative to Deceptive Cadence than the second one, as Fritch's gorgeous string melodies are the heart of everything (along with his longstanding passion for vividly realized textures, of course). On the strongest pieces, Fritch's ear for poignant melodies strikes a perfect balance with tactile physicality, elevating such pieces into something a bit more unique and transcendent. Of course, business-as-usual Fritch remains perfectly fine by me as well, even if the thrill of discovery has dulled from my reasonable familiarity with his voluminous discography and its various phases. Still, the bookends on the first disc both handily attain some degree of transcendence for me (particularly the closing "Truest of Truisms"), as Fritch tends to go big with his opening and closing numbers. However, some of the album's most sublime highlights fall between those two crescendos too. For example, "Canary" beautifully marries a lovely viola melody with frayed and haunted-sounding feedback and a viscerally crunching and clanging backdrop of unconventional percussion. Elsewhere, the heaving and rippling "Glossolalia" is a tour de force of spectral, ravaged melodies and churning elemental power. That said, "Truest of Truisms" definitely ends the first disc with one hell of an exclamation point, unfolding as an organically heaving dream of widescreen romanticism, crashing cymbals, and elegantly dancing melodies.

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1357 Hits

Rrill Bell, "False Flag Rapture" & "Blade's Return"

cover image With two different releases in 2021, Jim Campbell (as Rrill Bell) follows up 2020's Ballad of the External Life going in two very different thematic directions. A cassette, False Flag Rapture, is a personal, intimate work based around a recording of his grandmother, while the digital (available with printed material as well) Blade’s Return is a narrative tale about a saw (I am not sure if it is truly meant to be anthropomorphic or not). Both feel rather different from each other, but both also feature the heavy tape manipulations of Campbell, reducing instrument recordings to raw material that he shapes into entirely different and unique forms.

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1448 Hits

2021 Readers Poll: The Results

Alas we are finally here to present the Annual Brainwashed Readers Poll. Once again, this is what the readers choose, as staff and contributors, we only make our comments here and there.

Sorry for the delays, these have been exceptionally stressful and demanding times for just about everybody. Production may be high, but morale remains low. This couldn't be more evident with this year's poll, which had the most entries in years, but had a remarkably low voter turnout. It is difficult to hold out until the very end of the year to be all-inclusive, where most places have made up their mind by November, and music of the year is being released constantly until the clock strikes midnight. So by the time we come around to soliciting votes, most people have checked out for the year.  We will do some re-evaluation to the process prior to future polls.

Thanks again to everybody who participated. This is your voice.

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3193 Hits

2020 Readers Poll: The Results

The staff nominates, the readers add to the nomination list, the readers vote, and we write some comments back. That's how it is. The Brainwashed Annual Readers Poll is a snapshot of what our readers and staff were listening to for the year. As always there are some rankings that are surprises along with others that come as no surprise.

This year we decided to get rid of the "worst album of the year" category (2020 was harsh enough). We also decided to add honorable mentions to the Lifetime Achievement Recognition category because it seems like there's so many people who we cherish that it's an injustice not to give a nod to musicians who have left a lasting impression on music as a whole.

Thanks again to all who participated and we wish you all a safe and healthy 2021.

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308 Hits

Marisa Anderson/William Tyler, "Lost Futures"

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1958158059_16.jpgGiven that Anderson and Tyler began working together a few days after participating in an event commemorating David Berman, it is not a huge surprise that their guitar instrumentals have a Bermaneque feeling; making myth of the American landscape with moments, as the late poet sang, "when the here and the hereafter momentarily align."

I hope you will enjoy reading Berman references, but if you simply must have a review relating Lost Futures to lockdown, pandemic, climate catastrophe or protests, there are plenty out there.

Thrill Jockey

The opening track here, "News From Heaven," is a version of "With News From Heaven" from Tyler’s New Vanitas album. This immediately nods to Berman who at times saw answers from God in everyday life. Anyone who has seen the Silver Jew film of a 2006 tour of Israel (including William Tyler) will see Berman weeping and attesting to religious faith. Sadly, by 2019’s "Margaritas at The Mall," he is lamenting "no new word from God," and that faith seemed lost. I say "seemed" with no great confidence because no one has ever reported back from the other side.

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2019 Hits

Trip Shrubb, "Trewwer, Leud un Danz"

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3667722917_16.jpgUnder a name (Trip Shrubb) taken from a gravestone in Northamptonshire, Michael Beckett presents a cool subterranean selection from his own 84-track transformation of one of the best records ever released: the Anthology of American Folk Music originally compiled by Harry Smith in 1952. Smith, a painter, filmmaker, and obsessive collector of everything from paper airplanes and string figures, to quilts and Ukrainian Easter eggs, curated the Anthology from thousands of 78 RPM records. Trewwer, Leud un Danz is an appropriate companion piece, which matches the obsessive nature of Smith’s vision, serves as a bizarre reminder that a lot of "old, weird, America" comes from older, weirder, Europe, and could also pass for a great soundtrack to Harry Smith’s simply wild experimental films such as Heaven and Earth Magic.

Faitiche

I am reminded of Eric Cantona, the footballer who faced criminal charges and widespread moral outrage for leaping into a hostile crowd and kung-fu kicking then thumping a particularly obnoxious fan. Asked if he wished to express regret, Cantona replied "I have one regret, I would have loved to have kicked him even harder."  Well, no one is going to accuse Beckett of half-measures. In fact, I suggest that the reason he has sampled and "effected" the living blood, skin, and bone (plus marrow) daylights out of the original source material is because he loves it so much. Either way, he has given it an absolute shellacking. This is no pale representation of the real thing. Nor is it a smug authentication by an earnest arty type in exchange for them basking in reflected glory. The icing on this sauerkraut is that Beckett has even further disguised the material by translating song titles into the "Low German" dialect. Harry Smith himself would not recognize them in a blind hearing. I gave up trying to work out track titles after, possibly, cracking a couple. The psycho jet-lagged juju-dub rendition of "Wake up, Jacob" (originally by Prince Albert Hunt’s Texas Ramblers) lurches and swings so strangely that it could get away with being retitled "Jackie Mittoo’s Shoes In a Tumble Dryer (dub)".

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2121 Hits

Adam Pacione, "Any Way, Shape, or Form"

cover image Austin based composer and photographer Adam Pacione's recorded work has been largely digital over the past 10 years or so, which makes this lavish four disc collection all the more significant. Any Way, Shape, or Form complies 2009's Still Life series of subscription only 3" CDRs alongside some other unreleased and rare material from the same era, based around material recorded between 1999 and 2009. In some ways the box is a massive undertaking, though split into comfortably bite sized pieces that perfectly capture Pacione's brand of unique ambient work, it is enjoyable in any listening arrangement.

Elevator Bath

Across these 16 compositions, Pacione works largely with gentle tones that he layers and expands, with a notable amount of consistency from piece to piece. This makes sense given that 14 of them formed a formal series, with two unreleased works from the same era included. Generally speaking the pieces on the first disc have an expansive, gentle drift to them. "A Still Life" and "Dyestuffs" both lead from soft tones, the former transitioning more towards explicit melody in its later segments, the latter from the onset. There are some bleaker, grimier moments towards the end of "They Live By Night" but overall the pieces here are made up of shimmering, beautiful, yet varied tones.

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2130 Hits

Sarah Davachi, "Cantus Figures Laurus"

cover imageThis five-CD boxed set ambitiously compiles all three of Davachi's interrelated 2020 albums released on her own Late Music imprint. Given that Figures in Open Air alone features two pieces that clock in around an hour each, this collection presents an absolutely overwhelming amount of similar-sounding material. That said, Cantus, Descant seems to be one of Davachi's more beloved releases among fans despite its unswerving devotion to pipe organ-centered minimalism. That makes this collection an inspired idea, as it presents that constrained vision in three differing stages: its "more raw and improvisational" beginnings (Laurus), the polished and meticulously crafted studio album, and some great live performances from the period when this era was taking shape. Each of the three albums features some sublime highlights, which will likely inspire me to curate my own condensed version. That distillation will give me the sustained and focused beauty that I want from a Sarah Davachi album, but Cantus Figures Laurus can also provide a calming five-hour respite in a cathedral of drones. It is not unlike a portable version of La Monte Young's Dream House, if he were into church music instead of psychotropic Just Intonation harmonies. Hell, it can even be an interactive one, as listeners can enhance their experience with their own Marian Zazeela-inspired light shows.

Late Music

The heart of this collection is, of course, Cantus, Descant, which was both the inaugural release for Davachi's Late Music imprint and the culmination of her recent fascination with sacred music and antique church organs. Two organs in particular play a central role: a Van Straten pipe organ from 1479 located at Amsterdam's Orgelpark and a Story & Clark reed organ (1890s) situated in LA's wonderful Museum of Jurassic Technology. Several other antique pipe organs turn up as well, but the Van Staten stands out as unique for reasons beyond its advanced age, as it was tuned to a "sixteenth century meantone temperament" and required the presence of a second person (Hans Fidom) to operate the bellows. The Van Straten compositions form a kind of mini album of their own, as that organ was used for the five numbered "Stations" pieces. Stylistically, however, the "Stations" cycle is fairly representative of the album’s overall aesthetic, which has a feel of floating, dreamlike suspension. The liner notes provide plenty of interesting information about the inspirations and conceptual themes of the album, but the central idea of the album lies in the title: Davachi was primarily interested in the interplay between "cantus" (either unadorned singing or the sometimes improvisatory high voice in a polyphony) and "descant" (the larger structure). Davachi expanded that into approaching the album as a dialogue between the individual and "the larger time and space" that they occupy. In more practical terms, that guiding duality manifests itself in a series of slow-motion, droning reveries that gradually and subtly blossom into something more.

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1855 Hits

Santiago Pilado-Matheu, "La revolución y la tierra"

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1899664795_10.jpgIn Peru, Gonzalo Benavente Secco’s controversial documentary La revolución y la tierra, has drawn huge cinema audiences, perhaps because its subject, the 1969 Land Reform Act, still bitterly divides opinion more than fifty years later. So much so that TV Peru bowed to pressure and refused to broadcast the film, which skillfully folds scenes from old Pervuian films into the mix, in the run up to the elections of 2021. Santiago Pilado-Matheu’s deceptively simple soundtrack uses ambient electronics, loops, dubby Afro-Latin rhythms, Andean drone and melody, film dialogue, and speech excerpts by peasant leaders, to create a comforting yet sinister landscape of memory.

Buh

My off-the-cuff knowledge of Peru consists of four facts. Michael Bond’s fictional bear Paddington came from "darkest Peru" and legendary broadcaster John Peel died on holiday there. It was the location for Werner Herzog's Aguirre: The Wrath of God, filmed on the stone steps of Huayna Picchu, on tributaries of the Amazon river, and in the Peruvian rainforest. Herzog claims to have written the screenplay in less than three days, mostly on a long bus trip with his soccer team - one of whom vomited on several pages which Herzog had to discard. Lastly I recall Peru’s Teofilo Cubillas, in hs nation's fabulous white kit with diagonal red slash, smashing in a wicked free kick with the outside of his right foot, the first of his two goals that vomited on Scotland’s hubris at the 1978 World Cup.

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2879 Hits

"La Ola Interior: Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983‚Äã-‚Äã1990"

cover imageSince the invention of cassette tapes, every country has had its own independent tape scene—whether independent musicians with limited release output via the medium or distributors sharing music under harsh conditions. Spain is particularly distinct in this time since, following the death of dictator Francisco Franco the prior decade, the country's creative class was reawakened and allowed to flourish. This tasty compilation from Swiss label Bongo Joe harnesses this movement, focusing on an array of Spanish and Spanish-related electronic music released between 1983 and 1990 that bleeds exoticism rooted in ambient investigations. The compilation succeeds at painting a picture of a lesser-known world of Balearic mysticism with Ibiza-influenced beats and treatments.

Les Disques Bongo Joe

Disc one of this two-disc compilation opens with the hypnotic ambient piece "Transparent" by Miguel A. Ruiz and ends with the fantastic "Trivandrum" by the same. It was "Trivandrum" that immediately caught my attention, sampling what appears to be video game audio over a majestic electronic loop of drums and bass. Both tracks are taken from the 1986 release Climatery but sound tremendously fresh yet today. Since the early eighties, Madrid musician Ruiz has worked under various names (Técnica Material, Orfeón Gargarín, Codachrom, Dekatron II, Michel Des Airlines, Funeral Souvenir, more) yet seems to be little known outside of his native country. Similarities to early O Yuki Conjugate exist, making use of mantric loops and tribal elements founded on a futuristic backdrop. Ruiz is a repeat name, along with Barcelona native Victor Nubla (1956-2020), the more well-known of the two. Nubla's "Chandernagor" is present, showcasing modulated clarinet for which he was known, as well as "20000 Lenguas" ("20,000 languages"), which puts his synthesizer work on display in a clangorous chorus of vocals.

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2181 Hits

New Candys, 'Vyvyd"

Vivid cover imageThe latest from Italy's New Candys blasts immediately from the gate with an ear-candy combination of pulsating synth and massive drums, bass to match, and world-weary vocals before exploding into millions of crystalline guitar chords coated in fuzz-drenched reverb, resulting in what is quite possibly the most danceable tune the group has ever crafted. All the psyched-out power of prior releases exists, but their fourth full-length comes with the added bonus of cleaner production, allowing the powerhouse rhythm section to step forward amidst what feels to be a recharged songwriting team. Vyvyd becomes less a title and more an experience.

Little Cloud / Dischi Sotterraneie

Not to be outdone by drum-heavy opening track "Twin Mine," New Candys get down to business immediately on "Evil Evil," with a pounding drum machine joined by real drums before distorted vocals and amped-up guitars complete the richly beautiful noise. Despite the increased use of drum machine, reverb lovers will be richly satisfied across the album, especially on the heartfelt "Begin Again," a song steeped in love and longing: "There I go, once again / Inside your head I will end / Where lives the love we once had / Which now belongs somewhere else." Tracks "Vyvyan Rising" and "Helluva Zoo" favor reverb and jangle over an overpowering rhythm, both allowing vocal harmonies and guitar interplay to take front and center. "Q&K" adds female vocals into the mix, guitar at the forefront, drums pulled back into the mix, and rhythm slowed to create a dreamy incorporeal haze.

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2641 Hits

Mark Solotroff, "Not Everybody Makes It"

cover imageMark Solotroff could never be accused of taking it easy when it comes to music, both in terms of style and productivity. Since the beginning of 2020 he has been responsible for three side project releases (Nightmares, The Fortieth Day, and Ensemble Sacrés Garçons), two archival releases from his early Intrinsic Action band, and just a matter of weeks ago a BLOODYMINDED! live compilation. Add that to three volumes of compiled solo material and an album last year, and there’s a massive stack of material that Not Everybody Makes It now sits atop. Even with all of that material, this new album stands out as distinct, and somewhat of an unexpected turn for Solotroff's work, but is still clearly his.

Self-Released

What makes this disc unique is the more significant restraint and lighter touch he employs on all six of these (exactly) ten minute pieces. I would be significantly concerned if he released anything that is not constructed around lo-fi analog synth noises, and that is certainly the foundation of everything here, but the mixes are less dense and the volumes are lower, giving everything a bleaker, more isolated sensibility.

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2204 Hits

Alasdair Roberts and Völvur, "The Old Fabled River"

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0017144637_10.jpgAlasdair Roberts’ creative spirit and respect for tradition dovetail perfectly on this collaboration with Norwegian collective, Völvur. With traditional songs (in both artists’ languages) balanced by four new Roberts compositions, and the latter’s plaintive voice complemented by both Marthe Lea’s beautiful singing and the collective’s edgy, swinging and restrained playing, The Old Fabled River is joyous and mournful in equal measure.

Drag City

From the opening "Hymn of Welcome," which concerns the passing of a flame from a dying hand to one starting life, to the the closing "Now The Sun Goes Down/Nu Solen Går Ned" it is hard to miss the various pairings and the balance which inform this album. Cradle and grave, sunrise and sunset, transformations, time passing each day and life flowing through seasons, love blooming amid the beauty and harshness of nature. In this context, Robert Burns’ poem "Song Composed in August" fits right in. Written by the sixteen year old poet as an ode to young Peggy Thomson, of Kirkoswald, and to the precious nature surrounding her, it has often been recorded as "Now Westlin Winds," famously by Davy Graham who said it was "about everything." Sung here in three-part a cappella it sounds appropriately young and vital.

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2365 Hits

Can, "Live in Stuttgart 1975"

Can Live in Stuttgart 1975 cover imageLegendary German kosmiche band Can is not a "hits" band. Despite being known for classic studio work with individual tracks such as "Vitamin C," "Halleluwah," "Mother Sky," and "Future Days," Can, first and foremost, are an improvisational band. While this was a core driver of their studio output, it is particularly evident in their live performances, of which bootlegs of assorted quality exist, noted for never playing a song the same way twice. Singer Damo Suzuki had left the group by this time and Can had released their sixth official studio recording, Landed, an album some fans identify as the marker of Can's slide from greatness. A meticulously produced album, the rock sheen of that studio album could not tell the story of Can's true nature. This polished bootleg — for which we have a devoted fan with large pants to thank — separates the studio mystique from the musicians, showcasing their enduring and practiced talent, revealing the genius of the band's four original members that forever make Can an icon of music history.

Mute / Spoon

This legendary performance features Irmin Schmidt on keys, Jaki Leibezeit on drums, Michel Karoli on guitar, and Holger Czukay on bass. Live in Stuttgart 1975 is the first in a series of polished bootlegs, remastered from tape by sole remaining member Schmidt and longtime producer Rene Tinner, and available officially for the first time on various media formats, notably in a beautiful orange 3-disc vinyl version. There's not much revealing about the tracks at first glance, numbered simply one to five in German, with the shortest track clocking in at 9:31 and ranging to 35:58. Nor is there anything particularly revealing about the cover art, a stack of amps in a live setting superimposed with butterflies, moths, and the odd mosquito. It's not until cracking open the artifact is the essence revealed.

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2626 Hits

Fehler Kuti, "Professional People"

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a2160160686_16.jpgSeeing this release announced as music for "squares" or gated communities, unlikely to appeal to your "woke friends" made me approach it as one might any potential minefield. Learning that Julian Warner, aka Fehler Kuti, is a cultural anthropologist, actor, writer, editor, speaker, art festival curator and producer didn’t lighten the mood much as I feared an onslaught of dry polemic. What a relief then to simply get hooked by these hypnotic tunes - several of which were lullabies for Warner’s newborn child. Professional People reveals as a transcultural concept album, lightly touched with softly spoken wit, 8-bit space jazz, cosmic Euro-pulse, pan, chant, Afro-neon groove, wordless harmony, and melancholic synth. Some of the song titles can act as political signposts, but lyrics are few, mostly oblique, and any message subliminal: hidden in plain sight amid references to bureaucracy, cars, office buildings, home, leisure, gardens, and security. There is no holy indigestible agitprop, no denial of anyone else’s struggle, and Warner leaves academic language and analyses of class, race, and history for the books. He’s razor sharp, but kind, and rather than cutting with words he sprinkles sardonic humor and personal history in with broader observations. The whole record invites everyone to swing along together in our various states of alienated inclusion. Phew. I won’t hear many more enjoyable albums this year.

Alien Transistor

With the aid of stalwarts from The Notwist, Fehler Kuti builds a laid back sound with drive but also plenty of breathing space. Markus Acher's brilliant drumming is key, and Micha Acher adds sousaphone and trumpet flourishes. Equally, Sascha Schwegeler's steel drum helps make "Transatlantic Ideology" a standout track. Here Kuti gently references a popcultural and socio-theoretical Afro-Americanophilia in Germany that must be addressed as it deflects from anti-racist movements and away from other racist exploitations (systematic exclusion of Romani people, capitalist exploitation of eastern European migrant laborers). Off record he points out that Black Germans do not make up a racialized labor underclass, so in this sense the leftist fetish of the African American plight is devoid of its revolutionary potential when directed at the Black German. I say "gently" but, as with several stunning lines laid into the fabric of this album "Is a black man humanoid?" made me jump. I uncomfortably recalled the satirical essay "Are The Jews Human?" which got that awkward old stick Wyndham Lewis into a spot of critical bother. Whereas Lewis was brilliant but easily depicted as a brute, Warner’s unflinching honesty about his own status as a professional "manager of color" is his calling card. He insists his class are using the paradigm of diversity as a tool to escape their fate, without changing the class relations as a whole. Who better, then, to warn us: "This song is a song to end all ties, to say goodbye to old, and say hello to new, lies." If that sounds heavy, it’s actually as catchy as The Bonzo Dog Band doing "Terry Keeps His Clips On."

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3510 Hits

Peter Murphy, "Love Hysteria"

Love Hysteria cover image1988's Love Hysteria was my introduction to Peter Murphy as a solo artist, likely initiated by MTV's 120 Minutes airplay of "All Night Long." A minor hit in the United States, this and a host of other strong tracks from Murphy's second solo release would see Murphy exposed to a renewed audience as a solo performer, those both unfamiliar and familiar with his back catalog. Some of this may be attributable to the start of Murphy's songwriting collaboration with Paul Statham (ex B-Movie). This fruitful union would see the two working together for another six albums, producing some of his best-loved works over the next few years. This work alone spawned the aforementioned "All Night Long" as well as masterworks "Indigo Eyes," "Dragnet Drag," and "Blind Sublime."

Beggars Banquet / The Arkive

Sometimes, writing a review about one's revered musicians can be a struggle, challenging as it may be to separate one's memories of a much-loved album with time and place. As I transitioned from high school to college, the dawn of the nineties was approaching, and the familiarities I'd felt growing up in the eighties seemed to be fading. New music, shifting places, different friends, and the loss of a certain comfort was on the horizon as I completed my last year of high school. This era felt ripe for the birth of a massive amount of new music, but I felt a need for stability and nostalgia as life marched on into unknown directions. The darker, romantic music I had embraced in high school that had such an impact on my life seemed to be changing, not always for the better, and I felt a longing for something I couldn't quite put my finger on. I was thus relieved when seeing 120 Minutes' airing of "All Night Long," an artist I was familiar with and that, up to that point, was not aware had embarked on a solo career. I instantly liked the song, so I went to pick up the vinyl at a local record shop, albeit with some trepidation.

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2944 Hits

Rambutan, "Parallel Systems"

cover image As his primary (and solo) project, Albany’s Eric Hardiman's Rambutan is always in flux. Some of his many other projects are a bit more predictable: Sky Furrows is 1980s indie noise rock inspired, Spiral Wave Nomads is more free improvisation, etc., but Rambutan has always been something different. Sometimes the work is harsher, other times more subdued and atmospheric, and instrumentation can very significantly from release to release. For this more conceptually album, there is even less predictability. Featuring 69 contributing artists across 33 pieces and over two and a half hours in length, it is fully encompassing of Hardiman’s body of work, solo and in collaboration with others, and reiterates what a multifaceted and gifted artist and performer he is.

Sedimental/Tape Drift

For Parallel Systems, Hardiman solicited a multitude of participants: friends, collaborators, and personal heroes, to submit recorded contributions that he collaged and blended over the past two years. There are a vast array of collaborators here: representatives from the local Upstate New York/Western Massachusetts scene (Mike Bullock, Rob Forman, Mike Griffin, Matt Weston, plus more), some legendary noise artists (Anla Courtis, John Olson, Howard Stelzer), and even the likes of Guy Picciotto of Fugazi/Rites of Spring, Mission of Burma’s Peter Prescott, and Mike Watt.

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2752 Hits

Peter Murphy, "Should the World Fail to Fall Apart"

Should the World Fail to Fall Apart cover imageShould the World Fail to Fall Apart finds Murphy not entirely moving away from the entanglements of his former group, elaborating on the musical styles explored in Dalis Car. The musical stylings of his debut were problematic for me on its original release, enamored as I was of Bauhaus. Still, over the years, it has grown to become one of my personal favorites of his solo works despite it often being deemed one of his less worthy offerings. The album is reminiscent of a transition period, but the reissue is a reminder of his brilliance.

Beggars Banquet / The Arkive

On his debut, Murphy continues to take cues from the romantics through passionate vocal delivery, lyrics, and melody, toning down the Bowie influence but maintaining a dramatic delivery. While he would gain a wider solo audience with Love Hysteria and Deep, it's astounding a man not yet out of his twenties seems a wiser and more practiced fifties, further supported by a fantastic cast of musicians. Guitar work from former bandmate Daniel Ash, Turkish fretless master Erkan Oğur, and co-producer Howard Hughes bring strength to the tracks, with Magazine's own John McGeoch providing guitar on Murphy's inspired cover of "The Light Pours Out of Me," with the interpretation of Pere Ubu's "Final Solution" only somewhat less inspired. A driving bassline from Eddie Branch is the central force behind "Blue Heart." Former bandmate Daniel Ash provides indeed "manic" guitar on "The Answer is Clear" over tribal drum programming and sweeping orchestral arrangements.

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2673 Hits