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Strings of Consciousness & Angel

cover image The music crafted by Strings of Consciousness could appropriately characterized as stream of consciousness: improvisation being the musical equivalent of the literary technique. Based around the core of a string quartet, the international collective, instigated by Philippe Petit, join themselves with a revolving cast of fellow musical travelers. This time they team up with Angel, who began in 1999 as duo between Ilpo Vaisanen (Pan Sonic) and Dirk Dresselhaus (Schneider TM). In 2004 Icelandic multi-instrumentalist of Múm fame, Hildur Gudnadottir, was recruited. The result has become a vehicle on which my own consciousness can travel, moving from the ominous and hyperdriven sounds of deep space to wander amidst the ancient ruins of a moonswept world.


Important Records

Strings Of Consciousness & Angel - S/T

Music like this can be hallucinatory, and while the sounds of “#1” left me with a feeling of vertigo that I was afraid would not go away, as a side effect it was minimal. The first lengthy song, close to 22 minutes, is built on the bedrock of a long sustained tone that pricked at the back my skull. A distorted guitar soon joins in and its strings sound frayed. Blistering on the first listen, its heavy wall of layered fuzz was like an itchy sweater only put on during winter's coldest days; at first it is uncomfortable and the need to scratch soon follows. Strings of Consciousness' oscillating lines of noise are very warm, crackling with subtlety and hidden nuances.

Inside the push and pull of wind rushing through an accordion I can hear the explosion of air on a rocket ship as the fuel is ignited. Solar flares must have interfered with the recording equipment; I can hear them as heavy noise squalls bleeding through the speakers. Somehow the background radiation of the universe has been made audible. Tossed about on the rocking waves of this cosmic ocean, I am eventually pulled in beyond the event horizon. The music keys me into a superstring theory of everything, and I am born into a new parallel world.

While “#1” is beautiful in the way that it makes my nerve endings feel burned raw, “#2” by comparison has a more palliative effect. On this track the accordion has a more pronounced presence, as I follow its echoes and get lost in labyrinthine ruins of sound. Holographic guitars emerge from hidden grottoes, electronic bleeps twitter and swarm before being overtaken by deftly flanged, panning chords. Chains rattle, riding in over the high metallic drone of a Tibetan singing bowl. Percussive clangs dance with raucous abandon before things settle down, all carried in on a balmy Mediterranean breeze. I know I will be returning to the landscapes conjured in this 18 minute song again and again. It was my favorite of the two. By the end of the record I feel purged and uplifted, as if I had passed through a storm while making a pilgrimage to the temple of sound.




The Eye: Video of the Day


Ten years ago, launched The Eye, one of the first regular music oriented video features online. Over the years, close to 150 mini documentaries were produced from live and interview footage with some of the most innovative acts. In the last few weeks, the videos have been re-visited, re-mastered, and re-presented on YouTube. We're excited for the new resolution, sound, and clarity of these features, along with the portability afforded by YouTube. Over the next few weeks we will be randomly selecting features on the home page here of Brainwashed but you can always  Start at the beginning and see where it takes you!

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Review of the Day

Nonkeen, "The Gamble"

cover imageThis trio featuring ubiquitous pianist Nils Frahm is one of the more pleasant surprises that have come across my path in recent memory, as I expected some sort of bloodless avant-jazz/post-rock hybrid, but was instead treated to quite an innovative and unique album (albeit quite an understated one as well).  I suspect a lot of that success is due to the band's exceedingly unconventional recording process, as they spent 8 years recording, re-recording, editing, recombining, and endlessly tweaking these pieces before finally concluding that The Gamble was finished.  Consequently, whatever these songs sounded like when they were originally played is probably a hell of a lot different from what ultimately wound up here.  To my credit, I was right about this album being a sort of avant-jazz/post-rock hybrid, but all of the instrumentation is so blurred together that The Gamble transcends either genre entirely and instead sounds like a strain of dub techno that is just as influenced by Latin percussion as it is by Jamaican dub. Except when it sounds like the greatest album that Tortoise never recorded.  Or when it sounds like something else entirely.

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