Brainwashed Radio: The Podcast Edition

It may be late but it's great!Shoko Ghost picture from London

We cram 14 tunes into this hour+ long all new episode, featuring new and vault music from claire rousay, Joy Guidry, Ty Segall, Milo Korbenski, Hatis Noit, Gregory Uhlmann, Tomato Flower, Can, Dead Bandit, Martin Rev, 9T Antiope, Einstürzende Neubauten, Jimmywilson, and Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper.

Thanks to Shoko for the "ghost" picture from London.

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Organum Electronics, "Quietude", "Darcknes"

QuietudeAs the first two installments of a seven-part subscription series on Die Stadt, David Jackman (as Organum Electronics) has fashioned two new long-form pieces that are seemingly sparse in their formation, but like the entirety of his lengthy discography, result in something with so much more depth. Material utilized in other recent works from him are building blocks in these two discs, but compared to the quiet and understated recent material, these align much more closely with his earlier, noisier material, and continues to demonstrate his compositions are as fascinating as ever.

Die Stadt

Quietude is the noisier and overall more forceful of the two albums. It beings with an immediate blast of dense buzzing noise that approximates a jet engine very well, but multilayered and treated to give an amazing sense of depth and nuance. At times it almost seems as if it is a basic sound being utilized, such as the hum of a florescent lightbulb, blown out to massive proportions. The sound is sprawling, with intersecting passages shifting focus throughout. Shimmering engine sounds cascade over a continual buzz, with occasionally bassy churning sounds bubbling to the surface. Layers eventually relent alongside what sounds like rattling, scraping chains, leading to a jarring ending.

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"Flux Gourmet Original Motion Picture Soundtrack"

Flux GourmetI acknowledge it is only February right now, but I believe I can confidently state that this soundtrack will be the weirdest and most mystifying new album that I will encounter this year. The film itself was released back in 2022 and follows the trials and tribulations of an imaginary performance art group during a surreal and contentious month-long artist residency. It is an absolutely brilliant and wickedly funny film (possibly director Peter Strickland's finest work) and joins similarly deranged fare like Holy Mountain in the pantheon of cinema so audaciously batshit crazy that it is hard to fathom how it was ever financed, cast, or released. As befits such a bananas endeavor, the soundtrack features a murderers' row of compelling artists from the experimental/psych fringes, drawing participants from Broadcast, Nurse With Wound, Stereolab, Neutral Milk Hotel, Swans, and elsewhere. Obviously, that seems like a solid recipe for a unique album, but it is a unique album with a twist, as the heart of it all is Strickland's own Sonic Catering Band, a shifting collective devoted to transforming the preparation of vegetarian meals into ritualistic noise performances.

Ba Da Bing

The Sonic Catering Band allegedly formed as an anonymous ensemble in 1996 after finding unexpected inspiration in a bout of food poisoning. The band's mission statement is quite simple (if comically niche): "to employ a similar approach to electronic music as to (vegetarian) food; taking the raw sounds recorded from the cooking and preparing of a meal and treating them through processing, cutting, mixing and layering. No source sounds other than those coming from the cooking of the dish are used and as a commitment to artistic integrity, every dish is consumed by all members of the Band." The project spawned a record label (Peripheral Conserve) as well, releasing work by many of the folks who appear on the soundtrack as well as some other hard-to-categorize art provocateurs like The Bohman Brothers and Faust's Jean-Hervé Péron. Unsurprisingly, the project also resulted in some truly memorable-sounding performances ("on the wall by the table hung a lifesize 5ft gingerbread man with headphones on, listening to the sound of himself being cooked.").

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Dead Bandit, "Memory Thirteen"

Memory ThirteenThis is the second album from the instrumental duo of Ellis Swan and James Schimpl and the first Dead Bandit album to follow Swan's killer 2022 solo album 3am. Happily, Memory Thirteen returns to the hypnagogic "witching hour" vibes of 3am, but it also marks a very compelling creative leap forward into fresh stylistic terrain. To my ears, that blearily dreamlike terrain is best described as "what if Boduf Songs scored a gig as the house band at a strip club in the Donnie Darko universe?" Needless to say, that is a very tricky and hyper-specific niche to fill, yet Dead Bandit consistently find new ways to combine hushed and haunted late-night melancholy with neon-soaked sensuousness, deadpan cool, and dreampop shimmer.

Quindi

The opening "Two Clocks" introduces most of the elements central to the duo's current vision: understated guitar melodies, well-timed flickers of human warmth, submerged and distressed-sounding textures, and slow-motion, head-nodding beats. It is a fine way to start an album, but it feels more like a setting of the stage than a legitimate album highlight (even if it undergoes a gorgeously dreamlike transformation around the halfway point). The first unambiguous highlight follows soon after, however, as "Blackbird" feels like a window into a narcotic and carnivalesque cabaret of eerie melody, throbbing bass, lysergically smeared textures, and simmering, seething intensity.

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Concepción Huerta, "The Earth Has Memory"

The Earth Has MemoryOn her first solo vinyl release, Mexico's Concepción Huerta largely employs the use of Buchla and Nord synths, recorded in residence at EMS Stockholm. Further tape manipulation is then used to create a record that sits somewhere between atmospheric space and intense noise. Textures and distortion sprawl outward, but occasionally relent to allow some gentle elements to slip in, resulting in a record that sounds rooted not just in the Earth, but also expands far into outer space.

Elevator Bath

The opener of the first side, "Emerges from the Deep" (featuring co-production with Olivia Block) is a perfect summary of how the piece sounds. Opening with muffled tones rising from a deep ocean trench, Huerta crafts a subtle melody that soon transitions into crunchy resonating low frequency sounds, adding a subaquatic heaviness. Eventually the low-end subsides as the piece gently floats off into the distance. Huerta follows with "The Crack Is Illuminated," where sweeping shimmering synths glisten a gentle floating passage, accented by some pleasant buoyant distortion.

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Matt Weston, "This is Broken"

This is BrokenBarely six months after his last double album Embrace This Twilight, Matt Weston has just released another record of idiosyncratic compositions. Consisting of two side-long pieces, Weston balances two notable different approaches to composition, with the first side being the more spacious and sustained, and the other dense and sprawling in approach, linking disparate sounds in an incredible manner.

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"You Have to Question the Validity of your Sneer," comprising the first side of the record, features Weston exercising restraint into what sounds he works with. In the simplest terms, what resembles a ghostly, inhuman howl opens the piece, with a heavily processed chime/bell/gong/something metallic punctuation throughout. Through the entirety of the piece there are groans and squeals making for an uncomfortable, unsettling lurch. As the piece progresses, he incorporates rumbling, what sounds like war trumpets, and evil screeching birds to the already sinister proceedings. The vibe is darker and more unsettling than a lot of his work, but it is still excellent.

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Tristan Allen, "Tin Iso and the Dawn"

Tin Iso and the DawnThis is New York-based composer/puppeteer Tristan Allen's full-length debut and it is quite an ambitious one, as Tin Iso and the Dawn is the first chapter of a planned "shadow puppet symphony" trilogy loosely based on Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" that has been in the works since 2015. From where I am standing, there are innumerable ways in which such an album could go wrong and they range from "forgettable score to cool puppet show" to "cloyingly precious" to "outright bombastic." Instead, however, Tin Iso and the Dawn sounds like a stone-cold masterpiece dropped by a creative supernova. Listening back to Allen's previous discography (a pair of classical piano EPs), it almost feels like this vision materialized out of nowhere, but the seeds of this puppet-centric magnum opus may have been planted more than a decade ago when Allen co-wrote a piece with Amanda Palmer in the early days of her "Dresden Dolls hiatus" solo career.

RVNG

The album begins in somewhat deceptive fashion, as "Opening" is initially just a bittersweet solo piano melody that feels like a simple yet lovely classical piece built from a few well-chosen arpeggios. That is familiar territory for Allen, but that familiarity begins unraveling in under a minute, as the arpeggios are quickly enlivened with harmonies, melodic flourishes, rhythmic disruptions, psychotropic tendrils, and a wake of groans and lingering decays. Then yet another surprise happens in the final minute, as it sounds like Allen stops playing, closes the piano, and lets the lingering haze of murk threaten to become a self-perpetuating drone piece. If Allen were some kind of Andy Kaufman-style performance artist/comedian, it would have been a solid move to let that haze of decay play out for another forty minutes, but it instead segues into the first of four acts ("Act I: Stars and Moon"). From that point onward, Tin Iso and the Dawn features a near-unbroken run of achingly beautiful and unique orchestral pieces.

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Richard Sears, "Appear to Fade"

Appear to FadeMuch to my surprise, my favorite tape music album of 2023 did not come from any of the usual suspects (Nonconnah, Lilien Rosarian, Ian William Craig, etc.) and instead came courtesy of this unusual collaboration between newly Parisian jazz pianist/composer Richard Sears and producer Ari Chersky. While I am unfamiliar with Sears' previous activities in NYC's avant-garde scene before his trans-Atlantic relocation, Appear to Fade is an entirely new animal altogether, as it is a series of collages built from decontextualized/recontextualized recordings of solo piano compositions and live improvisations. I can understand why this is being released as a Richard Sears album, given the fact that he played everything and has some serious jazz cred to boot, but the impact of Chesky's editing and healthy appreciation for pleasures of analog tape distortion elevates those recordings into something brilliant that feels far greater than the sum of its parts. While much of that success is due to the pair's unerring intuitions and Sears' undeniably beautiful playing, the real magic of Appear to Fade lies in how masterfully the duo were able to organically weave together looping melodies with fluid and spontaneous-sounding improvisations while evoking a mesmerizing mirage of elegantly shifting moods.

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The opening "Tracing Time" is quite possibly one of the most gorgeous tape-based pieces that I have heard in my life, as a delicate piano melody lazily winds through a shifting and swaying landscape of straining tape warbles, analog murk, and subtly rhythmic swells. Moreover, beyond its immediately obvious melodic and textural pleasures, the piece evokes a wonderful strain of frayed and unraveling opulence and also feels like time is fitfully freezing and reversing due to all the ingenious tape manipulations. There is even a surprise twist at the end, as the dream-like bliss curdles into something more ominous that resembles the soundtrack from a mangled VHS of a Bela Lugosi-style classic vampire film played backwards. Obviously, it does not take a genius to realize that putting your best foot forward is a great way to kick off an album, but there is definitely an art to sequencing the remaining pieces so they feel like different flavors of wonderful rather than a dip in quality. To their credit, Sears and Chesky succeed beautifully in that regard and even managed to keep a second masterpiece ("Manresa") in the chamber until nearly the end of the album.

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Emptyset, "Ash"

Ash It has been a while since this duo of James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas last surfaced, but they are back with a new EP to celebrate Subtext's 50th release. Since releasing 2019's Blossoms, the pair have been quite busy with other projects, as Purgas's research played a crucial role in the release of The NID Tapes: Electronic Music from India 1969​-​1972 while Ginzburg has kept himself occupied with running a record label, releasing solo albums, and performing as part of "experimental supergroup" Osmium. Emptyset was never fully dormant, however, and Ginzburg and Purgas convened in Bristol this summer to shape their accumulated ideas into one of their most focused and singular releases in recent memory. It is also one of their most concise, as ash clocks in at an extremely lean 16-minutes. If this were any other project, that brevity would suggest a serious dearth of fresh ideas or compelling new material, but it is exactly the right length for a perfect distillation of Emptyset's viscerally spasmodic and pummeling percussion assaults.

Subtext

Much like their Manchester peers Autechre, it is very easy to forget that James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas were ever interested in making beat-driven music aimed for the dancefloor, as they long ago plunged into an avant-garde rabbit hole of abstract deconstructionism, cutting edge sound design, and self-built instruments and have not looked back since. I bring up that origin for a reason, as understanding that ash was inspired by Bristol's sound system culture is crucial to grasping the appeal of the duo's current vision. In fact, I was initially underwhelmed by these songs, as I could not understand why Ginzburg in particular would want to regress to punishing, no-frills rhythm workouts after blowing me away with the droning immensity of his 2021 solo album crystallise, a frozen eye.

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Black to Comm, "At Zeenath Parallel Heavens"

At Zeenath Parallel HeavensI am almost always intrigued by the eclectic and unusual inspirations behind Marc Richter albums and this latest full-length for Thrill Jockey is no exception. The core concept at the heart of this one is the "hybridity within each and every one of us," which Richter set out to mirror through a mixture of self-created sounds and manipulated samples. Things got more interesting along the way, however, as Richter had the epiphany that his own methods are quite similar to artificial intelligence "hallucinations," which is a phenomenon in which an overloaded AI starts perceiving non-existent patterns or spewing incorrect or nonsensical conclusions.

Thrill Jockey

Beyond that, the methods behind this album remain an enigma to me, as does the inspiration behind the album's curious title, though Richter does note that the song titles borrow phrases from poetry and mythology with a deliberate leaning towards erotic innuendos and the ridiculous. Naturally, most of the humor and ridiculousness that found its way into these sound collages is far too buried or oblique to be readily apparent to listeners, but I had no trouble at all grasping that At Zeenath Parallel Heavens is yet another excellent Black to Comm album. In fact, this might be one of the most beautifully focused and immersive albums that Richter has ever released.

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Aki Onda, "Transmissions From The Radio Midnight"

Transmissions From The Radio MidnightThis is one of the more enigmatic and compellingly inscrutable albums that I have heard in quite some time, but I could probably say the same thing about a half dozen other Aki Onda albums at this point. This particular project began in 2006 when Onda acquired a slim handheld AM/FM radio/cassette recorder and began bringing it with him whenever he traveled: each night when he went to bed, he would turn on the radio and scan the dial in search of something interesting to soundtrack his descent into sleep.

Dinzu Artefacts

Unsurprisingly, that nightly ritual was soon enhanced by Onda's fascination with the spaces on the dial in which multiple frequencies overlap in surreal and unpredictable ways and his nightly hunt for entertainment soon transformed into a sound art project. Naturally, the spontaneous and unique juxtapositions of colliding transmissions are the album's most immediate/obvious pleasure and there are some great ones strewn throughout the album. However, those surface-level pleasures are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, as any inquisitive mind will easily find a host of deeper layers and meanings to contemplate.

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