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Episode 501: January 17, 2021

Ice formations by Katy Podcast Episode 501 is now ready

It's an exciting all new episode with new tunes from New Bums, Jasmine Guffond, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Overtone Ensemble, Plankton Wat, Dead Sea Apes, Rew, Rachika Nayar, and Auvinen, with some older/vault bits by Charlene, Harry Bertoia, and His Name Is Alive.

Fig allowed herself to be photographed by John in Louisville KY, and we thank her for that.

Get involved: subscribe, review, rate, share with your friends, send images!

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Forced Exposure New Releases for the Week of 1/18/21

New music is due from Randstad, Alina Kalancea, and L'estasi Dell'oro, while old music is due from Robert Cohen-Solal, The Residents, and Tangerine Dream.

 

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Meitei, " Kofū"

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Over the last few years, Daisuke Fujita's Meitei project has carved out an intriguing and hard-to-describe niche that brings together several seemingly disparate threads I never expected to see intertwined.  The vision at the heart of the project is an attempt to recreate what Fujita calls the Lost Japanese Mood, which makes his work a conceptual kindred spirit to The Caretaker.  Meitei can be considerably more eclectic and inventive than that comparison would suggest, however, as there is a subtle sense of playfulness that approximates chopped, screwed, and deconstructed exotica even when the ostensible subject matter is something creepy like Japanese ghost stories.

KITCHEN

Before now, Meitei's work has primarily lingered in fairly "ambient" territory, crafting surreal soundscapes of hazy, crackling loops and enigmatic snatches of dialogue.  This latest release, on the other hand, captures Meitei in unexpectedly rhythmic and melodic form and marks a truly revelatory leap forward.  It is tempting to describe Kofu as Meitei’s “party album,” as the best moments call to mind the delirious fun of Carl Stone’s recent pop music collages, but there are a lot of haunted, phantasmagoric, and mysterious interludes that would make it one very unsettling party.  Both sides of Meitei’s vision have their share of highlights though, as the warbling, hiss-soaked beauty of "Manyo" is every bit as compelling as the propulsive, rapturous left-field beat tape fare of the two-part "Oiran."   A handful of pieces feel a bit too incidental to leave a deep impression of their own, but I certainly have no qualms with the eerie, dreamlike spell that they help conjure.  If Kofu offered only that, it would still be an appealingly immersive and unusual album, but the most inspired pieces elevate it into something truly sublime and memorable.

 

Samples can be found here.

 

William Basinski, "Lamentations"

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I suppose I am predisposed to enjoy any major new statement from William Basinski, given my undying love of both hypnotic repetition and tape loops, but I was still a bit blindsided by the dazzling heights he sometimes reaches with this latest opus.  That said, the heart of Basinski's vision remains mostly unchanged, as Lamentations is yet another album lovingly assembled from his seemingly bottomless archive of distressed tapes ("over forty years of mournful sighs meticulously crafted into songs").  The mood and structure this time around are fairly far from Basinski's usual comfort zone, however, as these twelve eerie miniatures feel like a hallucinatory stroll through a haunted and rotting opera house.

Temporary Residence

Such an aesthetic is generally just fine by me (though not my favorite of Basinski's album-length visions), yet Lamentations feels legitimately brilliant when it transcends mere mystery- and sadness-soaked ambiance, as it does on the swooningly operatic centerpiece "Please, This Shit Has Got To Stop."  With that piece, Basinski attains a level of heavenly melodicism and emotional intensity that I have not encountered in any of his previous work.  The rest of the album, on the other hand, generally feels like an atypically murky, brooding, and subtly nightmarish twist on his usual loops of ravaged tape.  However, there are also a few second-tier highlights like the swooningly angelic "All These Too, I, I Love" or "O, My Daughter, O, My Sorrow," which approximates the strains of a great This Mortal Coil song drifting through a supernatural fog.  As such, Lamentations lies somewhere between a somewhat uneven album and a significant creative breakthrough.  For now, Basinski has not fully mastered how to craft short loop-driven compositions as consistently mesmerizing as his classic longform work, but I suspect he will get there soon: adding chopped classical vocalists to his arsenal was definitely a welcome and wonderful flash of inspiration.  More importantly, "Please, This Shit Has Got To Stop" may very well be the finest piece that he has ever released.  While I suspect I could happily listen to variations of El Camino Real or 92982 forever, I am absolutely delighted that there are still some fresh ideas lurking in all those decaying tapes.

Samples can be found here.

 

Mouchoir Étanche, "Une Fille Pétrifiée"

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The main reason that I follow Marc Richter's career is simply that he keeps releasing great albums, but he deserves a lot of credit for being one of the most restlessly creative and consistently adventurous artists in the electronic music underground.  In keeping with that theme, this latest Black to Comm side project is arguably another experimental playground akin to Jemh Circs, yet Mouchoir Étanche's first full-length unveils a surprisingly focused vision best described as "somewhere between a chopped & screwed opera and a fever dream about an imaginary Dario Argento film set in a cathedral."

Cellule 75

The delirious intensity of the opening "Enter Mirror Hotel" is probably the perfect distillation of this latest direction, but it has some tough competition from a few other pieces deeper in the album, such as "Sécheresse," which brings together an achingly gorgeous descending organ theme with an evocative host of found sounds (children playing, ringing metal chimes) that overtake the original motif and transform into a smeared nightmare.  "Le rêveur illimité" is yet another favorite, as overlapping layers of a woman speaking in French tumble over each other while eerie drones mass and slowly undulate beneath.  It sounds a hell of lot like what would happen if Félicia Atkinson decided to create her own alternate soundtrack to Suspiria (which I sincerely hope she someday does).  Admittedly, some of Une fille pétrifiée's other pieces are occasionally too indulgent for my taste, but Richter is generally in fine form, as he sustains a unbroken mood of haunted and bleary hypnagogic ambiance while still playfully stretching and twisting samples far beyond recognizability.  In theory, Richter's finest work will always wind up on his more formal and "composed" Black to Comm albums, but he clearly has too many excellent ideas for just one outlet and some of those ideas work quite beautifully in this more spontaneous and collage-inspired incarnation.

Samples can be found here.

 

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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Dennis Young, "Bella"

cover image Compared to the funk tinged sound of the seminal Liquid Liquid, founding member Dennis Young’s solo trajectory has been notably different in sound, and extremely difficult to compartmentalize.  While some of his previous works have continued the use of rhythm and percussion, Bella is a substantially different beast from start to finish.  There are no beats or loops or even electronic instrumentation here, it is entirely a work of solo guitar excursions that feature enough pedal usage to give it variety, but never losing focus on the instrument at hand.

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break_fold

cover image With three albums in as break_fold, Tim Hann’s approach to complex, yet catchy electronic music has become even more diversified.  Sure, the dense production and processing alongside heavy programmed rhythms can be found throughout these eight compositions, but there seems to be an expansion to the ambient elements of his work, balancing the more aggressive and commanding moments adeptly with space and mood.

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Nari Mann

Nari MannWords cannot describe how devastated we are about the unexpected sudden loss of Nari Mann.

She was one of those music fans who just got it, had impeccable taste, was a classically trained pianist, a fantastic photographer (flickr.com/photos/nariposa), a local hero (Keep Austin Warm), a writer (nariposa.wordpress.com) who just recently became a contributor to brainwashed, and a friend for decades.

Here's her pictures from Brainwaves 2008.

Our hearts go out to all her friends and family.

She is loved and is dearly missed.

 

 

Simon Scott, "Apart"

Cover of Simon Scott - ApartCOVID-19 has torn people apart and brutally impacted lives. Having lost his father to the disease in April, Apart is Scott’s musical release of his grief entwined with the natural tumult of a much-loved nature preserve spent traversing in youth with his father. These protected wetlands house species that are slowly disappearing, comprising a distinct sonic environment that changes with its inhabitants’ demise. By capturing his current environment as part of his grieving process, Scott harnessed his awareness of temporality in all things as a musical expression to allow him to heal. Scott captures ten representations of this ephemeral world through field recordings centered around a piano, with electronic treatment to achieve an expressive and emotional musical ride.

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