RLW, "Agnostic Diaries"

cover imageConsisting of raw materials from 2005, but heavily reworked and processed between 2016 and 2017, Ralf Wehowsky's latest work is actually a compilation of unfinished and aborted projects. Mostly centered around voice recordings, the six pieces on Agnostic Diaries represent collaborations that, for one reason or another, fell through or never saw the light of day. That is anything but apparent though; since there is a clear consistency from start to finish, and one that is in line with the style of Wehowsky's recent works.

Black Rose Recordings/Dirter Promotions

The sounds of the human voice are one specific thing that links these pieces together, from the fragmented communications on "Le Ballet" (from George Antheil's Ballet Mecanique) to the processed speeches and deep breathing of "For Gerald," to the less treated dialogues of "Caute!" As intended though, Wehowsky uses these voices, processed or otherwise, as he would any other sound source, so they would not constitute vocal pieces per se.

Another RLW trademark throughout many of these is a use of digital sounds processed into low fidelity bitrates. On the aforementioned "Le Ballet" they form the framework that computer blips and shrill, painful electronics are then grafted on to. There is a ghostly sense to the piece overall and, with a mix of swells, jump cuts, and heavy bass frequencies; the whole piece is rather strange and disorienting. "July 2006" feels like a continuation, albeit one with erratic reverbs, cricket-like chirps and what could even be a Geiger counter.

On "For Gerald," what sounds like collaborator Anla Courtis's contribution of squalling electric guitar shines through clearly alongside spacy electronics and what almost resembles a spate of kick drums, or perhaps someone transitioning from walking into running on a hard surface. Either way, it makes for the piece with the most traditionally musical sounding elements, but chopped up and processed into something else entirely. Concluding piece "Monotype #6" is another notable standout with its multi-layered fragmented voice (courtesy of Dylan Nyoukis) and stabbing horror strings, creating a complex, yet menacing end to the record.

Even though these pieces were all created for different purposes, Wehowsky did an excellent job in the reworking process to bring them all together into a consistent album. It is not that far removed from its predecessor on Black Rose/Dirter, Flurry of Delusion, but the emphasis on vocal elements makes it stand out on its own. Like any RLW album, Agnostic Diaries is disorienting, confusing, and at times painful, but never fails to fascinate.

4536 Hits

Spiral Wave Nomads, "First Encounters"

cover imageIn an unexpected flip for their second record, the duo of Eric Hardiman (Rambutan, Century Plants, Burnt Hills) and Michael Kiefer (More Klementines) improvised live. With the self-titled debut being the result of asynchronous file sharing and collaboration, First Encounters was exactly that: the first time the two had actually met in person in any context. That’s anything but apparent from the sound though, as the duo play off of each other perfectly, making for a free form trip through psychedelic spaces with the verve of long time collaborators, even though that is not the case.

Twin Lakes Records/Feeding Tube

Lengthy opener "Evidence of New Gravitation" is immediately indicative of the album: rich guitar, nuanced drumming, and an overall complex sound considering it is only two instruments in play. The sound is clearly loose and free flowing, but it is also deliberate, as if the duo know exactly what they are planning to do next while simultaneously playing off of each other. There is an excellent sense of propulsion via Kiefer's punchy drums and Hardiman's noisy pre-grunge 80s noise rock guitar, with wildly varying dynamics. The same feel runs throughout "Radiant Drifter," where shimmering, chiming guitar is cast out over low rumbling drums that swell up to some excellent freak-outs, which then calm down again. The other two songs on First Encounters feature the duo in a more understated synergy. The less structured "Fitful Embers" is all far away rattling percussion and erratic guitar drills, never coalescing into a solidified rock piece, but never coming off as directionless, either. Lengthy album closer "Of a Similar Mind" is a slower burn, evolving from open spaces, subtle melodies, and sparse cymbals. The growth is slow, but eventually erupts into rapid fire drumming, loud wah-heavy guitar outbursts, and a brilliant heavy psychedelic sensibility.

It is hard to not appreciate the backwards way that Michael Kiefer and Eric Hardiman have approached Spiral Wave Nomads. Waiting until the second record to actually meet in person is certainly not a strategy most artists would attempt, but they manage it perfectly here. Given how different its inception was from the first album, First Encounters has a rawer feel, but there is still a strong sense of consistency, and it is certainly the work of the same duo. With two LPs that complement each other so well, I am curious what collaborative approach a third will bring.

Samples can be found here.

4559 Hits

Massimo Ricci, "Tracey Feels Worse"

cover imageMuch like the prolific music criticism on his Touching Extremes website, Massimo Ricci's first ever recordings to be released are a unique combination of ambiguity and pure no-bullshit bluntness. Consisting of material sourced from 1984 and heavily reworked in the four decades that followed, there is a purity in his approach that makes bleak, repetitive structure all the more fascinating.

Elevator Bath

Tracey Feels Worse is a single 35 minute piece that structurally remains constant throughout: wave-like swells of indeterminate sound come and go hypnotically, with consistent, though microscopic, changes occurring throughout. Ricci opens with metallic low-end sweeps with slow evolution apparent from the start. He expands the sound with reverberations liberally applied throughout and increasing over time. There an overall bleakness throughout, but never does it come across as overly depressive or plodding. The sound becomes more enveloping, the intensity builds, resulting in an excellent sense of disorientation. The change seems so slow at first but by the end the difference seems dramatic. Not to draw too many comparisons to other artists, but the purity of sound and the approach to repetition is not so far removed from some of David Jackman’s more recent works.

From his style of writing and the sound and presentation of the disc, I do not believe the ambiguity that runs throughout Tracey Feels Worse is necessarily intentional, or at all essential, to the album. It strikes me as being a work of pure sound exploration, without any sort of hidden theme or social commentary or conceptual intent. Given that approach to sound rarely exists outside of the world of harsh noise, it is refreshing to hear it in something more understated and nuanced. Of course I had natural curiosity throughout of what the source recordings were, how they were being processed (since no loops or samples were used), but in the end that knowledge is in no way needed to justify or appreciate the work.

Samples can be found here.

4090 Hits

Rrill Bell, "Ballad of the External Life"

cover imageWith only a handful of releases so far (as Rrill Bell and as The Preterite), the American born, German based composer Jim Campbell and his arsenal of various tape machines, is already doing amazing work. Layers of processed field recordings, various incidental tapes, and who knows what else come together in these two extremely dynamic and complex compositions that at times seem like completely alien, yet utterly fascinating worlds.

Elevator Bath

Campbell opens "Like Heavy Honey…//Wie Schwerer Honig…" with a mass of stacked erratic electronics; complete with bent (at times melodic) tones and abrupt tape stops and starts. He balances the denser, heavier segments with calm, peaceful passages of gentle field recordings punctuated with birds and other inviting bits. There are even some hints of melody, albeit subtle, that seem to be generated from live tape manipulations. Some of the sections have a ghostly feel via echoing empty spaces, and others resemble submerged, aquatic excursions. Closing with a bit of menace and bizarre wet echoes and subtle crackles, it never stays in one place too long.

On the other side, "…From the Hollow Comb//…Aus Den Hohlen Waben" begins with a significant amount of open space and heavy reverb. What obviously sounds like field recordings (though what they are actual recordings of remains a mystery) fill in that space, resulting in a bit more of a foreboding vibe. Campbell generates some synth-like pulses and shimmering, crystalline sounds, but the sense of menace never fully relents. Towards the end he does an excellent bit of juxtaposition balancing manipulated Morse Code like beeps with crackling analog textures.

Ballad of the External Life has such an amazing sense of depth and complexity that it is hard to fathom that this is his first full length vinyl release. This is all the more impressive knowing that this is almost exclusively manipulated cassettes and processing. Jim Campbell’s ability to generate such variations in tone and texture from tape manipulation is rather impressive, and that constant flow from one section to the next without ever really staying in one place too long manages to stay engaging without seeming in any way unfocused. It is an album I immediately loved, and listening to it more unveiled even more depth and variety.

Samples can be found here.

4066 Hits

Harness, "Encased in Marble/Wrapped in Roots"

cover image This latest CD from the duo of Luke Tandy and Shane Church has all the hallmarks of an old school harsh noise record. With an instrument list consisting only of tapes and pedals, and right up front the obvious use of clattering junk and buzzing instrument cables, I thought it was going to be a mid 90s throwback blowout of distortion. Encased in Marble/Wrapped in Roots is, however, more of an understated work. That rough-hewn production and use of overdriven sound is certainly there, but Tandy and Church deliberate in their use of dynamics and space, giving a perfect sense of tension throughout.

Throne Heap

On "Mind as Stone and Water," the duo use an almost musical phrase looped throughout, covered with layers of lo-fi analog crunch. "Message Infinite" may not have as much in the way of pseudo-melody, but does approximate rhythm via stabbing bursts of static. With a hollow metal hum giving a slightly dark ambient feel to the piece, it is understated and a bit too brief overall. There is also a rhythmic clicking throughout the closing "Clenching Sand," presented alongside windstorm noises and low end rumble. The piece is structurally tight overall, with some looseness towards its conclusion in the form of bent tape passages.

Harness never fully abandon their harsher roots, however. "Replaced Broken Relic" is constructed on a bed of pummeling, overdriven layers with clattering spring reverb tank abuse and wobbling, unstable sounds on top. There is a bit of rhythm via loops, but overall it is a lot of crunching texture punctuated with just the right amount of breathing room. With an opening that sounds almost like a distant chainsaw, "Traveling Along the Knife's Edge" ends up resembling an entire orchestra of power tools. Easily the harshest work here, it eventually relents to a space of heavy sub bass and reverberated clattering, resulting in a conclusion that less harsh, but certainly more unsettling.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Encased in Marble is how Tandy and Church use deliberately lo-fi sounds and production, but in such a way that it adds a massive sense of textural depth and complexity to the sound. The distortion and maximized, but clipped volumes give a brilliant added variety to the sound that, even at its harshest moments, seems carefully nuanced. That depth, and an overall structural dynamic of tension and release, results in an amazingly gripping album that hits all of the notes a good noise album should.

Samples can be found here.

4432 Hits

Brainwashed Premiere: Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf, "Big Other"

cover image

Brainwashed and Negative Capability Editions are proud to exclusively premiere the new album by Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf, Big Other, and the video for "New Heart." The entire album can be streamed via Bandcamp by clicking here before its release on August 21. "New Heart," (video available here) featuring guest vocals by Jarboe, showcases her expansive voice, adding a human element to the menacing, swirling electronics and guest performer James Joyce’s powerful drums. As Rosendorf began to construct the piece, he says he could hear the ghost of Jarboe's voice throughout as he was composing and mixing, persuading him to ask her to participate. Also an accomplished visual artist working with the likes of Axebreaker, Locrian, and Retribution Body, the accompanying video directed by Rosendorf was filmed during COVID-19 quarantine.  Traveling through a forest, he captures both the isolation and terrible gravity of our current shared experience, but also the potential of hope and new life. Big Other will be released on limited vinyl and digital via Negative Capability Editions on August 21.

5949 Hits

Brainwashed Premiere: Future Museums, "Closed Eye"

cover image Brainwashed and Holodeck Records are proud to premiere "Closed Eye", by Future Museums, from the album Rosewater Ceremony Pt. II: Guardian of Solitude coming out October 19th. Following up the first installment from earlier in 2018, Neil Lord (Thousand Foot Whale Claw, Single Lash), "Closed Eye" is awash with lush synthesizers and pensive, plaintive guitar work delicately unfurled over haunting ambience. The title specifically refers to how Lord recorded the song: live, in one take, while blindfolded. The full cassette is even more multifaceted, capturing everything from pulsating synth arpeggios and bubbling keyboards to introspective, expansive atmospheres. Rosewater Ceremony Pt. II: Guardian of Solitude is available to order now on tape and digital via holodeckrecords.com.

8029 Hits

Brainwashed Premiere: Omni Gardens, "Dreams of Neptune Healers"

cover image Brainwashed and Holodeck Records are happy to present Omni Gardens' "Dreams of Neptune Healers", from the forthcoming album West Coast Escapism. Omni Gardens is the new solo project from Moon Glyph founder Steve Rosborough, and his first release under the name. "Dreams of Neptune Healers" hints at the full album to come with its slowly unfolding synth pads and lighter, melodic passages that slowly bubble to the surface. A multitude of twinkling melodies floating by in gauzy drifts herald a deeply introspective album that captivates the ears as much as it does the subconscious. West Coast Escapism comes out on September 28th on cassette and digital via Holodeck Records. Preorder at holodeckrecords.com.

 

7667 Hits

Brainwashed Premiere-Black Spirituals "Reconciliation"

cover imageThis week Brainwashed and SIGE Records are proud to premiere "Reconciliation," (MP3 download here), a song from the upcoming 2xLP by Black Spirituals entitled Black Access/Black Axes.

The pairing of Zachary James Watkins (guitar and electronics) and Marshall Trammell (percussion) have created another masterpiece, and their final collaboration in this arrangement. Reclaiming the core fundamentals of jazz and rock and roll, but completely recontextualizing them in a distinctly modern framework, Black Spirituals are an entirely unique entity in the world of experimental music. While Black Access/Black Axes is a multifaceted and varied album, "Reconciliation" is an excellent summation: Watkins generates a constantly building squall of noise and distortion, but never lets his guitar be lost in the mix, as Trammell deliberately enters the frame, transitioning from subtle cymbal accents to sharp, cracking snares that pierce powerfully through the psychedelic haze. To call the dynamic intense would be a serious understatement, culminating in a brilliantly heavy, ecstatic crescendo that is nothing short of amazing. Black Access/Black Axes is presented in a deluxe 2xLP gatefold record, limited to 300 copies, and will be released July 6, 2018 via SIGE.

7759 Hits

Brainwashed Premiere: Dylan Cameron "Graceless Gods"

cover image

This week Brainwashed is pleased to premiere Dylan Cameron’s “Graceless Gods”, part of the massive digital compilation the Holodeck label is releasing this week to commemorate their 50th release. "Graceless Gods" is a fitting teaser for the release, capturing everything he (as well as the label) excels at: heavy danceable beats, prickly, pulsating analog synths, and immaculate attention to sonic detail and production.

Holodeck Vision One features 30 artists from the label's past and present, as well as close associates such as Troller, Drab Majesty, and Michael Stein, and is available digitally on March 9. Dylan Cameron will also performing at both of the upcoming Holodeck SXSW showcases on March 15 at Hotel Vegas and March 17 at Central Presbyterian.

Preorder Holodeck Vision One at Holodeck's Bandcamp

9910 Hits

Brainwashed Premiere: LACHANE, "Fandeath"

cover image

Brainwashed and Holodeck Recordings are proud to premiere "Fandeath," from Austin, Texas duo LACHANE’s self-titled debut. "Fandeath" captures the debut’s slow, lurching pace punctuated with heavy, industrial strength beats, rich synthesizers, and sinister guitars. Vocalist and producer Melissa Cha's beautiful vocals glide through the funereal backing track as guitarist Ryan Garl delivers a wonderfully distorted performance that adds just the right amount of organic grime to the complex electronic arrangements.

The self-titled debut LACHANE will be released on cassette and digital on Friday, February 9th.

Pre-orders are available at holodeckrecords.com now.

10331 Hits

Brainwashed Premiere: Michael C. Sharp "Never Enough Time"

cover image

Brainwashed and Holodeck are proud to premiere "Never Enough Time" by Sungod member and Austin resident Michael C. Sharp here, as well as on the latest Brainwashed podcast episode. The song appears on the upcoming limited edition cassette, also titled Never Enough Time, and is one of five beautiful tracks of lush synthesizer expanse and heavily processed guitar work. Sharp may be a percussionist, but his work here is centered on tone and mood, rather than beats. "Never Enough Time" begins from shimmering layers and loops, which he then merges with dream-like synth patterns and delicate effects. Indicative of the album as a whole, it is an entrancing, engaging blending of melody, loops, and experimentation that is as complex as it is gorgeous.

Pre-order Never Enough Time (HD041) by Michael C. Sharp

Never Enough Time will be released on October 20, 2017 as a cassette on the Holodeck label and is limited to 200 copies.

8267 Hits

Brainwashed Premiere: Scratched Glass, "Two"

cover imageBrainwashed is happy to premiere the first song (and video) from Scratched Glass's new release, Two, due out July 7 on Negative Capability. The duo of Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf and Jonathan Lukens are both multimedia artists, and this is evident on "Duet". The video's pulsating, digital/organic hybrid visuals perfectly accompany the sound: a lush mixture of warm, surging tones and skeletal beats that are hypnotic from beginning to end. The nine song album will be released on cassette (limited to 100 copies) and digital, and mastered by Lawrence English.

Check out the video here.

An exclusive preview of the album is available to stream here.

Physical and digital pre-orders are available now through Bandcamp.

11528 Hits

Brainwashed Premiere, Marker "Follow it Down"

cover imageWe at Brainwashed are delighted to pair with Medical Records to debut "Follow It Down" from Marker. For his first full-length release under that name, New Orleans' own Mike Wilkinson takes the standard guitar/bass/drum sound, mutates it, and then reassembles it brilliantly on this self-titled debut. "Follow It Down" is an excellent sampler of what will be on next month’s album. Blissfully demolished guitar sounds are mixed with upfront bass lines to create a hazy fog in which a steady drum machine and Wilkinson's lonely, isolated vocals slowly glide through. He brilliantly shuffles the mix around, and allows it to dissolve into an ecstatic wall of sound, with shards of melody still shining through the otherwise comfortable, yet impenetrable abyss. Look for the full album from Marker in mid-July.

Click here to stream "Follow It Down" via SoundCloud

15496 Hits

Brainwashed Premiere: Circa Tapes, "See Your Door"

cover image

Brainwashed is proud to premiere "See Your Door", the first song from the new Circa Tapes album Love and Venom, due July 21st on Medical Records. Hear the song here, or in the most recent Brainwashed Podcast (Episode 351).

This is the third album by Adam Killing (the solo artist behind Circa Tapes), with previous releases on Ghostly International and DKA. "See Your Door" is the first song to be released from the album: a pensive, gloomy song of midtempo drum machine and analog synth pulse. The cold, robotic backing tracks contrast beautifully with haunting vocals and dour keyboard leads. It is the perfect teaser for the upcoming album, full of dark moods. The song is propelled by vintage synths and drum machines that nod toward a dance-tinged industrial past, but looks forward towards a distinctly modern and distinct future. Look for the full record, Love and Venom, coming July 21st, 2017 on Medical Records.

2290 Hits

Brainwashed Premire: VVV "Talking in the Dark"

cover image

Why El Paso Sky is the upcoming mixtape on Holodeck by Austin, Texas’ own VVV (Shawhin Izaddoost), serving as a way to whet the appetite for his upcoming full length record later this year. Here we present the premiere of "Talking in the Dark," both in the recent Brainwashed Podcast (Episode 341) and here directly.

Preorder Why El Paso Sky (HD038) by VVV

"Talking in the Dark" is an excellent teaser for what Izaddoost will be delivering on both the tape and his release later in 2017. From its sweeping opening synths that herald the foundation rattling beats and rapid melodic lead that quickly follow, VVV covers an infinitely complex array of sounds and vibes in the span of a few short minutes. With a lush, ambient breakdown that quickly jumps right back into the rhythms, both Izaddoost's prowess in building memorable rhythms and his nuanced, complex approach to production and mixing are clearly at the forefront. Look for the limited mixtape Why El Paso Sky to be released on March 10, 2017 on the Holodeck label, and more new work to follow later this year.

25236 Hits

Rosy Parlane, "Willow"

cover imageAlthough dormant for a number of years, Paul Douglas has leapt back into activity on this brief, but effective 7" single. With heavy use of electronics and processing, these two pieces are shaped into fully fleshed out and complicated works that bear the mark of an expert.

Continue reading
7965 Hits

Matt Weston, "For Teri Morris"

cover image

A loving tribute to experimental percussionist Matt Weston's collaborator Teri Morris (of Crystallized Moments and Tizzy), the two pieces that make up this 7" showcase his strengths as a one-man band, while crafting a pair of songs that are as independently captivating as they are touching.

Continue reading
8247 Hits

Stephan Mathieu, "Coda (For WK)"

cover image

Originally an accompanying piece for the vinyl release of A Static Place, this afterward to that album utilizes the same archaic gramophones paired with computer processing approach, resulting in a similarly dynamic, understated piece of minimalist composition.

Continue reading
7383 Hits

Government Alpha, "Altar of Precogs"

cover image

While Yasutoshi Yoshida is not nearly as prolific as he was in the early days of Government Alpha, the result has been a "quality over quantity" approach, much like the Incapacitants, and the opposite extreme from the likes of Merzbow and Dissecting Table. This not only makes each new release something I look forward to, but also seems to ensure what he does put out stays of exceptional quality. Exemplified by this single: no shtick, no pretense, just a great 7" from one of the masters.

Continue reading
7338 Hits