Lawrence English, "Observation of Breath"

cover imageOne of the many surprises of the last few years has been the current pipe organ renaissance unfolding in the experimental music world (your days are numbered, modular synths!). Thankfully, we still seem to be in the honeymoon phase of that phenomenon, as the vanguard of Kali Malone, Sarah Davachi, and Lawrence English are all fairly consistent in exclusively releasing strong and/or interesting albums. This latest release is English's second (after last year's Lassitude) to focus entirely upon pieces composed on an 19th century organ housed in Brisbane's The Old Museum. This is a very different album than its predecessor, however, as Lassitude was comprised of homages to Éliane Radigue and Phill Niblock. On Observation of Breath, English instead derives conceptual inspiration from Charlemagne Palestine's "maximal minimalism" as well as the mechanics of breathing (quite relevant when pipe organs are involved). There is one more favorable similarity to Lassitude, however, as this album also features one stone-cold masterpiece that spans an entire side of vinyl.

Hallow Ground

As English amusingly notes in his album description, Observation of Breath was composed and recording during a soft lockdown in which he "spent many days playing to an empty concert hall." He also states that he considers these four pieces a collaboration between himself and the pipe organ, which is not intended a mere nicety, as he viewed their interaction similarly to the mind/body dialogue of breathing (hence the album's title). In essence, English was consciously "breathing" for the pipe organ, as he strove to achieve a compelling balance of power (exhalations stacked in unison) and "elegant uncertainty" (the moments when breath becomes unsteady and fading). Knowing all of that failed to fully prepare me for the harrowing "The Torso" though, as English unleashes deep bass drones augmented with plenty of hiss, industrial ambiance, and nightmarish whine (I especially enjoyed the parts that sounded like a seasick air raid siren). The following "A Binding" is considerably less radical, lying somewhere between "textbook drone done well" and "multiple drones with differing oscillation patterns ingeniously intertwined." To my ears, it is the least strong piece on the album, but I still like it. And I love “And A Twist,” as it feels like a hallucinatory organ mass that keeps tying itself into murky knots of dissonance. Sadly, it clocks in under three minutes, but is easy to imagine an extended version rivaling Catherine Christer Hennix’s The Electric Harpsichord for the crown of "best album that sounds like a vampire on hallucinogens blasting out a sinister solo in his lonely mountaintop castle."

Fortunately, the closing title piece makes a great consolation prize for that missed opportunity. "Observation Of Breath" initially sounds like a viscous fog of dread oozing across a deep sustained drone, but English gradually enhances that with more harmonic color as the piece glacially unfolds. The truly inspired part comes when English begins to "explore the sonic qualities of different frequency spectra," however, as the piece blossoms into an all-enveloping and seismic drone juggernaut that feels like it is tuned to the resonant frequency of the earth (or at least of my apartment walls). As such, the primary appeal of this release for me is that it contains one of the greatest drone pieces ever recorded, but it is a damn strong album as a whole too. English is in peak form here.

Samples may be found here.

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"Live at The Smell" DVD

cover imageThis ten-band concert DVD celebrates the weird, sweaty entropy of LA’s unique all-ages DIY club.  There are some fairly well known bands included here, such as High Places and the reliably excellent No Age, but the most memorable performances are generally delivered by those that lurk in the most aggressively uncommercial shadows of the lunatic fringe (like Captain Ahab and Foot Village).
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Two X Chromosomes and a Microphone

  1. Sybille Baier, "Tonight"
  2. Karen Dalton, "Katie Cruel"
  3. Anne Briggs, "Polly Vaughan"
  4. Kristin Hersh, "A Loon"
  5. Lisa Germano, "Trouble"
  6. Diane Cluck, "Easy To Be Around"
  7. Vashti Bunyan, "Swallow Song"
  8. Kath Bloom, "I Wanna Love"
  9. Lucinda Williams, "Sharp Cutting Wings"
  10. Susanna & The Magical Orchestra, "Jolene"
  11. Shirley Collins, "False True Love"
  12. Linda Perhacs, "Hey, Who Really Cares?"
  13. Joanna Newsom, "Peach, Plumb, Pear"
  14. Gillian Welch, "I Dream A Highway"


Anthony D'Amico,
Chatham, NY

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Anthony D'Amico

Anthony D'Amico lives a quiet life in New York's Hudson Valley.  He lives vicariously through books, music, and film.  He used to subsist primarily on Indian and Thai food, but he has recently decided that ice cream is also enjoyable.  He enjoys making photo and video collages.  He has been writing for Brainwashed since 2008, but was a reader of the site long before that, as he has been a huge Nurse With Wound and Current 93 fan since his teens.    

He has recently changed his "dear god, please do not send me any more fucking promos" stance to "feel free to send or recommend any albums that he might like."  He loves that there is a thriving and supportive community of underground music fans, artists, and labels all over the world and decided it would be a good idea to be more accessible and open to unsolicited emails, even if it comes at great cost to his fragile sanity.  There are some caveats, however:

1.) He gets A LOT of email and is terrible at responding to people.  I do not believe that he is particularly unique in this regard.  Nevertheless, you may rest assured that he feels low-level guilt at all times.  He DOES read it all though and will listen to anything that seems particularly interesting or original.

2.) There is always a mountain of stuff that he personally wants to cover.  In a perfect world, he would exclusively cover albums that he believes are amazing (regardless of when they were released or what label they are on).  However, he also tries to cover as many "major" albums as he can within the Brainwashed milieu.  It's a delicate balance and a lot of great albums fall through the cracks.  Heartbreaking, yet unavoidable.

3.) He tries to be as open minded as possible, but he unavoidably has some deeply held subjective preferences.  It is generally ill-advised to send him anything bombastic, intensely angry, toothlessly New Age-y, or jammy and meandering.  He also can't stand improvised/abstract music that could be reasonably described as "a bunch of honking and clattering," unless someone is extremely good at it. 

4.) Conversely, he generally loves the weirder fringes of psychedelia (Natural Snow Buildings, Ak'chamel, My Cat is an Alien) and the more melodic side of tape music (Tape Loop Orchestra, William Basinski).  He also has favorable feelings about mangled guitars, drone, dub, and classic Jamaican, Thai, and African music.

He can be reached here:

email: misplaced_sandwich at hotmail.com

Cultural Delights That Greatly Brightened An Otherwise Dreary 2021

  • Kier-La Janisse's Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched
  • Aaron Dilloway/Lucrecia Dalt, "Lucy & Aaron" (Hanson)
  • Fluxion, "Parallel Moves" (Vibrant)
  • Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car
  • Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt, "Made Out of Sound" (Palilalia)
  • Chuck Johnson, "The Cinder Grove" (VDSQ)
  • claire rousay, "a softer focus" (American Dreams)
  • Dean McPhee, "Witch's Ladder" (Hood Faire)
  • Lawrence English, "Observation Of Breath" (Hallow Ground)
  • Bendik Giske, "Cracks" (Smalltown Supersound) and his cover of Caterina Barbieri's "Fantas"
  • Die Welttraumforscher, "A Young Person's Guide To The Early Welttraumforscher" (A Colourful Storm) & "Die Rückkehr der echten Menschheit (1981 - 1990)" (Bureau B)
  • James Ginzburg, "crystallise, a frozen eye" (Subtext)
  • Myriam Gendron, "Ma Délire - Songs of Love Lost & Found" (Feeding Tube)
  • Jeff Burch, "Samum Suite" (Important)
  • Kleistwahr, "Winter" (Helen Scarsdale Agency)
  • Laura Cannell & Kate Ellis's amazing run of monthly EPs
  • Leven Signs, "Hemp Is Here" (Futura Resistenza)
  • Meitei / ??, "Kof? II / ?? II" (Kitchen Label)
  • My Cat is an Alien & Joëlle Vinciarelli, "Eternal Beyond III" (Opax/Up Against the Wall, Motherfuckers!)
  • Nonconnah, "Songs For And About Ghosts" (Ernest Jenning)
  • Noveller, ""Aphantasia" & "Red Room" (self-released)
  • People Like Us, "Welcome Abroad" (Discrepant)
  • Steph Kretowicz, "I Hate it Here" (Curl)
  • Tasos Stamou, "Monoliths" (Moving Furniture)
  • Martyna Basta, "Making Eye Contact With Solitude" (Warm Winters Ltd)
  • Stereolab, "Electrically Possessed [Switched On Volume 4]" (Duophonic)
  • The Humble Bee, "A Miscellany For The Quiet Hours" reissue (Astral Industries)
  • The Volume Settings Folder, "Pastorage Sights" (self-released)
  • Thomas Ankersmit, "Perceptual Geography" (Shelter Press)
  • Vanishing Twin, "Ookii Gekkou" (Fire)
  • Tomaga, "Intimate Immensity" (Hands in the Dark)
  • HTRK, "Rhinestones" (Heavy Machinery)
  • Various Artists, "La Ola Interior (Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983-1990)" (Bongo Joe)
  • Grouper, "Shade" (Kranky)
  • Sublime Frequencies' entire 2021 output
  • Rachika Nayar, "fragments" (RVNG Intl.) & "Our Hands Against The Dusk" (NNA Tapes)
  • Bombay Lunatic Asylum, "Mad Song" (Oaken Palace)
  • Anders Brørby, "Constant Shallowness Leads to Body Horror" (Fort Evil Fruit)
  • CZN, "Commutator" (Offen/Lovers & Lollipops)
  • NTS Live
  • Todd Haynes' The Velvet Underground
  • Obscure film blogs (MyDuckIsDead/Cinema of the World/Rarelust) & Ubuweb
  • Dream Weapons mixtape blog (and revisiting classic ?øly ?ayabl?? mixtapes)
  • Reading Megan Boyle (Live Blog), Scott McClanahan (Crapalachia & Collected Works, Vol. I), and Brad Phillips (Essays & Fictions)
  • All things Everything is Terrible!-related
  • Belatedly discovering the plunderphonic genius of The Found Sound Orchestra & Cassetteboy
  • Almodovar's Parallel Mothers
  • JD Twitch's mixtapes for Optimo
  • The White Lotus
  • Succession
  • I Think You Should Leave


Things That Provided Some Much-Needed Joy & Amusement For Me in 2020

  • William Basinski, "Lamentations" (Temporary Residence)
  • Mary Lattimore, "Silver Ladders" (Ghostly International)
  • KMRU, "Peel" (Editions Mego)
  • Meitei, "Kofu" (Kitchen)
  • Ian William Craig, "Red Sun Through Smoke" (130701)
  • Clarice Jensen, "The experience of repetition as death" (130701)
  • Félicia Atkinson, "Everything evaporate" (Shelter Press)
  • Midwife, "Forever" (The Flenser)
  • Klara Lewis, "Ingrid" (Editions Mego)
  • Celer, "Future Predictions" (Two Acorns)
  • Everything Marc Richter released this year.
  • Ashley Paul, "Ray" (Slip)
  • Ike Yard reissues
  • Helm, "Saturnalia" and "Oregon Crisis" (Alter)
  • Carl Stone, "Ganci & Figli" (Unseen Worlds)
  • Everything Big Blood released or re-released this year.
  • Teleplasmiste, "To Kiss Earth Goodbye" (House of Mythology)
  • Don Herzfeldt's World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime
  • Various Slim K & Chopstars mixtapes
  • Andrew Chalk finally having a Bandcamp page
  • Bandcamp Fridays
  • Several NTS Radio shows (Bianca Lexis, Sarah Davachi, Carla dal Forno, Maria Somerville, ONY, Andrew Weatherall, Lucifer Over LA)
  • Watching many, many films by Jonas Mekas, Bela Tarr, Andrei Tarkovsky, and James Benning (beginning of pandemic)
  • Obsessively watching trashy '70s Euro-Crime films, YouTube collections of vintage grindhouse trailers, and old episodes of Dance Fever and Soul Train (several months later)
  • Finally watching Twin Peaks: The Return & rewatching the rest of Twin Peaks
  • Mexican Coke
  • Cooking increasingly ridiculous & experimental variations of pizza and chicken tikka masala.

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