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Episode 469: May 31, 2020

Spencer Abbey by Jon Brainwashed Radio: The Podcast Edition Episode 469 is live

Wishing everybody is safe and well during these very tumultuous times.

This episode features new and old music from The Soft Pink Truth, Edward Ka-Spel, Valium Aggelein, Kassel Jaeger & Jim O'Rourke, Zombi, I Feel Like a Bombed Cathedral, Flatliner, Ike Yard, Marisa Anderson, and Current 93.

Picture taken from St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts by Jon.

NOW AVAILABLE through SPOTIFY and AMAZON (links below) in addition to the other platforms.

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Forced Exposure New Releases for Week of 6/1/2020

New music is due from Arash Moori, Kassel Jaeger and Jim O'Rourke, and Ann Margaret (Annie) Hogan, while old music is due from Aki Onda, Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Upsetters, and The Animated Egg.

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TALsounds, "Acquiesce"

cover imageIt has been three years since Natalie Chami’s last solo album (2017’s dreamlike and seductive Love Sick) and quite a lot has changed in her life since then.  Given that this project is essentially a very intimate and abstractly diaristic one, that passing of time has unsurprisingly led to significant (if subtle) transformations in the tone of Chami's vision.  Thankfully, her genius for soulful, sensuous, and blearily hallucinatory pop-like improvisations remains wonderfully intact, but Acquiesce feels more like a series of languorous, meditative reveries than it does an emotionally smoldering R&B-inspired break-up album.  Admittedly, the collision of that latter aesthetic with Chami's artier, more experimental side was a large part of what made Love Sick such a great and unique album, but her emotional directness, natural fluidity, and strong melodic intuition are every bit as evident and effective as they were 2017.  While Acquiesce does not quite rise to the same level as its predecessor as a whole, its handful of highlights are easily as gorgeous as any of Chami's previous work.

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Fitted, "First Fits"

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0694346255_16.jpgFitted are Mike Watt (The Minutemen, fIREHOSE, many others), Graham Lewis and Matthew Simms of Wire, and Bob Lee (The Freeks, The Black Gang, Fearless Leader). The names Watt and Lewis should make most music aficionados run for their wallet, but the first album from this supergroup was released with little fanfare. Imagine tossing together the punk of The Minutemen and Wire’s experimentalism, alternately fronted by Lewis’ resigned, wavering vocals and Watt’s staccato uttering. The two legendary bassists provide an onslaught of heaviness, broken by the psychedelic guitar swirls of Simms and Lee’s bright drum beats, and then drive everything home founded on years of musicianship from four practiced musicians.

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Seabuckthorn, "Through a Vulnerable Occur"

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Over the last several years, it has seemed like each new Seabuckthorn release marks yet another significant creative breakthrough for Andy Cartwright. This latest one, his first for France's IIKKI Books imprint, is intended as a multimedia "dialogue" with Australian photographer Sophie Gabrielle.  Given the increasingly cinematic cast of this project, composing an accompaniment for a book of stark and striking photographs is hardly a stretch, but Cartwright's vision has nevertheless grown even more sophisticated since last year's Crossing.  Much like its predecessor, Through A Vulnerable Occur showcases Cartwright's ingenious and endlessly evolving talent for rendering his guitar largely unrecognizable as such, yet his emphasis on details, textures, and small scale dynamics is even more pronounced and masterful this time around.  Given that Vulnerable Occur crosses the blurry line between melodic "songs" and more abstract soundscapes a bit more than previous releases, it admittedly took me a few listens to fully warm to it.  Once I was fully immersed its rich tapestry of layers and nuances, however, Vulnerable Occur revealed itself to be a slow-burning masterpiece of elegantly controlled tension.

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Ellen Fullman, "In The Sea"

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0219/8812/products/SV174_web_1024x1024.jpg?v=1579120035Ellen Fullman's drones are as massive as the custom instruments that she creates this tremendous music on. She is known for her 70-foot Long String instrument, tuned in just intonation and played with rosin-coated fingers. At first listen, it's a monolithic block of sound, stretching out into seeming infinity. But on closer inspection, there are many subtleties of pitch, dynamics, and surround sound that captivate and maintain interest.

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Benjamin Finger, "Less One Knows"

cover imageOne aspect of Benjamin Finger's work that I have always appreciated is his drive to continually tweak and reinvent his sound with each new album.  On this latest release, apparently his 14th solo full-length, he opts for a loose, stripped-down approach, focusing mostly on guitar sketches that often feel like the demo tapes for a solid shoegaze album.  In some ways, it is quite remarkable how far Finger has moved away from the skewed, psych-damaged pop of early albums like Woods of Broccoli and Sombunall, but that trajectory makes perfect sense if his career is viewed like a disintegrating Basinski-esque tape loop: his pop sensibility has not disappeared so much as it has been ingeniously diffracted, distilled, and deconstructed into new forms with each fresh release.  That said, Less One Knows has a stronger emphasis on hooks than a lot of other recent Finger albums and that is a welcome development.  This album may not be quite as substantial as some of his other fare, but the comparative intimacy, melodicism, and fragility suit his aesthetic nicely.

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Duster

DusterIn late 2019, multi-instrumentalists Clay Parton, Canaan Dove Amber, and Jason Albertini, AKA Duster, quietly announced their first release in 19 years would be available in December. The band have never been a household name—despite being a long-standing influence on indie bands across an array of genres such as slowcore, space-rock, lo-fi, or post-rock—but with this release it is a great time to get acquainted. The same core formula of keeping it simple is still here: as stated by Parton, they try to strip out as much as possible while conveying the same underlying sentiment. However, the 2019 formula leaves Duster changed. If the band were slotted into the slowcore genre before, then this release takes the genre to new breaking points. This is a great thing, because like a rubber band stretched to maximum tension, the backlash from letting go is going to be powerful, but sting on contact. The experience is worth it.

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Racine, "Quelque Chose Tombe"

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1237396031_16.jpgRacine uses billowing, amorphous sound as a backdrop for melodic improvisations of various instruments, both acoustic and digitally manipulated. Their creations are pop song length instrumentals that meander, peak, and decay in a highly dynamic, tightly packed box. Surprises abound for those who listen patiently, and moments of the sublime cut through like a glade in a forest.

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Kassel Jaeger & Jim O'Rourke, "In Cobalt Aura Sleeps"

cover imageAs both an experimentalist and a songwriter, Jim O’Rourke has been responsible for a number of beloved and highly influential albums over the course of his storied career, but he is a bit of a prolific wild card as well: it is damn near impossible to guess which albums will capture him in an especially inspired mood and which will not.  That said, his previous collaboration with Kassel Jaeger (2017's Wakes on Cerulean) had some very promising passages that transcended typical drone/sound art fare, so I was quite curious to see if this follow-up would flesh out their shared vision into something truly great.  As it turns out, In Cobalt Aura Sleeps is a hell of a lot like its predecessor: fitfully wonderful, but not without some lulls.  Nevertheless, it does feel like a significant evolution, as it is both darker and more tightly focused than Cerulean, erring more on the side of "understated" and "curiously constructed" rather than "too improvisatory."  Fortunately, those hurdles can be mostly overcome with the aid of some headphones and suitable volume, revealing a satisfyingly strong album that is richly textured, absorbing, and mysterious.

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Review of the Day

Jesu, "Heart Ache/Dethroned"

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Originally released in 2004, the limited quantity and distribution of the original Heart Ache EP surely resulted in a bulk of its listeners relying on less than honest means of hearing it.  Now available widely with recently finished EP that began around the same time, it is a wonderful opportunity to hear how things have changed with Jesu, as well as stayed the same, in the past six years.


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