C93/NWW, "Bright yellow moon/purtle"
Bright Yellow Moon is the latest in a series of eschatological meditations from Current 93, with the inimitably hallucinogenic assistance of fellow traveler Nurse With Wound. Tibet's musical trajectory has taken him in a sort of closing spiral from the universal apocalypse of "Nature Unveiled" & "The Seven Seals" towards ever more personal losses, and artistry which is correspondingly more powerful and emotionally complex. Having put his father to rest only a year earlier with the stunning album "Sleep Has His House," an unexpected personal brush with death provided the fodder for this latest, most claustrophobic installment. Where "Sleep" was all hush and harmonium, beautifully mournful and exquisitely aware of the unknowability of the next world, "Bright Yellow Moon" is a far more harrowing journey to the terrifyingly knowable last moments of this world. At turns dreamlike and painfully lucid, Tibet's astonishingly generous work here takes the form of an unblinking stare at the catastrophic dilemma of original sin. The religious concerns remain predictably prominent, but they are seen here through the microcosm of a single life's end, suggesting, as did "The Great in the Small", that any meaningful sense we might find of larger purposes or "the grand scheme of things" will come to us not through vast divine revelations, but from the stitching together of the modest minutiae of our lives, in the small, temporary space of our daily experience.
"Bright Yellow Moon" (and the accompanying disc "Purtle" for those fortunate enough to have received the limited edition) is a terribly beautiful work, brutal in its willingness to face the emptiness of our last moments, brutal in its uncompromising assertion that we are all thoroughly surrounded and invaded by evil, and brutal in its capacity to maintain the painful awareness of the possible meaninglessness of our lives. "Nichts I and II", compositions at least as chilling as those of Stapleton's recently reissued "Thunder Perfect Mind", strike me as perfect and perfectly forceful illustrations of this brutality. But throughout, as in all his work, a fervent hope is expressed, and small memories of love and beauty are enshrined as edifices against a sea of incomprehensible loss. In the fifth track, a vision of sailing with a beloved companion on a light-streamed ocean describes a love which transcends lifetimes, and "a life inextinguishable in you and your love." Lest you think our Tibet has gone the way of all schlock, the beautiful vocals gradually disintegrate in this song, as in "I have a special plan for this world,' into unintelligibly garbled paralysis. As always, words fail: Tibet laments that "we all speak unknown languages to each other", and I lament that I am unable to sufficiently convey the majestic scope and beauty of this fantastic album. - Thomas Olson
tomas jirku, "immaterial"
Jirku's third full-lenth release is the second for Alien8's new Subsctractif label. Much like Tied and Tickled Trio [see below], Jirku has chosen this round to focus on less songs, developing them more. (Thank you! In the end, it's quality, not quantity that matters.) Immaterial is four 10+ minute songs, with a strong laptop glitchery foundation, completed with a healthy amount of field recordings and dub effects. Track one, "Meson," is the score to a late night robbery scene in a dark, frightening future, while track two, "Gluon," could easily underline a night on the operating table drifting between consciousness and unconsciousness. "Baryon," track three is an explicitly pornographic seduction from a space alien and track four, "Pion," I cleaned out the tub basin and hung a new shower curtain to. All four tracks take their patient time to develop and skillfully ease into the next, while the final ends with a calm rain storm which subliminally and skillfully morphs into a seemingly endless stream of white noise. Jirku is young still, but he is showing a much more mature approach to composition and structure. 60 second samples hardly do this disc justice. - Jon Whitney
Fennesz, "Endless Summer"
This album is the auditory equivilent to a free vacation or perhaps the soundtrack to the afterglow of an exceptionally good lay. The 3rd full-length from Laptop wiz-boy Fennesz finds him taking time out of his busy schedule of collaborations and multimedia orchestrations to finally bring us a follow-up to "Hotel Paral.lel". Consisting of a magical assortment of clicks, heavily processed guitar strummings, and Pita-esque distorted strings, it is surprisingly upbeat compared to most of the Mego camp. It's very detailed, as you would expect from Fennesz, but also contains many freeform/pseudorandom evolving elements, digitally tweaked for maximum ecstasy. Simple melodies reverberate and repeat while detached particles of sound swirl and buzz in a fog around them creating dense, yet listenable structures.
In creating, deconstructing and re-assembling his music, Fennesz showcases different styles throughout the CD: from the guitar-filled title track with several movements, the crackling static-filled strings on the verge of resonance in "happy audio", to melodic Oval-esque "skipping CD" (tm) stylings of "before I leave". Unfortunately, some might find these processing methods slightly gimmicky or an overuse of DSP-noodling. However, if one can accept the minimal, competently tweaked nature of the songs, it is easy to see that they are used to showcase genuine emotion and makes Fennesz's "difficult third album" not seem so difficult after all - he makes it look easy.
Perhaps suffering from recently being prematurely hyped in the press as being "classic", "Endless Summer" is neverless a startlingly good album both on its own or placed next to releases of all his laptop contemporaries; suffice to say that it's brilliant music for beginning your day or ending it, regardless of season. - Andrew Schrock
Slicker, "the latest"
The Latest from John Hughes III under the Slicker incarnate is another milestone for him, with zesty electronics accompanied by thick low-end grooves, continuously evolving songs and sprinklings of organic Chicago post-jazz instrumentality. There's never a dull second over the course of 51 minutes, as the sources, programs, tempos and feel varies from track to track. From punchy techno "jams" to low-cool dub grooves, Hughes is a master at the mix. Additional contributors on the disc include pianist/saxophonist Christopher Case, vibe player Rick Embach, drummer Kevin Duneman and a mysterious guest samplist named Mat Mos. Hmmmm,... Somebody's got a lot of great friends! =) Hughes has admirably embraced some of the best aspects of the 'Scarlet Diva' triumph without alienating the sound for which Slicker is known. Things will get confusing when the follow-up gets released as kids will still be asking for "The Latest" in the shops. Great f'n album, Hughes, silly title! - Jon Whitney
After last year's stunning self-titled debut, Fontanelle return in 2001 with this EP of songs they've recorded over the last three years. An interesting line-up featuring three keyboards, two guitarists and two drummers, Fontanelle create soundscapes that never annoy and always challenge the listener. The mixture of live drums with electronic instruments is not new sonic territory, but listen to the samples and you'll see that Fontanelle does it like no other band. Sounds are warped, wah-wahed out, meticulously planned and timed, and ingeniously executed. Or are they? On this release, we're told that this time Fontanelle is showing off their more improvisational side. The results are similar to the songs on the first release, as the music was created at the same time as the debut, for all intents and purposes. However, the debut seems more spacey in nature next to these songs, with the keyboards being reduced to background orchestral fodder on some tracks. On "F," they're more in the foreground on every song, making their eerie impression felt. The songs are also shorter than those on the debut, which helps, as they do not grow as monotonous as some on the debut got after two or three listens. "F" stands up well even after five or six, and it leaves you wanting more. If this is truly an improvisation-based release, it bodes well for the next Fontanelle full-length. The band seems to be finding that happy medium between the keyboards and guitars on "F," and as a listener, you feel this release succeeding in ways "Fontanelle" didn't, particularly where the lines between the two blur. Stronger melodies emerge, too, making this and excellent release well worth listening to, for where Fontanelle are, and where you know they're going. Rob Devlin
hrvatski (remixed), "RKK-13"
The long-awaited remix CD follow-up to 1998's seminal "Attention: Cats" LP on Reckankreuzungsklankewerkzeuge has more big names than one would think possible or necessary to stuff on a single CD: Cex, Fennesz, Thurston Moore, Pita, Pimmon, Push Button Objects, Kid606, Farmers Manual, and many other lesser-knowns, with even more promised to be on the upcoming LP release (consisting of, it appears, different tracks from the CD).
As to be expected from a compilation of 35 artists with each track clocking in at around the 2 minute mark, it has a widely varied topograhy. The premise of a multitude of short, hard-hitting track keeps in tune with the original "Attention: Cats", which presented to the listener a large number of brief, distorted, often humorous noise/drum&bass songs attributed to a flurry of unknown aliases, all ultimately traceable to one Keith Whitman, aka Hrvatski and head of Reckankreuzungsklankewerkzeuge.
Although the sheer track variety keeps pigeonholing the style of the release impossible, the remixes are roughly split between minimal glitch/laptop, "IDM", and loud, distorted drum & bass stylings, similar in feel to the "Kid606 and Friends Vol. 1" CD on Tigerbeat6 of recent memory. There are some flat-out duds, namely Thurston Moore's distracting 3 1/2 minute "remix" (longest track on the CD) which seems to find the rockstar tuning a radio while fiddling with the output jack. Such foolery aside, almost all the remixes have enough bite, composition, and originality to hold their own. Even taken as a whole, the CD is well-mixed and flows better than one might guess given that the number and diversity of songs. Wicked listening for the ADD-blessed teenager in you. - Andrew Schrock
tor lundvall, "the mist"
It's four a.m. and I haven't slept and have no desire to. My moonshadow accompanies me as I wander through a snow-covered forest. My footsteps leave a muffled reminder that I am still alive. I am not lost but have no idea where I am. Time and Space have given up their eternal battle for dimensional supremacy and have abandoned me. I eventually find my way to cabin that appears to be vacant so I take a respite from my journey and enter. The interior is dark with only a bed and a table, however on the table is a CD by Tor Lundvall entitled The Mist - it has a fascinating cover featuring subtle images of a winter landscape. I put the CD on my walkman and lie down to rest - the music envelops me in a dark desolate mindscape that is hauntingly benign radiating a warm emotional state. I decide to while a way some time by writing about the songs in my journal - here are my observations.
The CD opens with an instrumental: "Ribbon", which sets the mood for the rest of what is to come by conveying a quiet uncertainty that flows into the second piece: "Ghost Girl". "Ghost Girl" is a song featuring recessed vocals that glide effortlessly over a strange melodic bed created rhythmic bell tones set against short-wave radio like heterodyning modulations. "Streets" is a which piece definitely reminds me of my early morning walks along empty city streets - streets that exude a feeling of anticipation; pregnant with the possibility of the unexpected. "29" is another loose song, built around a set of keyboard patterns with Lundvall's vocals mixed more up-front displaying his subtle vocal talents. The line: "My clock is set to a different time" really defines the mood of this CD. "Leave" enfolds the listener in an eternal autumn (the use of vocal timbres are particularly effective here). "Crooked" flows seamlessly from "Leave" featuring echo laden ring modulated textures that paint a prevailing feeling of isolation. "Deadmoon" is a beautiful piece built around a descending overtone pattern that reinforces Lundvall's evocative vocals. "The Hollow" features naturalistic ambient sounds such as insects mixed with the kind of ring modulated sounds that Lundvall seems to favor. This song balances well the prior set of instrumentals. "Pale Sun" is another keyboard piece that shines gently upon an open chordal soundscape reminiscent of the work of Harold Budd. "6:00 AM", ah the morning harkens, what shall the day bring? Happiness or disaster? "Outpost" is once again built around a descending pattern set against other worldly vocals begging the question: "Are we alone waiting?" "Grey Life" moves through a beautiful minimal cyclic piano phrase surrounded by an artificial toy piano pattern. Essentially a ballad wherein Lundvall asks: "Where is my soul?" I get a sense of questioning loss seeking redemption from an unanswerable void. "The Mist", what beckons us from the heart of the mist? Salvation through surrender or permanent failure? "Her Train" feels like when all she leaves you with is a bittersweet memory. "Remember" memories fade as life is eclipsed by time. "The Years" is a forlorn song that brings closure to the previous suite of instrumentals (Mist, Her Train & Remember) by giving voice to that which has not be spoken. The last two pieces: "Dark Spring" and "A Green Darner" return to the understated naturalistic style that has punctuated the whole work through out and ending the CD with a feeling of quiet resolve.
I fell asleep lulled by Lundvall's music and had some wonderful nightmares. I would recommend this The Mist to anyone interested in well considered Isolationist Music such as has been pioneered by Eno, Lustmord, Budd etc. The CD grows with each listening revealing it's somber reptiles that lay in wait amongst its sonic crags. - Robin Amos
ruby, "short-staffed at the gene pool"/"altered & proud"
You may recall the English male/female duo Ruby from a minor radio hit about five years ago with "Tiny Meat." The duo consists of Lesley Rankine, former singer for Silverfish, and Mark Walk of Pigface, and Ruby is the name of each of their grandmother. The duo's latest full length is out now through Thirsty Ear with guest production on spots from Christian Vogel, William Rieflin and Mira Calix. The disc is accompanied by a separate release, 'Altered & Proud', with tweakings from Dot Allison, Kid 606, Schneider TM, Console, Max Tundra and others. While Ruby was a viable venture for Sony Music five years back, no major label thinks they can risk it with something that won't even break commercial alternative radio any more. Their sound is hardly stale however, and would be warmly welcomed by similar aggressive attitude-heavy beat-oriented female-sung outfits like Lamb, Curve, Laika, classic Scala or even Moloko. The sounds are great, the production's wonderful with a healthy dose of guitars, organic and electronic percussion, trumpets and various synthetic lead equipment, but the writing could use a little more originality and less repetition. The remixes on the other hand would please people not necessarily looking for a pop record, but some great sounds put through the wringer and dragged back again, kicking and screaming. - Jon Whitney
HiM, "New Features"
There is music for the masses, music for the soul, music for the heart, and those hungry of it, and even music for the malls -- or is that just Muzac? HiM is music for musicians, and "New Features" is an impressive display of the talent this group encompasses. The group is tight, driving, sinewy, grooved-out and this time they venture further into their exploration of dub, now with an even greater Latin flavor. HiM make music that demands movement. If you aren't dancing to this record, you're missing the point. This, their fifth release, really showcases how incredible the communication is in this band, and exactly how much potential lies in wait, ready to be unleashed in a live setting. Live, I'm sure, these songs sound even better with the improvisational bent they receive, but on record they're just as precious. I especially liked how, from even the first track, each musician gets their time in the sun. No one instrument is a stand-out. And where effects like delays, beeps, and artificial beats could detract from the quality of the playing, HiM use them brilliantly here, using the less is more principal to showcase the playing rather than muddying it. My only real complaint would be that several songs seem reminiscent of Beastie Boys instrumentals in style and feel. But on a CD that features several tracks over the ten minute mark, including the eighteen-minute opus "In Transition," one doesn't even find the need to complain about song length. Right when you feel like the music should shift in a new direction, it does, right on cue. It's all about different flavors on "New Features," and in the hands of less skilled musicians, it could go horribly wrong. In the hands of HiM, it sounds like these "New Features" have been there all along: you just haven't been listening. - Rob Devlin
keiji haino, "abandon all words at a stroke"
For those who take their improvisational noiscore seriously, a 2xCD set from minimalistic screechmonger Keiji Haino is now available. Each CD is a one-track 45+ minute piece for one source and voice. Fans of early Nurse With Wound would find the listenings both challenging and enjoyable as very little detail is paid to composition, but a delicate attention is paid to sonority of the sources. Ideal for a cande-lit seance, disc one, "Hurdy Gurdy" is as dark as the CD jacket, and is simply creepy played out drones on a hurdy gurdy with the creepier occasional vocals. Disc two, "Electronic Percussion" is built around a wave drum scratches and squealing electronics, also accompanied by the occasional distorted vocal regurgitations. Disc two would perfectly score the next time you're stuck in a cold, dark, smelly sewer, covered in sludge, desperately trying to get out. I never understood where the light's supposed to come from during those scenes in the movies. Anyhow, purists would love the concept but I personally think 45 minutes on each disc is a bit lengthy. Thankfully they're not stretched to 80 minutes on each disc. - Jon Whitney
We know that sometimes these CDs are somewhat challenging to find, which is why we have a community section which can be used to obtain nearly everything available on this site.
Disclaimer: There's been an overload of material here at Brainwashed Central, but not an abundance of time. This is a little mini-section of stuff that needed to have something said about them. So please excuse the brevity of the following entries, as all of these releases deserve loads of warm, caring attention. With this in mind, new reviewers are always welcome. - Jon Whitney
tied + tickled trio, "electric avenue tapes"
This group, who isn't a trio and released their second full-lengther on Drag City in the USA last year is allegedly a side project of popsters The Notwist. I say alleged since they've been releasing more as T&TT than as The Notwist lately. Anyhow this album does it right - with five well-developed tracks, totalling about 43 minutes. The music is entirely instrumental, jazzy-flavored with horn instruments and piano sounds, but beat oriented with hints of glitch and dub and much more complete than last year's album or the remixes which were out late last year from Morr in Germany. I was rather cold to the disc when I first got it, but it has grown to become my favorite release from this crew, mellow while creatively involved, beat happy and musically playful enough with a load of TLC and strong efforts focused on only a small amount of top-notch tunes.
- Jon Whitney
slag boom van loon, "so soon"
The original tracks were by µ-Ziq's Mike Paradinas and Speedy J's Joachim Papp, the disc here is remixes from Coil, Boards of Canada, Matmos, Four Tet, µ-Ziq, Tiper, Horse Opera, and Pole. The good thing is that if you love these bands, you won't be let down. All the remixes pretty much sound like the group doing the remix. Fout Tet's got a beefy and beaty contribution, Boards of Canada's bookends are serene and liquid, and the highlight is most certainly the Coil mix which nearly approaches 10 minutes, with scraping sounds, a chilling marimba and orchestral loop, and thunderous low rumblings. What's the point of releasing "remix" albums under your own name? It should just be considered a various-artists compilation but there's legal ramifications surrounding how you credit those whose fingers have been in the mix. It's great, it's dark, it's light. You are a fan of many of these bands so you might as well get it. - Jon Whitney
cubismo grafico, "tout!"
Cubismo Grafico is a Japanese outfit doing lounge music with loads of French vocals. Released in 1999, this disc is warm album to listen while driving around slowly through the city on a hot day with the windows rolled down. Pretty vocals, drum machines playing sambas, Brazilian-esque acoustic guitars, chimes of vibes or marimbas make it dreamy and cheery. Yippee. I feel like that sloth getting his groove thing on from the old Far Side comic. I don't know what it is about Japanese lounge fans but there's a pretty girl on the front, loads of female vocals but only a picture of a Japenese guy on the inside. Fantastic Plastic what? Anyhow it's far better than this year's (not-so) Fantastic Plastic release and you don't own it. Get it and bring it to the beach with you. - Jon Whitney
sukia, "Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo"
Fucked-up electronic modern exotica, with odd samples, sampled and electronic drums, random twitters, aircraft sounds, off-key noises and vocals, bizarre collage artwork, and a contribution with the Dust Brothers. It's got sitars mixed with 60s-era spy music sounding stuff, crossed with vocal samples about food or sado-masochism. This is easily what Add N to (X) would be sound like if they were as cool as they pretend to be. It was released in 1996 by the Dust Bros' Nickel Bag label out of Los Angeles and Mo Wax in the UK. I found it used and picked it up on a recommendation. It's rather weird in parts but at every point, it's quite creative and incredibly enjoyable. Half of Sukia is two guys named Craig and Ross, now known as DJ Me DJ You with records on Emperor Norton. The album's titled was inspired by a Mexican comic book about a lesbian vampire and her well-hung cohort, Gary Supermacho. Make sense now? - Jon Whitney
So while there's this movie out now called "the Songcatcher" by some lady who found it necessary to exploit music of the Appalacians, this CD does a good job of exploiting Cambodian rock music. It's a 70-minute 22-song collection of late 60s/early 70s pop songs brought back from this guy's trip to Cambodia. Whatta trip it is - these songs (which imitate popular western-world music of the late 60s) sound like that've aged much better than stuff that would imitate popular music of today. There's absolutely no track listing, however, no idea who's doing what, but some record label in NYC seems to be making money off of it. No, it's really fun, but completely sketchy. - Jon Whitney
kid 606 (remixed), "p.s. you love me"
While we patiently await another full-lengther from 606, the material from the Mille Plateaux release from last year gets treated on this fun disc. While it's not as campy as his latest live experiences where 606 butchers Missy Elliot or the "Sandwiches" song, it is entertaining with contributions from Matmos (originally on the Twirl EP) who remix a photo shoot/interview with Miguel himself. Atom TM's contribution is a goofy butt-shaker, Pan American patient piece sounds like upbeat Pan American stuff, Twerk is fucking cool and I hope to get their new album soon, and the rest (which even include some 606 tweaks) have much more personality than the original album in its original form. 606 has probably gained more respect in the artful critic circle with his more introspective releases but it's really incredible to hear him let loose. - Jon Whitney
twilight circus, "volcanic dub"
If you like dub and own no Twilight Circus then you're a fucking tool. Ryan Moore has delivered an astounding number of albums over the last few years exploring the sound of old school (late 70s/early 80s) organic instrumental dub. This is the real shit, not dub-style glitchy laptop stuff, but a real person playing the drums, bass, guitar and organ. While the albums don't evolve in style, Moore is most certainly steadily evolving in the production and writing aspects. Volcanic Dub is 12 new dub tunes, 45 minutes of bliss. This edition is less a make-out album as the other releases but is no less wonderful. It's indeed volcanic, baby. - Jon Whitney