a weekly digest from the staff and contributors of brainwashed
V06I48 - 12072003
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voting continues through the snow
The Brainwashed Best of 2003 Readers Poll is continuing on! The response has been incredible so far and we thank everybody who has voted seriously. You're the readers, it's your say. Have a look at the extensive ballot, scroll through to make sure you've seen all the choices for each category and make your three choices (five for the Album of the Year category). Results will be posted the first week of 2004. Voting closes on January 1st.
mbm in dub
Coming January 27th, the newest production from Meat Beat Manifesto
on two discrete formats: CD and 5.1. Surround Sound DVD. Taking the starting point and cues from several of the songs on last year's R.U.O.K? album, ...In Dub and ...In Dub 5.1 Surround DVD More details of each release is located at the web site and sound samples are soon to follow. Additionally, MBM's Jack Dangers is one of several artists asked to create original music to the upcoming feature length documentary, MOOG that
explores the revolutionary world of electronic musical instrument pioneer Robert Moog. The Meat Beat track, "Unavailable Memory" will also accompany the film's trailer! A theatrical and soundtrack release are planned for Summer 2004. www.moogmovie.com
Jonathan Coleclough · Bass Communion · Colin Potter
Coleclough and Potter's remix 'Drugged IV' appeared on the first Bass
Communion remix CD in early 2003. But they recorded far more material.
This new release includes much of that music, along with a Bass Communion mix
of some of Coleclough and Potter's material. The double CD is out this month on Colin Potter's ICR label and is limited to 500 copies. http://www.icstudio.co.uk
SOME NEWS FROM EDDY GRANT'S FRONTLINE
On the latest revision of the V/Vm web site, there is a new competition to win V/Vm's 36 inches of Relax, news about all new and upcoming releases (something like 13 things right now), along with an MP3 sampler of all of the new releases free to download and
distribute! 11 tracks taken from new releases have been encoded at a very high format which "makes those other labels who use real audio (like does anybody listen to this shit and ever wonder,,, why ??) seem shit and dull.//" quoteth Daisy, the V/Vm cow.
a little annie christmas greeting
Annie's 2003 Xmas Greeting includes guest appearances by brainwashed designer Daniel McKernan and Annie's pianist extrordinare Paul Wallfisch. In addition, the music section of her web site has been expanded to include sound samples and images from her number of collaborative releases with other artists and bands.
new nww news
Steven Stapleton is on a hunt for female rap artists, and he knows what he's looking for. He's interested in obscure underground American independent label releases from the mid-late 1990s-present. These are not the Missy Elliots and Lil' Kims of the world, no, he wants stuff from the cheap $1 bins in urban used record pits. Only selections with the "PARENTAL ADVISORY" are desirable. People who come across some of these things are encouraged to send them to Steve at:
London WC1N 3XX
Include a return address and you may be compensated for your services with some personal gifts or editions (there are no promises). In other news, United Dairies has announced the reissue of Drunk with the Old Man of the Mountains. This "facsimile edition" is limited to only 555 copies and pressed on 180g vinyl record, with a full color, embossed and spot varnished sleeve with a full color insert printed on matt art paper. And furthermore, artwork by Steven Stapleton is scheduled to show at Optic Nerve Arts (ONA) on 1829 NE Alberta Suite 11 in Portland, Oregon. The public are welcome on Saturday, December 13th, from 7PM - 10PM. This show is presented by Beta-lactam Ring Records & The Planet Gallery. Visit www.blrrecords.com for more information or phone 503.827.4142. (Please note that Steve will not be in attendance for this event.)
the brain bids farewell to jennicam
Jennicam.com is closing its doors on December 31st, 2003. Jennicam.com wasn't just your typical smut, but, Jenni (Jennifer Ringley) is a true Internet Pioneer. She was one of (if not) the first to have an entire web site dedicated to the 24 hour broadcasting of her personal life and personal room. Sure, reality TV existed but not the Big Brother type shows, and Jenni was very open and gave many a glimpse of her at every stage of dress, undress, and intimacy. Her popularity earned her spots on television talk shows, including being a panel member of Politically Incorrect! While there has never been any direct relation between members of either ours or her site, we are somewhat connected, as Jennicam.com launched in April of 1996, the same exact month (in fact, only two days before) Brainwashed.com went online - a time when new URLs weren't popping up by the millions! Jenni, you'll be missed.
Wolf Eyes and Black Dice
Wolf Eyes and Hanson Records have claimed to be a "celebration of middle fingers," however, we have found them to be some of the most sincere musicians today. Both in conversation, with Howard Stelzer of Intransitive and Jon Whitney, and in their musical output, which is true to the do-it-yourself aesthetic in nearly every interpretation of the term. Thanks to Nate Young and Aaron Dilloway for performing in the unfortunate absence of third member, John Olson. The band, captured at Twisted Village due to a last minute club fuckup, probably ended up making more from kind specator donations and merch sales, while those in attendance happily avoided bar prices.
Black Dice has been releasing various singles and EPs for a few years, but with the recent releases on DFA and Fat-Cat, they have been gaining more worldwide attention to their brand of sound excursions. We sat down with the two brothers Eric and Bjorn for some quality time to find out their take on rock music, noise, machines, the possibility of appearing at next year's RE: TG event, and other things. While they have often worked and played with Wolf Eyes, these two shows were on different nights in different places.
Filmed August 28th, 2003 and September 29th, 2003 at Twisted Village and TT the Bear's.
21 Minutes, Quicktime Streaming Video
23 Minutes, Quicktime Streaming Video
- A current web browser
- A modern computer
- The latest quicktime plugin for streaming media (hint: use the latest Netscape if other browsers aren't working)
- A fast connection
- A willingness to learn
If you see a blank window without anything streaming, don't complain to us. You don't have the latest version of Quicktime for streaming media. Go download it. It's free.
|MUSIC IN REVIEW|
Lab Rat XL, "Mice or Cyborg"
My youth often betrays me when it comes to discussing pioneering electronic acts. While some of our readers have been around since the days of true Aphex acid or even when Kraftwerk automated its first bleep, I admittedly have come into this much much later. That being said, I did not discover Drexciya until perhaps a year or so ago when my music geekery led me to purchase a brand new copy of the mysterious entity's Harnessed the Storm album on Tresor. I was immediately enthralled by the soaking wet machine funk bubbling out of my speakers, a style that I soon learned was their trademark sound. Since then, I have made it a point to keep up with their output (as Drexciya, Transllusion, Shifted Phases, The Other People Place, etc.) as best I could. In keeping with their devotion to the notion of faceless techno, the project's final album (R.I.P. James Stinson) has been recorded under the Lab Rat XL moniker and serves as a fitting, albeit too short, epitaph for the project. Clocking in at just over thirty-five minutes, Mice or Cyborg contains all of the essential elements for a Drexciyan release: clicktastic percussion, gritty snares, awkward melodies, and unhealthy doses of B-A-S-S. The first of six tracks, "Lab Rat 1" sets the tone of this mini-album with playful keyboard noodling and arpeggiation over a quirky electro groove. "Lab Rat 2" takes more of a techno/tech-house approach with thumping 4-to-the-floor drum patterns, spacey synth washes, and a dirty repetitious bassline. A vocal snippet comes in just before the three minute mark and reappears semi-regularly in varying states of mutation. Of the remaining songs, "Lab Rat 4" stands out, hovering somewhere in the former underwater dwellers' new star system home base. Interplanetary rumbles and gurgling radiowave transmissions evolve into musical elements supported by a warped breakbeat, created a dark masterpiece and a landmark in the Drexciyan catalog. The skeletal closer "Lab Rat 6" is a last gasp of electronic chanting that evokes some near-spiritual qualities due to the context of this release, existing as an apparently incomplete take from a group whose output has regretably ended far too soon. I only wish I had discovered Drexciya sooner, but there is no time for me to dwell as Life Is Fast Ending. - Gary Suarez
David Jackman, "Up From Zero"
The things that I love about Up From Zero might be the same things that drive other people crazy. Its dated-ness is its most apparant (and for me, most immediately enjoyable) quality. The CD is a reissue of a cassette that Organum's David Jackman recorded and (barely) released in 1982, and it bears all the hallmarks of a 1982 tape. Back then, the network for trading cassettes was just getting started, industrial music was still very much happening (though it referred to Throbbing Gristle, not Wax Trax disco), and there was no such thing as digital recording. The music on Up From Zero then, sounds very classically industrial at times, with grimy beats looped into insistent rhythms. A car crash makes an appearance, also looped and repeated; if Jackman was not already familiar with G.X. Jupitter-Larsen's work as the Haters in 1982, a common interest is apparant here. Philip Sanderson of Storm Bugs even makes an appearance on the final track, contributing a cello-like, gritty drone. Ears accustomed to modern laptop sterility may be shocked by glorious tape delay and flange which smothers most of the sounds here in a greasy sheen, but that's healthy. There is a palpable sense of experimentation and play here that will shine through the transparant technology. I'm thrilled that Robot decided to make this recording, possibly the most fun of Jackman's oevre, available on a wider scale. - Howard Stelzer
Colin Potter, "See"
The power of drone music does have its limits. It can almost be divided up into two catergories: listen closely and try not to listen too much at all. The second variety is fine and good, but it's that first kind of drone, the kind that is intriguing enough to make me listen to every second and every pulse that I adore. The sounds could be coming from the walls, undulating and cascading down long white, medical hallways. Fluorescent lights dot the ceiling of an otherwise perfectly homogenous environment. Then the wind blasts and nearly suffocates anything unfortunate enough to be wherever this place is: it's so inviting and yet there's a sensation, just a bit of hair standing up on the back of my neck, that something is wrong. Maybe I'm walking in circles, maybe this almost accordian-buzz has made me dizzy and I've become directionless. The sounds and intensity come in waves and twenty-three minutes of beauty passes in only moments. The second movement feels like a scene suspended in the void of space; it is marked with strange nuances and choral bellows. The bells ring and then everything feels like either a funeral or a photograph so remarkable and shocking that it inspires a moment of stillness. Colin Potter seems to have a flirtatious relationship with melody on this release, many sections of each of the three long pieces included here glimmer and pour forward in nearly sacred harmony. And sacred is possibly the best word that can be employed: the incredible architecture of cathedrals and the mystery of everything that is powerful, secret, and holy bleeds out many portions of See. The final track has a mystical quality to it, in particular. The sound of cymbals, or perhaps it's wind chimes, dragging over eachother and ringing softly and the repeated keyboard melody create a sanctuary from everything out there. There is a tension to be felt everywhere on this release, but there is also a hint of finality, a final and forceful breath, that lays everything to rest in total agreement. - Lucas Schleicher
The melodic electronic music that the duo of Ed Handley and Andy Turner have been churning out since the project's formal formation has always been consistently unremarkable. Plaid's formula for composition contains a tragic flaw, where despite the effort that goes into composition the majority of their tracks never seem to contain any memorable quality. Their entire catalog overflows with interesting starts and ultimately poor executions. Their previous full-length disc for Warp (2001's Double Figure) continued the band's triumphant legacy of blah, and so naturally my skepticism was to be expected with Spokes. Declared in true record label press release style as "a return in mood... to some of their earlier work in the 90s as The Black Dog", Plaid's latest offering brings the listener on a (somewhat) dark and boring journey that veers nowhere near the excellence of their prior band's recordings. Maintaining the sense of melody once characterized by contemporaries Autechre while devoid of that groups's once-engaging finesse, the first half of the album drifts along rather pleasantly yet uneventfully. The opener, "Even Springs", begins with some gorgeous twinkling sounds accented with wailing vocals that continue for some time until a bland IDM beat alters the mood and takes away from the track's beauty. "Upona" offers some initial promise as well with soft rhythmic clicks and some slick acid bass lines. Again, Plaid manage to spoil things by introducing tired skittery drum programming that would have sounded exciting back in the mid-nineties. As an aside, perhaps I should use this opportunity to make a formal plea to the electronic music community for a moratorium on drill n bass altogether, as the sound has clearly stagnated on the shelf far past its shelf date. Or not. The seventh track, entitled "Marry", was the first (and sadly the last) on this collection that truly grabbed my attention and held it throughout its course. Creepy and emotive, the moaning ambient introduction leads into a pleasantly straightforward jungle/techstep beat topped off with sparse piano playing and analog flourishes. This may very well be the best Plaid track ever written, which is not saying all that much for the project. While I cannot recommend this album for anyone who doesn't already enjoy Plaid, especially on the basis of one great song, I have to concede that the number of engaging intros and outros on the tracks tend to redeem the project on the whole. (A backhanded compliment if there ever was one...) - Gary Suarez
Howard Stelzer & Jason Talbot, "Four Sides"
Crippled Intellect Productions
When I last heard from Stelzer and Talbot they had just released their latest full-length, Songs, to much acclaim and a greater amount of cushy humor and flimsy intellectualizing about album's name. Unlike Derek Bailey's approach on his Ballads record, Stelzer and Talbot did not attempt to bend their own style of improvisation, namely the free-manipulation of turntable and tape decks, around traditional song-forms. Instead, the assertion was pretty clear: the sometimes brutal and often alien fragments herein are songs, and as such they are each to be approached as one would a song. Challenging the audience's assumptions about what makes a song, even questioning whether or not something traditionally used as a playback device can become an instrument are not new practices by any means. However, something about the innocence, the practicality, or the simple, "stated" nature of its title made Songs a unique and powerful disc. The music itself, thankfully plays a big part in Songs' strange statement. Though the quality and range of sounds the duo is able to wrest from their arcane devices are staggering, and the abrupt start-and-stop of the pacing rather disorienting, a human element enters into the sound as well. Swift tape skips and decelerations are audible amid the clutter, and rudimentary rhythms often hammered out, providing careful reminders of medium and artifice, the man behind the machine. The listener's knowledge of the limited, even primitive origins of the music likewise contributes to the questions it posits. Don't these "songs" adhere, by nature of their origins, more closely to the word's suggestion of elemental, basic forms than, say, a glossy, studio-produced top-forty hit? Four Sides is a beautiful continuation of a dialogue that begins with Songs. The seven-song, double 7" release, in format alone, amplifies the quiet confrontation of its predecessor. The process of placing the needle and flipping the records becomes part of the listening experience, commanding a greater attention to the songs themselves, and a more involved interaction with the medium, which the music simultaneously exploits. The listener is contantly reminded of a self-willed dependence on an archaic machine, while at the same time exposed to the same machine's exotic inner landscape. This landscape remains the true focus of the Four Sides, and cannot be watered down by conceptual politics. Stelzer and Talbot know they are not the first to give rise to these issues, and they show it by creating music that is tactile, exuberant, and challenging on its own terms. The deadpan title and nostalgic photos that cover these four sides introduce perfectly uncalculating music, music that dodges questions like "Why has this not been done before?" to ask modestly, "Why isn't everyone doing this?"
- Andrew Culler
Atmosphere, "Seven's Travels"
I had never really thought of "travel-anecdote songs" as a particular sub-category of music before, but it only makes sense that funny little incidents or observations on the road would make for good material. Atmosphere co-conspirators Slug and Ant apparently decided to make an entire record about what happens when you go on tour, and it largely makes me want to pile a couple of friends into a van and take off to... wherever for a couple of months. Better yet, as a collection of "sensitive, screwed-up musician songs", it also avoids the trap of being endlessly glum or whiny, and instead switches gears (often within a single track) from sad to funny to self-deprecating to manic to bouncy, and then back again. It's also terrible bedtime music: I can't fall asleep to it, which isn't what I've come to expect from 70-minute albums. There are only a couple of songs that drag near the very end, which makes the pretty, resigned closing number (unless you count the obligatory hidden track), "Always Coming Back Home To You", seem that much more perfect. After an album's worth of stories about the people and places that make up a trip around the States, this one song manages to capture all of the feelings of calm, sadness, resignation, and contentment that come out of realizing that you're bound to end up back at the place you had to leave eventually, and that's a pretty mature accomplishment for some punk-ass hip-hop kids. - Taylor McLaren
The Last Visible Dog
Miminokoto are a relatively new band in the Tokyo scene of leftfield post-Les Rallizes Denudes rock groups that are inspired by, or are in some way connected to, Keiji Haino or Asahito Nanjo's High Rise. Their music is more earthbound than that of those two characters, but is also stranger in its way. Miminokoto's strangeness wastes no time in announcing its presence, though its precise character is somewhat elusive. It took me many listens before I could discern what it was about this band that was so striking to me. Something clearly seems amiss as singer/guitarist Masami Kawaguchi peels through the opening slashes of "Tottemo," a tune which in no way telegraphs what direction it might be headed in. But amiss something must be, as the typically rock-like pieces make thier presence felt just long enough to fall away and leave a skeleton of a rock song hanging in its place. The players' looseness combines with the songs' dramatic scorch to give even the relatively mellow ballads a stirring tension. In Miminokoto's songs, empty spaces gape in between notes, which are filled instead with an implaceable (yet invigorating and appropriate) awkwardness and melancholy.
Kawaguchi's white-hot guitar solos are half the reason to hear this album. His instrument sounds alternately like the angular slash of Gang of Four, complete with missing notes which disorient a song's sense of forward-propulsion, and like Mizutani Takashi of Les Rallizes Denudes' ceiling-scorching fuzz. When he steps on that distortion pedal, he comes in at twice the volume of the rest of the band and obliterates all other sound. The rest of the music's pieces don't fit comfortably together, with bass and drums (played by Takuya Nishimura and Koji Shimura, formerly of High Rise, White Heaven, Che-Shizu, Fushitsisha, and every other band in my record collection) ducking below and weaving around the guitar and voice. The tunes are charged and unstable, sounding as if they are either about to break apart or else are at the edge of never starting in the first place. Kawaguchi's distinctive voice hardly seems to land on a melody, groaning in the places where singing should go. It's a miracle that Miminokoto pulls this off, but they sure do. They sound at places like a bleary Trapdoor Fucking Exit-era Dead C., but then along comes a muscular riff that attempts to pull the music off the floor, only to waver around in fractured noise, keeping itself upright by leaning heavily on a table. Even the ballads threaten to fall to dust, and half-asleep improvised clutter gathers in messy clumps. "Live" is a startling album, leaving me to wonder about its strangeness for days afterward. - Howard Stelzer
Small Life Form, "One"
The fractal image that appears on the packaging thankfully does not belie the music that can be found within, as Brian John Mitchell finally releases his debut drone release as Small Life Form. The head of Silber Media and sometimes man of Remora, Mitchell has been slaving at the record for a reported five years, striving to somehow bring to life the noises he heard in his head, and not relenting until he had achieved the accurate representation. One, then, is an auspicious debut, as hopefully Mitchell can reproduce the steps to bring this kind of music forth again. If not, this album would almost be statement enough. The drones and dirges Small Life Form creates are swelling with a full, warm tone that evokes images of birth and death almost simultaneously, as though one were viewing an entire life in the time the track has to play. Sometimes the sound resulting from the use of organ, percussion, melodica, vocals, and horns is indistinguishable: it is impossible to pick out one element from the rest. This induces a feeling of isolation and fear, the unknown you can't pick out, even though the simple titles of the track give the more core component away. Elsewhere, the familiarity of a horn sound or organ drew me in, expecting more of the same, only to expose me to far more, and the pulses soothe and excite at once. Gradual introduction of other sounds was also a real plus, and at every moment I felt welcome and invited. Sounds are played out to their natural end, adding a discombobulated, uneven footing. A part of one track is almost exactly like the other parts, but when something new creeps in it changes the landscape completely. Some tracks may go on too long, but it is of little consequence: One is a fine achievement and I hope to hear more sooner than five years from now. - Rob Devlin
Jean Grae, "The Bootleg of the Bootleg EP"
"45 MINUTES OF HIDDEN BOOTLEG MATERIAL!" (or something really close to it) is what the sticker on the shrink-wrap says. Okay, so it's more like 41 minutes (the 45-minute track includes a four-minute number that is clearly identified on the back cover and the usual hidden-track silence), and it's not exactly hidden (see last comment), and I don't even know if this stuff has ever been bootlegged before, but when a 10-dollar "EP" is longer than half of the albums that I've heard this year, it's hard to complain. Grae's appearances with Diverse or Misters Len or Lif should give a pretty good idea of what to expect here: acid backlash vocals, relationships that just don't work out, and a sullen refusal to play up to the usual rapper stereotypes. No tits will be flashed, no gatts will be waved, no keys will be sold, thank you, where are my cigarettes? The music is low on bombast, giving Grae and her guest vocalists room to move around and bare their teeth without being distracted by samples or clever scratching; the narratives range from hard-luck stories and melodramatic contract-killer fantasies to potty-mouthed tirades against whoever happens to be within arm's reach. It won't put a smile on the face and a song in the heart, but 16 solid songs for ten bucks: what the hell else do you want? - Taylor McLaren
PHILLIP WESTERN, "WORLDS END"
Phillip Western is probably best known for his work since 1995 with Cevin Key in Download and Plateau but he has also simultaneously nurtured a burgeoning solo career. Worlds End follows in the footsteps of 1998's The Escapist and 2000's Dark Features with two more discs. There's an ethereal quality to nearly all of Western's work whether electronic, non or both. He seems to be playing guitar, bass and drums as much as programming these days and the vibe is as much Spiritualized as it is Download. This time he foregoes his own vocals, which mucked up Dark Features a bit, in favor of just samples or vocals by a few others. Disc one pumps out the familiar blurry-eyed, body movin' techno of past projects though suitable guitar licks and chordal textures pepper or drive many tracks. Things get positively hectic in "The Gangs" and "Tuesday Died Jack," the latter's schizophrenic rhythm backdrop for an equally manic monologue that sounds a heck of a lot like Spud from "Trainspotting." The second half of disc one is loaded with the best tracks. "White People" goes in the opposite direction, slowing things down to a lovely dub-like crawl. "The Truth" is truly the masterstroke. By the second minute everything coalesces to perfection: the catchy groove, the synthetic and six string flourishes and Leigh Forslund's subdued vocal. If there were any justice in this world, this song would be all over the radio and everyone would be bobbing their head to it. A Western album isn't complete without unexpected weirdness, so there's the spoken word tale in "The Growers" and the spoken "the penis" loop of "The Penis." The eight minute title track is the grand finale and it crescendos with swirling guitar notes and cymbal laden drums, followed by a brief "weapons of mass hallucination" chorus. That's more than enough but wait, there's more! Disc two adds over 72 minutes of just ambient bliss divided into two suites: "Asleep" and "Awake." Subtle tones, drones and guitar/bass notes make up the gentle drift of both, "Asleep" approaching perfection while "Awake" is a little more obtrusive and sample saturated. Western's solo work has simply been more rewarding for me than the hit and miss of recent Download and Plateau. For now Worlds End is only available from ColourSpeaks.com. - Mark Weddle
Swollen Members, "Heavy"
Swollen Members have always been a bit of a guilty pleasure, with their aggressive tracks and agile lyrical delivery being at least partially undermined by dorky Dungeons & Dragons lyrics that dredge up embarrassing memories of junior high school. Now, a couple of Juno awards and lots of MuchMusic airtime into their career, they've gone to another juvenile extreme by cribbing the model-fucking, Cristal-sipping debauchery vibe of the worst Death Row productions and rounding it out with squirty techno noises, Moka Only's boy-band R&B vocals, and prank phone calls to pizzerias in between songs. S&M has become your dumb kid brother's favourite hip-hop act.
That said, the production here is impressive: their trademark spare instrumental samples still sound great, adding sly flamenco guitar and vaudeville piano accents to the rave-up synths and requisite thumpy 4/4 beats, and the vocals only add to the dancefloor momentum. It also ends on a pair of terrific club tracks that don't involve cringe-inducing lines about blowjobs, so if you can get over the empty-headedness of it all (and the number of crowd-surfing fans at their shows who are well under the legal drinking age), go to town... there's far worse throwback entertainment out there. - Taylor McLaren
VitaminsForYou, "I'm Sorry Forever and For Always"
The beautifully unique package for I'm Sorry Forever and For Always looks a bit like a matchbook stitched together from a collection of old photos, and this visual metaphor aptly reveals the album's general tone. These are songs about forgiveness, redemption, and reflection on things that may have been lost like the moments captured in fuzzy old photos. Vitaminsforyou constructs a tight, organic and cleanly produced album of pop-leaning tracks that fit perfectly into the mold of bedroom electronic music that is creeping out of melancholy laptops and dorm rooms everywhere these days. Albums like this should be required listening for bedroom pop producers who want to capture the intimacy of lo-fi recording. While the vocals usually sound as if they could have been sung through a telephone receiver, they are nicely offset by more professional sounding beats, bass, and recorded instruments which at least let me know that the squeaky quality of the dirtier sounds is intentional. It takes a fine balancing act to keep the polished sounds from overwhelming the personal charm, or to keep the heart-on-a-sleeve quality of the subjects from turning the production into something that sounds like it's getting in the way of the songs. For the most part, I'm Sorry Forever and For Always rides on the good side of that line by abstacting the emotions and experiences that the songs are about into lost field recordings, fragments of voice and faintly looping clicks. Unfortunately, when the lyrics arrive in earnest, the beauty of abstracted memories is crushed by the all-too-concrete images and situations that direct words describe. Some songs slip into the kind of sentimentality that the nation of emo is born from, but for the most part the songs are warm, cozy snapshots that say all that needs to be said without a narrator. Vitaminsforyou says the most when he is saying the least, making I'm Sorry Forever and For Always an aural scrapbook worth thumbing through. - Matthew Jeanes
I am Robot and Proud, "Grace Days"
The music of Montreal's I am Robot and Proud only appears like dismissable, top-heavy IDM dabble at first glance. Grace Days is deceptively charming, baiting its listener with compact toy melodies that anywhere else would serve as warning for the thin, repetitious, and indulgent music to follow. Instead, lone robot Shaw-Han Liem proves that he's a real master at assembling complex and sweetly melodic structures from the most rudimentary of sonic material. His moniker does not deceive, as most of the sounds employed are cutely robotic, warm analog noises neatly layered and instantly catchy, but equally agile and quickly modified. No two songs sound alike, though all bear the mark of an unabashed and irreducable, if not quite unique, melodic sensibility. A worthy comparison would be the similarly self-classified robotic pop of Solvent, but I am Robot works on an even more supple, inviting plane, pushing any of cooler electro leanings that might have turned up on his first record, 20's Catch, gently to the side. I am still discovering new moods and hidden treasures in Grace Days; at just under 40 minutes, it is a surprisingly effective therapeutic tool, sure to be spun frequently as long as the gray skies loom. - Andrew Culler
Richard Chartier, "Archival 1991"
Chartier seems to be of a new vangard of minimalist artists intent on making music as stark and blankly atmospheric as the visual art created to accompany it. Take a look at the sleeves he designed for several discs on the Intransitive label. It's like he's taking Matisse's doctrine of "art as calming armchair" and altering it to read "art as empty tile floor." Previous works on 12k and Line, the label founded by Chartier and Taylor Deupree, see the former exploring unique, if uninviting combinations of barely-audible bass tones, long stretches of silence, and bits of sharp glitch that stand out like signposts on a desert horizon. At least artists like Nerve Net Noise (for whom Chartier designed an Intransitive sleeve) lend a certain cheekiness to their otherwise inhuman sound. Until now, listening to Chartier's music has been like witnessing the last wheeze of a city's machines before blackout, an arresting experience to be sure, but only if you can summon the right mood. Lacking the necessary half-bottle of codeine, one might check out Archival 1991, a recently recorded, 45-min. piece using two of Chartier's 1991 synthesizer compositions as sound sources. The result is a surprisingly complex and emotionally charged track, modelled around one very rich, though quite unsettling drone. It's very hard to believe that such a multi-faceted, truly cavernous sound came from synths alone. A more believable scenario would place Chartier in a wind tunnel or an abandoned hangar, especially as the mass is modulated and twisted at what feels like a more natural or organic discretion. This work may not be the artist's most accessible to date, but it is certainly the least liable to fall to the background. Each time I listen I feel transported to a different place; though often anxious and always non-discript, these spaces exist and are worthy of praise.
- Andrew Culler
Dead Low Tide
On "White Flag" from Dead Low Tide's debut album, vocalist Spencer Moody sings "So I'm going to button my lip, and I'm going to keep my mouth shut." Often, while listening to the record, I wish he had meant it, as his voice is often the only detracting factor for me. The band was formed from the ashes of greatness: ex-members of Enemymine and Murder City Devils, Mike Kunka and Moody form the core for some very capable musicians in Nate Manny and Coady Willis to join. The music is top-notch, with intricate melodies and the right mix of passion and sense to know where the rises and falls should be. This all makes it even more troubling when the vocals seem so terribly off from the rest of what is going on. Take the sixth track, "Lazer Lazer Lazer Love": the music is slower, somber even, with an entrancing weight carrying it that affects real emotion, heartfelt and steady. Then the voice comes in and I want to turn it off rather than hear it ruin what I already liked so much. Obviously it is a conscious choice, which is the other troubling aspect for me. Why anyone would want something so incongruous to enter their otherwise stable and honorable house is beyond me. Sometimes it's not so terrible, like on the album's opener, and the lyrics reflect a certain amount of pain. Unfortunately, another type of pain is then inflicted by the vocals. I tried, I swear, but I just couldn't get past it. I wish them well, and their aforementioned histories should carry this act for at least a few albums. I just wish they'd try a little harder to reign the vocal performance in so that it doesn't drive the ears away. - Rob Devlin
We know that our music picks may be somewhat challenging to find, which is why we have a community section which can be used to obtain nearly everything available on this site.
This is simply this week's highlights from the NEW RELEASES provided by Greg and Feedback Monitor.
WEEK OF DECEMBER 7 - DECEMBER 13
Client - Here And Now 12"/CDEP (Toast Hawaii/Mute, UK)
Cyclobe - Pathfinder 7" [limited to 100 copies on white vinyl & 100 on black vinyl] (Klanggalerie, Austria)
DBX [Daniel Bell] - Blip, Blurp, Bleep 12" (Logistic, France)
Ben Nevile - Petid 12" [with Losoul mixes] (Telegraph/Logistic, France)
Musique Concrete Ensemble - Dissolution Tapes CD [remixes by Cornucopia, Alexei Borisov, Anton Nikkila, Freiband, Ultra Milkmaids, Violet, Jacob Kirkegaard, Maja Ratkje, Kotra, Dead Letters, Andrey Kiritchenko, Das Torpedoes, Michael Gendreau, R.R. Habarc, Francisco Lopez, Rechord and Fe-Mail] (Zeromoon, US)
Colin Potter - Ten Drills 7" [limited to 100 copies] (Klanggalerie, Austria)
Pretty Girls Make Graves - All Medicated Geniuses 7"/CDEP (Matador Europe, UK)
$tinkworx - Los Gatos Lloros 12" (Delsin, The Netherlands)
Various - Domo Arigato CD3" [with Temper, Books On Tape, Phasmid, Self-Service, Ugliness Man, The Blameshifter, Goodnight Streetlight, Mark Spybey, Rapoon, Gridlock, Tinkertoy - available only to Piehead Records series subscribers] (Piehead, Canada)
For a more detailed schedule stretching into the future, please check out the page,
since release dates can and will often change.
Results from last poll:
|LINK OF THE WEEK|
tanz mit felines
One of the videos getting a number of votes this year happens to be the most recent single from Slovenian art warriors Laibach: "Tanz Mit Laibach." Well, we here have finally found a place where it can be watched and enjoyed online! http://www.rathergood.com/laibach/
GEMM: Expecting the real deal? Received a bootleg instead? You're a nuisance! Don't call here anymore!
I saw Tim Buckley perform a song solo with 12-string guitar on an
episode of The Monkees, which, especially coming at the end of their
television comedy series, was a little bit quietly devastating. You may
have had those record collector moments where we discover a small, new
vista to explore. And so I read up on who this guy was, what he had
done, and for how long. I was able easily to locate several of his
albums reissued on CD for 6 to 10 dollars each, and on the whole have
liked them a lot. Due to whatever mysterious and perverse twist of
record company logic, his album Starsailor, which by most accounts would
be a good place to start, is out of print, and copies change hands at a
Recently I bought a copy of Starsailor by Tim Buckley on CD through
GEMM. The listing said it was a U.S. CD. It was not priced as high as
other listings on GEMM, and other of the usual locations. I have no
idea how quickly a copy is snatched up at the middle range of the prices
I have seen. It looked to me like this copy was still priced at a
premium, but priced to move. When I received it, it was a Russian CD-R
sound as expected for the period, excellent printing, but in any
event not a U.S. CD as advertised, and surely not valued at the price I
I registered a complaint with the seller and with GEMM, and demanded a
refund. If I had wanted to obtain a Russian copy, in that case I would
have been able to buy from a Russian seller. I have bought a few CDs
and DVDs from Russia that are entirely legitimate and fully authorized.
Coil, for one, released 2 compilation CDs specifically for the Russian
market. I could give other examples. Russian editions from Western
artists may be authorized. Or they may not. Frankly I have no idea
whether the Russian company was authorized to distribute a limited
edition of Starsailor in their territory. If they were not authorized,
then I have no idea what recourse the copyright holders have in Russia.
That is not my concern. But what I do know is the CD I ordered was
listed as a U.S. edition, and it was instead a professionally-made CD-R
The seller and I had staked out our negotiating positions. The seller
maintained to me and to GEMM that based on the price, I ought to have
known the CD was not the U.S. version. The seller also claimed they did
not intend to advertise it as a U.S. disc. And the seller said it was
my mistake, so it would be my responsibility to pay return shipping, and
they would issue a refund after they got the CD back. I figured at that
point I would be out even more money for registered postage overseas,
with no guarantee to get a refund anyway. What we settled was that I
was entitled to a refund, and due to the high cost of shipping relative
to the actual value of the Russian CD, I should just keep the damn thing
and say the transaction finally was OK. The whole deal was still fishy,
but I decided to let it go. The seller gave a refund through GEMM, and
I thought that was that.
A representative at GEMM, however, stepped in to say the matter was not
in our hands. GEMM then reinitiated the refund (the same refund again,
and only one), and said I needed to send the disc to them and not to the
seller. And the rep said if I did not send the disc to GEMM, they would
refuse to honor my orders and advise sellers not to do business with me.
I told GEMM I no longer needed their help on this transaction, as my
complaint had brought resolution, and their threats were not helpful.
A side effect is GEMM was made aware that at least one title is
available through their site in a Russian edition that the GEMM rep
clearly believes is a bootleg that should not be sold through their
site. The GEMM rep was quite insistent that they will not tolerate sale
of bootlegs, CD-Rs, etc. through their site. If that were the case,
then basic follow-up from GEMM would have shown at least two listings of
Starsailor are still on their website, clearly advertised by the sellers
as a Russian or Eastern European version, the sale of which GEMM
supposedly will not tolerate. It seems as if what GEMM really won't
tolerate are complaints that get in the way of them taking 15% of the
money from those sales.
The upshot is GEMM says they will no longer honor any of my orders
because I was a nuisance. They would not accept my calls for comment or
respond to my email queries. - Mark Kolmar
the brain's dirty secret
Subject: the brain
just fyi, that ipodsdirtysecret video is no longer valid.
Such is life.
That "iPod's Dirty Little Secret" ad is complete bullshit.
First of all, Apple has an official battery replacement program for like ~90
Second of all, you can get a third party battery replacement for like 50-60
Those wankers just wanted to get some attention. They've been told about
the program by tons of people and won't alter the page to point people
towards the replacements.
We thought it was interesting. People have asked us directly "is this true?" and we simply reply with "phone Apple's tech support yourself."
Subject: nww's automating
I have a questions regarding the Digipack re-issue of the Nurse With Wound CD
"Automating Volume 1".
The item description states that the CD is a "digipack with
insert". I bought this CD from an online seller and received it without any
insert. The seller claims that this CD has no insert or booklet or whatever.
Please let me know which is correct.
There was a small insert, it was the size of a CD booklet but it wasn't a booklet.
Subject: brainwashed radio
just wanted to thank you for the stream broadcasting, i listen in mexico city,
lot of great stuff otherwise unavailable down here. hope this will go on for a
long time !
So do we.
I actually like this year's poll because it's reminded me of some of the releases this year I have forgotten. Matt Elliott, for example, made a great soundtrack to the blizzard these past couple of days.
Thanks for the idea. It really does.
Subject: poll (again)
The poles are an embarrassment. Who are you, CNN?
CNN doesn't give a few weeks of nominations for their poll choices.
Subject: poll (3 D)
Hi! This is about this year's poll, I missed out submitting my own
nominations... but when I looked at the multiple choice I was surprised to not
see Ween's Quebec on there. It's definately my favortie album of the year, over
Earthquake Glue, Up In Flames, Wonderful Rainbow and everything else I've liked
this year. Every track on this album is incredible, and I know it sounds corny,
but this album, and through it being put in touch with Ween's back catalogue,
live shows, boots, etc has reawoken that original spark that made me really
fall in love with music in the first place, and beyond that opened me up to
being a happier more creative person again, and all that other great stuff that
truly amazing music does to a person. And that's not a joke!
something I'm missing as to why this album wasn't nominated, or maybe nobody
else who reads the brain has heard it?
Hell, before I bought the album I had no
idea that almost all of my favorite recent songs from the local college radio station were on it! I know I'm not the only one who buys
stuff aside from all the work reviewed in the brain. Well whatever the case may
be, Quebec is My Album of 2003.
Thanks for reading my little rant, and thanks
for all the years of keeping the light on for interesting music and being a
great example to all of us in how to share what we like.
Well, pay better attention next year! Nomination rounds were up for a while...
Subject: poll (the final chapter)
This years reader poll was of epic dimension. Truly it was bold, brave and
One complaint, however: In the 'most annoying trends' category... It seems to
me that 80s revivalism, Right wing politics, and War profiteering are each
aspects of the same trend.
They're as much of the same trend as lumping contemporary bands together who had nothing to do with each other (ie: putting Psychedelic Furs on tour with Culture Club in 2003). While in retrospect they seem like they can be lumped in together, back when they mattered, things were quite different.
Subject: the eye
the eye rocks my angel back and forth!!!!
Just remember to turn this week's edition up really loud.
Subject: poll (a new beginning)
in this latest poll , why is Reckankreuzungsklankewerkzeuge not an option for
the favorite label?
Nobody nominated them. How much music did they release this year anyhow?
I just wanted to check on the status of the review for my disc which I sent this past spring.
I'm sure your backlog is pretty extensive, but wanted to ask nonetheless.
Thanks and take care.
Chances are if you sent it in the spring, it won't be covered since it's nearly winter now. There are simply not enough hours in the day to listen to everything that comes in. However, we have clues to weed out the unsolicited promos (ie: things we didn't ask for). Usually if a press release says something pretentious like "so-and-so explores art rock's dark shadows" or name drops bands we're not even remotely interested in, it will probably be filed away. Sorry, but that's the way we have to operate as nobody here can do this full time. There is never any guarantee that something we don't ask for will be covered. Sorry. We're not trying to be mean, it's the honest truth.
Subject: communications (read in a Strong Sad voice for extra effect)
i love the statements made on the "communications"
page i was once one of the people you were talking about. I have realized the
fact that you have to do it for yourself. you can depend on your favorite
artist to lend you a hand. everyone is trying to climb their own ladder. you
cant help everyone else climb theirs. isn't that a lesson God teaches us?
anyway thanks for making that page.
Gary writes: Please refrain from freebasing while writing to The Brain. We appreciate your self-restraint.
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|WHAT'S IN YOUR PLAYER?|
Localfields- Live at River Gods 11/22/03
Gys- Art d'Echo
Roman Stange- uh60
Jesus and Mary Chain- The Sound Of Speed
Edvard O'Dalloghanian, unknown