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Podcast Episode 400: December 16, 2018

Episode #400 is live now!

It's an all new episode with music from releases of 2018 by Mouse On Mars, Beast, Organum, Laibach, Kamwema Jean and His Friends, The Stargazer Lilies, Songs: Ohia, serpentwithfeet, Sean McCann, Nick Malkin, Koray Kantarcioglu, and Machinefabriek with Anne Bakker.

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The 2018 Annual Brainwashed Readers Poll: Nomination Round Open's time once again to nominate music for this year's Annual Readers Poll. We already have a list started but there are plenty of worthy releases that have probably been missed.

Nomination round is open now through December 25th

Thank you to all the readers who continue to contribute to the nomination and voting for music of the year. Please, once again, make sure to read the entire list before submitting nominations.


Forced Ezposure New Releases for the Week of 12/17/2018

New music is due from Sylvain Chauveau, Akio Suzuki and Aki Onda, and Thomas Fehlmann, while old music is due from John Cage, Curved Air, and Carl Matthews.


1997 Readers Poll: The Results

In 1997, the independent music business was thriving worldwide, musical acts were reaching new audiences via the World Wide Web, and the economy was booming. was a year old, and we had not even begun to start conduction Annual Readers Polls. However, we began expanding the domain to host sites for independent labels and distributors like Kranky, Thrill Jockey, Happy Go Lucky, RRRecords, and World Serpent Distribution along with the multitude of sites we were hosting for musical acts.

It has been a pleasure to revisit the music of 1997 and we appreciate all the time and effort put in by the readers to make your opinions known.



Bloom Offering, "Episodes"

cover image When Jim Haynes, head of the always fascinating Helen Scarsdale Agency, told me he would be releasing an almost pop record on the label, I was a bit surprised.  Here is a label that, over the past 15 years, has perfected the sound of rusting, rotting audio.  But with recent Ekin Fil releases hinting at a growing interest in musicality, the idea began to seem less bizarre.  The first proper vinyl album from Nicole Carr (also known as Bloom Offering) fits perfectly in this niche.  More conventional sounding than usual, but still experimental and challenging in its own way, it is a brilliant record that stands out among the best albums this year.


Howard Stelzer, "Across the Blazer"

cover image The latest work from New England's legendary tape manipulator (presented on CD, in a bit of irony) is another work in a series of releases that reflects his more meditative, contemplative side.  Like the somewhat recent Dawn Songs tape, Across the Blazer features Stelzer using his array of tape machines to construct vast expanses of sound, less about bent motors or mangled tape, but more the enveloping warmth of analog imperfection.  The end product is surprisingly inviting and relaxing, words that are rarely apt descriptors of something generally labeled as "noise".


"Listen All Around: The Golden Age of Central and East African Music"

cover imageThere are a number of great labels unearthing and breathing new life into forgotten treasures these days, but it is truly rare for anyone to match Dust-to-Digital when it comes to presentation and sheer comprehensiveness.  Each major release feels like an event years in the making, certain to send at least one circle of obsessive music fans scavenging for additional extant releases from an eclectic array of previously unknown or obscure artists.  This latest opus is an especially big hit with me, collecting a remastered trove of '50s East and Central African rumba recordings by South African/English musicologist Hugh Tracey.  I had no doubt that these recordings would be unique and historically important, but I was legitimately blindsided by how incredibly fun these songs can be, often resembling a raucous, inebriated, and Latin-tinged street party where everyone knows all the words to every song and nearly everyone seems to have inexplicably brought along a kazoo.


Kelly Moran, "Optimist"

cover image New York based composer and pianist Kelly Moran has been quickly developing a body of work that rich and complex with not just piano and electronics, but also her exceptional and nuanced approach to production and sound design as well.  The instrumentation of Optimist may seem basic:  all nine songs feature piano (prepared and unprepared) and some additional synthesizer and electronics, but the finished product has so much more depth than it would seem.  It comes together as a fully realized, gorgeously diverse series of compositions.


Manchester Bulge, "2001-2012 Retrospective"

cover image It seems like any American city (or even large-ish town) has at least one local noise band.  Perhaps it is the ubiquity of the Internet or a handful of Wolf Eyes and Merzbow albums that received some significant hype and distribution, but what was once a style that was baffling to most is on par with punk or hardcore as far as local representation goes.  Manchester Bulge, hailing from Fargo, North Dakota, preceded this American noise band explosion (or sloppy outburst, depending on perspective) though, dating back to 2001.  This collections captures a band at the forefront of what somehow managed to become a scene and makes for an excellent window into one town’s premiere noise project.


Peter Brötzmann/Heather Leigh, "Sparrow Nights"

cover imageThis first studio album from the formidable duo of Peter Brötzmann and Heather Leigh took me an unexpectedly long time to warm to, as it was not at all what I was expecting (skwonking and rapturous free-form flame-throwing).  Instead, Sparrow Nights is something considerably more stark, novel, and challenging, unfolding as a uniquely surreal fantasia of alternately gnarled and lyrical saxophone passages over a disorientingly woozy and shifting bed of blurred pedal steel.  That said, there are a few comparatively volcanic eruptions of catharsis to found as well, yet the true genius of this album lies primarily in its sprawling and immersive strangeness.  As a cumulative and complete work, Sparrow Nights achieves the transcendent indulgence of prime My Cat is an Alien, leaving me feeling weirdly drugged, disoriented, and transformed by the time the last notes fade.  That is not a particularly lucrative or instantly gratifying niche, obviously, but Sparrow Nights is more of a legitimate event than it is a mere album.

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