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Episode 479: August 9, 2020

Tianna's couch, Edmonton Brainwashed Radio: The Podcast Edition Episode 479 is ready

It's the closest we'll ever come to a fun-in-the-sun episode, with music from Al Karpenter, FACS, Mark Van Hoen, June of 44, KTL, Khotin, Vikki Jackman, Jonnine, Axis: Sova, and Edward Ka-Spel.

Thanks to Tianna from Edmonton for the picture from her couch.

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Forced Exposure New Releases for Week of 8/10/2020

New music is due from Hedvig Mollestad, Jon Collin, and Brigid Dawson and the Mothers Network, while old music is due from L-Seven, Embrujo, and Merzbow.

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FACS, "Void Moments"

Cover of Void MomentsFACS, spawned from the ashes of Chicago’s Disappears, display a certain homage to early Public Image Limited paired with a reverence to Fugazi on their latest album, but visualize a version of both, pressed through a sieve of muted sonics and disaffected resignation. Void Moments finds FACS’ musical sound experimentation greatly expanded beyond their prior output. With a finely crafted blend of bleak minimalism, dark noise, and energizing rhythms, this work takes all the energy of recent experiments, honing the melodies into a deeper, darker, and richer menace of beauty and power.

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Al Karpenter, "If We Can't Dream, They Won't Sleep!!"

cover image Al Karpenter’s debut album is one of those that feels perfectly aligned with the present day.  With performers hailing from the Basque region of Spain, Japan, and Berlin, the entire world’s state of disarray is fully represented in the broken electronics, erratic garage rock, and full on unhinged punk styles.  It is entirely unpredictable:  a massively disparate backing band supporting Karpenter’s erratic, rambling vocal style that is a ceaseless mix of frustration, paranoia, and anger, but it all makes sense and—while it may not be a casual experience—it is a gripping one.

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Less Bells, "Solifuge"

Cover of Solifuge

All music has varying levels of emotional intensity, but some music is made just for this purpose. Hence the debut from Less Bells, the ethereal project of violinist/composer Julie Carpenter. Inspired by the desert sparseness of Joshua Tree, Solifuge — a word derived from "Solitude" and "Refuge" — is a lush neoclassical work crafted with a wide array of both electronic and acoustic instruments, resulting in an ambient journey that is unexpectedly not as meditative as the description suggests.

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Drift., "Symbiosis"

cover imageThis is the debut full-length for Nathalie Bruno’s electronic pop project and it is quite a bombshell, unveiling a far more avant-garde and experimental approach than was evidenced on her previous EPs.  That reinvention was triggered by a fateful thrift store find (Klaus Schwab’s The Fourth Industrial Revolution) that inspired a deep fascination with both '70s NYC and German experimentalists and bands like Broadcast.  Historically, I have found that a lot of kosmische-inspired contemporary music is wince-inducingly bad, cloyingly beatific, or both, yet Bruno proves to be the rare exception who is able to channel that influence into a fresh and inspired vision all her own.  The secret, of course, is avoiding the "revivalist" trap and merely filtering all the good bits into your own distinctive aesthetic, but that is far easier said than done.  While Bruno's vision admittedly errs a bit towards homage on some of Symbiosis's instrumental interludes, the more fully formed songs like "Atomic Soldier" strike an absolutely sublime balance between expert pop craftsmanship, ragged edges, and spacey, futuristic gravitas.   This is a truly exceptional album, as I can think of very few artists are able to blend great hooks and smoldering, understated psychedelia together as seamlessly as Bruno.

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Six Organs of Admittance, "Companion Rises"

Cover of Companion Rises

When I first encountered Six Organs of Admittance some time in the early '00s, the bits and pieces I heard were scattered across different college stations, smothered by a popular glut of what I categorize—unfairly or not—“folk hipster wannabes.” Consequently, the work Ben Chasny was doing became lost on me, choosing to turn my attention instead to more experimental drone and krautrock, two genres I viewed as mutually exclusive from folk. I had long been into psychedelic rock in the vein of Jefferson Airplane, but it wasn’t until I ventured into English folk like Pentangle and Fairport Convention in the '10s that I was pushed towards the psychedelic folk leanings of Roy Harper, John Fahey, and Sandy Bull. From there, it was easy to fall into a rabbit hole of amazing fingerpick guitarists, but the field of guitarists taking it deep into experimental sonic territory was sparse at best.

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Alva Noto, "Xerrox, Vol. 4"

cover imageThis latest volume of Carsten Nicolai's planned five-part series devoted to degraded samples is a bit different from previous installments, as the Xerrox vision has become a more focused and cinematic one.  In Nicolai's own words, this series has increasingly been devoted to exploring more "intimate gestures and emotional sensibilities" than the meticulous sound design perfectionism and concept-driven art that he is best known for.  In practical terms, that means that Xerrox, Vol. 4 mostly captures Alva Noto in comparatively abstract and almost "ambient" territory, as these fourteen songs are uncharacteristically built from slow-moving drones and sleepy, soft-focus melodies.  For the most part, such an approach is appealing primarily because it reveals a more organic and harmony-focused side to Nicolai's long-running and oft-excellent project (as opposed to an evolution or improvement upon his usual fare).  As such, Xerrox, Vol. 4 is a definite outlier in the Alva Noto discography.  In the case of few pieces, however, a more gnarled and dissonant character unexpectedly emerges that feels like a tantalizing glimpse of a significant creative breakthrough.

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Carl Stone, "Ganci & Figli" and "Au Jus/The Jugged Hare"

cover imageGiven how many years I have been actively chasing down unique and bizarre albums, it is mystifying how most of Carl Stone's oeuvre has eluded me thus far, though his recent albums have admittedly felt almost too experimental for me (and in a hyper-caffeinated way to boot).  Sometimes, however, I finally hear the right song at the right time and everything clicks into place.  In the case of Stone, that revelation came in the form of the Ganci & Figli EP, wherein he gleefully transforms some anthemic contemporary dance music samples into two very divergent and inventive collages.  "Figli" in particular is fun and deliriously rapturous in a way that I almost never encounter in experimental music.  The same is true of the even more eccentric "The Jugged Hare," which was released earlier in the year.  While I am not sure if Stone has recently perfected this side of his art or if my own sensibility has finally shifted enough to embrace what he has been doing all along, this recent pair of singles feels like the work of man who is operating on an entirely different level than his peers, playfully cannibalizing pop culture to make high art that feels like a confetti bomb going off at an out-of-control dance party.

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Brainwashed Premiere: Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf, "Big Other"

cover image

Brainwashed and Negative Capability Editions are proud to exclusively premiere the new album by Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf, Big Other, and the video for "New Heart."  The entire album can be streamed via Bandcamp by clicking here before its release on August 21.  "New Heart," (video available here) featuring guest vocals by Jarboe, showcases her expansive voice, adding a human element to the menacing, swirling electronics and guest performer James Joyce’s powerful drums.  As Rosendorf began to construct the piece, he says he could hear the ghost of Jarboe's voice throughout as he was composing and mixing, persuading him to ask her to participate.  Also an accomplished visual artist working with the likes of Axebreaker, Locrian, and Retribution Body, the accompanying video directed by Rosendorf was filmed during COVID-19 quarantine.   Traveling through a forest, he captures both the isolation and terrible gravity of our current shared experience, but also the potential of hope and new life.  Big Other will be released on limited vinyl and digital via Negative Capability Editions on August 21.

 
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Review of the Day

SCHLAMMPEITZIGER, "AUGENWISCHWALDMOPPGEFLOETE"
You'll find the usual Cologne suspects on the list of Dankes in the notes the latest Joe Zimmerman release. But as the cover art (a circle of traditional Teutonic dancers caught in a mid-air leap) visually suggests, the music is brighter and poppier than the output of most his A-Musik labelmates. Like much of Sclamm's previous work, 'Augenwischwaldmoppgefloete' (Eyeswipeforestflute or somthing like that) takes a flighty, melodic bent, sounding more like a video game soundtrack than any type of hip pomo pastiche: it's more Alex Kidd than Kid 606. (Actually, the opening track "Konfliktfickfahig" is more Super Mario than Alex Kidd). This aesthetic sense of unity and seamlessness is what characterizes most of the Cologne crowd and sets them apart from imitators, and Schlammpeitziger takes it even further with an almost naive simplicity of bouncy rhythms and Casio bleeps. Rather than sounding pedestrian, it's refreshing to the ears. If you liked any of his earlier stuff, you'll dig this one.
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