The Brain
  a weekly digest from the staff of brainwashed
V03I16 - 05072000


Apologies for the brainless week last week, hopefully we'll make up for it with the amount of stuff being reviewed this week! For your information, the host machine of moved physical locations this past week along with switching ISP and IP address. By this time, the downtime experienced should be over.

Garth from the Diamanda Galas website decided a while ago that there's nowhere that has info on Giorno Poetry Systems. After much convincing, has allowed his efforts to be part of the brainwashed family. Well, it didn't take much since Garth really is family and all! So please check out the Giorno Web Site featuring a discography, photos and loads of fun stuff from someone who's been part of the careers of brainwashed acts like Cabaret Voltaire, Coil and Diamanda Galas along with many many others...

The V/Vm website has had a complete makeover this week, now has new and up-to-date information on everybody's fave butchers from Stockport. Check out the audience interaction bits! Sound samples and contests will be coming in the next few weeks.

Once again, Hafler Trio gets a fresh, new facelift thanks to our only Russian staff member, Andrei.

Windy & Carl have announced they're doing Terrastock IV this year. This year's performance will take place in November in Seattle, Washington.


Kirk's music in the last four years has definitely been more aggressive and challenging than the earlier more international, ambient and "groovy" releases. If I had to give "Loopstatic" a theme it would be political intrigue with the shortwave radio as a propaganda tool. From his last couple of releases and The Wire interview its clear - Kirk seems to be in full assault mode - using his synths more like machine guns and his samplers as propaganda tools. A stark contrast to earlier works like Digital Lifeforms where everything is smooth and pleasing with minimal political overtones. Today's stuff is much harsher - like going to a hockey game or a riot! A typical track starts with a strange, looped shortwave sample, the mechanical, hihats and other bits start clicking away. Resonant bursts shoot out of his synths like little laser guns as the rhythm builds, and (only occasionally this time) ethnic percussion finds itself enslaved to the 4/4 beat of Detroit house music. Before you know it you are enveloped in a full-tilt sensurround house music experience. I guess you could call it mean and nasty, take-no-prisoners, subversive house music. I've never heard anything like it. - Daniel Barychko


Lab Report is Chicago area artist and musician Matthew Schultz. "Classical Atmospheres" is his 6th full length album in 9 years, the 2nd of which is entirely self realized and released through his own web site ($12 shipped from Lab Report's music delves into menacing, soundtrack style industrial soundscapes and ambiance via Schultz's "anti-tank guitar" invention, field recordings and samples. With "Classical Atmospheres", as one might assume from the title, Schultz explores classical themes in 5 of the 16 tracks while the rest are more similar to past Lab Report work, as well as other strange new sounds. "Bombastic One" and "Bombastic Finale" are proud miniature orchestras, the former augmented by the somewhat out of place electric guitar soloing of American Records' Johnny Polonsky. "Sad and Somewhat Intoxicated", "Soundtrack Standard" and "Horns and Strings" are brief but beautiful classically minded piano, violin and string/horn pieces, respectively. "The Chase" is a surprising bit of uptempo, metallic rhythm fueled film noir soundtrack that might make Barry Adamson smile. "Dun Dun" is a playful cartoon like loop that, as the insert itself describes, 'becomes irritating' (each track is accompanied by a brief description and b/w photo). The remainder of the album are the ambient/found sound pieces ... drones, washes, hums, thumps, banging and clanging ... all of which are as good if not better than past work. "Introduction" (with additional guitar by Dirty's Tom Slattery) is especially eerie. These tracks are not simply random noises, they are intentional emotive environments. Altogether, "Classical Atmospheres" is Schultz's most successful and challenging (for both the artist and listener) work to date. The balance between old and new sounds and styles works very well and Schultz, as an artist, continues to remain unpredictable and independently push himself forward ... - Mark Weddle


Mille Plateaux has definitely mistaken minimalism for boring drawn out mindless electronica babble. This collection is simply way too promising and comes up short in its delivery. Liner notes outline how the collection you're holding in your hand is so revolutionary and will usher in a new movement to the world of electronic music (blah blah blah,...) - in actuality, this is yet another gratuitous label-invented collection, assembled for their own self promotion. Sure, their intentions are to give some of the finer acts some exposure, like SND, Panacea or Kid 606 - but the tracks each submitted were brimming with medioctrity. Think about the artists themselves: how many compilations can somebody really appear on before it becomes overkill? Agreeing to be on a compilation is fulfilling a favor for the label essentailly - it's difficult for an artist to simply pull a song out of the air and have it be both exclusive and great. In actuality, artists will generally save their best songs for their own albums. Like a depressant this CD will indeed numb your mind and has the potential to make you feel pretty damned stupid. Minimalism isn't about a boring unchanging 4/4 clicky beat that stretches on 8 minutes too long, it's about making the most out of a minimal amount of sources. Sans Panacea and Kid 606, I've wasted both time and money on this collection. -
Jon Whitney


Without the hype, this one CD/13 song collection assembles some wonderful examples of challenging electronic pieces. Compiled by Kim Cascone and released through Digital Narcis in Japan, it starts with an alarmingly exciting bit from Terre Thaemlitz and proceeds with other fine selectons from Dumb Type, Tetsu Inoue, Tayler Dupree, Nobukazu Takemura and V/Vm. It makes no promises, yet it makes Clicks_+_Cuts look like "Minimalism for Dummies!" Truer to the ideas of minimalism, there is a slight bit of repetition, but the song structure is actually interesting throughout the entire disc. You're not waiting to stop the damned thing after the first three tracks! Much like a hallucinogen, this disc will play tricks with your mind, excite your senses and keep you on a fun ride, wondering what's due next,... - Jon Whitney


Back to Germany for another beat filled electronic collection. Shitkatapult has assembled 12 fun tracks of various 12" releases, both existing and forthcoming. The artists are undoubtedly less known than the other compilations featured this week, but the music in no way is less redeemable. Still relatively minimal, the beats are faster and the sounds are more aggressive and with more depth. Worshipping glitches and noises, some of these artists are incorporating true clicks and cuts into the beats, arranging rhythmic patterns entirely from sampled noises. Others play with more conventional aggressive techno styles, having fun while keeping it interesting all the while. Each artist on this collection walks down a different street from the other, yet remains in the same neighborhood - from the jazzy exotic Magnum 38 to the comical glicky Nanospeed, the noisy T. Raumschmiere or the minimal Spacetank. Similar to the Blue Cubism comp., this disc can be minimal but captivating enough to hold your attention through every revolution of the disc. - Jon Whitney


Also from Germany, through Thrill Jockey in the USA comes this comp of beautiful purely artificial electronic ear candy - none of which is minimal nor poses as anything else. Leave the stuffy minimalists behind and have fun with your music again. Pretty yet mentally twisted tunes on here include gifts from Mouse on Mars, Microstoria, Wang Inc., F.X.Randomiz, Scratch Pet Land and Lithops. Sonig has been releasing 12" singles from these artists already and with luck, this comp indicative of more US releases, full-lengthers and comps to come. - Jon Whitney


Oh boy, back to pointlessness. Release through an arrangement with Virgin records, this compiles loads of previously released and garbage from Fatboy Slim, Underworld and Gus Gus. The only saving grace is "Anon," a cut from Meat Beat Manifesto unavailable elsewhere. Sadly enough the track hardly makes this collection worth the price of admission. A couple decent tracks like Orbital's Mock Tudor or Q-Burns Abstract Message's overuse of Cocteau Twins samples makes this listenable, but not acceptable. Observing the cheesy pastel cheap computer graphics, pot leaf and peace loving messages, it's clear that this disc is made for the less discriminating listener. The message (beneath the 'love your mother earth bit') is consume, buy and accept. It does however accomplish making "Clicks_+_Cuts" look good. If you're a Meat Beat fan and want this for the exclusive cut, shop your local used bins. - Jon Whitney


The brothers Ween are back with their most straightforward album to date. "White Pepper" clocks in at less than 40 minutes with a dozen 2 to 4 minute songs. The most shocking thing about this one is that it's not shocking at all. If you're looking for "Push the Little Daisies" or "Piss Up a Rope" you can forget it. The boys have either matured, made a conscious decision to not be as goofy and experimental or maybe both. This is a singalong pop and power pop album for the most part with a heavy nod toward late 60's Beatles. There's a few oddballs here and there: the light and airy Caribbean vibe of "Bananas and Blow" (only Ween would write a song with a chorus "stuck in my cabana, livin' on bananas and blow"), the speed metal of "Stroker Ace" and the jazz rock ala Steely Dan (except it doesn't suck) of "Pandy Fackler". The final three songs: "Stay Forever", "Falling Out" and "She's Your Baby" seem to be completely irony free love songs, the former two with a country-esque flare. "White Pepper" is definitely going to have some people scratching their heads and likely bitching and moaning. Fuck 'em. This is a good album. Ween are currently on tour throughout the States ... - Mark Weddle


Stunning artwork and innovative packaging from Middle Pillar! Sounding like Rush at times, Battery at other times, and occasionally dipping into the Middle Ages, The Machine In The Garden's latest offering, One Winter's Night, provides us with 52 minutes of enjoyment, but I suspect we won't be listening to it many more times in the future.
The discordant vocals, crashing cymbals, raw and repetitive piano line (IO's Departure), nauseating rhythms and vocal effects (These Illusions) detract from the kick-ass bass line and danceable rhythms of other songs, such as Control. Miserere Mei and Shakespeare-penned Fear No More are stunning with their classical harmonies, very tasteful voice processing, clean snyths, sharp beats and pretty piano. Windows Of Their Eyes and Everything Alone, are pretty in their folkish simplicity.. A wildly inconsistent album - incongruous as a machine in the garden! - Alan Ezust and Julie Geanakakis


Traditional unadorned instrumentation and medieval melodies come together with badly mixed vocals.
Eugenia Houston's voice has its moments of heaven and hell. Mineralia and Moonburn grate against the nerves with a very sad, nasal voice which is mixed too loudly. On the other hand, she sounds absolutely beautiful in Luna Begets Mercury. Winter Marriage has a very charming woodwind arrangement. Lapis Philosophorum is a hymn with a marching rhythm, and male vocals full of pageantry. After a certain point, however, it became apparent that many of the songs are variations on a theme, and with few exceptions, most of them just blend in with each other indistinctly. - Alan Ezust and Julie Geanakakis


Some of you might not even remember that there were records before CDs were around. And some of them were actually pretty good, and some of them, for reasons known only to the Muses, just never made it to CD. There are a handful of old favorite records that I regularly hunt CD shops for, hoping that some small Lithuanian press will rerelease them on CD-- stupid things like Flying Lizards "Top Ten", Nina Hagen's "Angstlos", and everything by Gang of Four, which only came out a few years ago after lots of squabbling. But at the top of my Most-Missed-Records list has been a pair of legendary albums I haven't seen in a long, long time. 17 years in fact. The year I graduated from high school the greatest albums in human history were released: "Our Solar System" and "Sing No Evil" by Half Japanese.
You might've picked up some of their albums and wondered afterwards why this crappy band has such a following, and so many albums, and why hip record stores continue to keep a 1/2 jap section. You might've even seen the documentary ("The Band That Would Be King") chronicling their rise to international fame, glory and rock immortality and concluded they're nothing more than a joke. But odds are you never heard their greatest moments, which have been locked up and/or lost in the dusty vaults of the now-defunct 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Volts Records until this happy, happy, day.
These albums record the moment when the world's most electrifying quartet collided with the world's most cacophanous 13-piece horn section. The songs record the signature teenage-retard fantasies of Jad Fair, full of uneasy speculations about girls, girl athletes, girls with ESP, girls who make him listen to classical music, girls whose boyfriends were hit by trains, girls he secretly likes, girls who might be secretly in love with him. And from there he explores the enduring mysteries of UFO's, Voodoo and Acupuncture, and the immortal "Thing With A Hook" that stalks lover's lane.
Jad Fair never sounded better or more sincere than in these two brilliant albums, which literally explode out of your speakers with an almost Rabelaisian frenzy of picked-on-nerd-anger and unrequited horniness. Music for sociopathic teens? Maybe. But these records are indescribably audacious and document a moment of unbounded, visceral creativity that began with their mind-boggling first album, Half Gentlemen / Not Beasts, which was released, in consideraion of their universe-conquering ambition, as a three album set. Lyrical and sincerely stupid, Half Japanese lay it all on the line in every song, recalling in their squealing half-assed obsessiveness The Shaggs, The Velvet Underground and John Zorn... I can't say it's all worth buying, but I can unequivocally say that these two albums are musical milestones in their own geeky world. Come visit "Our Solar System" and rediscover your neglected inner retard. - Thomas Olson


  • not available yet, sorry

Trans Am almost got what they wanted with this release - the right to release the songs they wrote and recorded! It basically stems from the workings of the Japanese music industry. Prices of CDs in Japan are so high, that record labels will demand bonus tracks on CDs released in the land of the rising sun. They do this to avoid mass importing of CDs from the USA and other countries. In turn, bands like Trans Am end up signing the rights over to the label in Japan who'll put anywhere from 5-10 bonus cuts on a CD. Is this fair to the fans? Who is it fair to? Personally I would imagine the damn industry ought to pressure the manufacturers to lower their prices or take their business to pressing plants outside of the country. I also figure that there's more Tortoise, Trans Am, Stereolab and other indie music fans in the North America and Europe importing these discs than there are in Japan buying them. Okay, rant over, this CD collects many (but not all) of the bonus tracks from Trans Am's first four CDs. It's a healthy dose of both the electronic funk and hard rockin' hits. One bonus track, "Monica's Story" has been included while "Alec Empire is a Nazi/Hippie" has been renamed as "Nazi Hippie Empire." Also present are the tracks on that 12" from Happy Go Lucky, "Illegal Ass," "Koln," and "Randy Groove." It's a fun collection and will save some of the fans from buying those overpriced imports, but keep in mind, there are indeed things left out. - Jon Whitney


We know that sometimes these CDs are somewhat challenging to find, which is why we have a RECOMMENDED STORES section which can be used to obtain nearly everything available on the site.


Ah Cama-Sotz - The House of the Lord LP (Ant-Zen, Germany)
Asian Dub Foundation - New Way, New Life two CDEPs (FFRR, UK)
Chicago Underground Duo - Synethesia CD/LP (Thrill Jockey, US)
Geiom - Cut and Pressed 12" [mixes by Infant, Solar X, Bauri, Labortoire Nacht Plank and Hem] (Neo Oujia, UK)
Imminent/Synapscape - Screenwalking CDEP (Ant-Zen, Germany)
Jol - Think Tin 12" (Dot, Sweden)
Kinder Atom - MMM! CD and reMMMixes 12" (nice+smooth, Canada)
Metamatics - Man-Q-Neons 12" (Dot, Sweden)
The Modernist - Explosion CD (Matador, US)
Monokrom - Monokrom CD (Ant-Zen, Germany)
Mouse On Mars - Rost Pocks CD/LP [singles/rarities collection] (Too Pure, UK)
Primal Scream - XTRMNTR CD (Astralwerks, US)
Quant - Tik Tok 12" (Dot, Sweden)
Anthony Rother - simultationszeitalter CD (PSI49NET, Germany)
Zeke Schoon - San Tropez Tonight 12" (Dot, Sweden)
Trans Am - You Can Always Get What You Want CD [singles compilation] (Thrill Jockey, US)
VNV Nation - Empires CD (Metropolis, US)
Vromb - Emission Pilote. CD (Ant-Zen, Germany)

Deejay Punk-Roc - Spoiling It For Everyone CD/2xLP (Epic, UK)
Ensemble - Sketch Proposals CD/LP (Rephlex, UK)
Billy Mahonie/Seafood - split 7" [ltd to 250 copies] (Jonathon Whiskey, UK)
David Toop/Jeff Noon - Needle in the Groove CD (Sulphur, UK - Sulfur/Beggars Banquet, US/Canada)

Cleener - Solaris CD (Metropolis, US)
The Creatures - U.S. Retrace CD [collection of remixes and b-sides previously released as singles in the UK] (Instinct, US)
Devo - Pioneers Who Got Scalped 2xCD [best-of collection] (Rhino, US)
Tarwater - Animals, Suns and Atoms CD (Mute, US/Canada)
We(tm) - Decentertainment CD (Home Entertainment, US)

For a more comprehensive release schedule stretching far into the future, please check out the NEW RELEASES brought to you by Greg and Feedback Monitor.


Where do I begin to describe this event? Well, it was 3 hours of music, a message, satire, noise, experimentation, multimedia, comedy and a puppet show too. Multimedia entertainment at its finest, Negativland are no doubt the masters of all that is copyright challenging. A bit with cut-up words from various Julie Andrews songs had the audience rolling in tears laughing, loops of films and sound samples were hypnotizing, corporate disgust had the audience cheering and the incredible sound work by the end was simply stunning. This show is truly for everybody, and you don't have to be a fan of the band or their music to have an excellent excellent time. Get the rest of the tour dates at I'd describe it better if I could, really I would. - Jon Whitney


"Hi Fidelity," is a movie that I kept hearing "You gotta go see." About the wacky lives of those that'd work in the sordid denziens of used record stores. Good enough theme, right? Beware: this movie is possibly the worst movie I have ever seen in my life! It looks promising enough with some cool songs at the opening but rapidly becomes just this guy telling you about all his stupid girlfriend problems. Like he is a guy and some of his relationships she ends, and some he ends. Alright, so you're a big het, who cares? Why rub it in my face?
The film has far too many close ups of his ugly mug with maybe an eighth dedicated to the record store scenes. It is like "Porkys" for the 20 yr olders, but without the humor. I didn't care about any of his boring hot chicks, which is all he ever talked about. They'd have entire scenes where they'd just talk about each other, like I cared. If my friend just went on and on about his girlfriend problems I'd tell him to shut up. I don't do that to him. It's 'specially boring coming from a boring guy who's 'sposed to be talking about records. At one poignant point I remember waking up cuz the audience had just laughed. MY friend Alexis told me he asked the girl if the new boyfriend was better than him in bed. I tried to go back to sleep but my nap was now ruined.
They finally they get around to a scene in the used record store where a group of really ugly guys tell a hot chick the simularities between GREEN DAY and STIFF LITTLE FINGERS. I was quite embarresed to realize that Alex and I had begun openly hooting the film. Snobby record store geeks really like to listen to EARLY Stevie Wonder. No wonder I was told to go. I'm a Dj! I used to work at a used record store. Someone even told me "I was in the movie." I din't see me! All I kept thinking about was what a nice night is was and how much better it would be to be out walking down the street than sitting here in the Harvard Sq Theater where it is approximatley one mile to the mens room.
Man, these new crops of flicks from America really betray how shallow the landscape is out there. These characters never make reference to any world outside themselves, except maybe an some stupid tv show reference. How did audiences get used to this? That guy is aggressively boring. When did that become fun to view?
After an insufferable hour of pointless dialouge, I finally walked. It was after one scene where he is victorious scoring some chick and you know what the song they underscore is? That's right, "We are the champions." That's by Queen y'know. I forget what album.How truly visionary. Bet y never heard that in a film before.
That's why the billboard on the way out exclaims how utterly groundbreaking it is. They have all these guys, ya know, Rolling stone and Roger Ebert giving it all sorts of thumbs up. It was a huge placard filled with words like your going to stand there and read the whole thing. And the guy, who I thought was just some local shmoe from the Chicago scene turns out to be a famous actor! His name is John Cusak. Alex told me what other films he was in.
But I'd blame the writer. That was the worst script since "Rushmore." If they didn't want to start completley over, they shoulda at least tried to punch it up a bit before handing it to that poor actor of moderate abilities to have to go and learn all those lines. - Peter Choyce - radio DJ and guest contributor from


While watching The The perform on Friday night, various thoughts swimming about in my head came together and trends became more clearly understood. When bands start out, rarely do they realize how innovative they really are. There is a tendancy among many bands to disregard early records because everything NEW they're working on is the most important to them at the time. Unfortunately, they could be completely missing why older stuff can be so important to the fans. On the first few attempts at a record, a band will generally have limited funds. Three (of many) possible scenarios can occur:

  1. The band has to be tight, aggressive, quick, fierce and talented. Recording studio rates can be expensive, and for bands like Wire, REM or The Police, funds were probably tight and songs had to be recorded in as few takes as possible to get the entire album in.
  2. Lack of resources forces a band to make more with less: 2-person and 1-person bands utilize the available technology. Groups like OMD, Human League and The The come to mind. Even Pink Floyd were playing with electronics long before they became classic rock dinosaurs.
  3. Shyness and a lack of self-confidence results in a band masking their songs with sound. This worked for blurry dreampop greats like Slowdive and Jesus and Mary Chain.
Alienating old fans, all of these innovators aged into their roles of generic rock musicians. Sure, their songwriting skills might have improved, their production skills too, but their popularity dwindled as time went on while they pursued more popular sounds rather than sticking with what worked and progressed along that route. All these examples have either given up, are pretty close to giving or should just give up because there's simply no interest any more. Keep in mind, not all bands end up like this, there's a whole list on the Music page of which includes many bands who didn't! - Jon Whitney


Wouldn't it be neat to know what people are requesting for their final meal?? Well, check out what the inmates on Death Row in Texas have requested - and see if you see any patterns showing for the crime they were convicted of...

Subject: Latest Brain

The story in the new Brain seems to be a variant on the Merzbow car cd-player release story that has now passed into urban legend and keeps popping up in more fanciful guises each time. As part of my research for the Merzbow site your humble correspondent tracked down the man responsible for this release and he told me the story behind it:

    Yes, it was my car. The idea was to promote the IGLOO-001 cd Merzbow "noisembryo" with something extra.

    We did a special edition of 50 copies in a box including t-shirt and a can of noiserooms. The cd was in a small package it self. Then did we also do a spcial edition of one copy packed in a real car, a Mercedes 230. The cd was put in the CD player which couldnīt be turned off. Quite fun actually. I think that THE WIRE wrote about it. The car was sold some year ago. We had also an idea of putting a CD in a 747 boing, but since no one could tell me the price of one, I wasnīt taking any chances of selling it too cheap. It would be great that the passengers only could hear good noise on their flight.

Out of a bunch of responses to last issue's letter about the contest in a car, the more I read that person's letter, the less I think it has to do with the Merzbow car CD player story.


We're not a retailer.

Subject: best Cabaret Voltaire album?

I'm new to Cabaret Voltaire. I have a couple singles from the mid '80's and would love to know what their best album is. What is your favorite album (s). Much appreciated.

I'm particularly fond of Microphonies, Code and 2x45 in that order...

Subject: none

yo, wassup, i'm from malaysia, and i don't really understand what da fuck are you trying to say in the website, dunno if the band still exist or not, but what the fuck, i'm really into all this crazy shits and i'm working on this shitty fanzine, can i interview you?

but first let me know who're you and what are you into, peace, e mail me

errr, which band?

Subject: a bit stuck

I was wondering if you could help me. I'm looking for two songs by NWW that a friend put on a tape ages ago for me. The first one has Diana Rogerson going "You've been babysitting yourself again, and now you bring out the carnival horse with all its special effects" or something against a weird trombone/tape track. I think it might be called 'Dance of Fools'. Its immediately preceded by a song which appears as a backing track on 'Sylvie and Babs Hi-Thigh Companion'. It sort of sounds like a cover of 'Old man River', then it fades out into synthetic bird noises. Do you know what release these songs appear on, or if they've been re-issued on disc? I'd be very relieved!

The first one is side 2 of 'Live At Bar Maldoror'. 'Elderly Man River/Dance of Fools' is from Automating vol. 2. It's a remix/combination of 'Dance of Fools' from Could You Walk On The Waters + 'Elderly Man River' from Devastate To Liberate. (answered by Brain from 'Absolute Elsewhere')

Subject: all files 934 bytes?

Seems like all the mp3's are cut off at 934 bytes (just under a minute of music). ??

Yes, they're 60 second samples - sorry, we don't own the copy rights to post entire songs.

Subject: Experimental music

Could you help me find someone of an expert or musician that's involved in experimental music because i'd like to interview him/her for a research paper on the topic.

While I can't speak for James of v/vm, he has gone on record saying there's a guy who works down at the chip shop who swears he's Merzbow.


Pop Will Eat Itself - The Cure for Sanity
Dread Kennedys/In Dub we Trust - a tribute to the Dead Kennedys
Mr. Bungle - California
Esthero - Breath from Another
Meg Lee Chin - Piece and Love
A Tribute to Guns N Roses - Appetite for Reconstruction
LARD - 70's Rock Must Die
Meat Beat Manifesto - Satyricon
Coil - Horse Rotervator
- Anne from Central Illinois.

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