The Humble Bee, "Light Trespassing"

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I have a long-running fondness for tape loop artists, yet I had always lumped this Craig Tattersall project together with more conventional ambient fare until last year's reissue of 2009's A Miscellany For The Quiet Hours finally smacked me in the head and made me pay closer attention. I bring that up because Light Trespassing (recorded roughly a decade later) entered heavy rotation in my life immediately after my Quiet Hours obsession and it has been quite interesting to hear how Tattersall's vision has subtly transformed over the ensuing decade. In some ways, it feels like the two albums could have been recorded in the same damn week, but it is also clear that Tattersall has been consciously chasing an even more minimal and lowercase vision than the one he started off with. That tendency makes Light Trespassing a bit less immediately gratifying than some other Humble Bee releases, but I suspect that may very well be the point. In fact, Tattersall's execution remains as mesmerizing as ever—he is simply achieving the same ends with an increasingly reduced palette and even fewer moving parts. In essence, all that truly changed is that I now need to listen a bit more attentively before Tattersall's delicate miniatures reveal their full beauty. It feels akin to witnessing a tightrope walker systemically removing all safety measures as they become more confident in their ability to consistently nail their signature tricks without even the hint of a wobble.

Motion Ward

In keeping with the theme of extreme minimalism, Tattersall and Motion Ward have provided very little background information about this release other than the poetic phrase "like the last embers of a fire burning." As far as album descriptions go, however, that is quite an admirably apt and concise summary (though it does demand some familiarity with Tattersall's previous tape work in order to grasp the full implications). To my ears, it feels like Tattersall decided to expand the ephemeral beauty of the fading final moments of his usual fare (the point where all the added layers fall away to reveal the naked, beating heart of a piece) into an entire album of such "last embers." The first few pieces provide an especially lovely introduction to the possibilities opened up by such an approach. In "A Little Alone Snow," for example, it seems like two harp loops of slightly different lengths create an endlessly transforming melody as their moment of collision keeps subtly changing. Elsewhere, "However Far I Walk" initially sounds like little more than a simple arpeggio fragment played on an acoustic guitar, but then a new loop begins dancing through the spaces between those notes to form a tender melody. Tape noise, recorder clicks, hiss, and room tone also play a larger role than usual on this album, particularly on "When Your Voice Disappears." My favorite pieces on the album tend to be the more fleshed out gems that begin surfacing near the midpoint though ("A Day of Light and Air," "Inside Out Mountains," and "Dotted and Course With"). They each have their own unique character, of course, but they all evoke a similarly elusive and ineffably beautiful scene akin to a half-blissful/half-ghostly dream in which I am waiting outside a train station on a perfect spring day awaiting a long lost love. Those are not the only quietly gorgeous pieces to be found, however, as Light Trespassing has quite a satisfying arc of deepening warmth and soft-focus dreaminess. If there is a caveat with this album, it is merely that it takes a few listens for the full beauty of its sublime spell to sink in, but I certainly got there eventually. In fact, I wish I could dissolve myself into this album. I have not figured out how to do that yet, unfortunately, so I will try to content myself by merely stating that Light Trespassing adds yet another singularly beautiful album to Tattersall's rich and varied discography.

Samples can be found here.

  551 Hits

Episode 565: March 13, 2022

#ListenToWomenSelf portrait by Inga from Netherlands

It's another episode featuring nothing but excellent music by women. This week's music comes from Monika Werkstatt, Diana Rogerson, dolphin midwives, Park Jiha, People Like Us, Jessica Bailiff, Fovea Hex, Laurie Spiegel, Electrelane, Tara Jane O'Neil, Damiana, and Myriam Gendron.

Thank you Inge from Netherlands for the self portrait.

Get involved: subscribe, review, rate, share with your friends, send images!

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  1752 Hits

Éliane Radigue & Frédéric Blondy, "Occam XXV"

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This is the debut album for Claire M. Singer's Organ Reframed imprint, which will now enable home listeners to experience a bit of her singular music festival of the same name. While the festival itself has been going on since 2016, I can understand why Singer did not make the leap into releasing albums until now, as I imagine it is quite a challenge to translate the site-specific acoustic pleasures of Union Chapel's famed hydraulic organ onto a CD. Also, solo organ albums have only recently begun to come into vogue (and I suspect Singer's efforts played a key role in that). Thankfully, the stars seem to now be in proper alignment for such an endeavor, as artists like Kali Malone, Lawrence English, and Sarah Davachi have spent the last few years turning adventurous ears organ-ward and the reigning queen of minimalism (Radigue) is currently in the prime of her "acoustic instrumentation" era. Unsurprisingly, composing for organ has not resulted in a newly bombastic and maximalist Radigue, as she remains unswervingly devoted to Occam's guiding principle of "simple is always better." In fact, this album is probably a strong contender for one of Radigue's most minimal compositions to date. That may test the patience of some casual Radigue listerers, but those attuned to her slow-burning drone majesty will find much to love, as she is in peak form here.

Organ Reframed

This is not the first album in Radigue's "Occam Ocean" series that I have heard, but this is the first time that I learned about the origin of its curious title. Naturally, the "Occam" part is a reference to William of Ockham's timeless razor (the law of economy), but I did not know that the "ocean" bit was because Radigue is drawing much of her inspiration from water and waves these days. That makes sense and knowing that reveals further depth to this series. Also, given Radigue's history with Buddhism and its focus on mindfulness and the interconnectedness of all things, this series can be viewed as a sort of an artistic culmination of the themes and philosophies that have shaped her life as a whole. In more concrete terms, Radigue's recent work is driven by the "transcendent beauty" that she finds in the "micro beats, pulsations, harmonics, and subharmonics" that result when sound waves interact. Another central belief of Radigue's is that written music is an abstraction and that it is the performer that ultimately breathes life into it She also notes that "no two performers, playing the same instrument, have the same relationship with that instrument," so it was a significant choice that return collaborator/ONCEIM director Blondy was chosen to perform the piece.

Speaking of Blondy, I am quite curious about how technically demanding this piece was to play. My guess is "very," as it could easily be mistaken for a single sustained and droning chord with casual listening, but closer listening reveals that it is endlessly evolving and constantly creating subtle new sonic phenomena despite it being damn near imperceptible to tell when new notes are being added. In fact, the entire mood of the piece sneakily undergoes at least two dramatic transformations over the course of its 44 minutes, slowly moving from a stark, almost futuristic-sounding introduction of shuddering bass throbs towards a surprisingly hallucinatory finale of blearily celestial-sounding drones and insectoid whine. In between those two poles, there are passages that call to mind a surveillance beam slowly sweeping across a desolate wasteland or a gorgeous slow-motion sunrise and it never feels anything less than totally organic and seamless. And, of course, the piece's unhurried, meditative journey continually reveals additional subtle layers of harmonic complexity with deep listening. Given the near-geologic timescale and the ultra-minimal nature of this piece, it probably is not the ideal introductory Radigue album for the curious, but those already attuned to her work will likely be spellbound by the exacting and patient virtuosity on display (I certainly was). Occam XXV sets the bar intimidatingly high for whoever gets tagged for Organ Reframed's second release.

Samples can be found here.

  763 Hits

Lee "Scratch" Perry, 1936-2021

Jon and Lee fist bumpThe world would sound a lot different today (at least the music we listen to a lot of here at Brainwashed) were it not for the ears of of Lee "Scratch" Perry. Beginning with his role in Jamaica's legendary Studio One in the mid 1960s up until this year, he has been active in music, a visionary who would take the sounds he heard in his mind and create them for the world to hear.

The list of musicians he has collaborated with is massive, from Bob Marley to Paul McCartney to the Clash to Brian Eno to Andrew WK! Known as the Godfather of Dub, his creations may have originally nestled under the genre of Reggae, dub has proliferated throughout music since its inception, finding its way into rock, electronic, jazz, avant-garde, metal, ambient music, and nearly everything in between.

He will sincerely be missed however he has left us with nearly a lifetime of music to listen to and catch up with.

Our love goes out to his family and friends.

  1230 Hits

Yoshi Wada, "The Appointed Cloud"

cover imageSaltern’s latest Yoshi Wada reissue unhappily coincides with the composer's unexpected passing, but at least he managed to live long enough to see his work get some wider appreciation in recent years. Or at least managed to see some of his major albums finally get remastered and released outside Japan, as "wider appreciation" is very relative when one's vision is as unapologetically challenging as Wada's. In fact, I always viewed him as a Final Boss in the appreciation of difficult and adventurous music, as it takes a lot of immersion in dissonant and outré sounds before one reaches the "I crave a deep dive into avant-garde bagpipes" stage. In fact, I am not sure I am yet there myself. Given that, The Appointed Cloud is probably more for devout connoisseurs of sound art's more prickly fringes than, say, the heavy drone of Wada's 2009 triple LP Earth Horns With Electronic Drone. However, this album was one of Wada's personal favorites, as it documents the "memorable" opening performance of his "first large-scale, interactive installation" at the Great Hall of the New York Hall of Science in 1987 (which featured "spaceships hanging from the ceiling so people felt like they were traveling in outer space"). That certainly seems like a suitably disorienting environment for sounds this fascinating and unique. I dearly wish someone had thought to film some post-concert audience reactions, as I bet they were quite something.

Saltern/EM Records/Edition Omega Point

There are some artists who seem like that they have absolutely no influences other than themselves, but there are also some equally rare visionaries who combine such bizarre and seemingly clashing influences that they seem equally unique. Yoshi Wada was arguably the king of the latter camp, as he began his creative life studying sculpture in Kyoto before moving to New York in the '60s and falling in with the burgeoning Fluxus scene there. He also studied composition with La Monte Young, North Indian classical singing with Pandit Pran Nath, and Scottish bagpipes. That impressive collision of jarringly divergent impulses makes sense if one simply accepts that Wada was a deeply curious person though. And The Appointed Cloud similarly makes sense if one understands that sculpture was Wada's first love and that Fluxus showed him a path to applying those talents to music, as one of its primary themes is emphasizing the artistic process over the finished product. Appropriately, process lies at the heart of this performance, as it is a based around "a custom pipe organ, among other homemade instruments, controlled by a computer equipped with a customized interface and software designed by engineer David Rayna." The ensemble is further rounded out by four bagpipe players (one of whom was Wada) and a percussionist. All of those elements make their presence strongly felt at various points, but most of the album sounds like a very tight and professional bagpipe ensemble with one rogue member who keeps steering them towards crescendos of squalling dissonance (and it also sounds like he may have invited some friends from a gagaku ensemble along). It also occasionally sounds like a pipe organ jam at a Zen retreat, an air raid drill during a mass at a cathedral, a flock of crazed geese fleeing a storm, or an appealingly frayed and out-of-phase Philip Glass homage. Needless to say, that makes for quite a wild and unpredictable ride and it is not one for the timid: Yoshi Wada was truly a one-of-a-kind artist and The Appointed Cloud is exactly the sort of ambitiously challenging and strikingly unfamilar album to (emphatically) affirm that.

Samples can be found here.

  1724 Hits

Nari Mann

Nari MannWords cannot describe how devastated we are about the unexpected sudden loss of Nari Mann.

She was one of those music fans who just got it, had impeccable taste, was a classically trained pianist, a fantastic photographer (flickr.com/photos/nariposa), a local hero (Keep Austin Warm), a writer (nariposa.wordpress.com) who just recently became a contributor to brainwashed, and a friend for decades.

Here's her pictures from Brainwaves 2008.

Our hearts go out to all her friends and family.

She is loved and is dearly missed.

 

  3110 Hits

Harold Budd, 1936-2020

https://i1.wp.com/echoes.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Budd-DownShot-600.jpg?resize=600%2C450&ssl=1The world is a much more bearable place thanks to Harold Budd.

While he began composing in the 1960s, teaming up with Brian Eno in the late-1970s brought him greater acclaim through more widespread album releases. Collaborations with acts such as Cocteau Twins, Andy Partridge, and Brian Eno may have put him on the radar for people who would not normally be listening, and those who explored more were almost always rewarded by his aural treasures.

His influence is immeasurable.

  2259 Hits

LD Beghtol, 164-2020

https://rbhsjukebox.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/beghtolflarelivenow.jpg

Singer, musician, art director LD Beghtol one of those people who kept you laughing. He released five full-length albums as Flare, but is most famously known for singing in The Magnetic Fields and authoring 69 Love Songs, A Field Guide for the 33 1/3 book series.

He was also one of the first contributors to Brainwashed.com when we began writing about music in the late '90s.

He will be sorely missed.

  2217 Hits

Simeon Coxe, 1938-2020

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Silver Apples founder, Simeon Coxe. Not only was the music Simeon created back in the 1960s with Silver Apples influential beyond measure, he was an amazing gentleman and wonderful soul.

In 2008, Simeon played Brainwaves as Silver Apples to the only standing ovation during the weekend. Click here to see some photos by Greg Cristman. He will be missed.

https://obits.al.com/obituaries/mobile/obituary.aspx?n=simeon-coxe&pid=196760627&fhid=18119

  2855 Hits

Vaughan Oliver, 1957-2019

It is impossible to estimate the impact Vaughan Oliver had on the importance of the intersection between music and visual arts. Throughout his years at 23 Envelope, Oliver was responsible for the artwork and art direction of most 4AD releases along with Chris Bigg. While based in the UK, 4AD had the occasional support of radio, magazines, and promotional campaigns but overseas, most people had only the record cover artwork to go on. The stunning visuals of the 4AD catalog were enough to stop, pause, and appreciate while flipping through records down at the local shop. Over the years of the music industry downsizing, graphic downsizing, and rise of digital media and international communication, album cover art became less of a factor with music. The vinyl renaissance over the last few years, however, have sparked a renewed appreciation for art and Vaughan Oliver is often at the tops of everyone's lists of artists.

4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell has paid tribute at 4AD.com.

Our hearts go out to Vaughan's friends and family. He will be sorely missed.

  4938 Hits

Daniel Garcia

Daniel Garcia and Yulia Krashennaya

Daniel Garcia launched hollyfeld.org in 1995. In a world before multinational multibillion dollar social media empires, Dan provided a place for numerous communities to flourish. Hollyfeld.org began hosting the email discussion lists for Coil, Meat Beat Manifesto, The Legendary Pink Dots, Cabaret Voltaire, and Throbbing Gristle, among others, all out of the kindness of his heart, all 100% free of cost and advertisements. All lists remain active however the future is uncertain.

Daniel and Yulia lived life to the fullest, were active in photography, travel, digital arts, and remained supportive of the brainwashed music community. Our hearts go out to their closest family and friends. We will miss you dearly.

  8116 Hits

William Basinski, "On Time Out of Time"

cover imageThis latest release is more of a diversion than a fresh addition to the canon of William Basinski masterworks, as it was originally composed for a pair of installations for an exhibition in Berlin. In keeping with theme of the show ("Limits of Knowing"), he stepped outside of his usual working methods to craft floating ambient soundscapes sourced from recordings captured by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Looked at another way, however, On Time Out of Time could be seen as Basinski's normal working methods taken to their ultimate extreme: instead of harvesting sounds from decaying tapes a few decades old, he is now harvesting billion-year-old sounds created by merging black holes. As far as singular, awe-inspiring cosmic events go, that is fairly hard to top, but it must be said that Basinski on his own has a more melodically and harmonically sophisticated sensibility than most (if not all) black holes. As such, the appeal of On Time Out Of Time lies more in the ingenious transformation of the source material than in the finished compositions (though they are quite likable).

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  13733 Hits

Bowery Electric, "Lushlife"

http://brainwashed.com/common/images/covers/bbq213.jpgAs someone who already reviewed Bowery Electric's third album 19 years ago, I can't discuss it now without recognizing the importance of their second album and the differences in the world where each existed. Whereas Beat was very much the right record at the right time, Lushlife, in hindsight, feels like the wrong record at the wrong time. What made the world listen to Beat was its seemingly effortless mastery of sound, structure, and songcraft. The group didn't follow a particular formula between tracks and it never felt as if they were obliged to reach for a hit single. Released originally in late 1996 on Kranky in the USA, it grabbed the attention of Beggars Banquet for a release in Europe followed by two remix 12" singles, a remix album, and worldwide distribution to the follow-up. While they may have not explicitly been tasked with the duty of creating a pop-breakthrough, Lushlife feels at times like Bowery Electric are aiming for it. The songs were certainly more consciously composed, lyrically dense, and the sounds on the whole were much more vibrant and stunning than previously. Martha's vocals are more pronounced and confident, the bass riffs are a thunderous force, the guitars are sublime, and the strings are gorgeous. The dominating backbone of the record is the hip-hop beats, which eventually becomes its weakness.

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  2725 Hits

William Basinski, "On Time Out of Time"

William Basinski’s On Time Out of Time Utilizes the Sounds of Two Black Holes Merging
On Time Out of Time is a suite of works originally commissioned for the 2017 installations ‘ER=EPR’ and 'Orbihedron' by artists Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand (in collaboration with Jean-Marc Chomaz and LIGO) for the exhibition, ‘Limits of Knowing’ at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin by curator, Isabel de Sena.
These works utilize, among other things, exclusive source recordings from the interferometers of LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) capturing the sounds of the merging of two distant massive black holes, 1.3 billion years ago.
The CD and Digital formats feature two tracks: The 40-minute title track, “On Time Out of Time,” as well as “4(E+D)4(ER=EPR)”, a track recorded for the aforementioned installation. The vinyl LP format features two exclusive mixes of the title track: “On Time Out of Time” on the a-side; and “On Time Out of Time (The Lovers)” on the b-side, made especially for the vinyl format.
William Basinski
On Time Out of Time
March 8, 2019
LP TRACK LISTING
A. On Time Out of Time
B. On Time Out of Time (The Lovers)
CD / DIGITAL TRACK LISTING
1. On Time Out of Time
2.  4(E+D)4(ER=EPR)
William Basinski is a classically trained musician and composer who has been working in experimental media for over 40 years – originally in NYC, and most recently Los Angeles. Employing obsolete technology and analogue tape loops, his haunting and melancholy soundscapes explore the temporal nature of life and resound with the reverberations of memory and the mystery of time. His epic 4-disc masterwork, The Disintegration Loops received international critical acclaim and was chosen as one of Pitchfork’s Top 18 Albums of 2004. The Temporary Residence Ltd. deluxe box set reissue of The Disintegration Loops (2012) was awarded the rare perfect 10.0 by Pitchfork, and ranked as Best Reissue of 2012. Installations and films made in collaboration with artist-filmmaker, James Elaine, have been presented in festivals and museums internationally, and his concerts are presented to sold-out crowds around the world. Basinski was chosen by Music Director, Antony Hegarty to create music for the Robert Wilson opera, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic which had its world premiere at the Manchester International Festival in July 2011, and toured Europe in 2012 and North America in 2013. Orchestral transcriptions of The Disintegration Loops by Maxim Moston have been performed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Queen Elizabeth Hall, La Batie Festival in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as Tauron Nowa Muzyka Festival in Katowice, Poland in 2017, and the 2018 Dark Mofo Festival in Hobart,Tasmania. Basinski is currently touring the world in support of his latest work, On Time Out of Time.
Jan 17 The Substation, Newport, AU
Feb 15 Pitchfork and The Art Institute of Chicago Midwinter, Chicago, IL
(The Disintegration Loops with the Chicago Philharmonic)
Feb 16 Pitchfork and The Art Institute of Chicago Midwinter, Chicago, IL
(Solo Performance of On Time Out of Time)
Feb 26 U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC
Mar 29 St. John On Bethnal Green, London, UK
Apr 11 Albert Hall, Manchester, UK
  5014 Hits

Jóhann Jóhannsson, 1969-2018

Everyone at Brainwashed is devastated at the unexpected loss of composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Brainwashed was first made aware of him through his releases on Touch and 4AD, and I had the pleasure of spending a brief amount of time with him while on tour in the USA, thanks to Adam Wiltzie of Stars of the Lid, who helped book his tour and provide sound for the shows. Since then, Jóhannsson has composed music for films such as Prisonders and Arrival, earned Academy Award nominations for best original film score for The Theory of Everything and Sicario, and won a Golden Globe for the score for Sicario. Our condolences to his friends and family.

  6779 Hits

Dead Can Dance

album coverIn 1984, long before anyone's grandparents were only a few keystrokes away from obtaining every morsel of information, this non-descript album cover appeared in the shops. Nowhere on the record were there band member photos or names and roles, producer credits, or lyrics. It was a gamble to purchase a costly import record if you were located here in North America, especially without hearing it first, but most of those in-the-know would gladly take that risk. In this case, it certainly paid off.

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  5129 Hits

Jon Whitney

Jon began his music career at the age of 14 as a disc jockey for WMUA at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and currently spins at WZBC at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  At 18 he moved to New York and interned at three major record companies.  He moved back to Boston at 19 and began working part time with one more until graduating from Northeastern University with a bachelors degree (double concentration of music and business).  Jon also currently DJs/VJs a music video night, The Sound Your Eyes Can Follow regularly in the Boston area and irregularly elsewhere.

Jon began Brainwashed.com in April of 1996 to host websites for some bands that needed some representaion on the web.  In 1998, he began the weekly magazine The Brain as a weekly digest for the staff and contributors of Brainwashed to keep tabs on each other featuring the news of the bands and labels whose Web sites are hosted at Brainwashed, to post brief reviews of music that we're listening to, release dates, and in 2003 began producing video segments for the Web site featuring exclusive interviews and live footage of some of today's most innovative independent artists.  The Brain was retired in 2005 to make way for the new Brainwashed.com which is nearly the same thing: a weekly dose of independent music and information. 

Jon's personal website is turbid.com.

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  190550 Hits

Cocteau Twins "The Pink Opaque" & "Tiny Dynamine/Echoes in a Shallow Bay"

In the mid 1980s, there was no internet, eBay, discogs, and if you didn't live in a metropolitan area, music was expensive. These two releases were the first affordable releases to surface on the North American continent from Cocteau Twins, and while neither were issued by the band themselves in this form, the arrangement of the collection and the pairing of the two EPs are flawless and remain a fantastic listen three decades later.

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  4806 Hits

Gary Numan, "Premier Hits"

The origin of this collection is a bit peculiar: originally sold through television commercials by the Polygram TV division in 1995, reclaimed by Beggars two years later, and now presented on LP for the first time, 20 years later. Essentially this is just about every Numan song a curious listener could want, featuring singles and popular album cuts. Aesthetically, however, the quality control in the art department could have taken a closer look.

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  3510 Hits

Thom Martin, 1975-2015

We are devastated at the unexpected loss of Thom Martin this week. Thom was a dear friend and multimedia artist, whose works included the eponymous Dresden Dolls album and visuals for both Brainwaves festivals. He is a longtime friend and our love goes out to his family and friends.

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  8612 Hits