Experimental music opens up our ears. Should we become too rigid or inflexible in our thinking, sound can point us toward broader avenues and unexpected possibilities. This, says Michael Pisaro, is one way that experimental music reaches out into the world. But, he says, it doesn‚Äôt just reach out, it invites listeners in and asks them to interact with what they hear. Over the course of several emails, I talked with Michael about his sense of time in music, complexity in modern composition, why silence matters as musical material, and how sound is never exactly what it seems.
Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti should require no introduction to Brainwashed's readers. Members of Throbbing Gristle, purveyors of fine electronic music under the names Chris & Cosey, CTI, and Carter Tutti and dedicated solo artists; there is not much out there that they have not had a stab at. John Kealy asked them about the recent Throbbing Gristle reissues, their current projects and the changing state of acceptability in art.
Forming half of Human Greed, Michael Begg has been releasing increasingly exquisite nocturnal music for the last ten years. Along the way, he has joined forces with Clodagh Simonds' group Fovea Hex and has been dabbling with Colin Potter in various manners. John Kealy caught up with Michael via email to discuss his duo with Deryk Thomas, the changing course of his music and the role that a long-dead Egyptian played in the formation of Fortress Longing.
This is the Brainwashed Readers Poll. Once again the Brainwashed Readers participated in the nominations and the voting rounds, and here we are with what has resulted. The writers don't all necessarily agree with the placement and rankings, but we have our last word in the comments we have provided.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the rounds and we wish everyone the best for 2012.
Fraught with peril and lost love, Circuit Des Yeux‚Äôs three albums (and various tapes and 7-inch releases) ring with visions of a life too cruel to exist. That such a landscape is the masterwork of a woman just touching her early 20s is all the more odd. But such is the world of Haley Fohr, a woman whose vibrant personality turns sour and dark within the world of Circuit Des Yeux. It‚Äôs the return of the Dust Bowl, it‚Äôs the loss of every love, and the allure of sin wrapped up in discordance. Though Fohr‚Äôs despondent melodies echo of a forgotten era, it‚Äôs her wailing, seductive vocals that truly sing the song of the Sirens. Haley Fohr was kind enough to lift the veil and speak to me via e-mail about her recent album, Portrait, her collegiate pursuits, and touring Europe for the first time.
When I first became aware of Coil in 1996, Love’s Secret Domain was already both legendary and inaccessible. Legendary because it loomed large in the Coil discography as the moment when that most esoteric of underground British groups came closest to a breakout, an album with crossover potential beyond the post-industrial ghetto. However, because I came to Coil rather late, and because I lived at that time in a cultural backwater, Love’s Secret Domain remained a tantalizing enigma. The album could not be found on shelves, and because it was out of print, it could not be special ordered from my local import-friendly alternative record store.
I'll never forget my first encounter with Coil. I was flipping through used CD bins in my hometown of Austin, TX, in 2005 and came across a pristine copy of Horse Rotorvator—the 1988 CD pressing on Force & Form, alternate cover art—it was beautiful. I promptly went up to the register, paid the $5.99 sticker price, raced home, and popped the CD into my stereo to ensure it played without skipping. This was a phenomenal find—Coil's Horse Rotorvator! The next weekend, I went back to the record store and shopped again. On the way home, I swung by the Post Office and mailed Horse Rotorvator to some sucker on eBay who had paid me $80 for the privilege of finding it for him. Yesssss!
Unfortunately the core duo of Coil can no longer reply to us but we are happy to feature three people who were present at the time. Attempts were made to contact other people involved: guests and collaborators, but responses were and are still waiting to be received. If more responses come in, this article will be appended.
In the early 1990s, those scrawny awkward years that formed the genesis of my adolescence, I didn't give one solitary fuck about Coil. Nirvana were mere seconds from breaking into the mainstream and, growing complacent with my parents' classic rock and protest folk collection, I immersed myself in college rock mixtapes provided by my older cousin and Victoria's Secret catalogs stolen from the mailbox. Experimental music was as foreign to me then as any country, and I had no appetite for a challenge like Love's Secret Domain, nor was I even aware of its existence. The closest I had come to it at that point were the few doozies on The Beatles' self-titled double album, and I was more inclined to flip the record than endure them.
Twenty years ago this month (July 1991) Love’s Secret Domain was finally released by Coil. Ten years ago the album was remastered and reissued in time for Coil’s first (and what was to be their last) US appearance and today the duo at the heart of it all are no longer with us in this existence. To honor the album’s birthday, we’re featuring reflections on the album this week and words from a few of those who were involved.
Record store day, held on April 16th, is supposed to be a celebration of music and the culture that surrounds it, but for Andrew Liles it's more like a sign of the times. His contribution to the celebration, a 7" picture disc titled As if Punk Rock Never Happened, originally featured a humorously edited version of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's official wedding photo. Pressing plants are refusing to print the image, however, and it will ship in a significantly censored form.
Nigel Ayers has long been an agent provocateur in the realm of experimental music. In the late 1970s he formed a group called The Pump with his brother Daniel Ayers and the late Caroline K. After a string of cassette releases a new project was formed by Nigel. Since 1981 Nocturnal Emissions has been releasing a steady stream of deconstructed music. The broad range of styles he has delved into can be bewildering. There are those made from abrasive noise, to an album made up of entirely remixed bagpipes, to another utilizing recordings made with vocal sounds from children under the age of 18 months, to another that samples cell phone conversations picked up on a police scanner, and a whole slew of titles which could be considered drone music before that kind of thing was as popular. He has also delved into electro and teeth-gnashing techno, and recently a dub album. And those are just the musical expressions of his curiosity. Nigel is a writer, poet, creator of viral art and digital ritual. He was kind enough to take the time and do an email interview with me to talk about his various explorations.
Ben Chasny released his first full-length record as Six Organs of Admittance in 1998. Since then, his recorded output has swelled to include about a dozen Six Organs albums. He has also toured and released music with Rangda, Comets on Fire, Badgerlore, Magik Markers, Current 93 and others. Ben spoke with Stephen Bush of Brainwashed about his latest Six Organs album, his ongoing work with Rangda and 200 Years, the philosophy of jazz collaborations, how to tell whether you're a hippie, and whether that elusive listener who self-identifies as a "Rangda fan" has ever been spotted in the wild.
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Wrks 1&2
Nico - Chelsea Girl
Kraftwerk - The Catalogue (box set)
Slowdive - Souvlaki/Blue Day
Joy Division - Heart & Soul (box set)
Crystal Castles 2
Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
Serge Gainsbourg - Histoire de Melody Nelson
The Ramones - All the Stuff vol 1&2
Scientist - ...Rids the World of the Evil Curse of Vampires
- The Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat (Verve - ‘68)
- No New York (Antilles - ‘78)
- Matmos, The Civil War (Matador - 2003)
- “L'Internationale” (1871)
- CocaineBlunts.com Bounce 4 Relief Vol. I (2005)
- Bob Seger, Greatest Hits: 2 (Capitol - 2003 ed.)
- Johannes Brahms (1833-97), Variationen über ein Thema von Josef Haydn Op. 56a (1873)
- Pere Ubu, Dub Housing (Rough Trade - ‘89 ed.)
- Brendan Behan, Brendan Behan Sings Irish Folksongs and Ballads (Spoken Arts - ‘85)
- Baby Dee, Regifted Light (Drag City - 2011)
Logan K. Young
"Derek Jarman's Blue soundtrack"
Horse Rotorvator by Coil
Amulet Edition by Threshold Houseboys Choir
the self titled Denver Gentlemen release
the first Black Heart Procession
Two Yards Low by mxiii
the Bricks Might Breathe Again by the Painted Saints
Rising by Lustmord
The Elbow is Taboo by Renaldo and the Loaf
Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy by Mindless Self Indulgence
Denver, CO, USA
Led Zeppelin "II"
"The Beatles Again" (AKA "Hey Jude")
Jesus Christ Superstar (the 1971 "concept album" w/Ian Gillain, Murray Head & Yvonne Elliman)
Black Sabbath "Paranoid"
Neil Young "After the Gold Rush"
Rolling Stones "Sticky Fingers"
The Damned "Machine Gun Etiquette"
David Bowie "The Man Who Sold the World"
The Mothers of Invention "Uncle Meat"
Bach "Brandenburg Concertos"
1. Coil : Love's Secret Domain
2. Nurse With Wound : Paranoia In Hi Fi
3. Whitehouse : Bird Seed
4. Robert Ashley : Automatic Writing
5. Andrew Chalk + Christoph Heemann : Mirror Of The Sea
6. John Duncan : Phantom Broadcast
7. Maurizio Bianchi : Technology
8. Throbbing Gristle : Second Annual Report
9. Ramleh : Homeless
10. Cyclobe : The Visitors
Brian Conniffe, Dublin
Unknown Pleasures- Joy Division
From Here We Go Sublime-The Field
2000 B.C.- Canibus
Things Fall Apart-The Roots
Silent Shout-The Knife
Room On Fire-The Strokes
Operation DoomsDay-MF DOOM
I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One-Yo La Tengo