Episode 579: June 19, 2022

Steens Mountain by MandaIt's an exciting all-new episode with music from Diamanda Galás, The Soft Pink Truth, Big Joanie, Nailah Hunter, SAULT, Joy Guidry, Taylor Deupree, Noori & His Dorpa Band, Ashley Paul, Benny Bock, Mat Ball, and KMRU.

Thanks to Manda for the stunning photo of Steens Mountain in Alvord Desert in Oregon.

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

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Eve McGivern

I love the smell of vinyl.

 

(Any weirdness at the site front-end, blame her.)

 

 

 

 

 

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2021 Readers Poll: The Results

Alas we are finally here to present the Annual Brainwashed Readers Poll. Once again, this is what the readers choose, as staff and contributors, we only make our comments here and there.

Sorry for the delays, these have been exceptionally stressful and demanding times for just about everybody. Production may be high, but morale remains low. This couldn't be more evident with this year's poll, which had the most entries in years, but had a remarkably low voter turnout. It is difficult to hold out until the very end of the year to be all-inclusive, where most places have made up their mind by November, and music of the year is being released constantly until the clock strikes midnight. So by the time we come around to soliciting votes, most people have checked out for the year.  We will do some re-evaluation to the process prior to future polls.

Thanks again to everybody who participated. This is your voice.

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  2508 Hits

Marisa Anderson/William Tyler, "Lost Futures"

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1958158059_16.jpgGiven that Anderson and Tyler began working together a few days after participating in an event commemorating David Berman, it is not a huge surprise that their guitar instrumentals have a Bermaneque feeling; making myth of the American landscape with moments, as the late poet sang, "when the here and the hereafter momentarily align."

I hope you will enjoy reading Berman references, but if you simply must have a review relating Lost Futures to lockdown, pandemic, climate catastrophe or protests, there are plenty out there.

Thrill Jockey

The opening track here, "News From Heaven," is a version of "With News From Heaven" from Tyler’s New Vanitas album. This immediately nods to Berman who at times saw answers from God in everyday life. Anyone who has seen the Silver Jew film of a 2006 tour of Israel (including William Tyler) will see Berman weeping and attesting to religious faith. Sadly, by 2019’s "Margaritas at The Mall," he is lamenting "no new word from God," and that faith seemed lost. I say "seemed" with no great confidence because no one has ever reported back from the other side.

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Santiago Pilado-Matheu, "La revolución y la tierra"

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1899664795_10.jpgIn Peru, Gonzalo Benavente Secco’s controversial documentary La revolución y la tierra, has drawn huge cinema audiences, perhaps because its subject, the 1969 Land Reform Act, still bitterly divides opinion more than fifty years later. So much so that TV Peru bowed to pressure and refused to broadcast the film, which skillfully folds scenes from old Pervuian films into the mix, in the run up to the elections of 2021. Santiago Pilado-Matheu’s deceptively simple soundtrack uses ambient electronics, loops, dubby Afro-Latin rhythms, Andean drone and melody, film dialogue, and speech excerpts by peasant leaders, to create a comforting yet sinister landscape of memory.

Buh

My off-the-cuff knowledge of Peru consists of four facts. Michael Bond’s fictional bear Paddington came from "darkest Peru" and legendary broadcaster John Peel died on holiday there. It was the location for Werner Herzog's Aguirre: The Wrath of God, filmed on the stone steps of Huayna Picchu, on tributaries of the Amazon river, and in the Peruvian rainforest. Herzog claims to have written the screenplay in less than three days, mostly on a long bus trip with his soccer team - one of whom vomited on several pages which Herzog had to discard. Lastly I recall Peru’s Teofilo Cubillas, in hs nation's fabulous white kit with diagonal red slash, smashing in a wicked free kick with the outside of his right foot, the first of his two goals that vomited on Scotland’s hubris at the 1978 World Cup.

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"La Ola Interior: Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983‚Äã-‚Äã1990"

cover imageSince the invention of cassette tapes, every country has had its own independent tape scene—whether independent musicians with limited release output via the medium or distributors sharing music under harsh conditions. Spain is particularly distinct in this time since, following the death of dictator Francisco Franco the prior decade, the country's creative class was reawakened and allowed to flourish. This tasty compilation from Swiss label Bongo Joe harnesses this movement, focusing on an array of Spanish and Spanish-related electronic music released between 1983 and 1990 that bleeds exoticism rooted in ambient investigations. The compilation succeeds at painting a picture of a lesser-known world of Balearic mysticism with Ibiza-influenced beats and treatments.

Les Disques Bongo Joe

Disc one of this two-disc compilation opens with the hypnotic ambient piece "Transparent" by Miguel A. Ruiz and ends with the fantastic "Trivandrum" by the same. It was "Trivandrum" that immediately caught my attention, sampling what appears to be video game audio over a majestic electronic loop of drums and bass. Both tracks are taken from the 1986 release Climatery but sound tremendously fresh yet today. Since the early eighties, Madrid musician Ruiz has worked under various names (Técnica Material, Orfeón Gargarín, Codachrom, Dekatron II, Michel Des Airlines, Funeral Souvenir, more) yet seems to be little known outside of his native country. Similarities to early O Yuki Conjugate exist, making use of mantric loops and tribal elements founded on a futuristic backdrop. Ruiz is a repeat name, along with Barcelona native Victor Nubla (1956-2020), the more well-known of the two. Nubla's "Chandernagor" is present, showcasing modulated clarinet for which he was known, as well as "20000 Lenguas" ("20,000 languages"), which puts his synthesizer work on display in a clangorous chorus of vocals.

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Alasdair Roberts and Völvur, "The Old Fabled River"

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0017144637_10.jpgAlasdair Roberts’ creative spirit and respect for tradition dovetail perfectly on this collaboration with Norwegian collective, Völvur. With traditional songs (in both artists’ languages) balanced by four new Roberts compositions, and the latter’s plaintive voice complemented by both Marthe Lea’s beautiful singing and the collective’s edgy, swinging and restrained playing, The Old Fabled River is joyous and mournful in equal measure.

Drag City

From the opening "Hymn of Welcome," which concerns the passing of a flame from a dying hand to one starting life, to the the closing "Now The Sun Goes Down/Nu Solen Går Ned" it is hard to miss the various pairings and the balance which inform this album. Cradle and grave, sunrise and sunset, transformations, time passing each day and life flowing through seasons, love blooming amid the beauty and harshness of nature. In this context, Robert Burns’ poem "Song Composed in August" fits right in. Written by the sixteen year old poet as an ode to young Peggy Thomson, of Kirkoswald, and to the precious nature surrounding her, it has often been recorded as "Now Westlin Winds," famously by Davy Graham who said it was "about everything." Sung here in three-part a cappella it sounds appropriately young and vital.

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Lucrecia Dalt, "No era sólida"

cover imageWith 2018's Anticlines, this Berlin-based artist established herself as one of the more adventurous and unique composers to surface in the experimental music scene in recent years and I am pleased to report that this follow-up burrows even deeper into the oft-fascinating rabbit hole of its predecessor. On a conceptual level, that deepening manifests itself in No era sólida’s deeply unusual themes, as the album is billed as a "suspended auditory illusion" that "embraces the possibilities of possession." Thankfully, the possession in this case is not of the demonic variety, as Dalt instead envisions the album as a sort of interrogation room where she interacts with an invented character named Lia. If Dalt were a lesser artist, such a premise would likely send me running in the other direction, but she executes it in such a subtle and abstract way that listening to No era sólida feels akin to unexpectedly finding myself in Twin Peaks' "red room": everything familiar is unrecognizably transformed into something disconcertingly alien and enigmatic. While the rare songs that blur into pop-like territory (such as "Ser boca") are generally the album's strongest moments, the entirety of No era sólida casts an impressively unique and haunting spell.

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Susana López, "Crónica de un Secuestro"

cover image In what will undoubtedly become a trend for artists in the coming months, Susana López’s latest work was conceived, constructed, and finalized during the lockdown. Largely completed early on, during the month of March, López took advantage of that forced isolation to produce this lengthy, rich disc of synthesizers, electronics, and processed voices. Although the sense of claustrophobia and tension are apparent, there is far more to Crónica de un Secuestro than just that.

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Brothertiger, "Paradise Lost"

Cover of Brothertiger - Paradise LostI was having a conversation with someone the other evening about what defines "pop" music, and if it can be considered good music. This is a loaded question since there are many varieties of music that could potentially fall into a pop category; the term means many different things, carrying both positive and negative connotations. As this isn’t meant to be an essay arguing the definition, let me simply say this: I enjoy what moves me. There exists simple, straightforward music which has the power to reel me in, winning me over with charming, catchy melodies, making my heart soar. With his sincere delivery, dreamy heartfelt melodies, eighties pop sensibilities and impressive vocal range, the talented John Jagos won me over as Brothertiger on his latest, Paradise Lost.

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Staraya Derevnya, "Inwards opened the floor."

Cover of Inward opened the floor by Staraya DerevnyaA truly multinational project, Staraya Derevnya is a collaboration of artists, poets and musicians across Israel, London and New York, released on independent record label Raash Records out of Jerusalem. The lyrics are sung, screamed, and chanted in a combination of Russian merged with a made-up language, with only the track titles — derived from a line of each song — translated to English. Knowing Russian is not required to be transported into a journey of epic aural proportions.

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GNOD and Jo√£o Pais Filipe, "Faca de Fogo"

Cover of Faca De FogoGNOD has made a career—a lifestyle—as a creative collective of musicians that weave together rhythmic, trance-inducing psychedelia and cacophonous pandemonium, unafraid of experimentation across genres. For this release, they connected with Portuguese experimental percussionist Joăo Pais Filipe after meeting up at the Milhões de Festa event in Barcelos, Portugal. This resulting experiment, improvised over 3 days and recorded in four at Joăo’s metal shop, was originally intended to premiere at the (now-socially distanced) 2020 Supersonic Festival in Birmingham, England. Overflowing with meditative tribal percussion and ritual, shamanic musical mantras, these four lengthy tracks ride a rollercoaster of moody atmospherics, Kraut-driven psychedelia and industrial mechanization, and will take an already widened musical mind for a ride.

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Jim White and Marisa Anderson, "The Quickening"

Jim White and Marisa Anderson, 'The Quickening'The start of the album made me think of what my grandmother would have said: "What is this twaddle?" and "Is this what you call music?" White is foremost a drummer, first founding Dirty Three with Warren Ellis and Mick Turner, and with bands as varied as Cat Power, PJ Harvey, and The Blackeyed Susans. Conversely, Marisa Anderson is a classically trained master of melancholic guitar rooted in American folk, neo-classical and African guitar styles, with an early foundation in country, jazz and even circus bands. With musicians as these at the helm, this becomes perfect jam music; not jam as in "jam band" or Grateful Dead, but a rich psychedelic tapestry woven by practiced hands that take pleasure in breaking the rules of jazz foundations and serve to transport the listener to new heights.

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My Cat is an Alien with Joëlle Vinciarelli, "Eternal Beyond II"

cover imageThe Opalio brothers have had quite an impressive history of adventurous collaborations over the years, as they have been joined by many of the most iconic figures in underground music, as well as an inspired array of interesting folks that I had not previously encountered. Naturally, a number of those unions have yielded wonderful results, but one of my favorites was the Opalios' pairing with Talweg/La Morte Young's Joëlle Vinciarelli for 2016’s Eternal Beyond. Several other artists have gamely and effectively adapted themselves to the brothers' unique aesthetic and working method over the years, yet Vinciarelli is the one who was most successful at finding and filling a space that made the collaboration feel like something more than the mere sum of its parts. More specifically, she brings some welcome bite and visceral intensity to the Opalios' phantasmagoric and alien reveries. Consequently, I am absolutely thrilled to report that this trio has now become a recurring project and that Eternal Beyond II is every good as its predecessor (if not even better).

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Ana Roxanne, "~~~"

cover imageI always love scavenging the internet for interesting end-of-year lists every December, as I invariably find a handful of great albums and films that I slept on like a fool. In fact, a lot of those belated finds wind up being among my favorites, as the albums I miss tend to be inspired and refreshing departures from the labels and scenes that I usually follow. This unusual debut album from LA's Ana Roxanne was one such find from last year, as it surfaced back in March and I probably dismissed it instantly as a vinyl reissue of some private press New Age obscurity (if I noticed it at all). Given both the look of the album and Roxanne's aesthetic, that is not a terribly outlandish conclusion to make, but a closer listen reveals that ~~~ is considerably more compelling and distinctive than it first appears. For example, Roxanne checks two boxes that have historically been strong indicators of a radical compositional approach: she both studied Hindustani singing in India and attended the fabled Mills College. As a result, Roxanne has an unusually sophisticated understanding of harmony and avant-garde compositional techniques for this stylistic milieu. Such a path would normally steer an artist towards an Eastern drone/La Monte Young vein, yet Roxanne deftly sidesteps anything resembling a predictable path, as ~~~ can best be described as what might result if a mermaid studied with Eliane Radigue: drone-based minimalism that evokes a soft-focus idyll of lapping waves and floating, angelic voices.

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"Mogadisco - Dancing Mogadishu - Somalia 1972‚Äã-‚Äã1991"

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It is difficult for me to imagine Analog Africa ever releasing a predictable or uninspired compilation, as Samy Ben Redjeb seems fundamentally incapable of ever focusing his attention on a scene or place that has already been anthologized by his crate-digging peers. Mogadisco is predictable in one regard though, as Redjeb makes his return to the African continent after Jambú e Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia's surprise detour into Brazil. Characteristically, however, Redjeb swims against the tide, as he decided to go digging in one of the world's most dangerous and tourist-unfriendly places after seeing a video about the Radio Mogadishu archives. A less driven person would have been immediately put off by the need to have an armed escort every single time he went outside, but that is the difference between Redjeb and everyone else: if he heard that there was a killer record hidden at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, he would either find a way to get to it or die trying. As usual, Redjeb's efforts yielded some genuinely wonderful finds, though this latest batch of long-forgotten and obscure gems is not quite as rhythmically unique as those on other Analog Africa collections. Fortunately, most of these artists managed to achieve a distinctive character in other ways. Analog Africa's hot streak remains unbroken.

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M√°ra, "Here Behold Your Own"

cover image Following up the limited 2015 release of her solo debut Surfacing, Faith Coloccia’s (also of Mamiffer) latest work is in some ways a continuation of that, but also something new entirely. With recordings dating back to 2015, Here Behold Your Own captures not only an artist, but a person in transition: the material was recorded before and mixed after Coloccia gave birth to a son with her Mamiffer/SIGE partner Aaron Turner. Like revisiting a photo album from many years past, she creates a perfectly somber, yet pleasurably nostalgic mood.

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Francisco López, "Untitled #370"

cover image After a few recent, highly conceptual and very long-form works, Francisco López has gone back to basics with his latest release. Consisting of a single 60 minute piece, packaged in a plain sleeve with the most limited of artwork, he is at his traditional, reductive best. With little information given as to the source material or the strategies used in creating the piece, it emphasizes the sound above all else, and it is another diverse, brilliantly composed piece of art from the legendary composer.

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D√∏dsmaskin, "√òdelagt"

cover image The enigmatic Norweigan duo of D√∏dsmaskin made the decision to intentionally split the sound of √òdelagt into two distinct types on their first vinyl release. The first half showcases their more structured industrial tendencies: surges of noise, harsh abstract rhythms and rumbling bass synth passages. On the other half there is less structure and more flow: melodic passages that drift like a harsher Tangerine Dream and a sound that is dark, but not oppressive. Taken separately both are great, but paired together it makes for an even better release.

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√∏jeRum, "Alting Falder I Samme Rum" and "Forgotten Works"

cover imageEvery now and then, I plan to have a productive evening, get sucked into a Bandcamp rabbit hole, then wonder where the hell my night went. I first encountered Paw Grabowski's √∏jeRum project during one such plunge last year and quickly fell in love with 2018's Selected Organ Works tape. Notably, Grabowski does not seem to share my time-management issues, as he has released roughly ten more albums since then (three of them in the last month). Needless to say, he is a difficult man to keep up with and tracking down which releases are especially inspired is a legitimate challenge. These two recent ones are quite good ones, though they take very different directions. The stronger one is arguably the newer Alting Falder I Samme Rum, which intermittently contains some of the most beautiful examples of Grabowski's blurred, slow-motion vision. Forgotten Works, on the other hand, is exactly what the title implies: a collection of unreleased songs spanning nearly a decade. It is quite a well-curated one though, as the Vaknar label unearthed some surprising gems that had miraculously eluded release up until now.

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  13347 Hits