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Phil Western, 1971-2019

Our hearts go out to the friends and family of Phil Western. Western was a member of Download (along with Cevin Key, Mark Spybey, and Dwayne Goettel), Frozen Rabbit, and recorded solo as Philth and under his own name. His family has issued the following statement:

"It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that we, Phil's family, want to make this official announcement of his death this past week. The family are awaiting the Coroner's investigation into an official time and cause of death but we believe it was an accidental overdose. We will update when we receive further information. Phil was loved by so many of us. He was funny, intelligent, deep, creative and so many other wonderful things. We will miss him more than we could ever accurately convey. Much love to all those who are grieving with us. Phil's family xo"

 

Forced Exposure New Releases for the Week of 02/11/2019

New music is due from Cosey Fanni Tutti, Warthog, and Eartheater, while old music is due from Yoshimi Ueno, Osiris, and Mandrake Paddle Steamer.

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Ellen Fullman and Okkyung Lee, "The Air Around Her"

As Ellen Fullman can likely attest, one of the downsides to inventing your own instrument with 100-foot-long strings is that it definitely limits the number of possible venues for your performances.? Another is that Fullman's Long String Instrument takes roughly five days to install and tune, adding yet another level of amusing inconvenience to the endeavor.? Fortunately, an optimal situation surfaced in 2016, as John Chantler's First Edition Festival was given access to Stockholm’s Performing Arts Museum while it was being renovated.? Given the limited "pure drone" nature of her instrument, the success of Fullman’s work can be heavily dependent on finding an appropriately sympathetic foil who can add vivid splashes of color and new layers of emotional depth to that rich harmonic backdrop.? In that regard, Fullman could not possibly have hoped for a more talented and amenable collaborator than avant garde cello virtuoso Okkyung Lee.

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Mark Solotroff, "Symmetrical Spaces of munication", "Social Objectives"

Mark Solotroff’s contributions to harsh electronic music cannot be overstated.? Beginning with the adult bookstore sleaze of the 1980s power electronics project Intrinsic Action into the present day psychologically disturbing noise of Bloodyminded (which, in a live context, bees the perfect deconstruction of rock performance) and the doom metal tinged Anatomy of Habit, he has been an influential force for the past 35 years.? This does not even take into account his multitude of solo and side projects, such as these two recent cassettes.? All of his work is joined together by a single, distinct thread:? a love of analog synthesizers that borders on the obsessive.? Here those synths are used to create the perfect soundtrack to city isolation.

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INRA, "The Content Consuming Its Form"

This unusual and fitfully fascinating album was quietly released near the end of 2018 on the small New Orleans-based Pinkbox Teleport label.? INRA are themselves based in Berlin, yet The Content Consumes Its Form sounds very much like it was partially birthed in a bleak and blighted late-'70s industrial area, favorably recalling the UK’s finest art-damaged dystopian experimentalists of the period.? While I probably would (guiltily) enjoy an album that was essentially straight-up Throbbing Gristle worship, INRA merely recapture the intelligence, low-budget futurism, and deep sense of post-modern alienation that defined the milieu of the era.? Stylistically, they reanimate the formula with fresh blood in the form of kinetic drumming and nods to the heavier side of the dance music underground.? While not every song gets the balance of murky mood and skittering, propulsive rhythms exactly right, the ones that do are a deliciously inventive feast of post-industrial collage done beautifully.

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Bionulor, "A.S."

Sebastian Banaszczyk's sound recycling project Bionulor's recent works have been part of larger multimedia projects such as theater, but for A. S., he has returned to a purely audio format.? He maintains a thematic unity to the album, however, making it as conceptual as any of his prior works.? For this one, his starting point was the work of Russian poser Alexander Scriabin.? Banaszczyk strikes that perfect balance between creating something new while allowing the source material to be recognizable throughout.

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Podcast Episode 405: February 3, 2019

Episode #405 of Brainwashed Radio: The Podcast Edition is now live.

All new episode featuring all new music by Thighpaulsandra, Amp, TX Connect, Croatian Amor, Richard Skelton, Ivan "Mamao" Conti, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, and Machinefabriek with Marissa Nadler).

Photo courtesy of Tim, taken in Akimos, Australia.


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1999 Readers Poll Recount: The Results

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the Recount of the 1999 Annual Brainwashed Readers Poll.

The original vote which took place at the end of 1999 was clearly less expansive and inclusive, however the new top picks aren't drastically different than the original vote for the most part. Numerous releases which have now charted weren't even on the radar of most readers at the time while other releases have noticeably dropped in popularity due to changing times and changing opinions.

No more polls until the end of 2019.

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Dolphin Midwives, "Liminal Garden"

This is arguably the formal debut album from Portland harpist Sage Fisher, though she previously surfaced with a fine cassette (Orchid Fire) back in 2016.? Liminal Garden is on a pletely different level than its more homespun predecessor though.? If someone had told me fifteen years ago that several of my favorite artists would be harpists in the not too distant future, I would probably have thought they were pletely delusional, but the instrument has undergone quite an incredible renaissance since Joanna Newsom's early albums blew up.? While it is probably too soon to tell whether the more mysticism-minded Fisher has definitively earned a place in the same illustrious pantheon as Newsom and Mary Lattimore, her inventive use of effects and processing here frequently transcends harpistry altogether and calls to mind some of the most iconoclastic laptop posers of the early twenty-first century (if they lived in a fairy tale-like crystal palace in an enchanted forest).? This is a wonderful and unexpected gem.

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Bowery Electric, "Lushlife"

As 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 posed, 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 bees its weakness.

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The Eye: Video of the Day

Out Hud and !!!


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Review of the Day

The Antripodean Collective, "The Massacre of the Egos"
The Antripodean Collective is an ever-changing group of Australian improvisers that create music without the limitations and responsibilities of a bandleader. While the musicians in this incarnation had all previously played with each other in various groups, this was the first time that this particular quintet had played and improvised together. The title suggests that it was a grueling process, but the results were clearly worth it.
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