'BC35' is so called because it's a celebration of the 35th anniversary of Martin Bisi's legendary studio in Brooklyn's Gowanus, where he's recorded the likes of Sonic Youth; The Dresden Dolls; John Zorn; Helmet; White Zombie; Swans, et al. And the form this celebration took was to record some improvisations and composed pieces, all live, over a weekend in January 2016 at BC Studio, with current/former members of Sonic Youth; Swans; White Hills; Foetus; Cop Shoot Cop; Live Skull; Pop 1280; Violent Femmes; The Dresden Dolls; Alice Donut; Lubricated Goat... to name just some. And Bisi contributed guitar to a small number of the tracks.
Diversity would be the expectation here... and that's true across some of the material but, on the whole, the core seems to be based around instrumental and experimental psychedelia where many of the pieces are delightfully fucked up. If this were a film, it'd be where the low budget exploitation kitsch of HG Lewis meets the darkly surreal and unsettling undercurrent of David Lynch. It somehow succeeds in being simultaneously absorbing and unnerving through its contrasting layers of both allure and menace on pieces like 'Nowhere Near the Rainbow', 'Dentonís Dive' and 'Synesthesia!'.
To supplement the psychedelia, moments of alt-rock and punk also rear their head, as well as genre-defying, standout tracks such as 'Downhill', which sounds like a darkly atmospheric take on an Ennio Morricone Western score, on what is a truly exquisite piece of music. The latter's courtesy of JG Thirlwell, Dana Schechter, Laura Ortman and The BC Radiophonic Choir (effectively, what's described as "a spontaneous choir of twenty unrehearsed audience members"!)
There are some vocals to be heard on a small number of tracks, such as the wonderfully titled 'Details of the Madness' and 'Humash Wealth Management, Inc.', whereby the latter has a voice over that sounds like Sleaford Mods' frontman impersonating a Dalek, in what comes across as a mildly aggravated rant. And the polemical agitation rears its head once again on 'Soft Glitter Cosmos Needs a Pig War'. Both tracks are by Tidal Channel and are, by far, the weakest on the album... terrible, in my opinion. But if what sounds like a Sleaford Mods + Dalek collaboration floats your boat, then hunt down the two tracks immediately! The album's best vocal performance appears on 'Take This Ride', courtesy of Ajda the Turkish Queen.
The impromptu immediacy of the whole project shines through on many of the pieces. It's quite remarkable, really, just what's been achieved here in what was largely a weekend of experimental, musical spontaneity. Itís an apt celebration of both Bisi's influence and what's been described as the uniqueness and "idiosyncrasies" of his studio.
Review by Mark Holmes
20th April 2018
1) Nowhere Near the Rainbow
2) Denton's Drive; 3) Details of the Madness
4) What a Jerk
5) Humash Wealth Management, Inc.
6) Downhill; 7) The Animals Speak Truth
8) His Word Against Mine
10) End of the Line
11) Take This Ride
12) Disintegration in the Well
13) Soft Glitter Cosmos Needs a Pig War
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...delightfully fucked up. If this were a film, it'd be where the low budget exploitation kitsch of HG Lewis meets the darkly surreal and unsettling undercurrent of David Lynch."