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Marcelo Radulovich - "2 Brains"

Two discs of the kind of low-fi sonic diaper-play that the world would be FAR better for, or better with or by or...whatever the preposition...'it would be leaps and bounds better if this stuff got PLAYED IN PUBLIC PLACES -- and I don't mean just malls and supermarkets and baseball stadia, I mean street corners and fire stations and pissoirs at the beach and over crackling loudspeakers in garbage-strewn picnic areas in every state (and national) park and certainly the church, temple, ashram, or synagogue of your choice. And in Death Valley and the state of Connecticut NORTH OF BRIDGEPORT.

Played in such places so you would have to hear it. Thus improving forever the quality of your life. Or maybe not low-fi: low-definition. A lot of "details" are hard to access. You don't always know exactly what you're hearing in the way of words or even sources -- where or whence the sounds are coming from...their ambient "context."

And sometimes low-fi -- of lower qual, both technologically and auditorily, than has to be: lower on purpose. Which, to this critic's thinking, can't be beat as a "concept." What the hell would beat it?

Although maybe you don't WANT the world to be a better place...a shame, but it's your call...nobody's forcing you.

     -- Richard Meltzer, The San diego reader, March 15, 2001

Tercer trabajo del chileno afincado en California Marcelo Radulovich donde se muestra la diversidad y apertura de un artista ante el mundo sonoro. El primer disco contiene grabaciones de estudio, compuestas, arregladas e interpretadas por el autor más invitados, mientras que el segundo es una colección de grabaciones de campo. La combinación de estilos y formatos es la nota dominante. El formato canción da paso al paisaje sonoro o al collage casi sin solución de continuidad, y el rock de Zappa (con todo lo que conlleva) se confunde con manipulaciones electroacústicas, mientras que el aire funky de Barry Adamson y esa decadencia que llevaba implícita la música de los Residents se alía con el complejo entramado de Negativland. AĖádele un componente progresivo y psicodélico de principios de los 70, sin el cual esta obra pasaría por un divergente ejercicio de estilo, y aplícale una impresionante capacidad de mimetizarse con el ambient y ya tienes una de esas obras maestras imprescindibles para cuya asimilación quizá necesites de dos cerebros. Una de las grandes obras musicales de esta década.

     -- Carlos JAUREGUI

A woman murmurs dreamily. You can't quite make out what she's saying. Could it be Ute the Seductress? Sounds you can't identify -- and some that you can -- thunder over the speakers. Marcelo draws from diverse and provocative sources, mixing the disparate elements of violin, 1930s-era radio broadcasts, an airplane at takeoff, a lecture on the effects of nuclear radiation and various techno, computer-generated special effects with human laughter and percussion tracks. His work seems the next step in the evolution of house/techno, and indeed DJs number among his most appreciative listeners. If you know Marcelo's native country is Chile when you hear it, "Took Out Machine" will subtly horrify you with evocations of the Pinochet era and its associated torture devices. You may prefer to call it experiments in sound rather than music, since what Marcelo produces reaches so aggressively beyond what you're used to tuning in on the radio. Apparently there are some among us who are gifted with the ability to hear music in everything. Marcelo is undoubtedly such a creature.

     -- Dylan Roberts

Again, the opportunity for me to meet a new label and a new artist. Accretions is based in San Diego and has released at least 17 discs, a fair few of which feature Radulovich either by name (this is his third), 2 by Wormhole Effect (he is their bass player) and two Trummerflora compilations - apparently of the San Diego experimental scene. This double set came with a decent wack of PR material (including some temporary tats) which suggest some influences and directions - Zappa, Fripp and Eno, Zorn, Residents, musique concrete and more - to which I will add my own impressions below.

The first Brain (or disk 1) is the structured, song side of Radulovich's persona. There are 16 tracks, between a minute and seven long (and generally longer in the second half), featuring a welter of guests on percussion, vocals, trumpet, violin, guitar, machines and metals, and backing vocals. They add to Radulovich's own skills on guitar and bass, percussion, keyboard, voices, loops, tapes, samples, radio and noisemakers. The results of this is a ZappaBeefheartJazzesque potpourri but a very pungent one, with an individual and distinct voice.

Samples, which will recur in spades on disk 2, are a feature of most tracks, and 'Lurdez' provides a brief prelude and exemplar - a rising tone, echoed and overlapping voices, various noises - it is liftoff. Slow drums, a high whine and a gentle rhythm underlie 'Hatch 2' before a grinding beat steamrolls through, hatch shouted out underneath, ending with a light tuned percussion. 'Terarana' features an echoed, intoned vocal and very Zappa-esque chorus over and rubbery bass, sweet weaving horn and bluesy group. 'Box 14' is an abstract collage of atmospheric noises, water sounds, voices calling, passing vehicles and planes, sonar pings and struck strings which reaches towards a structure as violin and percussion emerge towards the end. But it acts as a mood shift before the driving Beefheart blues of '7 headless horsepeople' - a pulsing rhythm section, some oblique electronica and the demented voice of Radulovich. Another couple of constructed pieces then sneak in - 'Dos cerebros 2' voices, noises and strumming melds into a pulsing that builds but never evolves a structure, surrounded by some guitar and feedback. 'Box 131' couples horns and street sounds, some crooning, backwards tones and more which build to a semicacophanous climax.

Rhythm and light return with 'Ute the seductress', whose sample is accompanied by some smooth guitar and gently rising voices, and 'Do the deed' - introduced by a sample on how to use a liferaft - grooves into a jazz beat with choppy guitar, pleasant group singing and a few weird noises to remind us where we are! Which the second rocket lift off of rushing wind noises and rising tones in the brief 'Ya' underscores, as does the concrete of 'Alpha & beta particle' with doors, lots of bells, passing vehicles and an atomic sample.

'Isomorphism' introduces the final stages which is replete with structured song. This contains lyrics which are a reading from Douglas Hofstadter's 'Godel, Escher and Bach' (a great book) which explains the title (which at first I had thought to refer to split brains - the two disks representing halves of Radulovich's brain). The text refers to isomorphism of one brain on/in another, matching conceptual structures - and the method of this album points towards that - the dense layering of sampling building the second brain in our own, based on Radulovich's model. Enveloping the reading is the group, some horns and a ponderous group, together with some subtle guitar.

Many tracks start with some samples - and 'The tethered' is no exception - a buzzing then german voices calling out before a heavy riff emerges, dense bass drums and fuzzy guitar. The sample continues, rising and falling, as the lyrics are sung/intoned, and the track rolls its dense way to the end, throwing in harmonica and humming chorus along the way. A lovely lullaby grounds 'La resurrection', whose melody infuses the track together with some tones and very mellow horn, bass and rhythm. 'Hatch 1' opens with sampled loops and then shifts through various phases - some piano, voices and industrialmachine rhythm that continues, slowly building, with samples and tones washing over it. After a film sample about going to the cemetery and 'f***ing some whores' a jaunty organ melody pops into 'Took out the machine': a heavier rhythm joins, accompanied by strange blurtings and sundry echonoises, very experimentalboppy. Radulovich sings about a mindcontrol machine, the beat drops out leaving noises under a sample, the whores are mentioned again and we slip into an extended heavy outro. A fittingly complex mesmerising conclusion to this disk: a wonderful noisey, complex demented album brimming with ideas.

The second disk is less structured, and focuses on the sampling, experimental side which has supported many of the songs on the first disk. The three sections are created from samples Radulovich has recorded all over the world - London, San Diego, Hong Kong, Utrecht, Paris ... - and at first glance has simply strung together. They are extended fragments, usually some minutes long, shifting for example in the second one, through: a child crying, a noisy boat with sound coming in waves with people in the background, a looping game (probably at Las Vegas), a Peking opera, an announcement in French, accordian, seagulls, clacking (perhaps a horse). Other sections include a long street discussion of being black, a clown/magician at a children's party, a tabletennis game, various street and environment recordings.

And only 'seemingly' strung together - the selection of pieces, their editing, sequencing, interleaving and hints of subtle manipulation have been carefully and thoughtfully undertaken. The shifts between overheard conversations, musical interludes and abstract environments is quite mesmerising. And where the spoken pieces could become distracting after a few listens, they fade into their own musicality. The result is an international soundscape that is quite seductive, and an interesting mirror to the first disk: the more you listen, the more interconnections you notice, as samples appear in both, creating a complex intertwined musical entity.

In addition to the music, Radulovich has also done the artwork - featuring some surreal abstract black and white photographs (plus one of a fishmonger) - which is very subdued and attractive. An album as musically intricate, difficult and interesting as this, that uses a quote from one of my favourite authors as a lyric in the 'title' track, and on top of that looks good must be a winner. And it is.

     - Jeremy keens, ampersand Etcetera

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