bran(...)pos - Den of Ordure and Iridescence

Another delightful house show-related find for me: I've been unfamiliar with the work of bran(...)pos until now, but I'm beyond glad to get in on this music. With a busy discography dating back to 2000, "Den of Ordure and Iridescence" is a vinyl/digital release via Resipiscent, who previously released "Quaak Muttar" by bran(...)pos on CD in the form of a small, functional pinball game!

Bran(...)pos is the performance/recording pseudonym of theatre sound designer Jake Rodriguez, who combines compositional and performance strengths with experience in softsynth and instrument design to make this project a potent and personal experience. This record covers a wide stylistic range with dexterous ease, and I think it unites the weirdo improv/soundart camps with the whole neo-kosmische scene blossoming right now in the cassette label world.

I'm really vibing on how well this LP hangs with a lot of the music I've been digging lately, and it bridges some genre boundaries that have been somewhat firm in my mind before sitting in this Den. The album opener, "Tin Tract Mine," explores the many sonic possibilities of the bran(...)pos live setup of the last few years. Briefly put, it's an electroacoustic kind of approach, but mostly created using mouth sounds and mouth-controlled synths. At first, I was reminded of the salival sonic palette in the Phillip Gayle album I reviewed a while ago, with lots of lip pops, licking, sucking, gurgling, etc: the "extended technique" range of avant-vocalisations. But the synth sounds that are produced/controlled at the same time expand this music into really surprising territory, creating a sort of eai duet within a singular oral cavity. Amazing, unexpected stuff, slowly rising in density, with lots of wild stereo panning that sounds great on headphones. At first, synths drone and oscillate in low, rumbling supportive roles, but eventually they overtake most of the identifiable mouth/voice sounds, even incorporating an insistent beat toward the end of the piece. Regardless of how this is made, it's a great listen, but the added bonus of seeing these mouth controls in action must surely put this work over the top. I can't wait to see this in person (more on that below), but here's a video to whet your appetite:

The second piece, "Sawed Off at Plasticized Forest," is a great sonic cousin to the Carl Testa album I just reviewed. Here, the bran(...)pos synths are used in conjunction with some extended-technique cello playing. Though much less melodically focused than Testa's "Iris," the cello/electronics relationship here shares a similarly tight kind of interactivity, layers of granular bits of cello seemingly drifting into high-pitched buzzes and glitches, and conversely having passages of synthesized clouds supported by very busy bowing and knocking on the cello. At times I'm reminded of Zbigniew Karkowski's extended piece for cello & electronics from a few years ago, "Nerve Cell_0," too, though many of the synth sounds here start from 8-bit sounding places and edge their way into more ominous spaces slowly. Proceeding through three short movements, "Sawed Off" is full of surprising transitions and high energy, sounding both serious and playful at the same time.

As cool as the A-side of "Den of Ordure and Iridescence" is, I was totally blown away by the B-side opus, a stunning 19-minute piece aptly titled "Lioness." While the first half of the album feels somewhat introverted and improvisatory in nature, with sounds being produced and manipulated from a singular point, "Lioness" highlights the intensely extroverted side of the bran(...)pos sound, carefully composed and with seemingly no orchestrational limitations. This is an expansive cinematic piece that boldly unites orchestral percussion and bits of found sound with a wall of modular synth goodness. This is the kind of work where a play-by-play doesn't do justice, but experiencing the many scenic shifts in this piece feels profoundly moving and almost tangibly visible, evoking lush alien landscapes separated by desolate, Mad-Max feeling deserts. The proportions of synth and "real" instruments put this music into a really unique place, where the timbral approaches of folks like Vangelis and Tangerine Dream get infused with a sort of 20th. C. classical rigor. A fantastic piece, and it's actually quite approachable, too: if you're a slightly less adventurous listener, I'd suggest starting with the B-side first, where you're sure to become so enamored with "Lioness" that you'll warm up to the more abstract approaches of the A-side in no time.

Bran(...)pos is on tour right now promoting this album. Traveling with Blood Transfusion, a new project from Sharkiface, they're making a stop at my Think Tank House one week from now. They'll be joined by Moss, a local group seriously deep into synth playing and design as well. Event info here. And the rest of their tour dates around this amazing album will be:

Sunday July 14, 2013 9pm
1336 S.Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday July 16, 2013 8:30pm
4th and Mountain
Alberquerque, NM

Thursday July 18, 2013 9pm
Roll on down to Club 1808 for this Fantastic Mixed Bill ! Lots of Harsh Noise, Experimental sounds, Noise, Electronic Wizardry, Noisy Noise, Folk Songs & Dub Step.
Your Hosts Topher Wallace and { AN } Eel will delight & Amaze you.
featuring in 2 rooms:
1808 E. 12th St.
Austin, TX

Friday July 19, 2013 9pm
House of Tinnitus Presents
411 E Sycamore
Denton, TX

Monday July 22, 2013 3:30pm
3401 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA

Tuesday July 23, 2013 9pm
Reid Campbell
407 49th Ave.
N. Nashville, TN

Friday July 26, 2013 9pm
1550 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL

Wednesday July 24, 2013 9pm
39 S Market St. #B
Asheville, NC

Saturday July 27, 2013 9pm
627 S. 28th St.
Lincoln, NE

Sunday July 28, 2013 9pm
Blood Transfusion
3553 Brighton Blvd.
Denver, CO

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