Oceans of Blue, Forests of G R E E N : AN INTERVIEW WITH ANNA LUISA PETRISKO
The work of multi-media artist Anna Luisa Petrisko has been making waves in the bay area and beyond for years under her own name, the longstanding JEEPNEYS project which mixed recording, performance and video, which culminated in a video game project “JEEP JEEP”, The Black Salt Collective, and now her new album, titled “Green” , released on LA’s Practical Records help solidify Luisa as one of the most important contemporary artists working today across many different platforms while still retaining their roots and radicalized aesthetics. Luisas’ tour with XINA XURNER , “The Royal Hearts Tour” stops in Oakland this Wednesday at Pro Arts!
Hello Anna, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with Decaycast. Can you introduce yourself and speak a little about your current performing/recording project?
My name is Anna Luisa Petrisko and I am an artist working across many mediums. I recently released an album called “Green” which was co-produced with Julius Smack and features guest vocalists Adee Roberson and Ana Roxanne, and piano by Gavin Gamboa. I’m getting ready to tour (with my friends Xina Xurner) in support of this album. I’ve been calling it “tropical new age pop” but you could throw in “synth” and “experimental” too. It is definitely song-based. I live in LA and although there is a ton of nature, it isn’t the greenest kind, especially in the summer and after several years of drought. The “green place” I dream of through these songs is this lush space where we can all chill, heal, and play. And pray for rain! Green is the color of your Heart Chakra and I wrote this album while grieving, so the green place is also where we process grief and connect to the ones we’ve lost, our ancestors and whomever else we keep close.
Thank you for going in so deep, how has the sound of “Green”, your newest recorded work, changed since previous works such as the esteemed JEEPNEYS project? Also is collaboration a main theme of all of work audio works?
JEEPNEYS was a project that was in and of itself constantly evolving and was a way for me to process coming into my self as a multimedia artist, rather than somebody who was always in bands, as well as processing my identity and culture as a Filipino. When I decided to retire JEEPNEYS (in the form of a video game JEEP JEEP) I knew my next album would be something different. But it is still a lineage and a continuation because the theme music from JEEP JEEP evolved into the first song Offering on GREEN. Damn I guess I cannot escape myself! The songs on GREEN feel different than music I released as JEEPNEYS, and they are not tied to specific performances whereas JEEPNEYS releases are more like opera soundtracks.
I am mostly reclusive in the studio so collaboration is really fun and a way for me to get out of my insular world. I love my friends so much but I am also a create-aholic so collaborating is how I hang out with my peeps without having to leave the studio! Working with Adee, Ana, Gavin and Julius Smack on this album was absolute pure joy and lots of snacks. If we collaborate, I will feed you.
So in a way, the work under your own name is less tied to multimedia works? Are you still working in other mediums, and if so, will they work their way into these newer works under your own name?
I don’t have plans for Green to become a large scale performance project, but I did make music videos for “Mountains Gold Rivers Green” and “Maintenance in Loving” and they will be premiering this week! In terms of my other work, I continue to do the Sagittarian most. I am currently in a group show in Oakland at Dream Farm Commons with a bunch of amazing peeps including my longtime collaborator and friend Grace Rosario Perkins. I have plans to collaborate with The Creatrix for a special residency with Practical Records in Berkeley in November. I am also working towards my next experimental sci-fi opera premiering in 2019 which will have holodeck-inspired mixed reality experiences and space cult vibes!
Wow, thats a lot of projects in the works How do you manage to balance so many projects at once in so many different mediums? Do they all inform each other, or do you attempt to operate in different mind sets for the work flow of each project?
To be honest my flow often feels like a sporadic and heavy gas pedal / sudden brake situation but I thank my lucky stars every day for my completely nonsensical & non-linear process because it usually comes into focus at some point. Not always but that’s ok. I mostly just follow my intuition, make lots of mistakes, and try not to get anxious thinking about it all by doing lots of self-care. You seem like you are doing a million things, and supporting not only your own work but so many other people’s work who are all very unique. What’s your secret?
Honestly I’ve always respected you as an artist for many reasons, but one of them being you seem to have so many different projects going, but they all are fully realized and it seems as if you’ve successfully cloned yourself. I am doing a million things, but i have so much unseen support, mostly from women of color, and all of the amazing radical art that gets produced by folks that have exponentially less privilege than i do is a constant inspiration to do better, and do my part in documenting all of the amazing work thats being produced right now, also strong weed.
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about within either the context of your practice, or the world in general lol?
Thank you! I totally feel you and resonate with what you are saying. I have so much seen and unseen support from friends, family, and history in general! There’s a long lineage of artists who came before and after, and had/have it way harder than me! Grateful is a small word to describe a big feeling. Can’t wait to see you in Oakland! Take care
Being The Machine : DECAYCAST Interviews Derek Rush (Chthonic Streams, Compactor)
Derek Rush is a man of many hats in the contemporary noise/industrial scene; like many artists these days, Rush has taken a ground-up, DIY ethos to his various musical projects, his imprint Chthonic Streams, his DJ sets, as well as mixing, mastering, and designing artwork for his releases. Many times, when artists spread themselves this razor-thin, for a myriad of creative, philosophical, and logistical reasons, aspects of the work suffer, or appear rushed, but not in the case of Derek Rush. His commitment to the preservation and documentation of the New York City and North American noise and industrial scene is impressive to say the least. Make sure to keep up with his various projects here and here.
Hello Derek and welcome to Decaycast. Can you talk a little bit about your current creative projects and what you’re up to these days both with your label, Chthonic Streams and related projects?
My main current project is as SysAdmin for Compactor. This means I’m overseeing the production of recorded Documents, and I handle tech, setup and breakdown of Live Shifts. Compactor is a machine, or series of machines, operated by a uniformed person called The Worker. The idea is that this is an anonymous figure who could be anyone, they represent everyone who works for a living. The project is a series of ongoing statements about work and its place in society, the dehumanization of people, the focus, fetishization, and trust in technology, the push-pull of how it can be pretty cool but also pretty destructive. In May 2018 Oppressive Resistance Recordings released the full-length CD “Technology Worship.”
Chthonic Streams started as an outlet to release my own work when other labels are unavailable, as well as distribute the work of others I’m even tangentially involved with. Recently I’ve been expanding it to put out short-run releases of artists I like. I usually collaborate on some aspect, at least the design, sometimes a bit of mastering or even mixing, it varies. The latest release as we’re talking now is a tape by Endless Chasm, a dark ambient/experimental artist from Kansas. I also try to combine the release with a show I present under the Chthonic Streams banner with a variety of complementary artists.
As for other related projects happening now, I’ve been contributing to Theologian, which is the project of Lee Bartow. I recently sent him some melodic/harmonic elements which were turned into a track on the cassette “Reconcile,” and we have been sending files back and forth for the next major album, “Contrapasso.”
How did the collaboration with Theologian come about? How do you (if at all) separate the sounds you use for Compactor vs. the sounds you use for Theologian or other collaborations, and also how important is collaboration to you on general? Theologian is Lee Bartow, but sometimes he likes to collaborate with others. We’ve known each other from a distance for years, but connected more in 2010 when I asked him to remix a song from my band Dream Into Dust. In return, he asked me to contribute to a project called Love Is Nothing, and then he sent me material which I added to along with others that became the Theologian EP “Some Things Have To Be Endured”. I mixed the “Forced Utopia” album last year, and I’ve been editing/producing material for the forthcoming album “Contrapasso.” The “Reconcile” album came about because of the Darkness Descends industrial festival in Cleveland put on by Stephen Petrus of Murderous Vision. Lee asked Stephen, Andy (The Vomit Arsonist) and myself to send material that he would turn into an album (mixed by Mike McClatchey of Lament Cityscape), and the four of us played in Theologian for the fest.
The mindset, sound, and material for Compactor is very different from other projects or collaborations. Compactor sonically is all about different textures of primarily atonal sounds. The material I sent in for “Reconcile” was very melodic and droning and in a specific key. In general when working on Theologian, I know what that sound is and where Lee is coming from, and I’m just trying to do something that goes along with that but adds a dimension he doesn’t usually do when working on his own, things like trying to add a different structure or little synth melodies and string parts.
I think in any collaboration, it’s important to find out what the other person wants and needs, which may not be the same thing. I’m mostly just trying to help their project be the best it can be to my ears. But in the end, they give the final seal of approval and may even change things I’ve done initially. I find that totally democratic collaboration often doesn’t work. Someone has to be in charge of a project and someone else in more of a supportive role.
Seems like the sounds of Compactor and your collaborative projects come from very different places, intention-wise. Oftentimes in experimental music artists can take an “anything goes” approach, but that might end up not working for every situation, or even many situations. Do you think noise and experimental music, more than other genres, emphasize collaboration, or on the contrary does it discourage collaboration and focus on promoting the individual. Is removing yourself from the identity of Compactor a conceptual move or does it occur for different reasons?
I think noise music by its nature might not discourage collaboration, but it’s kind of unnecessary and sometimes a bad idea. With many types of noise, the more distortion and frequencies that are happening, the harder it is to fit in other sounds. It needs to have people even more attuned to each other than in conventional music, to know what and when to play or not play. Otherwise it can just become total white noise, filling up every space. There’s a place for that, obviously HN and HNW, but even one person can generate that on their own. So collaboration usually seems to come more out of a need for cameraderie and community. I think there’s a lot of loners, myself included, for whom noise has somehow had the opposite effect of connecting with others on the same wavelength. So it’s not like a rock band where you’re a guitarist who needs a bassist and drummer. You can do it all yourself, but you want your buddies with you, especially if they by themselves create something you respect.
Compactor being the machine, operated by the faceless figure of The Worker, is something that naturally came about from the early titles and imagery. It basically wrote its own backstory. Once that was in place, other details just obviously follow. The Worker’s story is a conglomeration of what goes on in this country and other parts of the world. The greed and inhumanity of corporations, the constantly working, often exhausted working class and shrinking middle class. It’s more important, and more interesting, to refer to these things than just say, wow work sucked today, I’m going to write a song about that. Because it’s not about me, it’s about everyone. And it’s sadly a pretty common feeling.
Can you talk a little bit more of the aesthetics of “The Worker” or “Compactor” from the mask/outfit to the unified aesthetics in the artworks well as music videos?
The predominantly black, white, and grey color schemes are just naturally bleak, and also give things a vintage or archival quality. A lot of the look of things is intentionally old, outdated, and ragged looking. For all the advancements in technology, there’s still a lot of old stuff being used by businesses that aren’t upgrading in order to save money. The Worker is kind of a personification of that, wearing a gas mask from 30 years ago, always the same worn-out shirt and work boots, and a generic cap, sometimes additional tools that are old, dirty, rusted or cheap-looking. It seems like a lot of companies are providing the bare minimum, or even leaving it up to employees to take care of their own uniforms or supplies.
Most of the videos in the past were outsourced to F Squared Media, who do some amazing work. Something to note is that there are never any people in them, in order to increase feelings of dehumanization and isolation.
Speaking of unified aesthetics, let’s talk about your imprint, Chthonic Streams. Most of your releases are rather involved with artist editions and elaborate packaging, including a boxset housed in a tool box?!? Is this true, care to elaborate?!
I’ve only started doing more elaborate packaging in the past few years, but have always strived to make sure there is really something to hold in your hands and look at. Also, it has to make sense and have a purpose. Although I appreciate albums that come with buttons and stickers, that’s not my thing. So I come up with images, words, and objects that bring the meaning of the music into the physical world.
The boxset you’re talking about is “No Workers Paradise”, which is 8 x 60-minute tapes, each one from a different noise artist. Compactor, Gnawed, Redrot, The Vomit Arsonist, Filth, Blsphm, Existence In Decline, and Work/Death each recorded a full album’s worth of material, so the total time is 8 hours, the standard American work day (although many people work longer than that). It also includes a 7″x10″ 12-page booklet with images, credits, and an essay I wrote about the prevalent relationship of people to work these days. Putting it in a tool box just made the most sense to me, as though someone would carry it to work with them and listen to it all day. Though this was my concept I have to give serious props and thanks to all the artists, who did some of their best work.
What is the most difficult part of running your own imprint and also what is the most rewarding? Also please discuss any upcoming releases you have for both the label, and Compactor.
The most difficult part is dealing with money. While I can save money doing pretty much everything myself, as soon as you start adding in the kind of crazy ideas I have, the cost goes right back up again. Not to mention the time and labor. I’m cheating myself in some ways, but I guess I’d rather do that than cheat an artist. Then again, probably a lot of labels at this level operate this way, which is sad. We’ve become so used to busting our asses incredibly hard just to get anything done and not lose our shirts.
On the positive side, it’s so rewarding to hear from other artists that they’re happy with how a release came out. These are people whose work I respect a lot, and we are friends and peers, so that’s the most important thing. Though we’re also happy to sell out of things too!
Just released is a compilation called Prematurely Purgatoried, which is a benefit for fellow musician Casey Grabowski (Nearest, Obligate Surrogate, Secret Societies) who has cancer. In the works is a release from Seattle-based artist Morher, who was until recently known as OKA Amnesia. I’ve booked her a number of times, and she recorded several long pieces live to multitrack at my studio, with plans to do more and make it a full-length, which I’ll be mixing, as I did with STCLVR’s Predator. She’s also a visual artist and we hope to collaborate using her work to come up with some kind of special edition that suits her and this material, which is incredibly open and visceral. It’s gorgeous sung and spoken word live and looped vocals, with ethereal backing based on field recordings bleeding into harsh noise.
By winter there will also be a special edition cassette by Mortuary Womb, a duo project between myself and the late John Binder of Exhuma and Arkanau. It’s full-on death industrial in the vein of early Cold Meat Industry and Slaughter Productions, recorded in Winter 2014. The limited edition will include a second cassette with the final recordings John did before he left us.
Compactor will have split releases with Vitriol Gauge and Ruiner. coming in Fall and Winter, respectively. There will also be tracks on compilations from Black Ring Rituals (for Fargo Noise Fest) and Spiricom Tapes, as well as a remix on the deluxe reissue of the Theologian/Lament Cityscape album. Beyond that, work has begun on a gabber album for Sonic Terror Recordings.
DECAYCAST Reviews: AMANDA R HOWLAND “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” (No Rent, 2018)
Cleveland, OH recording artist Amanda R. Howland comes with refreshing array of sonic possibilities and strategies with, “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” her first tape for the NO RENT imprint, with two sides of mixed-bag, dense, electronics spanning from harsh noise, to musique concrete, to sections accentuating voice, to more abstracted rhythm sections which blend in and out of a gentle, yet very present, bowed, hum. Static, voice, melody, clattering broken rhythms, radio chatter of ancient transmissions and a harsh sense of absence are all present in this short but important release. Tension is another constant theme to the ear as one section may contain a harsh, alienating scraping; a sound nasty pissed and angrily broken, inching across the floor toward its prey as the amplitude and aggression increase and climax into an alarm style buzzing; alerting the listener that, yes, now is your time. Another sound, if even for a moment, may offer a brief, ambient respite to the harsh reality that has encapsulated us all, “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” is, indeed the sound of that. A chaotic, dangerous and aurally thick and swift climax appears and then vanishes leaving only a distant hum of abstracted silence, a slow, subtle, thumping as if the decaying heart has pushed red for its final beat. The silence at the end of side one almost doesn’t seem real as the listener is left with wanting more of this uncertain future the ears and brain have yet to test, yet to experience. If any sonic territories are left unexplored under the “experimental” or “out-sound” tags on side one, we soon learn they will be shredded and eviscerated on side two with as much skill, tension, and carefully articulated abstraction as they were on side one.
The second side, “Batshit, Silence” picks up right where the A side dropped us off, with a high-pitched, distorted and warped melody. Intense shrieks, angry swells, and ancient hymns of bouncing, pulsing sine-wave frequencies gel together like a microbiological fungus slowly transforming into something much greater and dangerous, the thick scraping, shooting radio0 transmissions into the brain grow together, seamlessly providing a ridged and ugly backbone for abstracted layers of thunderous pounding, the a tonal scraping of a ferociously thick winds ripping across the gruesome and confusing scene, pulling tiny, flesh-ridden shards of the listeners inner ear with it, to cascade upon, as Howlands’ dark, grinning, noisy, churning machine glides through the wires and slowly leaks out of the pores offering a new dark reality, endlessly searching for a cave to whip around in, an enormous sound. This scene is eventually evacuated to barren, alien radio transmissions have crept their way in and angst-like shake and sputter long lost messages over the dense, thick walls of bleeding electronics, this like life eventually fades away and we are left with an alienating, deafening silence. Highly dynamic and enjoyable tape for a wide variety of experimental delvers. Pick u the digital HERE and the cassette HERE
DECAYCAST Reviews : Witowmaker “Feather” Cassette (Sleep On Dreams, 2018)
Witowmaker is the project of Bay Area electronic producer and internet cult personality Christopher Danko, also of Stable imprint/collective, and Religious Girls fame. On “Feather”, Danko crafts ten lush, dynamic, emotionally present, fun and heavy electronic “dance” tracks which float the listener to an oscillating plane of lush tone poem arpeggiations, thick walls of decaying synthesizers, heavy, dynamic drum programming, atmospheric flutterings, and concisely layered, and intricately mapped vocal samples. The overall sound of Witowmaker is, at times, surprisingly warm and ‘positive’, with a tinge of sarcasm, and at other times, darker, more dissonant, and even emotionally confusing in an interesting and uncontrived manner. Tension is sonically available throughout the wide range of aural moods on “Feather”, one track is accentuating the bent light sunshine across crashing waves, while the next track descends into another layer of cosmic hell, unsure of the outcome. Refreshing; this is a fun and important release in the arch of bay area electronic musings.
“Feather” offers complex, lush, delicate sonic textures while still retaining a pounding, thick, four to the floor heaviness which pulls from Acid, Dub, IDM and a dense warped version of straight-up dance music. Remnants of influence from Aphex Twin, FKA Twigs, DJ Spooky, Art Of Noise, and later Carl Cox can be heard in the glistening, bright, affront production, yet Witowmaker offers a unique style of dance based electronic music all their own! The B side begins with a fast tempo, funky bass arp track titled “Trick Me Twice” which rings back to 90’s NRG/bass music with an experimental flare all it’s own. A classically trained arp machine spits out climbing cascading rhythms while lush pads provide a warm backbone for chopped and glued vocal slices, offering a dense, warm, funky dance floor banger. Plug my ears with a drill to extract the earplugs that have been stuck for centuries at the club, ‘cause this is the high tempo, low bullshit dance music I’ve been waiting for.
This little tone machine gets funkier and more dynamic with each spin! Other tracks like the B side’s “Contamination” offer a darker, more evil-grin means of electronic stylings, which perhaps might be the darkest and most warped track on the album, pleasing the listener as the acid kicks in and everything changes. Witowmaker is refreshingly honest, dark and delicately crafted dance music for the jokester in all of us laughing to the trap door of life until the doors spin open and we’re left wandering through a world of confusion not knowing what we’ve seen nor heard. Look for more from this project, we will be. Side note: this is one of the best sounding and best LOOKING tapes we have received in some time, and it’s refreshing when the visual look and sound unite to create a beautiful package of lush electronic presentation. Order this tape, now!
Andorkappen, LA based noise/ drone maestro and also honcho at Underground Tape Review is back with “Temples Of The Unvirtuous”, on one of our favorite labels, OXEN, also an LA based imprint. “Temples Of The Unvirtuous” begins with a slow, low, hollow drone which barely is able to escape the speakers, however this distant drone steadily becomes a thick, warm, comforting, whirring sawtooth buzz accented by a steadily rising sine wave pitch poem, steadily climbing the ladder or alienation and confusion. This is the style of synthesizer drone music i have been waiting for, stripped, raw, warm, an a-tonal form to atone to. The bass forward drone, and the high pitched ring, engrosses the hearing until the sound is like a shaking, microscopic robotic insect drone which has entered the brain via the ear canal. You now have become rather UNcertain of what the future may hold.
The drone remains omnipresent, now navigating the innards of your nervous system with its sweating, pulsing, reverberations of mechanical hell, yet somehow this hell is soothing and relaxing, like the warm hum of distant machines that will eventually come to end our life, but for now have taken respite across the desert, gently vibrating and breathing, not quite ready to attack yet. The high pitched buzz has gently, yet in a fixed, determined manner become the musical crescendo and de-crescendo of the A side, and of course the bass for the B side, but rest assured, no matter how your body takes it’s new implanted oscillations, things will be different. Even though this evil sound appears distant it will slowly, steadily and eventually forcefully remap the sonics of your nervous system until you are violently, shaking uncontrollably in a pile of confusion and as you collapse onto the floor, the buzzes cease to exist, and all that’s left is a tiny mechanical bee buzzing against a dark, barren, abandoned landscape, ominously and microscopicly floating in limbo, waiting for it’s next unknown victim.
DECAYCAST Reviews: THE FATHERS “Sound Advice” Cassette / Digital (T/ECA, 2018)
The Fathers is Nathan Bowers of Tusco Embassy, Coagulator, Sun Poisoning, Sexorcyst and many many others, and Derek Gedalecia of Headboggle / Hillbogglle, Headlights et al taking a fresh and free sonic approach to avant gardism through minimal, stringed psychedelia. On “Sound Advice”, Bowers and Gedalecia seamlessly concoct a sonic stew of a tonal stringed rhythms through oceans of various tunings and strategies. Synthesizers, tapes, and guitars bend, flex, bow, and squeal through a distorted and plucked array of sonic excitement. Big chords, dizzying chords , buzzing chords are accented by splattering drum machines, long synthesized echoes, minimalist plucks, scrapes, taps, pings, rings, and reverberations melt into distant walls of unknown feedback. Eerily scraped axes, densely weighted keys, arpeggio stringed madness is the twisted spine of these dense arrangements.
The Fathers cover a wide range of sonic territory on “Sound Advice” effortlessly oscillating between musique concrete, new music, avant grade classical and even some straight up noise to boot. The Fathers don’t stay in one place for very long, but long enough to give these pieces life beyond just improvisational experimentations, these are complex, complete sonic works into themselves, but they also tell a longer, deeper story to the listener who is willing to make the connections or break the connection. The A side offers one long twenty minute track which begins with subtle synth blips, churning and chirping morse code to a dead radio who’s operator has long abandoned ship, backed by low and slow droning pulses, fluttering distant ringing warning bells of a barge slowly approaching the shore. The A side builds on ominous waves of tension, sounds elasticizing into each other in a sort of Rude Goldberg style of call and response, but it never sounds contrived or “jammy” all of the sonic events seem intentional and as if they have a place in the overall crescendo and decrescendo of a complex and damp mix. The sound never drops off, it only drops into the smallest part of the listeners ear to create a micro symphony of contorting notes and densely weighted rhythms. The blending of the guitars, synthesizers, tapes and other instrumentation gel into a warm, atonal stew of deep, soupy events. Texture and thickness of sounds expand and contract as the push and pull stylings of The Fathers operates like an elastic band of tension, composition, and duality, springing into a new space to once again fold back on itself. The Fathers create new guitar music quite unlike anything else, this tape is a must and it’s exciting to see the possible return of T/ECA, who offer some of the most unique and honest hand silk screened layouts to date, a must own. Grip it now.
DECAYCAST Reviews: Choisir Le Pire “-” (LE TOMBEAU DES MUSES, 2018)
Choisir Le Pire is a newer project out of Metz, France focusing on harsh noise / harsh noise wall and this new cassette release is no exception. Released on the newly formed LE TOMBEAU DES MUSES imprint also out of France. “-” as it’s titled wastes no time slicing the listener with sharp, grating, alienating plumes of static filled gut wrenching harsh noise with some HNW and even Power Electronics sections to boot.
The strongest track on this release, “De Charybde en Scylla.“, which is also the opening track on the A side offers the most interesting and dynamic work on the album, featuring an ominous sludgy, fuzzed out thick droning intro which is quickly and swiftly encapsulated by violent throbbing stabs of sonic mayhem; grating, dark, and uncertain. This tape is the perfect soundtrack to a nauseating feeling that comes moments before leaping off a cliff into the black abyss. The closing track, Ce qu’il en rester. is another favorite with it’s blistering shuttering fast paced dynamic stabs and wells, peaks and troughs of a chaotic land, Choisir Le Pire wastes no time and no sound, it’s all said and nothing is said except for the blood running slowly down the side of the listeners neck out of their ear. Focused, sharp and agitated harsh noise release with beautiful design and packaging to boot. Check out more from the label and artist via the links above.