The art-jazz-electronic duo Plasmodium has a CD out titled Clairaudience, blending fusion, sampladelia, grunge, and twisted Southern humor. At the music's core are jazzy grooves performed by Jim Thomson (drums, vocals) and Bob Miller (trumpet and keyboards), augmented with loops, samples, and electronic treatments a la the "labfunk" of Recloose or Atjazz. Miller's nimble trumpet is a versatile lead instrument, moving from traditional muted phrasing to wah wah-ed electric guitar shrieks.

Veterans of the Virginia music scene centered around Richmond and Charlottesville, the pair has an interesting provenance: Miller gigs with the salsa group Bio Ritmo, while Thomson drummed in the 80s for the nuclear mutant hardcore outfit GWAR. Although mainly jazzy, Clairaudience spins a dazzling range of musical fictions, from "Tristay"'s reverbed rockabilly lament to the paranoid psychedelic dirge rock of "Space Eye" (think Alice in Chains meets Air, if that's possible). The daily indignities of hapless convenience store clerk "Clive Buckledown," recited in a deadpan, detective-story monotone over sensuous electric piano loops, recall the white psycho jazz rap of Kentuckyan-by-way-of-Dallas MC 900 Ft. Jesus.

In a more Cagean mode, the sound collage "Rethinking the Raven" presents echo-treated field recordings of a suburban smart guy spouting increasingly ridiculous, palsied nonsense syllables into fast-food driveup intercoms. ("Sir, can you drive to the window so we can take your order, we can't understand you.") The track is funny on a mean spirited Jerky Boys level, but also seductive, with the sound manipulations turning the baffled or bored utterances of the franchise employees into quasi-world music. One clerk's digitally twinned "I don't know/I don't know (I don't understand what you're saying)" becomes poignantly melodic through repetition, resembling an eerie call-and-response chant. In "Dr. Octobongopus" a bored lounge MC introduces the stage act of a polyrhythmic, multi-armed, but basically lame bongo player in a routine that is pure deadpan surrealism.

You can stream a few .mp3s at the Dry County Records site ("Space Eye" is especially good), or purchase the CD at CD BABY. Highly recommended.

- tom moody 5-12-2004 9:07 pm

add a comment to this page:

Your post will be captioned "posted by anonymous,"
or you may enter a guest username below:

Line breaks work. HTML tags will be stripped.