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Dionysian Industrial Complex

August 24, 2019 synaesmedia

CPLX 10 : Phillip Häxan – Lines

A new phase of releases on Dionysian Industrial.

We welcome Phillip Häxan who produces murky darkwave pop : slick indigo, coral and deep crimson digital arrangements, slathered in lo-fi gloom and topped with Häxan’s own disturbingly wobbly and processed baritone vocals. A Pete Murphy minotaur, wailing sorrowfully, as he shuffles through the endless dark corridors of his labyrinth beneath the sea.

This one-off single starts with a burst of bright digital harp, briefly illuminating the shadows. Before being engulfed again by rolling waves of arpeggiation. We hear dusty footsteps of percussion. And the distant echoes of the minotaur’s bellows and roars of pain, multiplied through the tunnels.

The minotaur’s heart is broken. His confidence shot. He struggles as to whether to allow himself brief flares of hope. As shoals of indefinite but polychromatic lead-synth swim by, momentarily re-illuminating the hard repetitive musical geometry of his twisted world.

August 23, 2019 mariana

CPLX 9 : Global Ear for The Wire

A “Global Ear” report and playlist for the UK music magazine, The Wire.

The report covers Brasiliense artists and groups such as Cigarras, the Brasilia Laptop Orchestra (BSBLOrk), SCLrN and Karla Testa, as well as artists from the label.

And the playlist features tracks from them, plus all the current Dionysian Industrial artists and other friends.

Listen to the playlist here.

November 27, 2018 mariana

CPLX 8 : euFräktus – XperiMetal

EuFräktus is a three headed monster; an unholy trinity. Three persons in one. One person in three. Schizocitizen.

By day, avant-garde academic. Founder and leader of the Brasilia Laptop Orchestra, developing software guided by holofractal semiotics, quantum physics and neuroscience. By night, a skeletal metal guitarist. A lich axeman on stage, patiently pounding the audience with riffs.

And at the weekend, a black-clad psytrance trickster, electric wizard. Delightedly leading the kids of the satellite towns hedonistically astray from behind turntables, light-shows and clouds of vapour.

Three persons, each recognisable in its own way.

But the scientists at Dionysian Industrial labs wanted to run an experiment. What if we sewed these three personas together? Into a single chimera. Cerberus, hound of Hades. The experimentalist. The metalhead. The trickster DJ? What Frankensound would emerge when the three were plugged together? What glitched heaviosity might the composite creature wreak?

It starts with a mechatronic rattling and scraping. A flux of electricity pulsing through the monster’s veins as it comes to life. And, surprisingly, a lost haunted voice. The electric energy flooding through the monster has summoned a banshee to flutter and croon around its birth. euFräktus, like the Cloverfield monster, is accompanied by parasites that are fearsome in their own right. Uninvited musical guests from out of the dark.

The monster shifts. A few tentative steps of bass. A Boston Dynamics lurch.

A guitar solo stretches and bends and dilates through holofractal degradation. Pneumatic machines rattle and thump. The banshee screams and cackles.

euFräktus arises. Stretches its wings. (Wings? Who scheduled for there to be wings? What rogue DNA is this?) And seems about to take flight, flapping and clattering its tinny limbs. But its weight betrays it. The creature is half molten rock. It is chained into the earth. It writhes, struggling to break free. Wires and tendrils are bursting from its body, gripping and entangling the surrounding architecture.

It fights.

Finally it bursts its bonds. And starts a low-slung, lolloping run, half dancing forward on a pulsing, scratched breakbeat … tails swooshing and slashing as it smashes its way through all obstacles.

And then it runs out of breath … the breakbeat slows and collapses. The monster tumbles in slow motion. Batteries empty.

It howls and whimpers quietly to itself as it recharges. As an army of bass technicians scurry around, analysing and fixing. The euFräktus worked! They’re making notes. Great success!

A few repairs and recalibrations. And now … a quiet prayer before the storm. The levers are pulled again. Van de Graaff energy streaks through the sky.

The creatures is ready for prime-time.

This time it stands erect. Triumphant in a hail of thundering kick drums. Guitar riffs spraying in all directions. Swarms of banshees circle its flaming torso. The technicians are all headbanging.

And then it is over. The man is burned. Ghidorah rests. Each eye closes into sleep. Glaciers roll in over the desolation. The banshee sings a final lullaby.

October 12, 2018 synaesmedia

CPLX 7 : River of Electrons – Rapunzel

River of Electrons returns to Dionysian Industrial Complex with an exercise in personal archive resurrection.

Chiptunes and retrocomputing references are now an established part of the electronic music scene. But Rapunzel is slightly different. As RoE explains:

These short sketches and exercises were composed on a BBC Micro using the MuProc (Quicksilva Music Processor) when I was a teenager back in the 1980s. Somehow I managed to still have a copy of the disks from that time. And, on finding an emulator for the BBC Micro that ran in my browser, it was actually possible to run the software and play back and rescue these tunes.

The fascination for me today, 30 years later, is to try to relate to and understand the individual who created these. These are obviously juvenalia. Sketches and half-baked experiments with harmony and counterpoint. Unfinished and unpolished. But what intrigues (and sort of terrifies) me today is the ambition. This is music made on software without the Faustian bargain of looping, or even copy-and-paste. And so every note is played by hand. And every bar is different. Motifs are repeated, but either due to ineptitude (playing the wrong notes) or design they continuously evolve and mutate. Time stretches and shrinks, tunes are harmonized against different counter-melodies or riffs.

I can identify the influences from the music I listened to then, perhaps more clearly today than I recognised at the time. A mixture of fragments of my very rudimentary classical music education, the minimalist 80s synthpop I listened to daily, some plangent folk melody, some slightly bluesy cadences. Not actually much “videogame music”. I played games with the music switched off. And at the time there was little sense of game music as a “genre” or something worth paying attention to. The biggest influence of all, though, is Russian ballet music. Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and Stravinsky’s Firebird are the two examples I was listening to heavily at around this time. And so the odd idea of writing a ballet based on a folk-tale seemed quite natural. As did the short, spiky rhythmic motifs.

Back then, I was oblivious to what is now an obvious absurdity : trying to make orchestral ballet music on a chip that supports three channels of square waves and one noise channel. The sounds are simply harsh, high-pitched bleeps with little variation of timbre. For the current recording I’ve run them through some EQ, echo and reverb to make the sound just a little bit sweeter and softer and less tiring to listen to. And the echo gives everything a slightly twinkly, “Christmassy” feel.

The echo / reverb is probably overdone, but I decided that I’d apply one effect uniformly across the whole album rather try to vary it with the different pieces. This is not meant to be a new remix / remaster or recreation of the original. But a neutral rendering of it. Just made slightly more listenable.

Finally, I should note that about 60% of the music here was explicitly for a ballet called “Rapunzel”. The rest are sketches from around the same time that seem to fit the right mood. I’ve pieced the various fragments together to make what starts to feel like a more coherent whole. So this is, in some ways, a modern reconstruction.

Listening today, in 2018, Rapunzel is an alien music from a distant and disconnected past. Even if only a personal one. This music is uncanny because it is both so very like, and so very unlike, our idea of “game-music”. The chiptune quality of the sound is inescapable. But there are no manic arpeggios hyper-sequenced impossibly fast. This is not the sound of Nanoloop ravers like Droid-On. Nor even the hipster glitch aesthetic of, say, Super Madrigal Brothers.

Instead this is naive and plaintive romanticism. A music of moping and mournful sighs. The theme of a girl (or solar goddess) locked up in a tower by a witch (wicked? or just very protective?) is surely the archetypal teenage boy’s fantasy. A Gothy, angst-ridden saga.

But today we note that it’s also a classic trope of the 80s videogame. What, after all, is Jumpman’s fight with Donkey Kong, or Mario’s quest in the Mushroom Kingdom, but an update on the mediaeval theme of “Attack on the Castle of Love”?

August 18, 2018 synaesmedia

CPLX 6 : k[A]l3utun ov[E]rdriv3 – H4cking Fantasma & Outras Bruxarias do C4os

Punk is an eruption. Overthrow. A negation of social class and privilege. No Gods! No Masters! Raw, explosive energy. But energy to what? How can punk tell stories? Make histories? Build new worlds?

In the 1980s and 1990s, writers such as William Gibson and Bruce Sterling gave us one answer to this question. By cross-breeding punk with science fiction, to create “cyberpunk” : false histories, future histories. The Gernsback Continuum. Dori Bangs. Mistaken memories of mechanical computers.

Punk and science fiction. For a brief moment, the fiery comet of punk plunged into the imploding star of America’s techno-optimist dreaming. And it was spectacular.

And then it fizzled. Cyberpunk was quickly reduced to a cliché of mirror-shades and James Dean with a head-full of chips. By the late 90s, technology put its suit back on and went looking for an IPO.

But Cyberpunk’s not dead.

Or if it is, it’s only temporary. Engulfed at the bottom of the ocean. 20,000 leagues beneath the waves, buried among the cyclopean tombstones of R’lyeh. It sleeps with the fish-people and dines with Drexciyans. The sea finds its own use for the things the surface world has thrown away.

And even in death, cyberpunk stirs, and sends visions, bubbling up from the deep web, to haunt the restless dreams of the waking world. Killer drones, troll-farms breeding fake news, zero-day attacks on the internet of things, Equation Drug, WannaCry, Sesame Credit, The DAO, the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. Cyberpunk is here amongst us. Whispering through the wifi.

There has never been a greater need for stories of the future fuelled by the disruptive energy of punk. Only punk is (paradoxically) both idealistic and cynical enough to grapple with the complexities that our hyperconnected, accelerated techno-economy and society throw up.

k[A]l3utun ov[E]rdriv3’s EP brings us cyberpunk at its most mytho-poetically magnificent. A rich and confused syncretism of Anarcopunk, hacker-culture and Latin American magic realism : political critique as magickal ritual. Krakens and witches; a ghostly pirate ship haunts the seas off the coast of Chile; sea-lions absorb the souls of the drowned to build a necrotic artificial intelligence. An anti-colonial insurgency of guerilla poltergeists arises while the Mapinguari hunts Amazonia’s rhizomic Matrix and the Abaçaí dance the deepest of learnings.

Robert Luis Stevenson and Jules Verne, various South American indigenous myth cycles are given a neural network “style transfer” from Arthur Kroker, Penny Rimbaud, Hakim Bay and the CCRU.

The music is not so much “composed” as “circuit-bent” out of the protocols of today’s communication mesh, one distorted glitch at a time. The ocean, infrastructure of pirates, is ever-present in this sound. An oscillating roiling unsettled continuum from which basses bubble up like the exhalations of voyaging whales. Shoals of analogue sequences shimmy past and are lost again in the dark. A tsunami of static wipes out all before it, leaving only the angry ghosts of the distressed final track.

July 30, 2018 synaesmedia

CPLX 5 : Malena Stefano – Exercícios Espirituais

In performance, Malena Stefano presents a tall, thin, seemingly frail figure, nevertheless energized with a burning spiritual intensity : part Nephilim waif, part killer priest. (The first time we heard her DJ, she launched into her set with music from the Islamic State.) Live, she improvises, murmurs and sobs over glitchily pastoral electronic clouds.

But for her first Dionysian Industrial EP she offers no such personal performance. Instead this is a Do-it-yourself toolkit for enhanced spiritual discipline; inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the fasting and religious observances required during Ramadan, the hard asceticism demanded by nomadic monotheism.

There is majesty in this music. And quietness. Lonely desert winds. Sparkling grains of light. And harsh distortion.

In Malena’s own words : “an aggressive, raw, uncomfortable and stimulating background track”, without vocals, to accompany your own meditation, prayer and abstinence. Or for you to add your own vocal improvisations, mantras, speaking in tongues, cries in the wilderness.


May 16, 2018 synaesmedia

CPLX 4 : MC Bicho Bicha – Batidas de Animismo Futuro

A spectre is haunting the Anthropocene. The spectre of the Caribou Man. Kanipinikassikueu, who abandons the world of men to marry a wild creature of the forest, and who becomes humanity’s shape-shifting go-between, ambassador to the deep woods. It is the Caribou Master who provides the hunter with his catch. If negotiated with, with respect.

In MC Bicho Bicha’s re-enactment of the story, the turncoat human seeks conjugal relations with Pachamama herself, the fecund plurality of nature. Collapsing into the embracing arms (and fronds and tentacles) of protean recreation in “Musica do Amor”.

Doesn’t every generation dream of overthrowing “civilization” and submitting to the call of the wild?

If so, Caribou Man speaks to us all.

“I’ve got a deer wife”, sang Momus, in his take on the myth. “Keep it to yourself”. But MC Bicho Bicha will not keep it to himself. He is potlatch incarnate. Gift economist. All the unaccounted and unaccountable transactions and reciprocations that humanity ignores in its rationally rapacious consumption of the forest. He sees the invisible debts that humanity is blind to.

And now, the Caribou Man is angry.

Contemplating the eco-apocalypse, as even life-giving water turns hostile in “Dono de Cemetario”, the self-declared queer animal, post-human, Jake Sully, calls us to a metaphysical insurgency against the evils of humanity, even taxonomy itself. In “Santo-Antonio Trilobita” he summons an army of animated Shoggothian mis-shapes. A courageous carnival of animal hybrids to stand firm and reprimand us.

At first listen, hip-hop, a genre of urban techno-culture and media assault, seems an odd counterpart for the mythological and symbolist poetry of Bicho Bicha’s forest-rooted guerrilla warfare. But hip-hop has always been a music of the oppressed and of its resistance. Nevertheless, the tension is made audible here. The flowing rhythms of MC Bicho Bicha’s poetry do not submit easily to mechanized beats. Rushing ahead or falling behind as the natural timing of the words overcomes the pummelling drums. The sound-world itself is in conflict, as harsh electronic sounds struggle against samples of birdsong and animal calls. Beats are heavy and loud, but break down in the face of equally strident lamentations. Bright, synthetic tunes seem to try to lure us back to the shiny human world, only to be subverted by Bicho Bicha’s more subtle quivering melodies.


1. Essa mina, a Pachamama

O poder da bicha
É o poder do bicho
Do bicho que devora quieto
Do bicho papo reto
Do bicho que se entrega
Tuas feras soltas, tuas asas
Teus ciscos, teus rabiscos.
O poder do que cresce no lixo,
do carrapicho
do teu mijo

O poder do bicho bicha
É o poder larval
Que te seduz, como um animal
Que te desmonta
Não segura tuas pontas
Te afronta, te deixa tonta
Te espicha a salsicha
Te esguicha
Até que cai a ficha
Nem tenho filo nem espécie,
Só bicha. Como todos os bichos
Concentrados num só animal
O filho da terra
Que não quer ser só
mais um mano humano
Chama a mina colorida
Que é feroz e graciosa
A mina que é a pachamama,
É condor, serpente e llama
Peixe, girino, iguana
Tragédia, piada, melodrama
Cupim, pernilongo, grama
É uma mina americana
Mais nativa que o Obama
pode mais do que a dinheirama
Que o papa e o dalai-lama
Chega junto, te inflama
E não fica cercada, fechada,
Amordaçada, domesticada, encurralada,
Apertada, silenciada, atropelada
Que ela não é só natureza, morou?
Que é só coisa do IBAMA
Ela quebra a cama
Essa mina, a pachamama.
e eu sou seu chifre caribu, dadivosa
Que eu sou homem-viado
O mestre das renas doces
Que se entregam aos caçadores
Que agradecem no jantar
Que este aqui é o meu planeta, vagabundo
E pra comer tem que pagar
Não com o dinheiro do açougue, filé
Mas com a carne do teu bucho
E a ossada que você usa, mané
Pra te sustentar – Caribuuuuuu
O barulho é o som da terra, mano
O noise da lava, da água, do fogo, do chão. Da terra que não se compra
Nem se arrenda a prestação
É a nostalgia da onça,
Do onça, do pato, da cabra, do porco
Do mato, do tronco, da seiva, do lago. Da cinza, do cobre, da lata,
do lítio, do estanho, do aço, do ouro nas moedas de um milhão.
A nostalgia dos processos indisciplinados
Nas máquinas que industriais engravatados
Entregam aos somalis escravizados
Que ficam milhões de horas encalacrados
No chão da fábrica amarelado
Fazendo lucro camuflado
Vendidos por outro imigrante proletarizado
Que largou de ser um bakuníndio
Pra rodar a manivela do desejo líquido
nos tentáculos ávidos atávicos hiperbólicos
de Chluthlu.

Meu nome é ruptura,
É V de humanidade
É esquecer a espécie, parceiro
Quero som que faz teus osso requebrá
Geral enviadá, malandro revirá
Reprogramar teu travesseiro
Correr com os equezeiro
As nega colando velero
Misturada nos maloqueiro
E todos os batuqueiro
Montando açucareiro.
MC Bicho Bicha
Esse viadão assombração
É o homem-caribú
(dadivosa) lemebel
Que te oferece cerdo cru
Pra tu comer ou pra comer teu macucu
Não é umas reninha, é trucuçu
Onde tem bicho tem bicha, xará
Onde tem baba de carniça
tem terremoto n’teu angu.


2. Santo-Antônio Trilobita

A medida provisória diz assim:
tudo o que é humano é soberano
tudo o que é natural é bestial.

Mas algumas de nós somos corajosas:
as hidras bichas,
as perereca ekeka
os musgo lusco fusco,
os mineral antipatriarcal
os parasita troglodita,
os computador pastor
os escaravelho vaga-lume, as minhoca imperial.

As minas de ferro e bronze,
escalafobéticas e segredudas
que devoram ministério,
o traço da lesma pre-rafaelita
o cisco do esmo vulcânico
aquele hormônio verde tirânico
que de vez em quando te visita
santo-antônio trilobita, a fadinha caribú
os cú, docilizado, soltando espuma
a laia de Gaia }bis
a desumanidade dourando na praia }

e tu que não vêm por aqui,
besta da tua crueldade
estigma da tua fúria, tu sangrando
tu mortalóide, pactuado com a mandioca.

3. O dono do cemitério

Já o verme, este operário das ruínas
que o sangue podre das carnificinas
lambe e a vida em geral declara guerra
anda a espreitar meus olhos pra roê-los
e há de deixar-me apenas os cabelos
na frialdade inorgânica da terra.
Das Ge-Stell bestellt den Bestand.
Vem ver o último vagalume
Vem ver a última abelha
Vem ver a última onça morrer
A onça que bebeu água contaminada.
Como eu poderia lhe dizer que já não era eu
que poderia lhe caçar,
que também no balde de água
ao lado da tina,
que também na torneira do tanque,
e na poça de água que escorre do cano,
não há água.
Como eu poderia lhe contar que a água,
já não era água.
jMesmo com toda a nossa indiferença,
a água era minha e dela.
A água era a água que eu havia caçado.
Eu caçava a água do córrego
Eu caçava a água do balde
Eu caçava a água do rio
Eu caçava a água da bica
A água caçava ela, a água caçava eu.

4. Música de amor

Morrer como bicha, voar como a seda
morrer como bruxa, tocar a trombeta,
morrer como bicha, trocar de trombeta
morrer como bruxa, voar com a seda,
morrer como bicha.

Um caso de amor com um besouro e um espartilho e uma parede
trágico, embriagado
e ternura;

não quero saber de faze carreira
no setor comercial –
não quero beber apeirol.

Quero adornar minha demência
com um amor descomunal
passando o dedo do meio no rego
entre o rodapé e o chão
encostando um pedaço de lona azul
na minha samambaia,
sexy, sexy
tão provocante…

Mais próximos de Deus que eu.

May 13, 2018 synaesmedia

CPLX 3 : River of Electrons – Box

The fountainhead of the River of Electrons is a Groovesizer MK1, the eponymous “Box”, that the artist received as a present for Christmas in 2016. At the heart of the Groovesizer is a primitive Arduino board. It was made by another Brasília-based artist, Hieronimus do Vale, based on an open-sourced design and software developed by MoShang.

River of Electrons combines this lo-fi sequencer with a cheap multi-fx guitar pedal, a Korg Monotron, a PocketCHIP running Sunvox, and another Arduino cranking out noisy drones. But this is not an exercise in teasing out musical sophistication or subtlety from such primitive equipment. Instead, each box is indulged, given full rein to strut and flaunt whatever crude spectacle it can muster.

The result is a strangely compelling, familiar but idiosyncratic sound-world, equidistant between cloudy, reverb drenched, ambient excursions; early dub that joyously throws whatever primitive, gratuitous studio trickery it can get its hands on across the tracks; hypnotic squelchy acid jams from the second summer of love; and harsh lo-fi electronics.

Imagine Harold Budd with a TB303, recorded in a circuit-bent Black Ark.

In a famous interview Brian Eno once described a beautiful musical experience he had had, hearing a record put on so quietly it was at the threshold of audibility. Box too seems to take an almost perverse delight in quietness, forcing the listener to block out competing sounds or wear headphones to focus attention on the minuscule. A shredding overdriven Arduino solo, fed through the noisiest distortion effects, dips below -20db. “Real” instruments – piano, recorder, electric organ – are occasionally engaged. But are submerged so deep in the mix they add no more than a barely perceptible, subconscious, patterning beneath the bubbling, rippling surface of the river.

May 12, 2018 synaesmedia


Given that Exu has a sometimes fearsome reputation, Victor Hugo’s invocation of the Orixá is remarkable for its economy and subtlety. Even though the music contains expected elements such as drumming, ritual incantations and bursts of electronic noise, there is little bombast or gratuitous “exoticism”. Rather, this music is an efficient, functional mechanism to open portals to other planets. Terrifying not because of any melodrama; but because it might just be working.

Victor Hugo understands that the drumming is a “carrier wave”. Not a sequence of staccato pulses. Or even a matrix. But a rich, roiling undulation that can be modulated with strange and surprising messages. Frequency modulated, pitch-bent and bitcrushed, flanged and filter-swept. The music is overloaded with a superposition of symbols : a pretty xylophone, a detuning ancient guitar, dented bells, bursts of radio-compressed voice from the bush of ghosts. You can’t quite determine what this alien language means, but you know that, through it, someone is speaking to you.

April 20, 2018 synaesmedia

CPLX 1 : Biophillick – Mono Solar

The Mexican artist Biophillick has been in Brasilia for a relatively short time, but has already established himself in the city through a number of performances and exhibitions. Click a random link on his web-site or SoundCloud and you may catch a burst of brutal techno or blissful vaporous sampledelia, suggesting either a refugee from Berlin or visitor from a utopian Neo-Cali. Or you might hear a crooned cinematic avant-pop, reminiscent of Biophillick’s titular inspiration, Bjork.

Investigate further into the bleached out, coloured deserts of Biophillick’s world, though, and you start to notice something different. An overwhelming intense romanticism that brings to mind the android opera of Klaus Nomi. Like Nomi, Biophillick sings in a tight-gripped yet delicate falsetto, conjuring up a desperate and uncanny quasi-human yearning. Unlike Nomi, Bio proffers his voice to be ripped to shreds by machines, who drag and stretch and smear it into an expressionistic landscape of whelps and sighs, chants and moans.

In his first EP for Dionysian Industrial Complex, Biophillick explores further into the wilderness. In the dry Brazilian Cerrado, where there is no protection from the sky; beneath the wheeling seasons of deathray sun, clawed lightning and ice crystal stars; he finds troops of cosmic primates whose extra-terrestrial ancestors crash-landed here on the quartz plateau millennia ago. Biophillick lends voice to their playful, changing moods – shy and inquisitive, melancholy and lovelorn, proud, seductive, messianic – as they wander across an aural geography as vast and diagrammatic as a Nazca geoglyph, past outcrops of stark rhythm, black pools of drone, glitched and stunted twangs, and haunting flutes and whistles.