Experimental Excursion July 2020: Pain Chain, Evicshen, And More

By Michael Mambrino for Boston Compass Blog

July 22, 2020

Hello all and welcome to the first edition of Experimental Excursion with your host: Michael Mambrino! This is a new segment of the Boston Compass blog where I go over 5 noise / free jazz / improv / weirdo releases every month for you to listen to and enjoy! Most of these projects are New England based and they all had to be released in the month in which I’m writing this. Without further ado the freak endeavor begins!


Remember when I said they had to be released this month? Well this is the only exception, because this multilayered, textural album just got pressed on vinyl by the only POC-owned record plant in Pennsylvania: Softwax Records. Released originally in October of last year this is an intense journey from front to back. Sam Gruca (Pain Chain) has put out one of the most transformative projects I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Scorching catharsis explodes off of this album with passion, gnawing off the mental restraints held captive in your body, this record truly transcends humanity.

2. Neighborhoods of x, y, z - Forbes Graham

Forbes Graham is really out here reminding us of the liberty that is synonymous with the experimental universe. Recorded in his backyard in Boston he provides joy and relaxation out of simple found objects and a trumpet, proving once again that you can make music out of anything when your mind is set. Birds chirping in the background, manipulated field recordings, you name it he can do it. This project is definitely made for some deep listening and whimsical vibes. Needless to say more is less, less is more, maximal is minimal, minimal is maximal.

3. Hair Birth - Evicshen

How could you not go over noise in July 2020 and not mention this astounding project? Victoria Shen once again provides one of the most creative (auditory and presentationally) noise albums this year. Starting with the presentation, Shen packs this album in a “speaker cover” turning the record sleeve into a speaker when the copper coil is connected to an amp and a magnet, along with more specs that fly way over my head she uses 100% of her own devices to produce the sounds you hear in this album. Now, if you buy the standard version of the LP or listen to it on bandcamp you’ll be greeted with an ethereal shower of enlightenment. Technicality both does and doesn’t matter in this project, there’s no rules but within the restraints of your perspective. I highly recommend scoping this album out in whichever way you can.

Watch her equally provoking music video here:

4. Howard Stelzer + Neil Campbell - Their Crowning Achievement

Some more meditative endeavors with a twist on this hour-long track, refreshing excerpts of daily life are introducing themselves to you on here and won’t be around long. A sense of urgency is creeping up on you listening to this and you can’t help but look deeper, deeper than perhaps what is even present. A concert with no performers, or a forest with no trees is what I imagine when experiencing this project, missing something so key and it doesn’t even matter to me because I’m content just tuning in. So experience with me the haunted circus and stream it today.

5. Nilserver - Mutating The World At Large

Western mass / Providence supergroup returns this month with a bang. Messy free jazznoise submerges you into a dim abyss that is hard to get out of but also oddly welcoming. With darkness with some light on this tape they continue to remind us that there’s no finite ending to your excursion. Only you decide, I decide to let the show go on and reach out to your musicians, orgs, visual artists and more to see what they’ve been up to, what they’ve been working on and releasing and more.

Well this does it for this edition and I’ll see you next month

Michael can be found on Instagram @people3theawakening.