A circuit-bent Alesis SR-16 drum machine Credit: Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro, Reader music editor

Attila Csihar I went to see Mayhem last month, and it reminded me how much I dig their front man, Attila Csihar. His sur­real and often blasphemous costumes, florid gestures, and deranged vocals—which jump from coarse shrieks to buzzy throat singing to a plummy, faux-operatic wail—add up to more than “guy in band who dresses up and paints his face.” By leaping with both feet into the campy, performative aspects of black metal, he doesn’t puncture its gravitas; instead he transforms it into a different and more confounding kind of art.

My circuit-bent 1990 Alesis SR-16 drum machine Lately I’ve been learning how to program this antique beastie, hoping to “duet” with it on my trap set. I’m unreasonably entertained by how high I can pile up the drum sounds in a single pattern—and because this particular device has 14 aftermarket jacks wired directly into its guts, the application of patch cables can turn its 16-bit percussion samples into utterly destroyed digital noise that the good Lord never intended.

Carla Bozulich In a recent office purge, I found three of her CDs dating back to 2006, some of which I’d been meaning to take home for years. Bozulich’s songs are the stately ruins of songs, and her voice is naked, quavering, and strong, like a suspended cable keening in a gale-force wind. I listen and I think: This is a woman who understands the terror that nestles in beauty, like a serpent in an egg.

Philip is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

Else Marie Pade, <i>Electronic Works 1958-1995</i>
Else Marie Pade, Electronic Works 1958-1995

Blake Edwards, aka noise artist Vertonen

Else Marie Pade, Electronic Works 1958-1995 Shellac’s brilliant Dude Incredible aside, I’ve recently been getting interested in overlooked gems. Released in December, this three-LP set of Else Marie Pade‘s electronic and tape work from 1958 to 1995 collects beautifully engaging subaquatic bubbling and chirping that’s effortlessly woven into tonal elements. Just as fascinating is her life story—in her early 20s, during WWII, she joined an all-female group in the Danish resistance, specializing in explosives.

Monte Cazazza Monte Cazazza’s two seven-­inches on Industrial Records in the late 70s and early 80s cemented his status in “industrial” culture, but he’s demonstrated little interest in nurturing a music career—his discography tallies fewer than seven solo releases in more than 30 years. However, I’ve been acquiring some of his highly entertaining writings and interviews from the 70s, which shed light on an early phase of the fairly reclusive artist’s career.

Vivenza In 2009 the Rotorelief label, bless it, began a reissue campaign devoted to bruitist-futurist Jean-Marc Vivenza, who has described his audio work (released under his last name) as an extension of the ideas proposed in Russolo’s 1913 manifesto The Art of Noises. Unsurprisingly, it drops you right into the belly of a factory where rhythmically shuddering and clanging steel plates, whirring hydraulic pumps and engines, and hissing ventilation systems coalesce into mechanized symphonies.

Blake is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

The International Contemporary Ensemble
The International Contemporary EnsembleCredit: Armen Elliott

Philip von Zweck, artist and former host of WLUW’s Something Else

New-music ensembles in Chicago Since I’ve stopped doing the radio show, it seems like the new-music scene has caught fire. The International Contemporary Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, CUBE, and the CSO’s MusicNow series have been going for a while. Add newer—or newer to me—ensembles such as Third Coast Percussion, Spektral Quartet, Ensemble dal Niente, Aperiodic, Ensemble Mocrep, and Fonema Consort, and there’s much to be excited about.

The Hafler Trio, Dislocation It’s a great time for used CDs. In the 90s, I bought vinyl because it was less expensive; now CDs are the way to go. Things I never thought I’d see again are showing up for cheap, like the Hafler Trio’s Dislocation, an album of somewhat mysterious field recordings and studio wizardry. In the early 90s, finding the same album on cassette showed me the creative, not-music things one can do with sound. Loving it and other early Hafler Trio again.

Sleaford Mods My friend Chris Kerr described Sleaford Mods to me this way: “I think you might like them. It’s like the Fall, but louder and more insistent with shitty computer-­music backing. From bloody England.” Surprisingly, he didn’t mean that as a compliment. Later he sent me this quote about the band from Noel Gallagher: “It’s just two guys, one clearly mentally ill, who’s just shouting like Brown Bottle about fucking cider and fucking shit chicken.” I don’t know who Noel Gallagher is, but what’s not to love about that?

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. You can also follow him on Twitter.