Initially conceived in Richmond, Virginia in the year 2000 as an improvisational and experimental drum and trumpet duo, Plasmodium evolved into a musical theater concept incorporating found sound, looping, spoken word, and performance art. The conceit was that the group were paranormal sound investigators: Bobby Pinz and Clive Buckledown. Clairaudience is the psychic ability to receive messages in thought form from another frequency or realm and is the general concept or theme behind the group’s only release, Clairaudience. On Tuesday, December 16, a remastered version of the album will be released through worldwide digital and streaming services.
Plasmodium opens Clairaudience with "This Is I.S.A.R." (Investigative Sonic Apparition Research Laboratories) and so begins a sonic journey that leads listeners through a series of sound-surveillance portraits of sonic apparitions channelled in their laboratories between 2002-2004. The concept is set against a neo-crime jazz backdrop with a dizzying array of drum loops, keyboards, electronically manipulated trumpets, hard-boiled voiceover, robot voices, and found sound.
Although mainly jazzy, Clairaudience spins a dazzling range of musical fictions, from “Tristay” and its reverbed rockabilly lament to the paranoid psychedelic dirge rock of “Space Eye.” The daily indignities of hapless convenience store clerk "Clive Buckledown," recited in a deadpan, detective-story monotone over sensuous electric piano loops, recall the psycho jazz rap of MC 900 Ft. Jesus or Ken Nordine’s word-jazz monologues. 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 drive-up intercoms. 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.
Veterans of the Virginia music scene centered around Richmond and Charlottesville, the members of Plasmodium had an interesting provenance: Miller played with the salsa orchestra Bio Ritmo, while Thomson drummed in the 80s for the Mad Max-ian, nuclear mutant hardcore outfit GWAR and spaz-psych instrumental rockers, The Alter Natives, who released several records on SST Records.
The 10th anniversary reissue of Clairaudience for Electric Cowbell Records has been remastered for a more optimal listening experience.
Plasmodium: Bob Miller (trumpets, flugelhorn, keyboards, sound manipulations) and Jim Thomson (drums, percussion, sound manipulations, and voice).
Paul Watson (Sparklehorse), Matt Heyner (No Neck Blues Band, TEST), Jon Sullivan (Jack’s Mannequin)
Sounds like Spaceheads, DJ Krush and Toshinoro Kondo, Aphex Twin, Ken Nordine, Joe Frank
Clairaudience track listing:
1. This Is I.S.A.R. (Investigative Sonic Apparition Research)
4. Saw What You Did
5. Space Eye
(Recorded live at the Bric-a-Brac Café)
9. Clive Buckledown