Premiere: NYC-based legendary producer and experimental artist Martin Bisi’s ‘Your Ultimate Urban Fantasy’ EP is an eviscerating poetic discourse.

Feature Photograph: Joan Hacker

The Breakdown

This is a mesmerising album, fully textured, poetic, disturbing and provocative as art should be, and at times exuding a delicious dark pessimism.
Independent 8.5

We are honoured to present the premiere of the new EP ‘Your Ultimate Urban Fantasy’ from NYC-based legendary producer and experimental artist Martin Bisi.

Bisi has been a central figure in the musical history of New York City for the past four decades. Founding Brooklyn’s BC Studio in 1981, he has helped develop post-Punk, No Wave and experimental culture through recordings of Brian Eno (On Land), Sonic Youth, Swans, John Zorn, Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”, Afrika Bambaataa, Material/Bill Laswell, JG Thirlwell, Unsane, The Dresden Dolls, White Hills, Cop Shoot Cop and countless others.

It is therefore a special moment indeed when Bisi releases one of his own pieces, and it is a magnificent collection that eviscerates elements of modern society with poetic anger and frustration: perhaps representing a verbal skewering of decadence and decay.

’Your Ultimate Urban Fantasy’ is an immersive collection of vivid moments – sometimes discordant, always intense but with a common theme. Bisi says of the songs:

The songs are pretty descriptive and visual. You can see and feel these urban spaces, the real as well as imaginary ones in the sound as well as lyrics. I think the record is looking towards the 22nd century.

Cities, urban landscapes, desolation, entropy, decay and hypocrisy all feature. Bisi says:

Politically, cities are a big part of the future we’re heading into. Governments are reshaping the vision of how cities work. The music becomes a socio-musical commentary, echoing the dissonance often experienced in contemporary urban life while contemplating the environmental degradation intertwined with the urban narrative. “Master Plan For Retaking Williamsburg” is a live recording, where i removed the songs, and just left the improvisations between the songs. It’s significant because Williamsburg is a neighborhood that has been almost completely lost. Genevieve Fernworthy is pretty much the anchor.

Opening track ‘Manhattan Local Train’ sees Bisi’s sardonic delivery echoing elements of Lou Reed threaded with vivid, louche imagery which increases in intensity and recedes again, with a rhythmic instrumentation that seems to reflect the clickety clack of a train. The song was inspired by the ‘6’ train in Manhattan’s Upper East Side which runs through New York’s richest neighborhood and was always notable to Bisi for the whole spectrum of socio-economic classes. There is an element of seething anger – you fucked the world – and an almost wandering jazz discourse in the instrumentation that at time careers wildly.

Bisi’s urgent delivery continues in ‘No SUN In Berlin TEMPELHOF’, his wry delivery rampages over an ambulant music soundscape with intensity, as the music ebbs and flows. The title track coasts on a twirling Hammond organ base with ominous synth splashes as Bisi recounts the vicissitudes of life, an element of bleak despair.

‘Transit Hub Extraordinaire’ continues the theme of urban nightmares with a robotic chant, mechanical and distant, exclamatory and declamatory, a diatribe against uniformity and the blankness and rigidity of conformity over a percussive bedrock. In a sense he takes the subway system as an analogy for the worst aspects of urban entrapment – circular journeys that go nowhere in a metropolitan mechanical nightmare. This could be the future, and there isn’t much sunshine.

It comes with an extraordinary and evocative video, directed by Ego Sensation, with Bisi a solid static enigmatic figure in a maelstrom, sometime performing, sometimes genuflecting, a nightmare of sights and sounds that portray the urban chaos:

Haunting noises consist of the final track ‘Master Plan for Retaking Williamsburg’: a distant wail of vocalisations, synths, percussion and guitars that echo at the edges, clattering, clanging drifting in the air: it’s not a song, it’s echo in the ether that seems to wail in pain and suffering, a fitting conclusion to an album that epitomises a tangible tale of anger and frustration.

There are elements of the industrial noises of Einstürzende Neubauten, the expression of Reed and his fellow New Yorkers, the delivery of John Cooper Clark. This is a mesmerising album, fully textured, poetic, disturbing and provocative as art should be, and at times exuding a delicious dark pessimism. The album is out on Friday, 17 May and can be exclusively heard and ordered through the link below:

Feature Photograph: Joan Hacker

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