- Greg Burk, LA Times
- Ernie Paik, Chattanooga Pulse
Four years ago Thollem took a leap into the electric, creating many new projects and approaches both solo and in collaboration with other musicians and filmmakers. Extending beyond his acoustic piano work, incorporating noise and effects into an already extremely eclectic array of possibilities, his newest solo albums 'Operation Sunbeam', 'Machine In The Ghost' and 'Howled Ground', plus his soundtrack work for Silver Ochre's 'Who Are U.S.', display a seemingly endless array of wild creativity with startling results.
Thollem's collaborative electric albums include: 'The Radical Empathy Trio' with Nels Cline and Michael Wimberly; 'Hand To Man Band' with Mike Watt, John Dieterich and Tim Barnes; 'Whistling Joy Jumpers' with Brian Chase and Jad Fair; 'Conformity Contortion' with Sara Lund; 'Tsigoti' with Andrea Caprara, Jacopo Andreini, Piero Spitilli and Matteo Bennici; Nashville Electric with Ed Pettersen, Tracy Silverman, Dylan Simon and Ryan Norris; 'Trio Music Minus One' with Gino Robair; 'Bad News From Houston' with John Dieterich and 'Blind Curves and Box Canyons' with Rob Mazurek.
"Thollem's the kind of fiercely independent artist the world needs more of."
Aural Films is excited to present, "Operation Sunbeam," by Thollem Electric. An electroacoustic soundtrack that transports the listener to the cold war era. Vintage electronics are used extensively to paint stark electronic soundscapes that are haunting sonic visions of mutated landscapes and deception. Read more on the album from Thollem Electric:
The Nevada Nuclear Test Site is 1,360 square miles on what belonged to,
and still legally does, the Shoshone, the original occupants. A total of 1,021 nuclear detonations were conducted from 1951 - 1992. This album is inspired by the wonder of the science behind the splitting of the atom, the tragic ways this knowledge has been tested and put to use and the strangely creative techniques the U.S. government and private corporations employed to sell it
to the public. All of the titles are taken directly from names given to areas, instruments and projects at the NTS.creditsreleased February 8, 2016
Thollem Electric - Modified Electric Pianos, Rhodes, Hammond Organ,
Almost all of this music was made with a chopped Yamaha - PF-10 (thanks
to Kevin Zoernig) run through pedals that were given/loaned to by John Dieterich of Deerhoof (Electro Harmonix Frequency Analyzer), BearFoot FX (Fuzz, Distortion and Tremolo) and Analog Outfitters (Super Sarge Guitar
Tube Amplifier, and their vibrato scanner, both made from old Hammond
The front cover photo: "part of the promotion of nuclear testing at the
Nevada Test Site, with a mushroom cloud in the background, April 6, 1953.
U.S. Department of Energy photograph. Public domain"
"There are neither guidelines nor constraints burdening the malleable matter produced by Thollem’s blizzards. The stuff is as variegated as hazardous: uncontrollable spikes, awkward figurations, ominous looping, violent pseudo-serialism (bathed in über-distortion, for good measure) and harmonically
ameliorated noise escort the listener across a trip that causes physical enhancement rather than nerve-related discomfort."
- Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
In reverence and reference to the blues, its roots and multitudes of forms over the past century, through the jagged social struggles from before to tomorrow, Thollem forges his own cry with an old keyboard, stomp boxes and a microphone. Simple melodies twist and distort into a saturated power, to rest on a dime before turning face first into the darkest recesses of the mind. It's music for now and a connection to each other and history, an electric diving board into reality and imagination. Always somewhere between being pursued and pursuing, the bitter sweet existence in the 21st century, the time of our lives. "Thollem welds elements of blues into a mighty tower of song, then shatters his construct with the breathless bull-rush of a mystic improviser.”
- St. Louis Riverfront Times
"Fluid keys pulverization"
- Brad Cohan, Spin Magazine
"An intense and virtuosic keyboardist."
- TimeOut, New York
"Transforms the keys into a
texturally staggering ensemble."
- Detroit Metro Times
"Thollem Electric might be a musician,
or he might be some kind of wizard
scientist... the experience
might melt your mind."
- The Denver Westwood
*Operation Sunbeam was the name given to the last series of above ground nuclear tests conducted July 17th, 1962.
Thollem has spent his life traveling throughout the country. Who Are U.S. is an almagam of Thollem's sonic impressions of the U.S, forging elements of a wide variety of styles and approaches of today's extremely multi-cultural America. Sometimes recognizable, sometimes not, the music shares ideas, approaches and sounds from Bluegrass to Gamelan, Punk to Free Jazz, Salsa to Noise, Baroque to Hip-Hop to Persian music and more.
The music on this 3-disc box set are solo pieces composed by Thollem as a soundtrack for a feature length movie about America in the early 21st century. Created intentionally during the elections, with footage from all 48 continental states, the results are as much sociological as political and as artistic as sociological. More info on the movie can be found here.
"Fearlessly eclectic!" - Ernie Paik, Chattanooga Pulse
Machine In The Ghost is my first solo song-oriented album. It was made over the the last year with a variety of instruments; Chopped Yamaha - pf10 (thanks to Kevin Zoernig) run through pedals that were given to me by John Dieterich (Electro Harmonix Frequency Analyzer), Bearfoot FX (Fuzz, Distortion and Tremolo) and Analog Outfitters' (Super Sarge Guitar Tube Amplifier, and their vibrato scanner, both made from old Hammond Organ parts).
Dedicated to (but not necessarily about) John Trudell, Black Lives Matter and Rick Bennett. I had the great honor to meet John Trudell about 15 years ago. He was a hugely inspiring human being for me as the spokesperson for the Alcatraz Occupation from 1969 - 71, the leader of the American Indian Movement/Trail Of Broken Treaties of 1972 (Also known as the Pan American Native Quest for Justice) and eventually as a singer-songwriter, poet, philosopher and actor. Rick Bennett has been a long time enabler for me, and many others, through his generosity and communal spirit. We all do what we do because of all of us doing what we do!
Black Lives Matter!