Controlled Bleeding

Picture of Controlled Bleeding

Controlled Bleeding

Controlled Bleeding - Controlled Bleeding ©1984 Inner-X-Musick
1. Wounded - But Welding The Flesh Of A Clown With A Lead Penis
2. After The Removing Of The Fingernails - Paper Cuts Are Applyed To The Exposed Skin

In the early to mid 80s, the underground was filled with cassette only record labels that churned out many releases in all sorts of genres. Most of this stuff is lost to obscurity, but one act emerged on the other side of the cassette realm and has continued to release albums to this date. Controlled Bleeding started out as a three piece avant garde rock band but managed to metamorphosize themselves into nearly every imaginable genre of music aside from ska-punk during their career. However, in the immediate years after their initial rock band phase (which recorded the Wall of China Love Letter 7"), Controlled Bleeding was an industrial noise experimental project that churned out a number of cassettes that obliterated speakers far and wide. Over the years, Controlled Bleeding releases have often implored their listeners to play the music as loudly as possible, but I must object. I have neighbors. And eardrums I wish to preserve.

The self titled cassette that emerged around 1984 finds the band in complete freeform with the noise. The two sides of the cassette each have a charming, lengthy titled that suggests unusual bodily harm and both sides are lengthy excursions of distorted noises that push any VU meter to its limit. Occasionally you can make out shouting voices, but there's little here that can be isolated. It's hard to even say what instruments were used in creating these sound pieces. Needless to say, given a PA system with enough power, you probably could knock down a few old buildings with the noise contained on this cassette.

It's tough to describe this barrage of sounds as "music" and it takes an especially disturbed individual who holes up in his room and rocks out to this. But it's an interesting little glimpse into the evolution of Controlled Bleeding as they constantly challenged themselves and listeners throughout the years. This release is essentially something you listen to once and require therapy to process afterwards.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2012

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Curd

Controlled Bleeding - Curd ©1986 Dossier
1. Chain
2. Inland II
3. Fat Bed
4. Rhythm For A Body Bag
5. Widening The Holes (In The Floor)
6. Gun Bent Back
7. Boiling (Pt. 2)
8. Scat Duet
9. Break / Curd (Pt. 1)
10. By The Drain
11. Untitled (from "Curd", Extended Mix)
12. Brained By Funk
13. Scat Tape Party Fuck

Wading through the vast myriad of Controlled Bleeding releases is a rather arduous and confusing task. Many of their 80s releases were on extremely tiny labels, meaning distribution was exceptionally spotty and several albums have become impossibly rare. As the band saw reissues on CDs, remixed and unreleased tracks were added on to bolster the albums. Curd was originally recorded in 1986 but the 1991 reissue adds on three unreleased tracks as well as selections from the US vinyl issue of Core. These recordings represent the band's experimental style sans much of the noise and unbearable distortion of some their earlier recordings. As Paul Lemos states in the brief liner notes, "Because we had very little musical equipment and no samplers, we were forced to use all possible resources at hand, squealing bicycle brakes, concrete blocks dragged on pavement, high speed and cut up tapes, hoses, plastics, etc..."

As one might expect with that sort of loose experimental attitude, the results are rather strange, yet entirely unique. The recording quality of these original four track tapes is very good. The material contains a wide range of stylistic ventures from soundscape pieces to rhythm, looping barrages of varying musical sounds. It does come across as fairly listenable from beginning to end, which is remarkable for earlier Controlled Bleeding efforts. Joe Papa's operatic vocals make occasional appearances in what would foreshadow future "goth" oriented albums. Most of the listening experience may make many wonder just how they did capture the noises at hand with their limited resources. Certain elements presented on this album have been reinterpreted and reused in future Controlled Bleeding projects, so that only furthers the sense of confusion some may have towards this enigmatic entity.

So far, Curd stands as one of the more listenable and unique albums from the band's early years. With much of it acting as a blueprint for future releases, Curd is worth searching out.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2001

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Songs From The Drain

Controlled Bleeding - Songs From The Drain ©1987 Dossier
1. The Hidden Section (Parts 1 & 3)
2. Glass On Wire (for Three Guitars)
3. Loop Cycle (Electrical Mix)
4. Ash And Stone
5. ...On Eating Garbage
6. Music For Earth And Water (parts 1-3)
7. Near The Fire (instrumental Remix)
8. Red Stigmata
9. Under Heaven
10. The Groan (home Studio Mix)
11. In Subcrisis
12. Music For Glass And Bone 13-15. Unlisted live tracks from CBGBs show

Yet another collection of various ambient and conceptual noise pieces (as titles like "...On Eating Garbage" might suggest musically). There's a wide variety of the softer (heh) side of Controlled Bleeding, focusing somewhat on Joe Papa's operatic voice and some material ("Red Stigmata") sounding almost (but not quite) poppy. Keep in mind that we're talking about Controlled Bleeding still. Only a couple tracks are actually sound effect/ distortion/tape loop noise, thankfully. The final three tracks I believe are taken from a 1979 live CBGB's show featuring a somewhat different Controlled Bleeding lineup and a totally different musical approach. The non-vocal guitar/keyboard/drum attack is thoroughly enjoyable and is the highlight of the disc.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1997

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Trudge

Controlled Bleeding - Trudge ©1989 Wax Trax!
1. Words Of The Dying
2. Crimes Of The Body
3. The Front
4. Crawl
5. The Fodder Song
6. Kiss (the Hand Of Genocide)
7. Healing Time
8. Assembly
9. Christ Said
10. Save Us
11. A Silken Barb

This is probably the easiest Controlled Bleeding to find these days, considering the band spent a period of time on the famous Wax Trax! label. The early days of C.B. had been marked with a ton of noisy experimentation that was often very unlistenable. However, the wild creativity the core trio of Paul Lemos, Chris Moriarty and Joe Papa has often yielded stylistic variations that fly all across the spectrum. For Trudge, C.B. broke out their dance-floor industrial tunes that was the rage at the time. As with much of the Wax Trax! sound at the time, Trudge is percussive heavy and features distorted vocals as well as beautifully sung parts. "Crimes of the Body" is the standout track. Featuring a heavy bridge that moves the song to another plateau, it marks one of the high spots in the C.B. song list. "Healing Time" is straight out of an epic barbarian movie and should be your soundtrack next time you feel like plundering villages surrounded in mists. The CD bonus "A Silken Barb" shows off the gothic operatic mood of C.B. When the trio is dead on, the imagery and overwhelming emotion contained in the music is remarkable. However, there is quite a bit of generic filler here as well. Songs like "Assembly", "Crawl" and "Christ Said" are too reliant on drum machines and short on interesting bits. Much of this CD is also contained on the Buried Blessings reissue, though I prefer the song sequence and inclusion of "Healing Time" on Trudge.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1998

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Music From The Scourging Ground

Controlled Bleeding - Music From The Scourging Ground ©1989 KK Records
1. The Shallow Sky
2. After Separation
3. Voices Of The Dead
4. The Peacock (Music For Four Guitars)
5. Bright Shadows
6. In Blind Embrace
7. Near The Water (vocal Version)
8. An Awakening
9. The Turning
10. In Drowning Hands

After several years of excruciating noise and aural terrorism, Controlled Bleeding took a bit of a left turn with Music From the Scourging Ground. Exploring the area of quiet and occasionally operatic music, this new Controlled Bleeding path rates as my favorite of all the different areas they have covered. Much space is given in the compositions in relation of one instrument to another. Joe Papa's voice is the focal point in many songs. His skilled vocals bring songs like "Bright Shadows" to life. Other songs focus on stringed instruments, such as the interesting "The Peacock (Music for Four Guitars)". Though some songs do tend to fall into non-traditional musical territory, such as "Voices of the Dead", the overall somber yet serene nature of the album is excellent. Be alert that this album has been essentially rereleased with other tracks as Songs from the Ashes, first on C'est La Morte Records and now Projekt. Either way, it's a good venture for Controlled Bleeding.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2001

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Songs From The Ashes

Controlled Bleeding - Songs From The Ashes ©1989 C'est La Mort Records
1. The Vigil
2. Tides Of Heaven
3. Scourging Ground
4. Confirmation
5. Faith
6. The Shallow Sky
7. After Separation
8. The Peacock (music For Four Guitars)
9. Voices Of The Dead
10. Bright Shadows
11. In Blind Embrace
12. Near The Water (vocal Remix)
13. An Awakening
14. The Turning (re-recorded)
15. In Drowning Hands (excerpt)
16. Germany

Songs From the Ashes is a reprisal of nine songs from Music From the Scourging Grounds in remixed form as well as seven other songs to accompany them. This release, for anyone who might have discovered Controlled Bleeding during their industrial phase on Wax Trax, is a major departure in many regards. The music is neo-classical chamber music with operatic vocals courtesy of Joe Papa over a sparse instrumentation. This is a complete turnaround from their original noise torture days or the more vicious industrial albums most listeners may be familiar with. The album is very haunting, peaceful and serene all at once and shows Controlled Bleeding's musical knowledge was much more than programming beats and samples.

This album has seen some of the most extensive repackaging and reissuing of any Controlled Bleeding release. The original Music From the Scourging Grounds is impossibly out of print and rare and the C'est La Mort version is also difficult to find. However, Projekt Records has reissued the record, plus new artwork and minus a track. No matter what version you come across, this is one of the more important Controlled Bleeding releases.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2001


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Phlegm Bag Spattered

Controlled Bleeding - Phlegm Bag Spattered ©1990 Dark Vinyl
1. Phlegm Bag Splattered

One word comes to mind: yech. Phlegm Bag Spattered is less appealing than the title might suggest. Consisting of seventy minutes or so of pure noise, distorted beyond all recognition voices and complete harsh sound effects, I truly do not want to meet the person who willingly puts this one for pleasure. While I imagine it might have been cathartic to record and making a huge fuss in the basement, there isn't much room in anyone's life to actually hear this.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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Hog Floor

Controlled Bleeding - Hog Floor ©1990 Subterranean
1. Dying/reliving
2. Swallowing Scrap Metal
3. Burn
4. By The Drain (parts 1 & 2)
5. Firelight (parts 1 & 2)
6. Black Sands
7. Music For Magnetic Tape & Voice
8. In Drowning Hands
9. Untitled Instrumental
10. Scourge Tides
11. Head Sand (remix)

The trouble with Controlled Bleeding is their tendency to release experiments that consisted entirely of unstructured noise drenched in feedback and white noise. Frankly, the first four tracks are unlistenable. There is no need in my life to subject myself to uncomfortable noise recordings when I can just as easily listen to the muffled cacophony of the apartment building's residents. Luckily there are a few other tracks on this compilation which explore C.B.'s other musical avenues. In a way, the contrast between their unmitigated aural destruction and the quiet somber beauty of "Firelight (Parts I & II)" is quite intriguing. The entire second half of the album is what keeps me fascinated with this unique band. Joe Papa's operatic voice on "Music for Magnetic Tape & Voice" is quite simply astounding. There is a lot that C.B. can offer anyone who fancies themselves an electronic/industrial afficianado and Hog Floor will represent a good chunk of their wide spectrum.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1998

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Golgotha

Controlled Bleeding - Golgotha ©1991 Soleilmoon
1. Swoon
2. Standing In Twilight
3. Scourge
4. Aftermath
5. Awakened (beneath The Ground)

Golgotha falls into the more palatable (ie: listenable) material of the Controlled Bleeding portfolio. Three of the five tracks feature Joe Papa's smooth operatic voice. Both "Standing in Twilight" and the incredible "Awakened (Beneath the Ground)" are electronic-goth genius, very much making the album a necessity if you ever plan to progress as a human being into a greater entity made up entirely of light and pure thought. But I truly digress. (Hoo boy.) "Swoon" and "Scourge" are both ambient soundscapes, with the latter making up a good half hour of the disc's running time. These sound treatments work only as a backing piece of sound to your other activities. Comparitively speaking to earlier Controlled Bleeding sound pieces that were distorted harsh noise, these two tracks are positively cozy. True noise enthusiasts might call Golgotha too pleasant and tame but overall it is one of my favorite Controlled Bleeding releases.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1999

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Penetration

Controlled Bleeding - Penetration ©1992 Third Mind Records
1. Blessed Is The Burning Room
2. Now Is The Time
3. Auto-grind (vocal Mix)
4. Consecration's Will
5. Dead Man Reality
6. In Penetration (J.A.T.H. Remix)
7. Will To Power (and Throwin' Down)
8. Praying In Fire
9. Scrap Metal (part 3--Live)
10. Awakened Beneath The Ground

For the time period where it seemed industrial and dance floor destruction music were prominent, Controlled Bleeding seemed very interested in not just exploring this style, but one-upping most of the Wax Trax! roster in the process. Penetration builds on the foundation set by Trudge and subsequently fulfilled the band's interest in this sort of music. Utilizing aggressive, up front percussion and programming, the music of Penetration is beat heavy with a lot of activity revolving around it. As always, Controlled Bleeding seems to incorporate more than just obvious influences. "Blessed is the Burning Room" suggests a bit of funk, especially with the pseudo-horns. "Auto Grind (Vocal Mix)" is a ripping industrial number with racing rhythms, table saw guitar riffs and a very sneering, processed vocal line. "Consecration Will" offers an ambient backspace with very evil sounding raspy vocals. Metal occasionally enters the picture, particularly due to the style of guitar distortion the band uses throughout; "In Penetration (J.A.T.H Remix)" is a mechanized thrash number. "Will to Power (And Throwin' Down)" suggests soul as much as robotic diversion. "Scrap Metal (Part 3 - Live)" is an irritating song that is fully and completely pure harsh white noise. The final track is a revisit to Golgotha's "Awakened Beneath the Ground", which refreshes listeners to the band's occasional detours into a more gothic styled of music.

Overall, Penetration beats the pants off many of the would-be dance floor guerilla warfare artists. Controlled Bleeding went about their business on the album as if they were intrigued by other acts and without any hesitation, showed them how to do it better. Penetration is easily one of the best industrial CDs of the early 90s and one of the highlights of the many colors of the band.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2000

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Buried Blessings

Controlled Bleeding - Buried Blessings ©1993 Cleopatra
1. Squeal (Under Girder)
2. In Penetration
3. Raid
4. Consecration's Will
5. Fodder Song
6. Words Of The Dying
7. Crimes Of The Body
8. The Front
9. Assembly
10. A Silken Barb
11. Buried Blessings
12. Ring Of Fire
13. Any Questions?
14. The Groan
15. Ham Slammer
16. Crack The Body
17. Kiss The Hand Of Genocide
18. Save Us

Buried Blessings, released by Cleopatra in 1993, is made up of most of the Wax Trax! material Controlled Bleeding released between 1988-1990. Included on this disc is most of the Trudge full length, The Fodder Song single, Songs From the Grinding Wall EP, several tracks from the band's Joined at the Head side project and some unreleased material. For neophytes and newcomers, this may act as a fine introduction to the band. Well, their industrial dancefloor phase, at the very least.

Although the track listing scatters the tracks around from the various sources, the album does have a good sense of cohesion. The material does stick to the band's dabblings in this style moreso than any other compilation of Controlled Bleeding material, which often jumps from style to style without warning. Buried Blessings tends to stick to one realm of music, disallowing the schizophrenic nature of some of the band's other output (the two exceptions are "A Silken Barb", which shows off Joe Papa's operatic goth vocal talent, and "Any Questions?", which is a noise-ridden number that'll shred your speakers in two seconds flat). The CD contains most of Trudge, omitting "Healing Time". This release was a fairly strong effort, showing other dance floor industrial outfits how well it can be done. Controlled Bleeding's sense of dynamic percussion and song movement is demonstrated on "Crimes of the Body", "Words of the Dying" and other tracks. The tracks taken from the Joined at the Head vinyl release are very reminiscient to 1992's Penetration. They share the same grinding, metallic-lined vigor as much of that particular release. The songs taken from Songs From the Grinding Wall EP are in line with the style of Trudge. The previously unreleased tracks range from that industrial dancefloor style to a track of unmitigated, vicious distortion and noise to keep you honest about the band's roots.

On a whole, Buried Blessings is a good place for a lot of newcomers to Controlled Bleeding to start out. It's too bad that Cleopatra didn't preserve original track orders for this disc, but that's only a minor quibble. Buried Blessings proves conclusively that Controlled Bleeding, when they chose to approach this style, could have given the likes of KMFDM and other notable artists a run for their money had they been a bit more known at the time.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2001

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Dub Songs From A Shallow Grave

Controlled Bleeding - Dub Songs From A Shallow Grave ©1995 Dossier
1. Inanition (an Intro)
2. The Gelding Wheel
3. Darkening Skies
4. ...as Gravity Fades
5. Trial (an Interlude)
6. Fire And Shadow
7. My Ascension (Hymn #4)
8. The Toiler's Song
9. Archive Material

With all the different phases and facets to the Controlled Bleeding sound, I would personally vote "Dub" in their big choice poll. Dub Songs from a Shallow Grave is simply excellent. With Joe Papa's operatic gothic voice layed over a base of space-trip ambient dub, the trance factor and the beauty factor consolidate into a very effective and robust performance. Papa's singing is very similar to Songs from the Ashes: stark, disconsolate and pervading. Meanwhile, the music loops in repetitive but very solid dub, with electronic treatments to give it the Controlled Bleeding identity. There is also some more achive material from Paul Lemos early version of the band, but it's not as excellent as Songs from the Drain's archive tracks. The disc is finished out by an answering machine recording of the most annoying man in the world, who stutters and stammers his way through nothing. Aside from that and the vexing "hidden track" format (you know--several minutes of silence in the form of 30 extra blank tracks after the last song), this is a great CB album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1998

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Inanition

Controlled Bleeding - Inanition ©1996 Hypnotic
CD one:
1. Hymn From The Shadows (total Version Pts 1-4)
2. Trang And I
3. Fire And Shadow Dub
4. Our Journey's End Pts 1-4
CD two:
5. Brick Pt. 1 (slow Mix)
6. Brick Dub
7. The Shallow Sky
8. The Drowing Pt 1
9. In Dark Waters
10. Scourge (remix)
11. Tormentor's Song/Reprise
12. Chain Loop '85
13. After The Rain
14. Glass On Wire
15. Incineration
16. Somnambulation

If one looks at the extensive Controlled Bleeding back catalogue, one might notice there is a certain yin/yang with the three primary members of the project. The harsher, more catastrophic and noisy albums seem to feature Chris Moriarty more while their ambient, dub and gothic music tends to showcase Joe Papa. At the center is always Paul Lemos, providing the balance between the two sides.

While I have no corroborating evidence to prove this, Inanition, a two CD set of half new material and half compilation of older tracks, seems to back this up. The four new tracks on the first disc very heavily feature Papa and Lemos with adjunct member Trang. "Trang and I" and "Fire and Shadow Dub" seem to take off where their 1995 release, Dub Songs from a Shallow Grave, leaves off. Controlled Bleeding's experiments in ambient, electronic dub still rate as some of their best material in their history and the Inanition tracks only further that. The very first track on the disc is a lengthy, soft white noise ambient piece that slowly builds like a summer thunderstorm into serene, twinkling keyboards. The first disc also ends in a similiar manner with "Our Journey's End Pts. 1-4", which emphasizes the soundscape ambient effects.

The second CD is titled "Ambient Selections 1985-1994" and features twelve different songs from that era. Other than the year recorded, the CD liner notes provide little other information on the songs presented here, which is on par for Controlled Bleeding's seemingly intentional obscurity. The variety between more electronic dub and their late 80s neo-gothic phase makes for an interesting listen, although not nearly as wonderful as the first disc. The compilation does at least give a listener a good selection to sample all of the various outlets of Controlled Bleeding on their softer side.

Inanition is another of the most highly recommended Controlled Bleeding releases, both for the excellent new material and the sampling of the older material. Given the difficulty in finding many of their releases, this compilation should help track down at least some of their music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2001

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The Poisoner

Controlled Bleeding - The Poisoner ©1997 Soleilmoon
1. Part One
2. Part Two

The Poisoner acts as a textbook definition of ambient music. Mostly the work of Paul Lemos, The Poisoner is a two part soundscape project that offers a swampy, humid piece of work that essentially is a series of looped sounds, effects, atmospheres and noises. Unlike early Controlled Bleeding, the sounds are not recorded at top volume to create grating distortion, so this album can act as late night background music. Naturally, as with many ambient releases, the term "music" is stretched a bit since there's not much in the way of traditional western rock format here. The Poisoner searches for a mood, captures it and when the listener is in the proper mindset for this type of listening experience, becomes a very interesting piece of work. Longtime fans of Controlled Bleeding will note that there a few similarities to some of the band's other 90s works, particularly the more sedate sections of Inanition's first disc as well as the middle, ambient section of "Lover's Remorse" from Gilded Shadows. Although the listener will be subjected to echoing tones and watery sound effects and treatments, The Poisoner is an entirely effective ambient piece and definitely recommended.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2001

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Gilded Shadows

Controlled Bleeding - Gilded Shadows ©1997 Hypnotic
1. Uncertain Sorrow (stalker Mix)
2. Removing The Veil (thrust Mix)
3. Stillbirth (metalic Mix)
4. The Deep Arch (blind Jazz Mix)
5. Fire Inside (slow Dub Mix)
6. Gilded Shadows (afterglow Parts 1-3)
7. Lover's Remorse (extended Dub/jazz Mix)

Long-time experimental outfit Controlled Bleeding has such an unpredictible recorded output. In the 80's they released white noise experiments, operatic goth, and guitar oriented industrial music that made each new CD an adventure.

In 1997, C.B. has turned a mellower cheek and this particular release is in the dub/electronic genre and may I say this is one of the best things they've released in their huge discography? Using dub rhythms, C.B. weave repetitious but infectious grooves that make the entire listen a trance-like, wonderful trip. Guest vocalist Trang adds some vocals (not necessarily with lyrics) to the music, sometimes dueting with Joe Papa (the guy in C.B. who's got the operatic, amazing voice). "Stillbirth (metalic mix)" has some heavy guitar alternating with the electronics and is wonderful, followed up by "The Deep Arch", which is stellar.

If you can't tell already, this is fantastic, possibly my favorite C.B. release of all, and that's saying a lot for a band who has been around for close to twenty years.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1997

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Rest In Peace: The Best Of Controlled Bleeding

Controlled Bleeding - Rest In Peace: The Best Of Controlled Bleeding ©1999 Cleopatra
CD one:
1. Crack The Body
2. Auto Grind
3. Any Questions (Crotch Mix)
4. Burning Room
5. Now Is The Time
6. The Kill
7. Sqeal
8. Pets For Meat
9. Skin Me / Burn
10. Mind Grinder
11. Healing Time
12. Assembly
13. Fodder Song
14. Removing The Veil
15. As Gravity Fades
16. Veal (live At CBGB - 1980)
17. Mother (the Real Mix)
18. The Groan
CD two:
19. Days Of Bread And Wine
20. Darkening Skies
21. The Talking Drum
22. Tormentor's Song
23. Psalm
24. Inanition
25. The Gelding Wheel
26. The Peacock (music For 4 Guitars)
27. Uncertain Sorrow
28. Fire Inside
29. Awakened Beneath The Ground
30. Feast Of Fire

This retrospective 2-CD set is an unfortunate work that is being given the task of commemorating and celebrating Controlled Bleeding's nearly twenty year recording career. The unfortunate aspect lies in the fact that the band has decided to pursue other avenues of life and is putting Controlled Bleeding on permanent hiatus. Considering the past several Controlled Bleeding releases have been nothing but genius, this is indeed a tragedy. Encapsulating this band within two compact discs is a next to impossible effort, especially considering the vastly experimental and wildly varying stages of their recording career. The band is kind enough to split up the selections between "Hard Rhythms and Noise" for disc one and "Dark Voices and Instrumentals" for disc two and fortunately, their harshest and frankly unlistenable early white noise phase is almost entirely left out. Instead, the band has selected a very strong collection of thirty songs that cover the band's best work very nicely.

The first disc generally is a collection of their early 90s efforts into the dancefloor industrial-metal, more specifically the Trudge and Penetration eras, as well as some rare gems that weren't ever released in the U.S. Among the "new" material is a different mix of "Any Questions", which was originally heard on the Buried Blessings compilation. The original mix was nothing but an agonizing teaser of a groovy guitar and dub song that blasted into screeching total distortion and noise within fifty seconds. The version here is just the original song before the mixing knobs were cranked to noise. Another rare track is the unnerving and fully bizarre "Pets for Meat", which has sounds and instruments coming at too many skew angles to really be comfortable. For the most part, the first disc is the more aggressive and industrial personality of the band. "Burning Room" is an inventive and well structured song that has both danceable rhythms and intelligent song progression. "Skin Me/Burn" is the only real representation of the band's noisiest era, which actually was the bulk of their releases through the eighties. By the time the CD gets to "Removing the Veil", the band has moved more into their ambient dub era where Joe Papa's deep operatic vocals meet with the sultry voice of Trang. Also nice is the inclusion of a very early Controlled Bleeding track recorded at CBGB's in 1980 with a different incarnation of the band. If any more of these tapes exist, the band would please me to no end by releasing it.

The second CD is indeed darker and more serene in comparison. The moodier side of Controlled Bleeding tends to lean towards Joe Papa's contribution. His voice is stirring and unique. A lot of the music on the second disc falls into the band's excellent ambient dub era, including "Darkening Skies", "The Gelding Wheel", "Uncertain Sorrow" and "Fire Inside". Their unique and captivating take on electronic dub music is unparalleled. "The Talking Drum" is actually a King Crimson number that is spacious in production, with very interesting echoing drums as well as a strong build into the song. "Psalm" represents the band at their calmest moment, with brooding and quiet electronics as well as Papa's singing. Finally, one of the band's true masterpieces, "Awakened Beneath the Ground", appears, which is their best goth-tinged industrial track.

Rest in Peace is what a career retrospective should be. The track selection is nearly impeccable, illustrating all the phases the band has gone through and also including rare tracks. Naturally, this becomes the first place the curious should start with the band. Chances are you'll have a major preference to either their harsher material or their somber, dark music. And fortunately, this collection has everything and then some. Though I will miss this group immensely, I hope that the members will resurface somewhere and continue giving us their wonderful talent and creativity.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1999

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Our Journey's End

Controlled Bleeding - Our Journey's End ©2000 Materiali Sonori
1. Part I
2. Part II
3. Part III
4. Part IV
5. Part V
6. Part VI
7. Part VII
8. Part VIII
9. Part IX

With the demise of Controlled Bleeding commemorated last year with the excellent two disc release of Rest in Peace, it shouldn't be any surprise that a few discs such as Our Journey's End would pop up afterwards. Controlled Bleeding's erratic output on countless tiny labels over the past twenty years makes it quite a challenge for one to grab hold of any number of their releases and the probability of tracks resurfacing in different packaging seems rather high.

Case in point is Our Journey's End, released on an Italian label. This particular album's track listing only refers to the nine songs as "Parts I-IX" and in actuality, is nothing more than previously released material without the proper song titles in place. Caveat emptor, indeed.

All nine parts of Our Journey's End are taken from Controlled Bleeding's "dub" era, which was one of their more recent tangents. Songs from Gilded Shadows, Dub Songs from a Shallow Grave and Inanition are resurrected here, only without being given the proper song titles or acknowledgement of their origin. Only "Part VIII" seems to be unreleased or simply not in my previous encounters with Controlled Bleeding. So to a certain degree, I almost feel this album is a bit of a rip off for not giving the buyer any indication as to the nature of the record. But on the flipside, it's no secret that some of my all time favorite material of Controlled Bleeding is from their electronic dub era and it's very handy having a disc with this material all in one place rather than spread out over several discs. Those who have an interest in spacy, ambient dub ala` Bill Laswell might find this album of high interest. So, yes, I'm peeved at this mysterious label for reissuing previously released material, but at least it's good music that deserves to be out there.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

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Can You Smell The Rain Between

Controlled Bleeding - Can You Smell The Rain Between ©2002 Tone Casualties
1. Red Hands Waiting
2. Poisoner Pt. 3
3. Birdcan
4. Schist
5. ...Please Sit Down
6. Felch Space Scan
7. Can You Smell The Rain Between
8. Poisoner Pt. 4
9. Trawler
11. Here Come The Warm Jets
13. Onaip
14. Cathode A
15. Yak, An Outro

The reports of Controlled Bleeding's demise have apparently been greatly exaggerated after all. Despite the claims made in the liner notes of their 1999 2-CD retrospective, Rest in Peace, Controlled Bleeding has in fact not completely gone away.

Can You Smell the Rain Between is the first new material from the creative entity from New York in almost five years and features two of the three mainstays of the enduring project. Paul Lemos, together with Joe Papa (but missing longtime collaborator Chris Moriarty), have put together this lengthy release that covers a considerable amount of territory in the span of the disc. Since Moriarty has evidently been the perpetrator of the band's harsher and noisier output, the material on Can You Smell the Rain Between leans more towards the band's quieter and more sparse, delicate music. In a way, this CD seems to represent segments of closure for various past recordings, most notably 1997's soft ambience of The Poisoner, a touch of 1997's amazing electronic dub Gilded Shadows and a sizable dose of the deconstructed loopiness of Between Tides or Songs from the Drain. The varying approaches cause the album to zigzag wildly from stylistic venture to stylistic venture, disrupting the flow an album such as Gilded Shadows magnificently captured. Tracks such as "Schist" or the charminly titled "Felch Space Scan" break down the instruments in a collage of maddening, unfocused playing while "Can You Smell the Rain Between" recaptures the beautiful lush dub sonicscape from Gilded Shadows. Controlled Bleeding also offers an amusing take on Brian Eno's "Here Come the Warm Jets".

While far from the most cohesive release in Controlled Bleeding's twenty plus years in existence, Can You Smell the Rain Between is a most welcome return of a highly creative and adventurous outfit. Those who found any interest in Gilded Shadows, The Poisoner or have a taste for truly left field experimental music are advised to seek this one out.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2002

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Shanked And Slithering

Controlled Bleeding - Shanked and Slithering ©2005 Soleilmoon
1. Swallowing Scrap Metal No. 9
2. Shanked and...
3. Bees No. 1
2. Bees No. 2
5. Dry Lung
6. Vole
7. Experiments infuck
8. Bladder Bags (Session No. 1)
9. Hymn No. 1
10. Horsemeat (Yak Remix)
11. Swallowing No. 5 (Power Mix)
12. Bladder Bags (Session No. 2)
13. Hymn No. 2

All you aural masochists out there, this collection is for you. Throughout Controlled Bleeding's ever-morphing career, the band has offered up a multitude of moods, sounds, approaches and styles. However, for many, their most infamous phase happens to be their sheer noise experiments, most of which took place in the mid-eighties when much of their music was being released as cassette only. Shanked and Slithering compiles a few of these ear splitting "treats" into one of the ugliest, most sonically vicious albums you may ever come across.

For the uninitiated, there is no other way to describe this except for maliciously distorted high volume excretions and flayings. I've never been able to completely wrap my head around the concept of listening to this sort of thing for pleasure as obviously it lacks the dulcet tones of Phil Collins crooning to housewives or Slayer serenading the sociopaths among us. For my money, there may not be much of anything more excruciating to hear, which is why I recommend headphones and high volume...so you can get the full intensity. Fortunately, Controlled Bleeding made sure that the song titles reflected the nature of the recordings. Certainly the title "Bladder Bags" does not insinuate a melodic tune about love and puppies. It is fortunate that they decided to insert "Hymn No. 1" after "Bladder Bags" to give the listener a much needed rest.

The songs on this album were compiled from the Bladder Bags and Interludes session, a reworked Breast Fed Yak song, a variation of a track that appeared on the Dry Lungs compilation, and some otherwise unreleased material. If, for some reason, you associate Controlled Bleeding with electronic dub or neoclassical experiments and you have a sensitive disposition, you are best advised to steer clear of this particular album. Those who have the bizarre hankering for sheer noise and sonic destruction that makes Cannibal Corpse look like a bunch of pre-teen idols, Shanked and Slithering is right up your alley.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2009

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Songs From A Sewer Of Dreams [box set]

Controlled Bleeding - Songs From A Sewer Of Dreams ©2007 Vinyl On Demand
LP One:
1. Grinder Song
2. Dedicated to Richard R. (Session #2)
3. Spattered in the Key of "O"
4. Rothko
5. Grinder Return
LP Two:
6. Jay's Song #1
7. Tatsuya
8. Jay's Song #2
9. Schist (B.F.Y. Mix)
10. Live on Boat - Rostock - 1998
11. Short Songs A-H
12. Water Song
13. Vigil
14. Dedication (Session #2) - 2006
15. Hymn (Excerpt) - 1995
LP Three:
16. Live in Nyack Nursing Home (with Borbetomagus) - 1984
17. Live at Flipside Studios (Session #2) - 1983
18. Live at Flipside Studios (Session #1) - 1983
LP Four:
19. Live at the Clubhouse - Quincy, MA (excerpt) - 1978
20. Wall of China Love Letter - 7" A Side - 1980
21. No Flies/Veal - 7" B Side - 1980
22. Third One (Live Stonybrook University) - 1982
23. Fiddles and Eggs (Live Stonybrook University - 1982
24. Controlled Bleeding (Live CBGB's) - 1982
25. Live in Chris' Basement
26. Scrap Metal Sessions - 1983

Despite the band's best efforts to shove off at the end of the 90s, Controlled Bleeding has stuck around like e.coli in a fast food restaurant's kitchen. Although new studio output has not been released at the same prodigous rate of the 80s and 90s, the 2000s have been kind to the band's small, but loyal fanbase. Controlled Bleeding's back catalogue is already fairly immense, but it turns out that ringleader Paul Lemos has quite a bit of archival material to put out for the dedicated collectors. Songs From a Sewer of Dreams is precisely that.

This limited edition 4 LP box set is the kind of thing that I'd never suggest a neophyte plunk down the dollars to buy. Although it covers a time period from 1978 to the summer of 2007, the material presented here generally sticks to the Controlled Bleeding's noisier aspects, automatically eliminating around 99.9% of music buyers on the planet. Fans of sheer unadulterated noise are a rare breed. Controlled Bleeding has dished up an incredible variety of musical entrees over their existence and I've personally had a hard time digesting the all-out assaults of noise. This box set happens to dig up unreleased material from the Knees and Bones era in the early 80s. The two tracks from the Flipside Studios are the kind of sound demoltions where you need to make sure your loved ones are on holiday, far, far away from the house because otherwise it'll just end up in tears for all involved. I made myself sit through all the noisier portions of the box set and although I'm considerably more anti-music than ever, I still can't quite get my head around the sheer aural pummeling.

The second record compiles a handful of weird freeform compositions that sound entirely improvised on the spot, with perhaps the one rule being there are no rules. Oh, and you never talk about rules. "Schist" serves up a taste of Lemos' Breast Fed Yak project, which I still consider one of the most bizarre things I've ever heard. Speaking of bizarre, "Live on Boat - Rostock" provides a track of Joe Papa's strange scat vocal abilities. For those who enjoyed Controlled Bleedings somber outings, three tracks are presented under the subheading "Death Songs and Interludes".

Of most interest to me are the very early tracks from the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s where Controlled Bleeding was a slightly more orthodox instrumental group, although the 1978 recording from Quincy, MA, shows even at an embryonic stage, Paul Lemos liked noise in his music. This collection also digs up the incredibly hard to find "Wall of China Love Letter" 7" single, which is about as orthodox of an approach as you'll find in Controlled Bleeding's existence. At that point, the band was a trio featuring guitar, organ and drums. Live variations were originally released as bonus tracks on Songs From the Drain so it's a treat to hear the original 7" version.

By necessity, this box set is a very limited edition item strictly for the most devoted Controlled Bleeding fans. Only 600 copies were pressed, each hand numbered (mine is 406, just in case you wanted some trivia to impress your friends). Although most of what's presented here will only appeal to the rarest of music listeners, it is a lovingly constructed collection that I'm thrilled to own. There's a chance I might not inflict the raw noise tracks on myself again, but from a historical perspective as well as hearing some of Paul Lemos' more recent recordings (the first LP's music was recorded in August 2007), Songs From a Sewer of Dreams is an absolutely fulfilling experience. If you're the type who creates saved searches on eBay for Controlled Bleeding's hard to find CDs and records, this box set is for you.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2008

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Before the Quiet

Controlled Bleeding - Before the Quiet ©2008 MVD Audio
1. Testing
2. Wall of China Love Letters
3. No Flies
4. Veal
5. Fiddles and Eggs
6. Controlled Bleeding
7. Veal
8. Third One
9. First Haircut
10. Body Sink
11. Mahon's Massapequa
12. Penis Party
13. Wall of China
14. Fiddles & Joey
15. Q Factor
16. Breed the Shed
17. Penis Party (Studio Version)
18. U-Boats
19. Veal
20. Ocean Sky
21. Protein Song
22. Garage Days
23. Spattered in the Key of "O"

Well before Controlled Bleeding gained noteriety for their painful power noise experimental records and later journeys through ambient, industrial and dub music, the band was actually a somewhat more orthodox trio playing traditional instruments. The original Controlled Bleeding featured Paul Lemos along with Tony Meola and Gary Pecorino. This trio utilized guitar, keyboards and drums and was described as "a collision between The Ramones and Mahavishnu Orchestra". Longtime fans of Controlled Bleeding may recall that there were three unlisted bonus tracks on the Songs from the Drain CD compilation that featured this particular lineup performing live at CBGBs. I was rather fascinated with those tracks as it featured a rather unique approach to music during New York's art punk and "no wave" era. Considering Paul Lemos' tendencies to provide aural nuclear blasts of noise that erupted in the early 80s, it's noteworthy that at one time, this guy, along with his two friends, rocked out with the best of them in an entirely unusual manner.

Fortunately for Controlled Bleeding fans, especially those who have been willing to tag along with whatever journey the project has taken people on over the years, Paul Lemos has been on a nostalgia kick and after nearly thirty years, Before the Quiet compiles much of the early material. Some of it, including the "Wall of China Love Letter" debut single, reappeared on last years Songs from a Sewer of Dreams box set. And yes, that bonus material on Songs from the Drain is also included, except with proper attention and detail. The CD tosses in some live material, demo songs and many other treats such as Joe Papa providing some freeform vocalizing on the "Fiddles & Joey" version of "Fiddles and Eggs".

I've been looking forward this particular compilation for quite some time. Controlled Bleeding had a very exciting and energetic style in their early incarnation and provided a sound that I've never heard another band even come close to doing. Needless to say, it's somewhat removed from the eventual career trajectory the project took, yet at the same time demonstates the same tendency for offbeat experimentalism that has been a Controlled Bleeding hallmark. A highly recommended album for fans of Controlled Bleeding as well as anyone wishing to investigate the more creative bands of the late 70s/early 80s underground scene.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2009

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