A “sonic mythology of confiscated acquaintances” from the Bridgend musician and sound designer.

Listening to Elvin Brandhi’s music can be a chaotic, overwhelming experience. The Welsh artist works with field recordings and voice alongside tools such as Ableton Live and Auto-Tune to create a “mutant paste” that sit at the boundaries of noise, sound design and club music.

“I am really drawn to certain frequencies, it’s often a search of matching the waves of my nervous state, tuning sound to my psyche rather than exerting an aesthetic ideal,” Brandhi says. “The Ableton void is like a self-hypnotisation process. I love the fullness and physicality of sounds embodied on record and tape and the scope it leaves for manipulation.”

Brandhi is a frequent collaborator, with projects including YEAH YOU, in collaboration with her father Gustav Thomas, INSIN in collaboration with Bashar Suleiman, Avril Spleen in collaboration with Joseph Jadam and Bahk in collaboration with Daniel Blumberg. In 2020, she released an album made in Kampala with several artists from the Nyege Nyege collective under the Villaelvin moniker called Headroof.

“Everyone I have ever worked with has infected me,” Brandhi says. “That’s the beauty of collaborating, your intuitive inventory mutates and your relation to the process of making music become irreversible redefined. ‘Producers, Musicians’…we share this category of activity for the convenience of the industry but I think every person has a very personal conception of the semiotically, spiritually social relevance of what they are trying to bring to life.”

This year, Brandhi was invited by Berlin’s CTM Festival to create the sound design for Cyberia, a virtual club and exhibition space designed by Lucas Gutierrez. As your avatar wanders through the online venue, you can hear Brandhi’s blend of mechanical and organic Foley sounds echoing from every corner.

“I tried to trigger memory and sensations of being in a physical club space,” Brandhi explains of the process. “The corridors, the voices, the bustle, claustrophobic anticipation of the entrance/queue. I thought it would be more compelling/affective to include the discomfort as well as the relief of club spaces. To retain some of the unfilterability of reality. I used samples of voices from internet calls as reference to classic borders between virtual and physical communities. I wanted to reflect it as a safe space that could also account for the grief of physical separation, collectively connect and lament the current restrictions on our social life.”

Brandhi’s work on Cyberia came at a time when the pandemic halted live shows, which are a vital part of her creative process. “Studio time has still never been a part of how I work,” Brandhi explains. “I continue to be a nomad and continue to be at the mercy of recourses. More time is not necessarily achieved because time collapsed. Without movement time was immovable, it felt harder to materialise my production work in the absence of a flow to throw it into. Like a boat without water.”

“Internet is like watching the water without being able to enter it. It continues to be a vital time for reflection and for conversation, especially in relation to the power of information, and collective agency. But I think we are all adapting and experimentally attempting unique ways of embodying technology and using the virtual to defy the limits of interface.” 

This week’s Fact Mix sees Brandhi create a “sonic mythology of confiscated acquaintances,” featuring music from Amnesia Scanner, SOPHIE and Drew McDowall juxtaposed with sample fragments, Cyberia sound effects and an extract from Chris Morris’s radio classic, Blue Jam. “It summons many craved spaces and faces embedded entwined, ensnared, into the overgrown garden of sleeping beauty,” Brandhi says.

“I sometimes play just one or two seconds from something layered over into something else, especially my own work! Theres a lot of my ‘tracks’ or samples I layer together as making the mix which become tracks. I actually do a lot of sampling and composing while making the mix. The defining sample was Enya’s ‘Only Time’, a song I was recently introduced to and was left haunted by. In an abstract way the whole mix is kind of a cover of this song/sentiment.”

Cyberia is accessible through CTM Festival’s website until March 14, 2021. Elvin Brandhi’s 2019 EP, Shelf Life, is available through the C.A.N.V.A.S. label’s Bandcamp.

Tracklist:

Blue Jam – ‘TV Lizards’ 
Speed Coma – ‘Orpheus Wretch’ 
Galvin Keiln – ‘8th Wonder ‘
[Defence Insistence]
Pan Daijing – ‘A Situation of Meat’
Elvin Brandhi [CTM promo]
User Syndrome – ‘Voltage Oath ‘ 
Insin – ‘kali phos’
Amnesia Scanner – ‘AS Flat’ (feat. Code Orange)
Olan Monk – ‘Na Madraí go Léir’
Lil Asaf – ‘Fesh Lom’
Youssef Abouzeid – ‘drpapgad’
Alpha Maid – ‘Harry wants to imagine a world without you’ 
Nadah El-Shazly – ‘sekket el amwal’ 
ZULI – ‘etay el baroud’ 
1127 – ‘RIZEN20’
Drew McDowall – ‘Abandoned Object’ (Via App remix) 
[Fake Trailers]
SOPHIE – ‘Faceshopping’ 
[Sample Fragments]
Enya – ‘Only Time’
Elvin Brandhi – ???