A renowned producer, sound engineer and musician, Bisi has been a central figure in NYC’s musical history for the past four decades. Founding BC Studio in Brooklyn in 1981 with the help of Brian Eno and Bill Laswell, Bisi recorded groundbreaking music here by these artists, as well as Sonic Youth, Swans, John Zorn, Herbie Hancock, Helmet, Africa Bambaataa, Dresden Dolls, Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop, Human Impact, JG Thirlwell, US Maple, White Hills, Fab Five Freddy, and countless others.
Bisi has made his mark on an impressive collection of crucial albums, from hip-hop to noise-rock and beyond. An underground luminary in his own right, Bisi has also been recording and releasing music of his own since 1988. Noisey says “Bisi has presided over recordings that defined seminal scenes, counting downtown NYC’s avant-garde jazz scene, ’80s art-rock and ’90s Bowery scum-rock. A glance at his stunning, across-the-genre-board discography results in minds blown”.
Ultimately, his role as producer has shaped him as a musician. “I draw influence in large measure from what comes through the studio. It’s like a giant sieve of this NYC stuff. I don’t advertise, so I record people who are drawn to me for various reasons. I think engineering/ producing has been an essential part of my path as a musician.”
As far from trends as any of his work, this psychedelic opus through light and dark sees Bisi team up with video director
Scott Kiernan of the mobile TV studio E.S.P.TV, famed for his video and sound multimedia installations around NYC.
“I’ve always felt music was a pathway to something primal, not completely knowable, and connected to our essence personally and collectively -an essence connected to all life, and the planet. I wanted to do an album that reflected on our planetary cycles, hence ‘Solstice’ has Winter and Summer solstice sides – each with different energies,” says Martin Bisi.
“With the opening track (and video), I wanted to go to the beginning of human society. ‘Let It Fall’ itself is a call to the cosmos for rain. The song also speaks of seeking control of nature, so i wanted the video to have a futurist look, to bridge our beginnings to an unknown future”.
Mostly born out of improvisation, ‘Solstice’ presents dense layers of sound that combine in cacophonous and electrifying ways. Think early Sonic Youth crossed with Bitches Brew. A stomping post-punk vibe churns beneath a wild array of tones and rhythms – operatic vocals, effects-driven guitars, keyboards, electric viola, drums, and more. Rapturous melodies and anthemic lyrics emerge from the din.
To record this album, Bisi traveled to California, New Jersey and the UK so that he could track in person with his various collaborators. He subsequently assembled and mixed the album in his BC Studio in Brooklyn, which he then presented to Fred Kevorkian (Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Peter Murphy) for mastering.
Last year, Bisi also issued the compilation ‘BC35 Volume Two’, the second installment of two to mark the 35-year anniversary of BC Studio, featuring new music from people who have been part of that history, including members of Sonic Youth, Swans, White Hills, JG Thirlwell, Cop Shoot Cop, Live Skull reunion, Pop 1280, The Dresden Dolls and many more. Bisi released a music video for ‘Save Sludgie The Whale Of Gowanus’ from this album.
Earlier, Bisi’s work and studio were the subject of the film ‘Sound & Chaos: The Story Of BC Studio’, squeezed in by the approaching gentrification of his neighborhood, with commentary by Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Bill Laswell, Michael Gira (Swans), Bob Bert (Sonic Youth), Jim Thirlwell (a.k.a. Foetus) and Brian Viglione (Dresden Dolls), among others.
Martin Bisi – vocals, guitar
Amanda White – soprano vocals
Diego Ferri – baritone guitar
Genevieve Fernworthy – electric viola
Oliver Rivera-Drew – drums
Recorded at The Laundry Rooms, Sheffield UK by Dave Hadley and at BC Studio, Brooklyn by Martin Bisi
Produced and mixed at BC Studio by Martin Bisi
Mastered by Fred Kevorkian
Close-up photos by Joan Hacker. Other photos by Nicole Capobianco
“Bisi… the man who contributed to the sound of early hip-hop, avant-garde, and indie rock, might soon finally get recognition… Considering how diverse BC Studio’s output has been over the years, there’s still something recognizable about the music that Bisi lays his hands on… A certain rawness” – Newsweek
“Bisi has presided over recordings that defined seminal scenes, counting downtown NYC’s avant-garde jazz scene, ’80s art-rock and ’90s Bowery scum-rock. A glance at his stunning, across-the-genre-board discography results in minds blown” – Noisey