Guillermo E. Brown
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Guillermo E. Brown

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The best kept secret in music


"Review of Black Dreams 1.0"

Guillermo E. Brown "is polyglot experimentation run riot, an unfathomable morass of impossible textures and baffling rhythms. And it rules. Brown combines Herbie Hancock’s Sextant-era electronic exploration with Eardrum’s fourth-world textural wizadry. The result is a disorienting soundtrack for an unimaginable film. This stuff is very potent.” Dave Segal - XLR8R

"Review of Soul at the Hands of the Machine"

“Brown…is a wicked programmer whose easygoing beats belie the complexity under the hood. He’s equally adept at cranking out tempos behind the traditional kit, and the combination is killer. Soul at the Hands of the Machine is a marvel of agitated, crisscrossing rhythms that couldn’t have come from man or machine alone.” Tom Moon - Philadelphia Inquirer

"In The Wire magazine"

“…Like chasing ghosts in a hall of mirrors.” Derek Walmsley - The Wire

"In Grooves magazine"

“… lo-fi, slurred and abrasive with junkyard beats that range from jazzy cymbal breaks to peg-legged stomps... The overall impression is of a mutating bricolage, as though the music were made from repurposed sonic detritus… It seems that Brown’s rhythmachines have broken down repeatedly and been repaired increasingly haphazardly… Black Dreams 1.0 is a whirling vortex, an almost relentlessly chaotic onslaught… ensure possessions are securely tied down before listening. Colin Buttimer - Grooves

"Online @"

For those familiar with Guillermo E. Brown only as the drummer for the David S. Ware Quartet, Black Dreams 1.0 will surprise. In the quartet, Brown is a part of the whole. On this album his multiple influences and ideas shine through: Jungle, De La Soul, his grandfather’s jazz drumming, his mother’s ethnomusicology career, Alvin Lucier, musical theater, dance, the global flow of economy and culture. For Brown, eclecticism is not a choice but a built-in feature. ”I am a human sampler,” he declares, ”I traverse traditional cultural and social boundaries.”

On his debut solo record, the Blue Series’ Soul at the Hands of the Machine, Brown piled on the cross-cultural references, as he and his collaborators filled the music to the point of overflow. Black Dreams 1.0, released on Brown’s Melanine Harmonique Recordings, features only Brown, all of the sounds made by his voice, instruments, electronics and samples. Coupled with Brown’s rhetoric, the album is less music and more conceptual sonic art.

He produced the record with a fellowship from Harvestworks, an institute promoting digital media artwork. Using the music software Max/MSP, he gives physical reality to his view of culture as a web of cross-breeding ideas. While globalized dialogue is not an original concept, Brown’s globe is not a utopia in sound, but a restless and uncertain one, charged with digitized energy The studio is a perfect setting for Brown, a space where his diverse influences can speak through him. With 23 tracks clocking in at over 50 minutes, the album hurries through a dizzying procession of (maybe one too many) musical sketches, echoing at times the neurotic jump-cuts of De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising.

The second half of the album contains a kind of tone-surfing suite. Over seven pieces, each rarely longer than 90 seconds, Brown compresses a century of electronic timbres: tinny monophonic cell-phone bleeping, manic industrial crunching, itchy digital throbbing, static sludgy dub, mechanical whirring. The menagerie culminates in ”Mouth Que,” in which Brown sucks, breathes and pops a web of processed vocalizations – the human spirit mated with electronics.

Vocal experiments appear elsewhere. Brown sings on ”Octaroon” over a wash of glitchy static, electro beats and warbling bass - Lee Perry and Eric B. smothering a soul singer with their mixing consoles. On ”Bible” what starts as dark Miles-funk devolves into a stereo-panned maze of shouted vowels.

Much high-concept music - like a lot of musique concrète - is interesting for one or two listenings, the experience more intellectual than visceral. But Brown never forgets he is a drummer, and injects the tracks with enough beats to latch onto. He lays down a spare, snare-kick-kick-snare groove on ”Columbia/Oh,” adds a gauzy vocalized ”Oh” for accents, buries in the mix a needling string riff (a zither, perhaps?) and grounds the whole mess with a massive fluttering bass tone, generating a banging hip hop drone.

By Matthew Wuethrich
- Dusted

"online @"

Afro-futurism for the digital information age. A quick examination of the container gives a handle on the logic of the contents, which is disjointed and dream-like. The photo on the back cover, picturing Brown sitting at a table where plates, knives, forks, etc. have been replaced by various drum kit elements: An absurdity similar to the covers of Mingus Dynasty and Rollins' Way Out West.

Guillermo E. Brown, drummer (with David S. Ware, for example), but also producer and beatsmith (as all digital-age drummers are required to be) for various ensembles of his own making. For his second album, he's going it alone, equipped with a software system based on Max/MSP (a graphical programming environment for creating music-oriented software). Generally, Brown is either superimposing multiple layers of precise-yet-rugged drums, wavering voice(s) and haphazard synths, or exploring more digital/random soundfields. The end result is a mix of electronics, beats, free jazz, and noise, which on paper sounds a lot like Thirsty Ear's Blue Series, but Black Dreams 1.0 is far more radical and less streamlined than any Blue Series album I have heard (I have not heard Brown's Blue Series debut Soul at the Hands of the Machine, however). The 23 tracks vary in length from 57 seconds to five-and-a-half minutes, but stick mostly to the lower end of that range. Series of short tracks give the album an unfinished feel and an air of experimental sloppiness, trying the listener's patience, but scattering a few rewards here and there.

The first track is the longest, most song-like, and rather easy on the ears. It features layer upon layer of percussion, one of which is 80s disco-like Latin percussion, all of them covered in liberal amounts of static and audio haze, the whole serving as the setting in which the ghost of a soul singer's voice wanders, accompanied by big, throbbing bass. 21 tracks later, "BLACK DREAMS" features comprehensible singing over an attractively messy, blippy electro/r'n'b beat. Now and again, Brown refers to hip-hop or harsh industrial music. In "there's a way home", Brown repeats a mysterious piece of advice over churning funky fusion, aided by a horde of back-up clones, kind of like Agent Johnson in The Matrix sequels.

Shorter pieces less than two minutes long sound like field recordings of familiar scenes warped into incomprehensibility, or at least that's how my brain attempts to retro-engineer meaning into them: Monks chanting, trying to find their way out of a grotto, guided only by radio static? A percussion group recorded at 100 paces in the humid jungle? Hey, a game of Space Invaders! A game of Doom! Back in the jungle 50 years later, as refuse from another technological age has seeped into its inhabitants' lives? A close-up of someone slurping spaghetti? Sonar! A woman washing her clothes in a river? And so on. There are so many questions that's it's sometimes tempting to not wait around for the answers.
by Mwanji Ezana



Soul at the Hands of the Machine (Thirsty Ear) 2002
Charted CMJ Top 10 Jazz

The Beat Kids’ Open Rhythm System (7Heads/Uncle Junior) 2003 Charted CMJ Top 10 Electronica

Black Dreams 1.0 (Melanine Harmonique) 2004

De-Programming Sequence featuring Guillermo E. Brown, DJ Spooky, and DJ Wally Liberation Systems/Morphius 2004

Co-produced Mike Ladd’s latest, Negrophilia: The Album (Thirsty Ear)2005

This music has been played on radio and online nationally and internationally

Upcoming Duo with Matthew Shipp on Coon Bidness Records

Also involved with album projects featuring DJ Spooky, El-P, former Anti-Pop Consortium members Beans and Priest


Feeling a bit camera shy


Solo, laptop, vocals, wierd electronic devices…A guillermo e. brown performance hints at all of his influences, electronica, hip hop, jazz, soul, rock, experimentation. What sets this apart from your run-of-the-mill solo, laptop/dj-based act is that it is performed LIVE. Using a strange instrument system that Brown has painstakingly developed over the past 4 years, he works the crowd with his unique performative style. Beatboxing, spoken word/MC-ing, and straight up singing, are all part of the mix of vocal techniques. The sounds coming from his souped-up laptop are acoustic and synthetic, something that can only be described as soundrhythmnoise. Brown is unparalleled, but his style brings to mind an unusual trinity---Sun Ra, Wu-Tang’s The Rza, and Kid Creole.

Brown has performed live or on record with David S. Ware, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, El-P, DJ Spooky, Mike Ladd, Anti-Pop Consortium, Angelo Moore, Dave Burrell, Vernon Reid/DJ Logic's Yohimbe Brothers, Vijay Iyer, and others.