TVD Video Premiere: Plasmodium, “Saw What You Did”

To commemorate the 10th anniversary remastered re-issue of Plasmodium’s Clairaudience album from 2004, the band made a video for the song. “Saw What You Did” with the Washington, DC-based massurrealist, Trémotion Pictures. Visually and literally it’s got all the paranoia, paranormal, and anguished guilt you’d ever want as global societies traverse and reckon with a modern landscape of ubiquitous surveillance in a digital age where human lives are watched more than ever. And if there’s not someone watching you all the time, there’s certainly another set of eyes in your head that “saw what you did.”

Plasmodium formed in 2000. It’s members were, and remain, veterans of the Virginia music scene centered around Richmond and Charlottesville. The members of Plasmodium had an interesting provenance: Bob Miller played with the salsa orchestra Bio Ritmo, while Jim Thomson drummed in the ’80s for the Mad Max-ian, nuclear mutant hardcore outfit GWAR and spaz-psych instrumental rockers, The Alter Natives, who released several records on SST Records. The group played a handful of shows in art galleries and performance spaces in Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia during their brief career between 2000-2004, with one sound installation at the Rencontres Internationales in Berlin in 2004.

The group recorded one record, Clairaudience, that was released on the Richmond-based label Dry County in 2004. Clairaudience spins a range of musical fictions, from “Tristay” and its reverbed rockabilly lament to the paranoid psychedelic dirge rock of “Space Eye.” The daily indignities of hapless convenience store clerk “Clive Buckledown,” recited in a deadpan, detective-story monotone over sensuous electric piano loops, recall the psycho jazz rap of MC 900 Ft. Jesus or Ken Nordine’s word-jazz monologues.

In a more Cagean mode, the sound collage “Rethinking the Raven” presents echo-treated field recordings of a suburban smart guy spouting increasingly ridiculous, palsied nonsense syllables into fast-food drive-up intercoms. In “Dr. Octobongopus” a bored lounge MC introduces the stage act of a polyrhythmic, multi-armed, bongo player in a routine that is pure deadpan surrealism. The album also features some guest spots including members of Sparklehorse and the No Neck Blues Band.

The first introductory track, “This Is I.S.A.R. (Investigative Sonic Apparition Research Laboratories),” commences a sonic journey that leads listeners through a series of sound-surveillance portraits of sonic apparitions channeled in Plasmodium’s sound lab.

The concept is set against a neo-crime jazz backdrop with a dizzying array of drum loops, keyboards, electronically manipulated trumpets, hard-boiled voiceover, robot voices, and found sound. Paranormal sound investigators, Bobby Pinz and Paylord St. James, employ the psychic phenomenon of clairaudience to receive messages through music from other frequencies and realms.

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