WATCH: Martin Bisi Collective Celebrate Gowanus and Urban Autonomy 

The Autonomous People Of The Last Street End Of Gowanus performed and created a flag of secession against gentrification

Martin Bisi (Image: Nicole Capobianco)

On the recording end of the spectrum, the epic list of credits that litters the CV of Martin Bisi is nothing short of legendary. 

Down in the glorious grime of his BC Studio located in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn where he’s been situated for decades, Bisi has turned and twiddled the knobs over generation-defining touchstones. As an aces recorder and mix master, Bisi has presided over a wide-range of seminal records including Sonic Youth, Swans, John Zorn, Lydia Lunch, Cop Shoot Cop, Live Skull, Iggy Pop, Blind Idiot God, Elliott Sharp, Foetus, Material, Unsane and the jaw-dropping list goes on and on. There’s very good reason a critically acclaimed, must-see documentary told the invaluable tale of BC Studio. 

But Bisi is way more than the super-producer to the noise-rock and avant-garde jazz stars where his place is cemented in the underground rock history books. Over a mushrooming discography as a solo artist and guitarist, Bisi’s deranged and dark songcraft has been a mind-bending stab into the great unknown. His last full-length, 2019’s Solstice, was part psychedelic, part post-punk and all true fucked up-ness on the sonic scale. 

Now Bisi is back with a cassette release inspired by a cause near and dear to this heart, literally: his longtime Gowanus hood and the famous Canal that sits just down the street from his studio. A hardcore community activist, Bisi has long been a central voice in regard to the rezoning of the area he’s long been a staple of and the cleanup of the Canal, both of which threatens his and other residents’ livelihoods. 

Martin Bisi Collective’s Autonomous People of Gowanus (to be released by Sleeping Giant Glossolalia on October 16th) addresses those concerns in the form of protest and performance.  

Martin Bisi Collective’s Autonomous People of Gowanus, Sleeping Giant Glossolalia 2022

Bisi explains: “The performance on the cassette was from the fourth in a series of encounters at the last street end in Gowanus that had direct access to the Gowanus Canal. 

“Each encounter involved transforming the contested area through uses other than those intended by public officials. Our performance would be to transform the location with sound. Objects from the location were integrated into it, like the large piece of scrap metal that Bradford Reed is dragging. Other instruments were self-made from discarded materials in our landscape like Bradford’s Pencilina, Lawry Zilrmrah’s The Wheel and Bobby Bunny’s electronic Korgasmatron MK III (3) are all self-made, as was the scrap metal played by White Hills’ Ego Sensation plus Stephen Moses on trombone.” 

He continues, “We also were establishing our autonomy in this encounter. There was a sewing circle in front of us that created a trash flag marking the session from Gowanus of musicians, the Butoh dancer that accompanied us and the attendees. This location has now been taken over by the City to build massive sewage-retention tanks which will be completed in 2032. Raw sewage nevertheless continues to end up in the canal and a big influx of new residents is soon expected, which compromises the Federal Superfund cleanup of the canal.” 

As for the music on Autonomous People of Gowanus, it’s two full-tilt sides of all-improvised, feedback-dripping, voice-manipulated, junkyard contraption-banging, gnarly free jazzy rumble. Think Sonic Youth jamming under the trip metal and psycho-jazz vibes of Wolf Eyes.  

The cassette release isn’t the only new slab that Bisi is about to drop. He’s also readying a brand-new record titled Feral Myths that is set to come out on December 2nd via his own Black Freighter label.  

Here, the Globe is stoked to present the video premiere of “The Last Street End of Gowanus” which features overhead drone footage of the Gowanus Canal and a performance by The Autonomous People Of The Last Street End Of Gowanus.  

 

Bisi and his Collective (Bradford Reed, Lani Combier-Kapel, Lawry Zilmrah, Bobby Bunny, Stephen Moses and Jacquelyn Marie-Shannon) will celebrate the cassette release of Autonomous People of Gowanus on Sunday, October 16th at Mama Tried (787 Third Avenue at 27th Street) at 4PM with Alyse Lamb (Parlor Walls), Zoku Metsu (Robert Pepper and Ron Anderson) and Décor. Admission is free. 

Purchase Martin Bisi Collective – The Last Street End Of Gowanus by the Autonomous People Of Gowanus here.

 

VIDEO: The Autonomous People Of The Last Street End Of Gowanus “The Last Street End Of Gowanus”

 

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Brad Cohan

Brad Cohan is a music journalist in Brooklyn, NY.

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