thomas dimuzio

erototox decodings

2021 LP


“It is a mystery how these sounds are produced, and that magic, like the production of the vinyl record itself, is some kind of alchemy.” —Freq

“Only those conversant with the handling of cables, switches and knobs to manufacture sounds beyond one’s ken can fathom the sense of reward arising when the creatures finally breathe. Thomas Dimuzio basically lives for it, and within it. ” —Touching Extremes

“... seamlessly composed from so many different nights that it represents an entire era, evoking the sites that allow music like this to come into being. ” —Jon Leidecker


Thomas Dimuzio‘s love of the Buchla synhtesiser is well known and here, on the precursor to Sutro Transmissions, we find his initial forays into that universe, that limitless dimension that means every release is a new journey or a new series of travels into the unknown.

A distant shimmer-like haze on a forgotten landscape opens the first side with “Large Cresting Microwaves”. Dust filters across buried ruins with bursts of static and waves of subsonics shaking this tranquil landscape, sending seismic shudders through empty places. A brief disturbance; a glitch in time as if something is coming from underneath, immense but shapeless, formless but neither benign nor malign.

Sounds morph into one another like shapeshifters, sometimes giving up an esoteric clue to show their intention. Some creatures converge after the first upheaval with the discovery of a new and very distinct place. The overall vibe is very different to Losing Circles, his recent album with Marcia Bassett. Although these pieces are substantially older, they feel as though something has ben obliterated; a moment in time demolished and left as so much debris.

Flip the LP and things take a different turn, with a disembodied voice and wind-driven debris in an empty road. This is more here and now, with an avalanche of discarded dreams pulling the hoardings loose and making the streets dangerous. Disembodied warnings are out of sight from this vantage point, hidden but impotent, helpless in this rain-swept cacophony. The gurgling of drains leads you down, and you can’t help but be swept away by the directed barrage that passes like an out of control underground carriage, with you left stunned watching the receding red light and waiting for it to vanish.

The ghost of humanity haunts the hallways here, a mind drifting, trying to keep up with what is all around; but certain portions are off limits, with a warning on attempting entry. What is in these hidden recesses, these simmering cauldrons of activity? Your subconscious won’t allow access, but there is a kind of peace in giving up the fight and going with the flow, allowing the sounds to recede into a gentle background murmur. It makes it easier to think your own thoughts; but does it really? There is such a sense of control here, and the lead is shorter but more flexible, allowing quicker turns and changes of whim.

It is a mystery how these sounds are produced, and that magic, like the production of the vinyl record itself, is some kind of alchemy. You take air and thoughts and these much-loved but esoteric machines, turn some dials and somehow whole universes form or different psyches manifest themselves, emerging whether dragged or eased into our welcoming light.
Although otherworldly, the sounds on LCM have a human memory and we only need to open our ears and allow Mr Dimuzio, our guide, to show us the way. —Mr Olivetti

Touching Extremes

Only those conversant with the handling of cables, switches and knobs to manufacture sounds beyond one’s ken can fathom the sense of reward arising when the creatures finally breathe. Thomas Dimuzio basically lives for it, and within it. Decades of expertise as a tester and avid user of analog equipment are clearly reflected in his productions. The substance materializes from sudden impulse, internal contradictions of singular timbres, spontaneously developed circuits. Yet what stands out from this music is an underlying purpose invariably defying the apparent mayhem.

LCM – a strangely under-hyped June 2021 release – is a set of six tracks uniquely grounded in the sonorities of a Buchla synthesizer, of which Dimuzio is an accomplished adept. The title’s three letters (also employed as initials of each track, though for different words) are a direct allusion to Life Changing Ministries, an Oakland venue beloved by the intimate circle of experimental artists who performed there. Dimuzio assembled recordings that occurred between 2013 and 2015, blending them into brilliant patchworks of wise unpredictability. Frankly, I feel envy for the few who witnessed those concerts. The idea of experiencing on the skin and in the brain’s muscles the turnover of irrepressible dynamics and sonic (dis)proportions, halfway through irrational and scientific, makes me sigh in these times of remote stupidity.

Still, you can certainly focus and – ultimately – have fun by listening to a mere record (in this case, moreover, an LP edition limited to 100 copies, dear collectors). Dimuzio knows how to grab someone by the neck and slap them silly; danger is around the corner if you are desperately looking for agreements. At the same time, he opens up more oxygen-rich possibilities in the midst of semi-industrial nebulosity and meltable anarchism. In this creational framework, alternation of (coincidental) governance goes hand in hand with plurality of meaning. And, you know, learning that meaning is not even that relevant. Subjected to all kinds of signals – human enough, as it is – the ears strive for improved alignment. In the meantime, our inner hearing has long been ready for the translation of a future that is barely surmised, not carved in the stone of dogma.

Thoughts on LCM by John Leidecker

n the mid-2010’s, seemingly half of the weird music shows in East Oakland all went down at Life Changing Ministries, a tiny chapel one block from West Oakland BART that started as a residence throwing occasional shows before expanding into a proper co-op running concerts three to six nights a week. It wasn’t safe to include the address, especially on a searchable events page, but everyone knew exactly where the show was going to be if they saw these three letters next to each other: LCM.

A mainstay of the Bay Area experimental music scene, Thomas Dimuzio played countless times at this comfortably carpeted venue, that kind of privately public space where it can be hard to properly tell the music apart from the community. Though ’LCM’ is technically a live album — two side-long suites, each built out of three continuous movements — it’s also been seamlessly composed from so many different nights that it represents an entire era, evoking the sites that allow music like this to come into being.

The often unrecognizable textures on this recording were all generated on Thomas’s carefully cultivated Buchla synthesizer. Being an early adapter of the relaunched Buchla 200e series, Thomas sometimes found himself informally acting as quality assurance, reporting workflow quirks and bugs directly to Don Buchla over the phone as he integrated more and more modules into his setup. Of course, Dimuzio knows that Buchlas are designed to surprise, not to be tamed — or as Don once barked in response when Thomas asked him about a module’s possibly unintentional behavior: “Well… does it sound GOOD?” ‘LCM’ is West Coast music, emphasizing surprise and opportunity over safety.

Though Thomas himself often jokes about the phenomenon of the ‘Mod Life Crisis’, which is part a reference to how undeniably expensive these instruments are — it’s less a secret than it is essential to recognize the role of Thomas’s storied career as a Test Engineer for musical software & hardware companies, dating back the early 90’s. His sprawling Buchla & Eurorack setups reflect a life dedicated to discovering and then exploiting the unexpected uses of our musical technology. Questions about how these strange sounds are being produced slowly give way to the undeniably musical logic on display, the way these recorded sounds find their own flow through time in seemingly different ways with every playback.

All volunteer venues, by their nature, can’t last forever; they crumble, or become mere institutions. The building’s still occupied, for now, though other venues have taken on the work of hosting shows. But every musician and every audience that participated recognized what was happening at Life Changing Ministries during its own lifetime — there’s one in every lucky city, the opposite of a tragedy, worth remembering every time something like this manages the miracle of coming together.

Life Changing Ministries was founded by Angela Edwards in the early 2010’s when she moved into a tiny chapel on 8th Street in West Oakland. In 2013 it was expanded into a full time cooperative with financial and booking responsibilities shared by a team which included Michael Daddona, Alexandra Buschmann, Sarah Lockhart, James Decker, Raub Roy, Dianne Lynn, Bobby Adams and Nathan Bowers.— Jonathan Leidecker (aka Wobbly)