Tag Archives: Controlled Bleeding

Experimental Groundbreakers Controlled Bleeding Straddle the Primal and Cerebral

Controlled Bleeding

Controlled Bleeding bandleader and guitarist Paul Lemos isn’t the type of artist you can pigeonhole. Since founding Controlled Bleeding in Boston in the late ‘70s, Lemos has led the band through a dizzying array of musical styles including post-punk, fusion, power electronics, and industrial, to name just a few. Not unlike King Crimson or Swans—acts whose names function as institutions that host revolving casts of players—Controlled Bleeding can appear to be an entirely different band depending on which album or period you focus on.

Last year, after a lengthy hiatus following the deaths of longtime creative partners, drummer/keyboardist Chris Moriarty and singer/keyboardist Joe Papa, Lemos released his first album in 14 years under the Controlled Bleeding banner, Larva Lumps and Baby Bumps. Anchored by the talents of new collaborators Chad Bernhard and Mike Bazini, both drum programmers, sound sculptors, and keyboardists, the album was the result of a gradual (but initially unintended) five-year build towards reactivating the band.

In a career defined by exploration, Lemos and company are still pushing themselves to discover new sounds. On their appropriately-titled new remix album Carving Songs, 15 like-minded artists including Merzbow, Justin Broadrick of Godflesh and Jesu, and Child Bite reimagine Larva Lumps for a varied but surprisingly cohesive take on an already-eclectic album. Of course, it wouldn’t be Controlled Bleeding if the project didn’t also put fresh twists on the idea of the definition of the remix itself. Lemos spoke to us from his home on his native Long Island, his base for over 35 years.

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Album of the Day: Controlled Bleeding, “Distress Signals I and II”

Since their inception in 1978, Long Island’s prolific Controlled Bleeding have been something of an anomaly. Experimental in the truest sense of the word, Paul Lemos (the group’s only constant member) and his numerous collaborators have always been in a state of constant reinvention, running the sonic gamut from art punk to EBM to free jazz, prog and krautrock and everything in between within the course of over 30 full-length records. Explicitly ambivalent when it comes to to cultivating an audience, Controlled Bleeding have nonetheless become the object of cult adoration, particularly due to the band’s early power electronics endeavors.

Distress Signals I, which features Lemos and frequent member Chris Moriarty, originally appeared as a cassette on Gary Mundy’s legendary Broken Flag label in 1984. It was the first release in Controlled Bleeding’s power electronics cycle, and stands as one of the most visceral, tortured, and overall finest American entries in the genre. Given the fact that Distress Signals I has never seen a proper vinyl release, it is fitting that Canadian imprint Artoffact Records are beginning their Controlled Bleeding reissue series with a lovingly remastered and restored edition of the classic Broken Flag tape.

If that wasn’t appealing enough, the label is also releasing Distress Signals II for the first time anywhere. Long rumored to exist, these lost recordings were the intended music for the original Broken Flag cassette. It is entirely different from Distress Signals I, though not an iota less scathing. Essential punishment.
—Michael Berdan