GRIDFAILURE: David Brenner’s Systematic Deconstruction of Sound

cover_1487091033310542cover_1493917271467036With the release of ‘Scathed’, it was decided to run this little feature on Gridfailure by you for several reasons. One, the prime directive here is always to laud the artists we dig, with the faith that people will run across across something previously unknown to them that they can sink their proverbial teeth into. Two, Gridfailure is one of those projects that emanates an air that’s as hard to point out as it is to shake it from the memory long after it’s over. Three, the new album has dropped and Gridfailure is gonna be a name that you’ll wanna be hip to since there’s even more material coming atcha, so you won’t be in the dark when your pals are playing tracks into your ear–letting it creep into your subconscious to influence your dreams–during a horrid-yet-hilarious prank in case you’re first dork to fall asleep. Enjoy!

Working within the realm of extreme music, you’re gonna likely run across Earsplit PR, so David Brenner is someone I’ve built a fairly familiar correspondence with. As a publicist for a premier publicity house, label operator, musician—notably, the former bassist for the blackened post-industrial power drone metal band Theologian—David has a lot going on at any time. Unfortunately, since email has become civilization’s primary means of real-time communication, even telephonic communication takes the second chair most days, so getting an opportunity to speak with David about Gridfailure was a welcome change-up.

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Owning paralleled thoughts and opinions kept us on the phone for a good little while before I realized that we’d been rapping for almost two hours (My bad David, didn’t mean to keep ya😅). Hailing from Valley Cottage, NY, Gridfailure wasn’t necessarily born of politics or any one set of ideas, per se, but sometimes the sounds created tend to reflect the climates of the times.

Keeping David’s personal perspective vague, certain political views in this case, Gridfailure’s existence was essentially conceived during the most recent—and most fucked, ever—U.S. presidential campaign. With that in mind, the ‘Hostile Alchemy’ EP might be the most telling up to this point. So, when you hear that material, you can draw your own conclusions.

Maybe what David does with Gridfailure fits within the ‘electronic’ realms due to his use of synthesizing equipment, effects pedals, and the employment of his computer, which really serves as a means for recording the instruments and vocals. Broad stroke genrefication would be the closest you could get to appropriately categorizing Gridfailure’s natural sonic disposition; think about an experimentation in biomechanical power-electronic deconstruction with dark interstellar ambience. Something as innocuous as a stream running through a meadow on the countryside can become as malignant as grotesque transmissions with hellish interdimensional origins pointing toward imminent abominable demise, in seconds.

David is an artist who began making music when playing an instrument meant learning to handle that instrument and effects were available as pedals and processors rather than downloading the sound simulation software, which is probably an important point to view his work from. When he’s talking about working with the sounds, it’s clear that using authentic instrumentation is important to the process. As he explains, “I’m really getting into working with MIDI and things like that, but I don’t like the idea of using a computer for creating ‘electronic’ music.” He continues, “I don’t like pushing the keys on a keyboard to sound like a guitar. I can’t play guitar well at all, but I want to try to play it instead of faking the experience.”

Open ended experimentation is at the center of what Gridfailure is, and becomes. “What I’m doing with Gridfailure is as much like an art class as it is a musical project,” David says. He takes a given sound, voice, riff, or section, and carves until he’s satisfied with its qualities. It’s less like an architect, who is deliberate and builds with logic and reason, and more like a sculptor who chips away and ultimately creates an abstract form capable of eliciting inner responses and feelings, without plan. Gridfailure wasn’t really a part of any plan. It’s origins are literally natural; the recordings of sounds that occur in nature. “I love recording weather,” he says. “There are these field recordings, which is really what started Gridfailure, and I would just take recordings of the elements in nature and I would put them together with the other noises I was making. It was a much more immersive experience rather than just writing guitar and bass and everything you do when you’re making studio music.” So in essence, Gridfailure developed as organically as those recorded sounds occurred.

Amid what might seem like scores of ideas, recordings, and collaborations, David’s work with Benjamin Levitt has yielded some success and favorable attention with their concerted EP release, ‘Dendritic’. “Ben plays accordion, so I had him out to see what would happen,” David explains. “ Once we began, it started to sound like this weird, psychotic, fusion of bass, accordion, didgeridoo that was something like this fucked up world music with two dump trucks fucking!”

If you’ve not had the opportunity yet, be sure to give ‘Dendritic’ a go. They’ve managed to capture some great, unlikely results with their interactions that have been layered and delivered though David’s unique filters.

“Ben would probably be the first person I’d team up with to take on a live situation,” he continues.

That’s the next logical segue, and a point of certain interest; will there be live Gridfailure appearances that we can look toward? At the moment, there’s a lot going on that demands David’s attention. “There’s still so much source material that I’ve had for more than a year and some of the stuff is new, but I’m literally working on it every day,” he explains. “I plan on having six or eight more albums out this year on different formats.” And with each new recording, he could conceivably have 8, 10, even 12 different collaborators–many of which are familiar names from bands like the Melvins, Caustic Resin, Vastum, Wolvhammer. That’s a nice selection of choices and options to take out for live engagements. He can drive down the eastern seaboard, fly down to Texas or even way out west as far as California, and find someone who has contributed material that could easily be worked into a performance.

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Gridfailure probably won’t embark on a full-scale touring cycle the near future but performances aren’t out of the question. ”I might take the equipment and pedals that I used in recordings and do something completely spontaneous well live set. I like to keep things in moment and that would be a fresh performance every time, one-of-a-kind kind of thing.”

When it comes to Gridfailure, whether it’s an LP, EP, split, collaboration, or a potential live event, above all other things, David wants the audience to be aware. “More than anything else,” he digresses, “I want people to have felt something, thought something—ideas, something they want to see, something they want to change—I want them to finish with something more than they had before the experience.”

2017 has been a busy year for Gridfailure, partly because the name appears on three releases so far. ‘Scathed’ just dropped on June 2nd. You can get that digitally, for free, and the physicals through Darker Days Ahead. You can also get every last digital Gridfailure release, together. Check it out, starting here, and support the artists that move you!

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