Soylent Radio
  • Soylent Radio
  • The Teeth of our Skin - Part 1 (w/Troy Swanson)
  • Clowder (w/ Eveline Muller-Graf)
  • The Teeth of our Skin - Part 2 (w/ Troy Swanson)
  • 3 Cloven Staircase
  • Epilepticify (w/ Eveline Muller-Graf)
  • Penumbra Hotel (w/ Rich Hinklin)

I first met Bill not long after he arrived in Seattle. He auditioned for a band I was playing in at the time. We were playing straight ahead rock more or less. He came in with this amazingly wild guitar work. All of the place, but not sloppy. He knew exactly what he was doing. He didn’t get the gig, mostly because the rest of us doubted that we could keep up with him. I knew that I’d met up with a unique talent and kept in touch with him. His first solo release came on the Nocturne Concrète Compilation that Unit Circle put out in 1995. He has continued to refine his improv skills by playing with a number of the coolest improv ensembles around the Seattle area, including UnFolkUs, SpringTrapHum, and Fin. Beyond his amazing solo pieces, this CD features some excellent duets with Seattle Area Improvisers Rich Hinklin, Eveline Muller and Troy Swanson. This is Bill’s first full-length album, his second "Songs From the Nerve Wheel" was also released by Unit Circle in 2000.

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Seven tracks in 73 minutes. It opens with the sound of heavy machinery in a factory of guitars as all manner of thundering guitar textures arise and assault the senses, eventually taking off on a trip round the universe as cosmic/space/industrial layers of guitars and electronics form a suitable far-out, quite gutsy set of dark space music. Throughout the CD you will hear a quite phenomenal and absolutely riveting mind-bending set of el gtr/drums/perc sonic explorations and unfolding landscapes, exposing the immensity of the space and spacious musical horizons that can be created with just guitars and perc. This is dark, haunting, fascinating and addictive space music like you've rarely heard, the added drums/perc serving as extra textural coloration rather than a trad rhythmic role. - Andy G
Improvijazzation Nation - Issue #30
Kevin, at Unit Circle Rekkids, sent this (latest) CD release in (faithfully, as he's been doin' for a coupla' years now). This is one of the STRANGEST releases I've heard from th' (already strange) UCR label. Horist VERY effectively weaves voices, bleeps & mechanicals in to his sound sculptures. Th' replacement word for "alternative" music must be "odd-istry". This is NOT for the sonically timid or weak-minded. "Soylent" weaves you down a twisted path, merging the normal & the para-normal into one phantastic collage that will (at times) awaken your primal nature. Itz' a sonic experience that MUST be listened to in the entirety for you to enjoy it (preferably with th''phones ON). If you're sonically challenged, i.e., absolutely MUST have structures as a reference point, move on to Dolly Parton or elsewhere. IF, OTOH, you recognize the beauty of carefully-crafted chaos - this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! - Rotcod Zzaj
Vital Weekly - Issue #96
BILL HORIST - SOYLENT RADIO (CD by Unit Circle Rekkids) Bill is an improv guitarist who played with many people - just like Bill unknown to me. This CD with seven pieces of improvised music is partly solo, and partly duets with people playing moog, fuzz keybass, sharp metal objects, corpus collosom (what is that!!!?! and electronics. Sound rather dull writing this, but I enjoyed playing this. Bill shifts through many styles and genres, one time being really improv and noisy, and on the other hand ambient and quiet. And at times it even hints to 'pop melodies' - remote but apparent. If you are into improvised guitar playing from Henry Kaiser or Jim O'Rourke, then this is not to be missed. - FdW
The Stranger - 10/2/97
With this new release, Seattle guitarist Bill Horist rockets out into the furthest realm of experimental guitar noise, but not without encouraging his listeners to follow. The seven tracks on this record consist of solo improvisations and duets with the likes of Troy Swanson, Rich Hinklin and Eveline Mueller. What is most remarkable is that throughout all of the distortions, effects, wildly varying textures and unorthodox methods used here, something very much resembling "music" emerges. Fluidity and continuity run throughout the whole record, and compositions emerge from washes of rhythms, chimes and static. While the songs seem abstract and ambient at first, in the end they refuse to murmur quietly in the background. - Trey Hatch
XX Magazine - October 1997

"Improvised guitar solos and duets..." It sounds innocent enough. But if you're not paying attention and don't see the photos along the side of Bill's guitar with clothespins, nails and what looks like part of a rat trap, or take into account the instruments he's duet-ing with (fuzz keybass, sharp metal object...) you really wouldn't be ready for what you're about to hear. You see, Bill Horist plays prepared guitar: he puts it on his lap dobro-style and places things between or over the strings and otherwise manipulates them by hitting them or running something up and down them and using a palette of pedals and sampling devices rendering the sound to be like anything but a guitar.

In duets with Troy Swanson on keyboard and other electronic devices of his own fabrication the two create an organic soundscape of a planet on the brink of civilization. With Rich Hinklin, a futuristic space jam using Moog and fuzz keybass. In conjunction with such technology, it is often difficult to discern who could be making which sound, and how? Steel drum, harpsichord and mbira appear where none of these things are.

In the two cuts with Eveline Mueller the distinction is clear. Eveline plays what she calls her "Boeing" due to it's construction out of parts acquired mostly from Boeing Surplus. There are tubes arranged as a glockenspiel, and large washers arranged likewise in gradation, as well as chains, hubcaps, and etcetera to be struck and otherwise rustled against one another. The two compliment each other, alternating between a sort of rhythm for the other's harmonic diversions.

- M. Schreiber
Sonic Boom - October 1997
While technically marketed as a solo project, this new Bill Horist album is actually a collection of guitar solos and duets with a handful of other accomplished musicians. The only common link between these tracks is that the they share Bill Horist as a collaborate and as such have been assembled together into this album. Musically each track is thoroughally different from every other track on the album simply because each track was co-written with a different collection of musicians. Some pieces consist of loosely ordered vocal samples buried behind a variety of electronic fuzz and percussion, others are jaunts through a bubbling array of analogue ambience, while some of the remaining tracks are chaotic washes of noise and guitars run through a myriad of treatments and pedals. Almost every single unformulated musical performance concept is attempted in this 74 minute tour through the back catalogue of Bill Horist, along with a few I've never before experienced. In consummation, "Soylent Radio" is quite a complete journey through the world of experimental music even if a few tracks left my ears ringing for quite a long time after listening to the album.
Questa raccolta di assoli di chitarra e duetti (chitarra e sintetizzatore, chitarra e oggetti metallici, chitarra ed elettronica) improvvisati da Bill Horist (chitarrista dell'ensemble Phineas Gage a Seattle e collaboratore di tanti altri progetti d'avanguardia) si ispira al noise-jazz di Fred Frith, Hans Reichel e Henry Kaiser. La sua discografia comprende {Guitometry} (auto-prodotto, 1993) e {Phineas Gage Traveling Sideshow} (auto-prodotto, 1997). Se le sonorita` eccessive di [Soylent Radio] sono abbastanza prevedibili, le dissonanze e i clangori snervanti di [Clowder], le risonanze galattiche di [3 Cloven Staircase] e soprattutto i subdoli infrasuoni delle due parti di [The Teeth Of Our Skin] esplorano meandri suggestivi dell'animo umano. Gli accordi frammentati di [Penumbra Hotel] accennano temi che non avranno mai luce, anzi vengono deragliati verso il mondo anarchico di Morton Subotnick, ma in nuce questa e` musica ambientale. Come nel caso di Jim O'Rourke, non e` facile separare l'aspetto tecnico da quello artistico. Probabilmente il primo vale molto piu` del secondo. 7/10
Auf Abwegen - Issue #23
Bill Horist klingt wie ein verrückt gewordener Caspar Brõtzmann. Seine mit manipulierter Gitarre hervorgequetschten Improvisationen sind rauh und abwechslungsreich. Das warme Nachschwingen der Saiten, das plinkernde Klirren, wenn wieder ein Riesennagel oder ein anderer metallischer Gegenstand auf die Saiten geschleudert wird - einfach schon. Und frei: Bill Horist scheint entbunden, endlich dem Übervater Hendrix entflohen, kann er nun eigene Klangvorstellungen umsetzen. Und er scheißt dabei sowohl auf eine Anbindung an lärmige Popvertreter (wie z.B. Sonic Youth) als auch auf poppige Lärmvertreter (äh, Merzbow?). Manchmal mit Synthis angereichert - ansonsten schwebend und ohne Grenzen.
The Wire - Issue 166 (December 1997)
Seattle-based Horist is a highly versatile guitarist whose credits include noise and rock groups, improv and solo projects, plus film composing. Soylent Radio features improvised guitar solos and duets with Rich Hinklin (Moog, fuzz keybass), Eveline Müller (sharp metal objects) and Troy Swanson (corpus collosom, electronics) - the last two from Horist's noise quartet Fuselage. Some of these instruments are obscure - the corpus collosom is the bundle of nerve connections between the two hemispheres of the brain, and what Troy Swanson is doing with it I can't imagine. The title track is solo, an undulating noisescape which moves into gentler, more atmospheric territory and concludes with what sounds like the kora. On the more percussive "Clowder", Eveline Müller gets out her "sharp objects", producing whining guitar-like effects and bell sounds. Recommended.
Alternative Press - March 1998

It's always a pleasure to hear guitarists testing their instruments'limits (and those of their effects pedals). Bill Horist, who plays in many other combos and writes scores for short films and TV programs, has made one of the most enjoyable experimental-improv albums to reach A.P. Headquarters recently (we receive more of these things than you'd think).

In both solo pieces and duets with Troy Swanson (electronics), Eveline Muller-Graf (sharp metal objects) and Rich Hinklin (Moog Synth), Horist sculpts engrossing soundscapes that are fantastic to trip to. Even if you're not on illicit substances, Soylent Radio will disturb your well-ordered world. On the solo version of the title track, Horist forges sonic abstractions similar to the musique concrète of '60s composer Tod Dockstader by weaving snatched voices from a radio into unclassifiable swathes of heavily treated guitar.

This piece sets the tone for the album's disorienting, unsettling sound. The subaquatic squalls of "The Teeth Of Our Skin-Part 1" (with Swanson) could soundtrack the horrors of sea life (and death). In the Dadaist anticomposition "Clowder" (with Muller-Graf), grotesque bestial noises swirl around a concatenation of metallic percussion. Soylent Radio's masterpiece is "Penumbra Hotel" (with Hinklin), in which Horist creates six-string surrealism through striated, staccato riffs and chaotic, tangled notes. Near the conclusion, a demented cauldron of animalistic growls and a dramatic drone a la Ligeti in 2001: A Space Odyssey lend great poignance to the track. With Soylent Radio, Horist enters the pantheon of guitar anti-heroes.

- Dave Segal
Audion - Issue #39
According to the cover, this "Improvised guitar solos and duets with..." three other people playing other gadgets, electronics, etc... Basically, as Bill's guitar work is purely abstract stuff using pegs, clips, nails, and the likes between the strings (and generally not played, but attacked or carassed) this means we have a sound that's close to the weird explorative free-jazz of AMM. Really, the instruments that are used aren't important, as Morphogenesis have so often proved by using very few real instruments. This is all "prepared" instrumental sounds, bridging free-form abstract atmospheres through to cacophonous noise. The results are an interesting, if demanding, album of bizarre avant-garde music.
Voltage - Issue #5
Seattle has quite the experimental music scene going on in the periphery of the pop punk mainstream that dominates local media. Horist threatens to break wide open the secret that only visitors to the local Speakeasy Cafe share - that some of the best avant garde "noise" is going on in our backyard. Horist uses a variety of found objects, nails, clothespins, and household tools to extract torturous sounds from his electric guitar. Aided by Rich Hinklin's keyboards and Troy Swanson's loops and random electronics, Horist sculpts sonic stories of mechanized beauty and anguish. The "songs" change with every playing, as if Horist is simply the medium through which his tools are telling their tales, and there are always new tales to tell. The cannibalized instruments may be the inspiration behind the title of the CD; it certainly feels that way on "Clowder" where Horist's guitar sounds almost human (and not in that cheesy Van Halen way). Horist's music evokes many emotions from unease to curiosity but never boredom. - Da5id
Interface - Version 11
Following in the Jim O'Rourke vein of guitar improvisation, Bill Horist and friends offer a CD filled with musings and excursions. The are distinctive selections of improvisational styles present; from noisy to ambient, this disc tends to have its bases covered. Two of the seven tracks feature Horist alone on his guitar, but the remainder find him paired up in a duet with either Rich Hinklin, Eveline Muller, or Troy Swanson. Each of the songs retains a set of distinctive characteristics enhanced with electronics, sharp metal objects, fuzz keybass, and even a Moog that are embodied by the artists that support (or do not support) Horist on selected tracks. The ambient and abstract aspects of this disc tend to permit one's attention to drift on occasion, but the subtle presence of structure is the perfect balance to keep everything in line. Overall, it's pretty good. - Kevin Lundmark
Dead Angel - Issue #29

For a guy i've never heard of, Horist sure has played with a hell of a lot o' people. Essentially a treated-guitar stylist in the vein of Hans Reichel or Henry Kaiser, he's played with Nobadaddy, the Tourniquet Trio, Phineas Gage, Incubus Octet, Fuselage, Fin, and several others; he's also scored several soundtracks for television in general and PBS in particular. So obviously he must know what he's doing, eh? And here i've never even heard of him... i feel like a dolt now... o well....

So what we have here, then, is a disc full of strange soundscapes, two solo and five collaborations. The first solo piece, "Soylent Radio," is aptly-titled; it sounds like a garbled radio transmission of an wildly exotic prepared-guitar piece, one that's frequently being overridden by static, wave interference, and spoken bits from a completely different broadcast, if you will. Apart from the sputtering rumble that often serves as a rudimentary rhythm track, there's lots of strange scraping noises, odd guitar lines, and just plain weird bits, all carefully arranged in a fashion that is somehow both intensely cryptic yet engaging. The second solo piece, "3 Cloven Staircase," opens with shimmering drone and shining feedback guitar that gradually includes the noise of random movement and jittering peals of squealing bursts of squelch. If it weren't for the clean overall sound, it could almost pass for a particularly busy Skullflower track, oddly enough. (I suppose that this would be as good a place as any to note that Evaline Muller is credited with "sharp metal objects," although her presence is not otherwise specifically delineated in any of the song credits.)

"The Teeth of our Skin," recorded with T. Swanson, is presented in two parts. Part 1 is a dense collection of bassy rumble and boxlike chittering that grows into a stuttering, muffled hypno-riff that abruptly breaks off, only to be replace by bowel-loosening bass shudders. It is... odd. Part 2 is a variation on the same general themes, only employing drone and a higher tonal register. "Clowder," a collaboration with E. Muller-Graf, revolves around a meowing guitar and more percussive elements, among other things (many, many other things). Another one with same playing partners, "Epilepticify," elaborates on these motifs with the addition of other percussion elements and violin-like sounds toward the end. The last track, "Penumbra Hotel," with R. Hinklin, is built around an eerie Moog riff that sounds like a backwards guitar; the Moog plays throughout while Horist makes unfathomable noises in the background.

This is hard stuff to describe, to say the least. It may (or may not) be helpful to suggest that Horist is loosely aligned with the school of thought that produces both extreme improvisational soundscapes and free jazz (uh, EXTREMELY free). Fans of the previously mentioned artists, Jim O'Rourke, Sonny Sharrock, and other like-minded individuals bent on making guitars sound like anything but guitars should find this of interest.

Sonar Map - Issue #4
Ambient wreckage for the faint of heart. Horist's guitar collaborations with Rich Hinklin on moog and guzz keybass, Eveline Muller playing various metal objects, and Troy Swanson on the Corpus Collosom (whatever that is) make for some very dainty, very sensitive noizscapes... but don't get me wrong, this stuff isn't the least bit sappy. Diverse sonic textures rule! Woo-hoo! And check out his picture in the CD notes... This guy needs a modeling agent! We're talkin' GQ here! - S.Mediaclast
Carbon 14 - Issue #13
Bill Horist has scored short films as well as television, and put together various sounds including guitar work for Soylent Radio. He displays an interesting selection of sounds here, each with its own endless universe of meaning and purpose. Bill is a master of dynamics; breaking away from the deadly classification, background music. Like free jazz in machine language.
Your Flesh - Issue #40
Bill Horist is a young Seattle guitarist of immense talent who has released one of the best improvisational guitar recordings of this decade. Following a tack similar to Fred Frith, Henry Kaiser, and Hans Reichel, Horist has constructed his own musical language that he speaks through his guitar and its various attached preparations and umbilicalled effects. It's quickly evident that Horist is not of the mind to clobber his listeners with sheets of noise like some of his contemporaries; rather he creates engaging, fluid, vari-sonic atmospheres that possess well-developed attributes of tension, sustain, and release. In addition to the beautiful, subtle murmurs and drones present on Soylent Radio, Horist's music maintains a noticeable percussive feel. It is in the scraping and tapping of strings that I hear the kindred spirits of Reichel and Fristh. The percussive natiure of this music is heightened on five of the seven tracks by wonderful duet performances with three musicians (Rich Hinklin, Eveline Muller-Graf, and Troy Swanson) playing a variety of instruments. Horist's playing is as solid in these duo constellations as it is solo. "Epilepticify" has a wonderful Gamelan feel to it with Muller-Graf's dutiful playing of "sharp metal objects" and Horist's effervescent plinks, plonks, and pings. The disc closes with "Penumbra Hotel," a spacious and eruptive duet with Hinklin on keyboards that brings to mind the elaborate dialogues Davey Williams typically strikes up with various improvisers (most notably his wife, LaDonna Smith). This piece evokes the type of telepathic communication rarely found between musicians that don't belong to a troupe named AMM. Of the half dozen or so releases of this general ilk that have crossed my desk in the past few months, Soylent Radio, is hands down the best of the bunch. Here's to hoping this review prompts a few of you to pick up this excellent disc, and the sales generated by such a collective move will inspire Horist and crew to bring us more music. - Mike Trouchon
Gajoob Magazine
This is a collection of 7 long experimental improv guitar solos and duets with other artists playing either: "sharp metal objects," electronics and corpus collosum (?), or Moog and ³fuzz keybass.² The title track leads off and is listed as a solo piece, but also contains radio broadcasts. And I¹m not sure if he¹s cheating and overdubbing more guitar or using pre-made tapes, or if he¹s somehow putting delay/hold pedals to ingenious use, but Horist manages to get several layers of activity happening at once. Maybe it¹s all the stuff he jams in the strings. The sounds generated by his duet partners fit in very well and at times it¹s difficult to tell what is guitar and what is a sharp object or corpus collosum. There are a lot of low muffled gurglings and trebly plunkings. Overall it has a slightly intellectual feel. There are no breakneck heavy metal leads, folksy strummings, or any other typical guitar techniques employed. The compositions are open rather than walls of sound that are sometimes associated with experimental electric guitar music. A very good and quietly original album. - Jeff Wrench
Bizarre - Issue 11

Part of the Seattle improvisation scene, has and still is involved with many projects including Nobodaddy, Tourniquet Trio, Tablet, Phineas Gage, UnFolkUs, Fuselage and many others. Worked for both films and TV and provided music for spoken word artists and theatre. This is essentially a solo piece of work that has been inspired by the likes of Fred Frith, Hans Reichel and Henry Kaiser. Abstract sound collages that are urban or industrial in nature mixed with various textured guitars.

Murmurs and hinted ambiences of alien origin float in and out of our perception leaving us with a sense of unease.

Atlanta Press - February 5-11, 1999

(5 stars out of 5!) Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of Bill Horist. His face hasn't been splashed across the pages of glossy magazines and his name doesn't show up in big tour packages. But a listen to his experimental disc will have you 'knowing' the language he speaks. It is the language of the echoing recesses of the mind. The sound of mental machinations that can be heard in the dead of night when you close your eyes and waiver between wakefulness and sleep.

Horist has spent the last decade or so in his hometown of Seattle perfecting his original guitar style with area improv units like UnFolkUs (also on Unit Circle) and Fin, as well as composing for short films and TV programs. This experience gives Soylent Radio an edge that separates it from the wide morass of direction-less 'noise-scape' discs clogging the system. He uses the guitar as a sound machine, generating alien tones by sticking all manner of objects into it before thunking, shaking and plucking away. On most tracks he is joined by cohorts who use electronics or amplified foreign objects to weave yet denser webs of imagination.

But there are no repelling attempts to impress people with an ability to be loud or harsh here. Instead these avant-garde compositions invite the curious to delve further into tracks that, on the surface, may seem merely interestingly atmospheric. Once in, the listener can follow their very capable host on a journey through his phantasmagoric compendium of experimental works. Then you can see why he is mentioned with the likes of Jim O'Rourke, Fred Frith and Henry Kaiser.

- Mitchell Foy