Backworld founder Joseph Budenholzer grew up in Nebraska, immersed in the rural lore and religious traditions of the region. He attended parochial school where he was taught by nuns to play the guitar for folk Mass. He worked for years at The Omaha Magic Theatre, an offshoot of The Open Theatre in New York, as composer in residence. Moving to New York City's East Village in the mid-1980s he performed at St Mark’s Poetry Project and began collaborating with dance performer Brian Moran, aka Blood Boy, creating sampled soundscapes for confrontational Actionist assaults. This led to the Cinema of Transgression scene where he worked with filmmakers Richard Kern, Beth B, and Tessa Hughs-Freeland, and composer JG Thirlwell (Foetus). Eventually a series of collaborations with Lydia Lunch resulted, culminating in the double CD, Matrikamantra, a work of psycho-acoustic theatre in the form of a homage to Romanian philosopher poet EM Cioran. In 1990 he enrolled in NYU’s Gallatin Division, focusing on Eastern European theatre, traveling to study in Russia and Bulgaria, and later touring Poland and the Czech Republic.
“I formed Backworld in 1993, owing to a passion for English folk music, certain aspects of 60s psychedelia, and Christian mysticism. I wanted to make music that could reflect these interests and hopefully be as spiritual and beautiful.”
After joining forces with World Serpent Distribution (London) in 1995 four studio albums resulted, Holy Fire (1996), Isles of the Blest (1997), Anthems from the Pleasure Park (1999), Of Silver Sleep (2001) and a live album, The Fourth Wall, recorded at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London 2001.
Backworld’s albums and early performances at CBGB’s 313 Gallery and the NYU Experimental Theatre Wing and more recent concerts in Russia, Leipzig, Germany; Grandson Castle, Switzerland; Bloomsbury Theatre, and St. Olave’s Church, London; St. Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow have featured a changing roster of players but the course is still steered by Joseph’s constant vision. Arrangements of guitar, strings, percussion, flutes, electronics, revolve around lyrics concerned with ecstatic religious yearnings and otherworldly visions. Guest performers on BW albums have included Jarboe of Swans and Michael Cashmore of Current 93. In 2006 Joseph returned to NYC after three years living in Scotland where he recorded the bulk of the new album 'Good Infection' released in 2008, enlisting the talents of Isobel Campbell (Belle & Sebastian, Gentle Waves), David Tibet (Current 93) and Drew McDowall (Coil) to contribute vocals and other textures to the sessions. Other notable collaborations include playing in Current 93 and co-writing and producing the Little Annie album "Songs from the Coal Mine Canary" with Antony (of the Johnsons)