Justic Marc Lloyd – Your (CD, Love Earth Music)

your

“[Your is a] conceptual effort intended as a highlight of JML’s output,” the album notes state for Justic Marc Lloyd’s solo release, and this is as good a summary as any that I can think of. Over the course of multiple monikers in the noise hemisphere, including Pregnant Spore, Dementia and Hope Trails, and his wall output as False Flag, Lloyd has spanned the gamut of the genre: HNW, harsh noise, drone, tape loops, electronics, glitch. Not every release incorporates all of these elements, but Lloyd has been right there on all of them, successfully delivering excellent releases at every turn. On Your, he combines all of these sub-genres for an eleven-track album that sums up his diverse discography perfectly.

Your is not a collection of eclectic songs that have relatively little in common with each other. Despite the variability of sound, Lloyd has crafted an album that swings effortlessly between genres, often in the same track. “Feeling Submissive? Signal Two: A Thumbing” strikes a balance between the wonky tape loops and the rhythmic, as does “The Number Five Tasted Wrong, Part 2.” The opening moments are full of Lloyd’s penchant for grabbing interesting sound clips and pairing them off together.

The album continues into the other elements Lloyd has worked with in the past. “Most of the World” is a guitar-driven psychedelic swirl complete with whispered vocals and a clicking computer error chirrup; similar things occur in “Most of Our World,” but with a more electronic bent. Lloyd follows many of his tracks with a sequel part, using many of the same elements in unique ways; it keeps Your feeling fresh and focused, continually reusing and recycling similar sounds.

“Seemingly Under-Lion Self-Talk in the Form of Adam’s Sharp and Heavy Apple” hits on the harsh noise wall crunch with a high-pitched but lo-fi feedback rumble before opening up into an airy drone. Your ends with a couple of rhythmic, warped numbers, one of which spans for nearly ten minutes, to finish strongly.

Lloyd has really crafted a fantastic disc, and any of those who have followed his other work will find themselves right at home with nearly an hour of material. Your is meant to be a comment on motivational works and especially those of Wayne Dyer, and it’s hard not to come away from the album with a more positive light despite the discordance: accept the chaos and malfunction, because “you feel how you think.”

recommended

J. Peterson – Obsess (C40, Not On Label)

j peterson obsess

J. Peterson, sometimes under JCP, offers up two harsh tracks about foot fetishes on Obsess. It’s a release that’s been crafted by the man himself – there’s a homemade cassette case in blue and printed artwork taped to the front, along with a blue cassette hand-labeled. Pulling that DIY feeling into this tape emphasizes the obsession of the theme, even if the track titles aren’t there to tell you.

The first track, “Heel to Toe,” is a blown-out rumbling affair. It’s not quite a wall – there’s a lot of movement within, often using staccato elements of the quiet static as a backdrop for the shuddering bass throughout – but the idea and the magnitude of the sound is there. The bass textures aren’t deep, but they’re rigid enough to work, and instead of providing background for the piece, they are the main focal point of “Heel to Toe.” The spastic static later is just an additional player in the difficult listen of this piece.

Side B, “Refinement of Object,” is much more wall-like in texture, starting with a crackly bass rumble as though a train is passing and sticking to that subject for much of the track. There’s a subliminal pattern of static below the straightforward judders, sticky and crunchy, that adds quite a bit of depth. J. Peterson does end up shifting this wall to and fro, adding feedback and the sound of exhaust-like whispers of noise as he sees fit, but “Refinement of Object” does nicely stay stuck to its initial rumble.

If you can find it, it’s worth the effort to pick up Obsess from J. Peterson – one track harsh noise, one track semi-HNW, both of them well-done in my book. And the nice blue tapes that this release comes on look great as well. For foot fetishists, this is definitely one for your shelf.

Dave Phillips – At the Heart of It All (CD-R, Ruido Horrible/Ruido Latino)

at the heart of it all

At the Heart of it All is a significant departure from where Dave Phillips began in Fear of God. That was a grindcore band back in the late ’80s, as raucous as one would expect. But his solo work on At the Heart of It All comes down from all of the aggression of the hardcore scene for a collage of found sounds out of the Amazon. The two 35 minute tracks on this release were collected by Phillips during his time near Chuallacocha, where he let his microphones record whatever sounds of the wildlife surrounded him. Simply organized and layered, At the Heart of It All features no manipulation of the various calls, and instead allows them to blend together for a cacophony of natural harmony. The disc comes with a short essay from Phillips on the transformative nature of this experience as well, explaining the reasoning behind the title.

The two tracks are split in two; “Dawn Until Dusk” gathers the sounds of the Amazon during the day, and “Dusk Until Dawn” collects them during the night. Both have familiar concepts – there’s an overwhelming amount of insect chirruping throughout both, and squawks from birds are fairly normal as well. In a way, these tend to form a wall of shrill cries throughout both tracks, allowing Phillips to layer calls of monkeys and frogs in the background to add variation.

At the Heart of It All switches off and on; the listener sometimes feels like they’re simply listening to a chorus of cries in the wild, and then all of the sudden Phillips collage will morph into an interesting loop of animal calls that form a rhythmic base. These moments are staggered throughout the album, and most likely not intentional; it is the audience who pulls the meaning out of insect sounds, and these are great experiences.

It’s certainly not a CD you’ll want to listen to all of the time; the found sound format, along with the relatively sparse editing, means that At the Heart of It All is best used as a relaxation soundtrack. Even so, I’d recommend “Dusk Until Dawn” over “Dawn Until Dusk” because the intensity of the insects becomes harsh over time. Still, if nature sounds are your thing, or if found sound interests you in any way, At the Heart of It All‘s composition is more than just heading to the zoo to listen to the animal buzz.

Isolator – Culture & Principal of Anti-Human Exaltation (CD, Black Plagve)

isolator culture

Isolator is a blackened noise project featuring The Nothing and The Sculptor; however, if those code names don’t give you any indication of their association with other noise projects, the duo features members of Set, Father Befouled, and Encoffination. From the gloomy packaging to the lyrics featured in the fold-out digipak, it’s pretty clear that Isolator are going to bring dirges of black drone to the listener, and that’s exactly what they deliver.

However, it’s not as cut-and-dry as it may seem. Though the liner notes indicate there will be a lot of vocals, there really aren’t as many as expected. Or at least, they’re not delivered in the expected manner – whispers and growls are the common denominator here. Over the course of five tracks, Isolator craft heavy drones out of their instruments; at times it sounds like guitar, but there is bass and samples on here as well. Opener “Cast Into Blood” brings the momentous clamor of the duo right away with surging pulses that climax relatively quickly, while the longer tracks “Your Heaven Will Writhe In the Chaos of My Hell” and closer “Into the Blood of Our Kingdom” are reluctant to open up.

Isolator packs a lot of sound into these tracks, but it’s important to have the volume all the way up to really notice the detail. Their drones have a tendency to blend, where the subtle shifts are difficult to hear. However, in later tracks the progression is more evident, and the finale of “Into the Blood of Our Kingdom” hammers home the main idea of Culture & Principal of Anti-Human Exaltation; the whirring feedback tone in the forefront drops out midway through to open up for percussive cymbal smashes and an electric shock of rhythmic fuzz. It’s what the album has been building to, and it feels powerful.

Isolator have the black drone sound down very well, and their tracks tend to stick to the formula frequently. They’re not copycats of Sunn O)))’s devilish guitars or the intense vocal-tinged blackened noise, but something in between the two, exploring the darkest crags of drone with aplomb.

Ilsa Koch – Ilsa Frost (C30, Winter Solace Productions)

ilsa koch ilsa frost

Ilsa Koch is the noise project of the owner of Winter Solace; he has a few releases under his belt, mostly all on Winter Solace, and this single-sided cassette is no different. Ilsa Frost was originally released without a label as a demo, but then found re-release on Winter Solace as a sort of recycled tape. The cassette I received had a handwritten J-card with artwork from another Winter Solstice release that was whited out.

Only one track on this C30, filling out only the A-side with a fifteen minute jam that uses a black metal song as source material as well as guitar, sped-up vocal loops, and electric hissing. It begins with a simple guitar medley, some marching and German orders, and some ballroom music before transforming into a noisy hum of squeaks along with the strummed, melancholy guitar. Eventually this all disappears rather abruptly to make room for percussive loops of sound.

Ilsa Frost is a short listen, but its one track makes use of Ilsa Koch’s atmospheric sound. The loop used is rhythmic but aggressive, and the repeated effects that pair up with it work well to create a hypnotic, manic work.

If you missed this tape the first time, go see if you can pick it up from Winter Solace Productions now.

Negative Climax – Kālá (C40[?], Terror)

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Negative Climax’s Kālá is an amalgam of drones, ritual sounds, and odd rhythmic music. The duo from Japan use vocals to great advantage, combining ghostly female chants with tribal tones and electronics. Much of it is looped, the vocals simply hanging in the drones; at other times, Negative Climax allows the haunting Sanskrit lullabies space to breathe without any electronics.

Often the drones are at the forefront of each piece, like opener “sidhyati,” the eerie vocals mixing well for a hypnotic blend. On “Kāma (Unplugged),” the vocals are chants that imbue a foreboding sense, not even needing any loops to give it atmosphere. There is an overwhelming sense of culture in these tracks, and many of them wouldn’t even be considered noise at all if not for the more chaotic recordings of flute or synth work, the sounds blurring a little because of volume or the way in which the instrument was played.

Negative Climax is listenable for the average music lover, though, and many who enjoy tribal rhythms or Indian sitar will find much to love on Kālá. There’s not a lot of noise on offer here, but there are more than enough lulling drones to keep everyone interested in their work.

Steel Hook Prostheses – The Empirics Guild (CD, Malignant Records)

the empirics guild

Steel Hook Prostheses is the duo J. Stillings and L. Kerr, and their sound sits primarily within the heavy power electronics/death industrial genres. The black metal vocals should give it away immediately on The Empiric Guild, but the combination of intensely atmospheric noise and the penchant for producing eerie textures of makes this a soundtrack for a very gloomy day; or, if it isn’t one, it sure will be after a listen to the screaming electronics.

The Empirics Guild is composed of twelve tracks to make up over an hour of sound. These often run the gamut from lengthy to quite-lengthy, most of them not falling under the four minute mark. Steel Hook Prostheses generally envelope the listener in sound, starting out with windy, escalating drones that are joined with harsh, often manipulated vocals. The thing about The Empirics Guild‘s tracks is that the vocals are rarely the same, often heavily modified; “Leprosaria Dross”‘ demonic incantations sound significantly different from the less-modulated screams on the other tracks, for example.

This means that no two tracks fall into the same sort of sound, which is often a problem with death industrial and power electronics. The vocals are an important technique for Steel Hook Prostheses, and they add an extra layer to the noises that populate this release. Spoken word samples on “Debrided Necrotic Tissue” add a creepy texture to the hushed drones; harsher screams give chilling results. The tracks are meant to unnerve, and they do so at all times.

Some tracks may seem familiar to others doing the same sort of styles, but Steel Hook Prostheses is consistently good. If you’re into this type of death industrial/PE, you’ll have no problem finding multiple tracks to enjoy on The Empirics Guild.