Saint Street‘s an album from Arvo Zylo, although you wouldn’t know it simply by investigating the cover. Only inside, listed underneath a brilliantly colorful picture of a dead bird, does it list artist moniker. Instead, the cover art reminds of Merzbow at his birdiest, similar to artwork on his 13 Japanese Birds series. But Arvo Zylo’s noise on Saint Street sounds quite far from the ‘bow’s harsh noise; instead, Zylo provides the listener with a fairly long disc of ten noise tracks, often wall-like in texture while mixing in a few tracks of noisy rhythms.
The noisier walls that pepper this disc are an interesting mix of shifting static textures combined with new takes on the genre. Opener “Upheaval (Version 3)” is an impressive wall of blasting noise with a fairly consistent undertone of sound, but it often shifts between more musical droning from the opening into hypnotic churnings of fuzz and distant violence. Similar scenarios often occur on this disc, although tunes like “Undula” and “Freudian Scrape” tend to emphasize the ability of noise to completely obliterate otherwise dance-able soundscapes. It might seem at first odd that Arvo Zylo pairs the sonic blasts of harsh noise wall static with rhythmic noise akin to Black Dice, but it also feels right, a fresh stance on walls that considers changing the simplicity of the sprawling length and unchanging tone of those stoic anthems. There’s also the wallish cut crafted out of layering rewound sounds together on “DPRV”, a magnificently hypnotic piece that aims to throw the listener’s sense of direction off course.
Saint Street falters just a bit, especially in its latter half – “Arachnid Orchid” is one piece that feels contextually out of place with its digital laser beam beats, and “Freudian Scrape” feels outlandishly long considering the total runtime of the disc. The biggest problem with Saint Street is its tendency to sprawl for too long, stretching pieces on until they’re ready to fall apart. Condensing these tracks down would have allowed the listener more time to allow them to soak in; instead, Saint Street packs so much good noise into one disc that it’s difficult to absorb as a whole.
But that’s easily fixable – simply listen again and again, and come back to Arvo Zylo’s ideas fresh. Saint Street is a beauty of a noise album, and the mix of percussive instrumentation with blistering textures is refreshing as well as inspirational.