Stroker – The Bitch (C26, No Rent Records)

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Stroker is Rachel Slurr’s harsh noise project, and The Bitch is a cassette release with a limited number of 100 that has already sold out. Some may know Slurr from Heaven’s Gate, but I must confess all of these projects are new to me. However, The Bitch is an intriguing title for this tape; the J-card comes with an insert picture of a cute little dog, along with bones separating the track titles, all with an excellent pink background. The noise on this tape, then, is a nice change of pace from the rather peaceful appearance.

Stroker cuts this release into two sides with two tracks apiece. Her output tends to have the low-end rumble of harsh noise wall and caustic crackling static; however, her work is much more chaotic than HNW often allows, and though Stroker does create dense textures, they’re significantly dynamic. There are lot of juddering effects to these tracks, with tons of cut-up-esque shifts along the way. In fact, a track like “Milk Bone” has so many quick cuts and transitions that it’s easy to get lost in Stroker’s continually evolving ideas.

There’s quite a bit of experimentation in here, too, which gives The Bitch some stand-out qualities. “Tube Top” makes use of harsh textures that almost sound like heavily distorted screams toward the end of the track; “Tube Top” takes a break toward the end of the onslaught to filter in some conventional songs, albeit partially deconstructed and shifted. “Leash Law” features some found sound at the beginning of the piece, seemingly taken from a roaring lion or something similar – then structures the harsh noise around it, using the roars to compliment the static crumbles excellently.

Chances are, if you like harsh noise, there’s something to like on The Bitch. Stroker changes things up so much from track to track that it’s difficult not to become enchanted by the whole spastic thing. And even then, final track “The Bitch” locks into a looping rhythm of churning static crackles that’s aided by some alterations (though perhaps a bit too many variations on the same theme). Still, this is a strong, short series of harsh noise tracks with quite a lot to hook even the most seasoned listener.

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