Circuit Wound has had a number of releases dating back to at least 2003, and this C20 from Oxen is a live two-part recording from a set played at The Blue Lodge. Despite its relatively uniform 20 minutes, the full track is split across both sides of the tape.
The untitled offering finds Circuit Wound working through traditional harsh noise output, a smattering of crunchy static interspersed with lots of varying oscillating tones. Overall, it’s not overwhelmingly abrasive but it does run through a variety of tones with a high degree of variability throughout the 20 minutes, and as a (presumably) improvisational live work, it shows Circuit Wound as a master manipulator in his trade.
The one downside to this recording is that I would have rather seen the full track released as a sidelong piece, presented as either a one-sided tape or duplicated for both sides to preserve continuity. Other than that, this is particularly effective piece of harsh noise from Mr. Howard.
Mason is another moniker for harsh noise cutup artist Thirteen Fingers, and we’ve reviewed a couple releases from that project previously. This cassette released on Oxen’s label finds Mason practicing some more cutup-style noise altercations across two 10 minute sides.
The first side’s two tracks, “Reflection of the Eye” and “Blood in the Wiring,” are the longer of those on this release, and are also not as frenetic. Mason gives the sporadic twiddling a rest in favor of allowing some of the sound elements to resonate in interesting drones. The ending of the first track fades out rather than smashing into cacophony, a nice respite from the usual cutup onslaught that ensues on the second half.
As one would expect, there’s a lot of churning, juddering, stuttering, and other adjectives often used to describe this style of harsh noise, and it’s all of good quality. Concrete Mirror is never too uniform in its sound, nor does any one track sound disconnected from the rest. And its focus on layering cutup with ambient interludes makes for a well-spent 20 minutes.
Here we have a lengthy tape from French experimental waller Trou titled Mallevs Maleficorvm. The two tracks on both sides of this tape are really just parts of the same whole, which basically makes up the entirety of a 70 minute slab of static walls and heavily modulated vocal effects.
The first half of the tape employs a pretty crunchy static pattern and those aforementioned deep, warbled vocals to maximum effect, relatively droning without a whole lot of change or variation in the mix until later into the track. That leaves side B to do a bit more alternation; you’ll hear the static patterns churn differently, more often interrupting the vocal background effects. Trou also changes the sound texture of those vocal effects too, something that sounds akin to a highly malfunctioning television set.
Mallevs Maleficorvm is an interesting use of harsh noise styles paired with more wall-like textures. The vocal warbling tends to sound somewhat similar to the fast alterations of sound utilized by cut-up artists, while the static remains pretty stoic throughout for wall elements. The result is a hypnotic, constantly shifting 70 minutes for the listener.
I confess I’m probably not the intended audience for this release from Trou and Rotkappchen, which seemingly has references that I don’t quite understand due to its French connection. This quick C10 titled Miss Bolbec features a series of bulldozers on its cover and yet its actual content seems taken from the 2014 Miss Bolbec pageant. What we get are a series of short bursts of noise and tracks full of French speaking directly from that pageant. What they say, I can’t surmise – I did take some French but not enough to understand these tracks unfortunately.
However, both Trou and Rottkappchen give about 3 minutes of full noise blasts that are akin to harsh noise wall. Trou’s is a raucous stuttering affair that I like quite a bit, with enough bass shuddering to keep it interesting even through the found sound pauses.
Rottkapchen’s track is an uncut five minutes that features a young girl singing until a static blast of harsh noise wall cuts in overtop of an audience’s clapping. Short and to the point, it’s a solid piece of work that is quite the opposite of HNW’s routine.
While I don’t quite understand the intent of Miss Bolbec, the two really quick noise cuts are quite good though they’re not expanded on. For French listeners, this tape might reveal something more than what’s apparent to my strictly English ears.
It’s really hard to find any information about Church Slut, and searching Google is best done at your own risk for this specific phrase. However, I do know that Church Slut is Brian Harvey of Earthmover Records and I’ve reviewed another release of his in the past (the Church Slut/Naked Pyramid split). What we get on this C45 is two sides from the project, split into seven tracks without much space or discernment between each segment.
The first side starts out with a lot of looping with “Tiny Tim’s Lucid Dream,” an atmospheric ambient track that sees a vocal sample cut up and stretched out along with rhythmic dreamy noise in the background. As Cubicles Are Bad For Your Health moves along, it runs the gamut between near harsh noise walls with heavy static to power electronics with Harvey providing shouted, muffled vocals over churning maelstroms of noise. Later tracks again retain some of the looping effects like an electronic klaxon sound set to harsh noise blasts and megaphone-amplified screams.
This is a pretty good tape from Church Slut, though I will say that some of the tracks – specifically the last, “A Cascade of Failures,” run a little long without having enough dynamism to keep them memorable. For fans of harsh noise and power electronics, this is an interesting tape to check out – if you can find it.
Tetsuo is yet another project from prolific noise artist Julien Skrobek, in addition to many of his other harsh noise wall monikers. On Eternal Respect, Skrobek experiments less with overwhelming wall textures than with subtle static tones accompanied by familiar electronic outputs: a white noise generator, a sine wave generator, and a drum machine.
The three cuts that make up this 37-minute release all feature an interesting dynamic – chiefly, the way that Tetsuo locks into a specific groove, using the drum beats and sine loops as focal points in the wall with the white noise mixed quite low. This forces the listener to actively engage with the track, to listen “through” the elements to get to that nugget of static.
Still, the opener “Access” remains a difficult listen for another reason – it’s got an ever-present sine feedback tone that becomes quite piercing over its runtime. “Levels” is similar but the grating tone is pared back a bit, with a different type of drum track that sounds like a 2D side-scrolling video game. I would argue that Eternal Respect‘s only misstep is that “Access” and final track “Eternal Respect” are a bit too similar, with the same type of composition and subtle changes to the tones. But Eternal Respect is a considerably compelling release circumventing the usual harsh noise wall standard. This won’t appeal to everyone, but Tetsuo certainly invites the listener to actively engage in this minimal work.
Rainy Tritium 1 is the first part in a series of releases from the insanely prolific K2. I’m a little behind on his discography, but since Rainy Tritium 1‘s release in 2017 he’s gone on to release 32 new albums, some of them releases of old works; that kind of output is hard to keep up with. However, Oxen’s release of Rainy Tritium 1 does seem like an appropriate place to pick up on K2’s new output; this three track album finds the harsh noise artist migrating away from his cut-up sound to a much more droning and almost rhythmic approach to noise, incorporating whole synth melodies into his soundscapes.
Each track runs on average 20 minutes, give or take a couple. The ideas at play on Rainy Tritium 1 range from synth-based warbles and siren sounds to a recurring rhythmic motif that, while the same in composition, differs in the actual pitch and timbre each time it makes its way to the forefront of K2’s triple threat.
But those worried K2 has lost some intensity in his transition to less in-your-face chaos should rest assured that Rainy Tritium 1 is still a dizzying listen, just in a different way; instead of lambasting listeners with constant texture switches, K2 allows those ideas to linger, and this is some of his best work that I’ve heard. It’s still loud and abrasive, but with a rhythmic, ambient side that showcases K2’s dexterity.
Unsustainable Social Condition has been reviewed here before, so you know the drill: harsh noise bordering on power electronics project from Matt Purse, often supremely devastating. He returns with another release of two tracks for Phage Tapes on Pleasure Seeking Pacifists, offering about 17 minutes of electronics debasement.
The first side is “Many Were Terrified of Their Saviors,” a pummeling track that in many ways resembles a wall of harsh noise as electronic static and bass elements abrasively destroy the viewer’s ears. In the background is modulation that at times resembles yelling or screaming, a fluctuation that adds a lot of nuance to the otherwise stoic track. It’s a heavy and deafening experience.
On Side B we have the title track “Pleasure Seeking Pacifists,” which again borders on harsh noise wall territory with a heavy bass rumble and some intermittent alterations in a trickling static element at the forefront – this almost seems like radio chatter or like someone repeatedly messing with the dial. It’s a lot more dynamic that “Many Were Terrified of Their Saviors” about halfway through the bass rumbles become more pervasive, the static swirls more consistent.
Pleasure Seeking Pacifists is another great offering from Unsustainable Social Condition, short but abrasive enough for all harsh noise fans. And you’re in luck: it’s still available on Phage Tapes.
Black Sand Desert is the moniker of Greh Holger, probably more well-known for his work as Hive Mind and as the owner of the Chondritic Sound label. Matt Purse is sole member of Unsustainable Social Condition, one of his harsh noise projects – he also goes by Fenian, and he runs the OXEN label on which this tape was released. The two projects collaborate on this C20 cassette, with side A being a studio recording and side B a cut from a live performance at the Handbag Factory in August 2016.
The first track is a perfect encapsulation of both Black Sand Desert and Unsustainable Social Condition working as a team; there’s really no area to pinpoint where one artist ends and another begins, and the track offers up a heavy churning maelstrom of sounds – often enunciating the rhythmic stop-start elements of cut-up harsh noise (which Purse does so well) while also allowing for droning elements within the mix. This untitled offering finds solid ground with consistent slices of feedback and sharp edges puncturing the crumbled bass textures, and it’s an excellent experience.
Side B is a bit less dynamic due to the live recording, but what comes forth are bass-heavy elements of rumbling textures combined with squealing electronic feedback and, at times, some ambient atmospheric tones. The quality of the recording is probably what limits this track the most, since some of the more definable characteristics don’t shine through the overwhelming rumble; however, it’s still a good listen and documents the presumed raucous live performance the duo give.
Some collaborations tend to feel forced (Full of Hell x Merzbow?) but this short and sweet cassette from Black Sand Desert and Unsustainable Social Condition is a perfect blend of two talents. Any fans of either project will find this to be a rewarding experience across 20 minutes of analog.
Commingled Containers is the noise project of Paul Gremare and Romain Hebert, one the founder of label Autistic Campaign and the other the founder of Ikebukuro-Dada – both of which have been reviewed here in various forms. August Voyeurism is a lengthy excursion in improvisation, junk noise, and guitar squalls, an interesting mixture of ideas from the two musicians that finds the duo crafting six freeform noise tracks across the A and B side of this tape.
The juncture between the two artists is guitar noise – these tracks often feature some unveiled twangs and plucks of guitar strings before exploding into raging cacophony, as both “Welcome” and “August Voyeurism” quickly detail – a lot of feedback, scratchy electronics writhing, and occasionally the recognizable guitar drone and warble from Hebert. The duo create impressive and seemingly improvisational noise, often drifting from straight harsh noise into drone territory as the two lock into a groove between feedback and electronics.
Side B’s “U-Turn” launches into a sprawling crackle of decaying electronics, blustery static, and an overwhelming feedback tone that finds the duo working in excellent harmony – blending the electronics and guitars into a amalgamation where the result is a thoughtful, well-directed cacophony. “Aire nord de Vironvay (Côte Byzance)” similarly creates something of a harsh noise wall wherein heavy bass shudders combine with guitar histrionics.
Overall, this is a solid performance from Commingled Containers that offers up some great noise around an hour in length. The improvisational nature of these cuts makes them a delight to get lost in, to find the areas where the two artists merge and then break free of their interlocked sound.