K2 – Rainy Tritium 1 (CD, Oxen)

harsh noise, Noise, Review

rainy tritium 1Rainy 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.

EXCELLENT |||||

 

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Unsustainable Social Condition – Pleasure Seeking Pacifists (C17, Phage Tapes)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review, Uncategorized

pleasure seeking pacifistsUnsustainable 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 & Unsustainable Social Condition – Black Sand Desert & Unsustainable Social Condition (C20, OXEN)

harsh noise, Noise, Review

bsd uscBlack 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 – August Voyeurism (C60, Underground Pollution Records)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Uncategorized

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.

Dodsmaskin – Fullstendig Brent (CD, Malignant Records)

harsh noise, power electronics, Uncategorized

Fullstendig Brent translates to «completely burnt»; «holocaust» in Norwegian according to the album’s interior insert, and the writing goes on to explain the ideas behind this full-length recording from Dodsmaskin. It’s meant as an interpretation of the Norwegian witch trials in the 17th century, and the five tracks offered on this album certainly do represent an aural history of that time.

The album is littered with burning sounds, from the first crackles of the opener
“Båldom” to the other tracks’ usage of static and more conventional power electronics synth rhythms to emphasize the thematic imagery of the witch trials. Dodsmaskin uses more ambient layers at first, allowing “Båldom” room to set the mournful atmosphere before “Heksetimen” breaks into a heavy power electronics lurch, the sounds of screaming women a cacophony in the background.

“Christoffer Orning” and “De Ti: 1621” sit comfortably in the middle, offering ambient sound effects like chanting throughout the opening minutes of the tracks and then breaking into a mountainous din; Dodsmaskin is comfortable crafting bleak and minimal tones, but his synth drones and physical effects, like shattering glass, add a theme of insurmountable odds to Fullstendig Brent.

Like its opening track, the album ends on a somber and mournful piano ballad with
“Dømt På Sitt Liv Til Ild Og Bål,” and thus ends a narrative told in audio from Dodsmaskin. Fullstendig Brent is a strong album even at its short running time, and anyone interested in the witch trials will definitely want to hear this soundscape of torture and terror from the 17th century.

Fossils/Cathal Rodgers – Demons in the Architecture (C60, Sonic Drift)

Drone, harsh noise, Noise, Review

Fossils pairs with Cathal Rodgers for another one of Sonic Drift’s Demons in the Architecture cassette releases, and this one offers up an hour of weirdness from both artists. Fossils is in an improv noise unit that has amassed a huge number of releases for over ten years, while Cathal Rodgers varies his style and sound depending on the artists with whom he’s sharing cassette tape. This Demons in the Architecture release is surprisingly different from the previously reviewed split with RST, and that’s a solid compliment.

Fossils’ offering is a side-long track called “Histories of Time to Come,” and it’s a noisy compilation of sounds that slowly unfurls throughout its running time. The group starts off with a minimal series of scratches, crashes, and other junk banging, then builds to droning crescendoes, bubbling noises, and electronic haranguing that tends to conjure up hallucinatory visions. It’s a thirty-minute soundscape that will appeal to those with more minimalist taste, since Fossils rarely opens up the track and instead pushes forward with experimental hums and wonky bursts. It does run a tad long with some areas failing to capture attention perhaps due to its improvisational nature, but “Histories of Time to Come” is a unique listen with some intriguing sounds.

Cathal Rodgers’ side is subtitled “Rapture and Revelation,” and he gives up five tracks of droning harsh noise, almost bordering on power electronics at times. “Rapture,” a track that along with “Revelation” bookends the side, features reverberating drone lines and crumbling textures interspersed with sizzling attacks of sound that boil up rhythmically, a stand-out on this release. “Seven Heads and Ten Horns” features droning reverb and heavy guitar distortion mixing for great results, resulting in a feedback-driven wall to close out the track. “Revelation” is a crackling, almost wall-like track that finishes things strong: static shudders combine with an echoing background wail, slowly building up force throughout the eight-minute running time. It’s a heavy track, and another excellent cut in his Demons in the Architecure lineup.

This split release is a bit on the eclectic side with Fossils’ pairing, and the two sides seem a bit at odds with each other at times. Still, it’s an intriguing listen from both projects, and yet another quality release from Sonic Drift.

RST/Cathal Rodgers – Demons in the Architecture (C68, Sonic Drift)

Drone, harsh noise, Review

Demons in the Architecture is part of a series on Sonic Drift led by Cathal Rodgers, a four-release sequence featuring Rodgers and another noise artist. He’s done splits with Fossils, Culver, and Andreas Brandal, and on this Demons in the Architecture release, Cathal Rodgers shares a C68 tape with drone artist RST. RST is Andrew Moon, who has released quite a few albums since around 1995; Cathal Rodgers is an Irish noise artist who runs Sonic Drift, also known as Spermicidal and Wereju to name a few.

This split is full brooding drones for almost the entirety of its 70 minute running time. RST offers three lengthy tracks, including the somewhat psychidelic “Falcon Leg,” an opener that includes buzzing drones and a crafty guitar line that weaves in and out of the melancholy sustained notes. “Orange Rust and Scarlet” meanders with wind-swept, uplifting harmonies, its sustained notes ringing out as guitar strums draw the listener’s focus. “Vermilion” sounds like an extension of “Falcon Leg,” with improvisational guitar notes adding a nice variance to the unwavering drones.

Cathal Rodgers breaks his tracks down into five with the three-part “Wide Awake and Dreaming” interspersed between them. His drones are heavy and dark, often layering noisy pieces and reverb on top of the other. The longer “Curse the Morning Light,” over ten minutes, drapes itself in darkness before rhythmic pieces begin to appear out of the ether. These are easy pieces to zone out to, but listening to their composition reveals a lot in their structure.

Demons in the Architecture is a good drone cassette, and I’m interested to hear what the other three installments focus on in this series. Cathal Rodgers and RST pair well together, sharing over an hour of creative drones. This is perfect for those looking to zone out or admire the artistry behind the tones.

新宿二丁目 – Feedbacks & Hurlements (CD-R, Ikebukuro Dada)

Drone, harsh noise, Noise, Review

新宿二丁目 is the joint project between Rotkappchen and Chibre, both of whom have their own solo projects. This release, Feedbacks & Hurlements, finds the two coming together for a noisy display of electric guitar, electric bass, percussion, and electronic noise. Two of the tracks are performed by both members, and the middle offering is from Chibre singly. Over the course of thirty minutes, Feedbacks & Hurlements gives listeners a hefty dose of experimental noise using actual instruments from two capable musicians.

The album begins with “Feedbacks,” a fairly accurate title for this 18-minute track full of electric guitar swirls, biting noise feedback, and Chibre’s percussive elements. Rotkappchen’s guitar sound creates a cacophony in the background while feedback blasts the front end, smacks and hammerings adding nuance to the sound. This is a drony piece, although listeners will probably find it hard to get lost in the guitar distortion since there’s not a lot of variance besides a sustained searing tone. But it’s interesting to hear “Feedbacks” drift, with Chibre’s occasional noise bursts providing some nice alteration to the sound.

“Numb Your Mind” finds Chibre doing a solo noise piece, which works fairly well despite being somewhat muffled from a recording perspective. This feeds right into the collaborative piece “Hurlements,” which again finds Rotkappchen creating some swirling guitar feedbacks while Chibre employs some noise junk work. My biggest complaint with Feedbacks & Hurlements is that it at times feels too wholly similar, with none of the three tracks standing out from each other in variety.

However, it’s a solid half hour of noise experimentation, and Rotkappchen and Chibre pair well together with flowing works that seem to compliment in their drones. 新宿二丁目 is an interesting duo, and I look forward to seeing what they can put together next – perhaps something with just a tad more variability.

Big Hole – Gertie (3″ CD-R, Not On Label)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

Big Hole has released some excellent harsh noise walls over the years, and Gertie, a 21-minute slab of crunch and static, is no exception. The project doesn’t interpret walls as stoic, unchanging monoliths that force the listener to sit through forty minutes of the same texture looping over and over; while there are projects that do this kind of wall well, that kind of wall noise is often lost in the overwhelming sameness of the genre. Here, the sole track “Gertie” features some textures that never change but also those that intermittently add variation to the tone, a truly enjoyable offering.

The track starts with a real sound clip, an interview with Ricky Hobbs; the release itself is based on the murder of Sylvia Likens, a brutal story of torture and abuse perpetrated by Gertrude Baniszewski and Hobbs that ended with a life imprisonment sentence for Gertie. Horrific murder and abuse plays heavily into this track as Big Hole sets up a damaging static crackle that continues throughout the work while chaotic, arhythmic crackles – in this listener’s opinion, the metaphorical stand-in for torment – continually alters the wall. This is an exceptionally intriguing wall, with the crackling textures becoming a kind of hypnotism and imprisonment for the listener.

Ultimately Gertie‘s running time feels the perfect length, with the wall never ceasing to lose its energy. Big Hole manages to evoke the same tonality as the murder case that he references on this release, and it showcases how harsh noise wall can generate a feeling even when noise itself is emotionless.

Unsustainable Social Condition – Unsustainable Social Condition (C10, Oxen)

harsh noise, Noisecore, noisegrind

Unsustainable Social Condition is the harsh noise/noisecore project of Matt Purse, also owner and operator of the Oxen label. This project has amassed a number of new releases in 2016, almost all of them released on Oxen. Notably, it seems as though Unsustainable Social Condition moves through a number of different noise genres, since one of the project’s latest releases, Dispersant, features a series of four tracks with lengthier runtimes than what’s offered on this self-titled cassette. Over ten minutes, Unsustainable Social Condition gives us crumbling harsh noise and blast beats akin to some of Sissy Spacek’s noisecore speed offerings, with 23 tracks across both sides in very minute bursts.

It’s too difficult to tell where one cut ends and another begins on this release, so referring to individual tracks is an unhelpful reference. Instead, Unsustainable Social Condition’s tracks tend to blend into each other, with crumbling noise-wall textures and crunchy swirls of noise pairing well with contributor Josh Taylor’s drum blasts. While Unsustainable Social Condition‘s A-side tends to approach the harsh noise side of things with Purse’s electronics doing much of the grunt work, Taylor’s drumming adds a significant amount to the B-side’s tracks, bringing brute force to the electronic crackles, static swirls, and occasional contact mic-style tinnitus.

These tracks will fly by, making it hard to decipher exactly the methods Purse is employing on this release. Like cut-up harsh noise, this release runs through a gamut of sounds, an excellent introduction to the madness inherent on any one Unsustainable Social Condition release. At only ten minutes, this cassette warrants repetitive plays, and it’s a perfectly chaotic release that should please fans of harsh noise and noise-laden grindcore.