Church Slut – Cubicles Are Bad For Your Health (C45, Earthmover Records)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review, Uncategorized

Cubicles Are Bad For Your HealthIt’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.

GOOD ||||

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.

Church Slut/Naked Pyramid – Split (C45, Earthmover Records)

Drone, harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

church slut naked pyramidChurch Slut and Naked Pyramid each share a side of this C45 split from Earthmover Records, a tape that, by artist names alone, might sound like something pornographic. No, there aren’t any moans and groans of sexual pleasure on this cassette but two heavy noise artists churning away on their electronic instruments. Church Slut is Brian Harvey, also known for his sludge/doom output in Griefhound, but this moniker finds him doing mostly noise destruction. Naked Pyramid features John Guttschall and Bob Troller from Atlantic City, New Jersey, a project I’m not too familiar with.

Church Slut is on Side A with six tracks that mostly run together without a break in the chaos. It begins with a lengthy drone of synth that the artist allows to drift somewhat aimlessly that doesn’t do much to introduce us to what Church Slut has to offer; rather, it’s sort of an unnecessary padding before the rumbles of the artist’s power electronics work begin. Church Slut’s offerings are better when they’re steeped in the harsh noise churnings that overtake the later tracks; there’s even some ripping vocals along with bass crunch. At times, unfortunate knob twiddling takes over in place of interesting noise progression, but after that first track there’s quite a bit of layering within these pieces that includes a lot of cut-up sounds, squalls, and bursts of static.

Next on Side B is Naked Pyramid with two tracks, both nearly around the ten minute mark. The first, “Indian Cabin Ruin”, begins with a droning track of guitar that soon incorporates electronics and oscillations, eventually some drum ‘n bass rhythms as well. There’s a lot of warbling in this collection of tracks, and second cut “Helter Shelter” features a warping loop of electronics and pounding that sounds like it could have been sourced from cymbals; this becomes a baseline for the duo to begin to layer feedback and other pieces of sounds overtop, but it does become a bit tiresome before the nearly nine minutes are up because of that repeating stutter.

Church Slut’s split with Naked Pyramid is a fairly good offering from both parties. It has a lot to offer including cut-up squalls from Harvey and Naked Pyramid’s brand of droning harsh noise, albeit with a few missteps on both sides. Still, it’s worth a listen from these two relatively new projects.

Hyena Hive – Ø (C20, Noir Sur Noir)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

hyena hive

Ø is a power electronics tape from Hyena Hive, a group that kind of revels in the mystery behind their artistry; besides listing the names B. Julian and M. Reinhardt on the J-card, as well as latitude/longitude coordinates of N45° 31′ W 73° 36′, there’s little information on this cassette to let the listener know about Hyena Hive. Even the track titles are decidedly encoded with symbols; add to it the black-on-black nature of Noir Sur Noir’s releasing and you’ve got yourself secretive tape that simply need to be listened to.

The first side of the tape is a quick two-track affair; the first, “Ø”, is a short introduction to the sound with a roiling blend of screaming vocals in the background, a static shiver, and the sound of multiple electronic noises moaning at each other; it’s a nice and abrasive moment that slowly fades into “○”, the buzzing textures flitting into the background but still somewhat present while a bass line writhes in the background, consistently warbling with a record player’s slow-gaited crackle. Whale-like cries erupt as well, but Hyena Hive have set up a great warbling effect that ensnares the listener until veiled yelled vocals erupt from the dreamy drone. There’s a darkness to the track that matches Noir Sur Noir’s packaging, with everything enveloped in a thick fog; it’s one of the most effective moments of the tape, building off the other track and establishing a new sound.

The second side has one longer track, “◠”, which is a churning static shudder that surges back and forth in a wavering manner. Underneath that is a slight buzz, aided by various electronic manipulations that join in every now and again; eventually, yelled vocals accompany the cacophony in true power electronics style. It’s a track that piles on the layers, harsh noise oscillations entering late in the running time to step away from the wall-like tone first presented.

Ø is an impressive tape from Hyena Hive for sure, and it’s unfortunate that there isn’t more output from this group (if Discogs’ releases are to be believed). This release is now sold out from Noir Sur Noir, but it’s worth attempting to track it down.

recommended

En Nihil/Filth – Black Earth (C40, Out-Of-Body Records)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

black earth

En Nihil and Filth are two fantastic power electronics artists. The former has released quite a few albums under the En Nihil moniker, three of them a trilogy series; Filth is Rob Buttrum’s project, the owner of Out-Of-Body Records. Black Earth finds them working together on a split tape of 8 heavy tracks, with En Nihil’s side leaning more towards the rhythmic electronics and Filth’s heading into heavy, vocal-filled territory.

First up is En Nihil on Side A, and the first track “Tribes of the Black Ash” is a pounding texture of percussion and swooping electronics, building up to various sizzles, feedback, and the quiet use of vocals more as an instrument than an abrasive lyrical assault. It sets the tone very well, an ambient introduction to En Nihil’s sound that adds quite a bit of sonic variety despite the stoic percussion. “An Infinite Void” sets in directly after, with huge bass and a similar pounding bit of bass drum overlayed with static. Feedback becomes the focal point, not exactly harsh but with a structured tendency. “One Hundred Thousand Years” has that familiar power electronics vibe, an electronics buzz rhythmically repeating along with a power saw whirr; there’s the dips and percussive wallops one would expect from PE, although En Nihil is unwilling to give the expected vocal performance.The side ends with an ambient drone, a buzzing of bassy electronics that envelops the listener, soothing after the burning PE before it.

Filth’s first track is “A Horizon,” where pounding percussion intermixes with a crescendo of swirling loops and intense howled vocals, eventually adding what sounds like squeaky tape manipulations. “Beneath the Vertisol” has more of those heavy bass repetitions along with a glitchy electronic loop, which adds in an alarum ring a bit later on in the track and a dreamy ambient interlude. Filth uses vocals in this to create a very creepy tone. It loses that rhythm to a jumble of sounds, including stuttering percussive blasts and various electronic manipulations.”The Hollow Earth” adds an almost dance aesthetic to the sound, at the same time ostracizing casual listeners with a feedback squall and manipulated, degraded vocals. Here Filth builds up from this into a power electronics surge of vocals and repetitive percussion, layering on multiple textures in the process. Finally, “A Silent Scream” ends Black Earth with inhuman howls, a heavy dose of crumbling bass walls, and warped echoes of audio.

Both En Nihil and Filth bring heavy textures to this split, and Black Earth is a bleak listening experience besides En Nihil’s finale. These projects are some of the best in the power electronics sphere right now, and bringing them together on a split cassette like this means you’re getting an amazing showcase from both artists. En Nihil brings a more traditional PE experience, while Filth tends to add industrial beats; but you can’t go wrong with either side on the torched Black Earth.

False Flag – Bombshelter Nightmare (C36, Terror)

Noise, power electronics, Review

false flag bombshelter nightmare

Justin Marc Lloyd is the man behind False Flag, a decidedly different and more violent moniker for the noise artist behind acts like Pregnant Spore and Dementia and Hope Trails. The notes for Bombshelter Nightmare add to the theme that the track titles and artwork give away: this cassette is an anti-war statement, aggressive as a means to drive out aggression from those angry at their governments, police, etc. If “Rage for Peace” doesn’t echo that sentiment, then I don’t know what does.

Aided by multiple artists from different projects, False Flag throws down power electronics in droves, with the emphasis on “power.” The first side itself is a mix of spectra, from the rhythmic enchantments of the first track “Introducing Control” to the heavy, brutal repetition of “Muslim Police,” which features Boar on vocal duties to utmost effect. “Rage for Order” takes a lighter tone, opting for fuzzy helicopter buzzes and another rhythm that focuses more on repeating tones than harsh sounds. Eventually the title track, “Bombshelter Nightmare,” spreads seeds of discontent with static shudders and synth drones that sit ominously within the mix as the static threatens to overtake any semblance of musicality.

Side B starts with the rumbling “Two Brothers,” a heavy hitter that begins with PA vocals and some static rumblings only to open up with a massive wall of crackle and bass, one of the better moments on Bombshelter Nightmare for sure. There’s a staccato rhythm going on within, with just a semblance of a sustained synth note in there. “Rage for Peace” fits in Divine Shell, Boar, and Jonathan Cash in a quieter, confined drone – buzzing, a subtle motorcycle croak, and a shuddering before again allowing wall static to seep in with klaxon sirens and Boar’s vocals adrift. “Korean War” takes the usual False Flag power electronics of static, feedback, and a synth beat and adds a raucous bit of crackle that comes out sounding something like a scream to end the tape.

Overall, Bombshelter Nightmare is a heaping dose of power electronics, coming from an artist who generally doesn’t dabble in this sort of heavy noise. The synths and harshness come together without becoming off-putting, and the way False Flag is able to incorporate other noise artists works both to raise awareness of those projects if need be, and to add noticeable changes to the sonic output. Boar’s work is, notably, an elevating portion of the tape. It’s certainly something that needs to be experienced, however, if you can get it elsewhere, because Terror is sold out.

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

Black Noise, death industrial, harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, power electronics, Review

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.

En Nihil – Throes (C50, Enemata Productions)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

throesEn Nihil does not let up on this final installment of his loose trilogy started with Pyres. Throes consistently hammers the listener with sound over the course of 50 minutes, with seven tracks of destructive chaos providing a great ending to this series.

While En Nihil has done the power electronics angle well, on Throes the project mostly wreaks havoc with ever-changing noise patterns. There are baselines to the tracks, but side A in particular is a perpetual wave of sonic pummeling directed at the listener on every track. The breaks in between aren’t distinguished; instead of thinking of the first side of Throes as a set of pieces, it’s best to listen to it as though it were a long-running cacophony of churning sound. Otherwise, the listener will spend so much time expecting clear breaks between the noise that the crashing assault will be lost within too much thought.

The second side is broken up into three tracks, longer and slower than the side A. These have clear definition, and certainly the focal point isn’t necessarily to overwhelm with harshness. Instead, each take on cleaner drones, allowing En Nihil to punctuate background sound with layers of feedback or pangs. It’s a nice reprieve from the smattering of the first side, and it ends the cassette on a fine note that gives the listener a chance to reflect on the entirety of the tape.

Throes ends this trilogy well, but don’t think you need to hear both Pyres and Crimes before listening to this tape. It sits on its own, and it’s proof that En Nihil is capable of a wide range of material.

Aderlating – Gospel of the Burning Idols (CD, Black Plagve)

Black Noise, Drone, harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

aderlating

Aderlating is part Gnaw Their Tongues and part Mowlaner, or Maurice de Jong and Eric Eijspaart respectively. They’re both coming from backgrounds well-versed in blackened noise and drone, and one look at the titles of the tracks on Gospel of the Burning Idols and the artwork on the fantastic digipak from Black Plagve and no one will mistake Aderlating for anything different.

And yet the sound on offer here is 40 minutes of more nuanced noise than might be expected. Aderlating still rely on some of the usual tactics, including building up their sound for explosive release and the gruff vocal delivery of the introductory track “Opening of the Tomb” (the best track on Gospel of the Burning Idols, by the way); but there’s also a careful consideration of volume and structure that adds much more to the tracks than simple blown-out guitar, synth, and machinery.

Of note are the drum tracks, which are quietened in the mix so as not to overwhelm. Aderlating’s percussion rhythms are quite complex and poly-rhythmic, like the choppy, cymbal-laden elements of “Spewed On By Slaves of Inhumanity.” But the droning, airy qualities of Gospel of the Burning Idols are also reasons to listen – not blasting at the listener, but slowly churning.

It’s a good release made even better by the thought put into the packaging. Both artists behind Aderlating are pros at this type of thing, but Gospel of the Burning Idols doesn’t rehash their styles. It’s bold and original, and enduringly dark.

Vicious Beast – Tortura Obscura (CD, L. White Records)

Drone, harsh noise, Noise, power electronics

tortura obscura

Vicious Beast was the duo of Thomas Mortigan and Cornelius, a power electronics/droning noise group that released Tortura Obscura back in 2009 on Destructive Industries. This re-release on L. White Records comes packaged in a slim DVD case with new artwork, and includes two bonus tracks, featuring Mortigan and Churner on bass and electronics.

The five tracks originally included on Tortura Obscura are synth-heavy and laden with effects. Often, Vicious Beast use repetitive synth rhythms to bolster a track, then incorporate noisy layers overtop of them; opener “Bog Beasts” sets a foggy course with a droning synth repetition, and “All in Black” follows with mournful violin-esque lines punctuated with bass.

Later tracks like the lengthy “Finale/Tortura Obscura” drone on with prominent electronic effects rather than rhythm. “Even in Death, They Sang Songs” focuses more on simplistic synths with whispered vocals and even some pipe manipulation; the lyrics aren’t as effective, but this track is already steeped in atmosphere. The two bonus tracks are welcome additions to the release, with Churner’s bass a significant factor in both that gives Vicious Beast even more depth.

All told Tortura Obscura‘s re-release is certainly a strong album, made more so by a couple of additional tracks providing another 15 minutes of content. The release looks great, too, so it’s a project worth looking into.