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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Maussade – Trouver La Paix (C55, NSN)

Noise, Review, harsh noise wall

maussade trouver la paixMaussade is a project of NSN’s owner putting out harsh noise and harsh noise wall projects; various releases were or are still available, the most recent being in 2016 as far as I can tell. Trouver La Paix, a C55 from 2011, sees the artist performing the latter.

A punishing wall of static sound, this just-under-30 minute track (included on both sides) features searing bass tones and staccato swirls of crunchy textures, with the inclusion of a screechy feedback/trainhorn sound that I find seems to cut through the central area of the soundscape. Lots of background bass, foreground crackles, and that aforementioned pitched tone that continually ebbs and flows. This is a great track from Maussade that sounds quite full, and the nice thing about Trouver La Paix is that the listener can simply flip the tape to continue the onslaught.

GOOD ||||

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.

Pig Shrapnel – Boar’d to Death (CD-R, Busey Teeth CDr)

harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

boar'd to deathPig Shrapnel is the harsh noise wall project of Joe Stache(less), also the owner of Hair On My Food Tapes & Records and Busey Teeth CDr. He’s been making all kinds of noise for years under different names (Hoggle, Extreme Chafing), but on Boar’d to Death he returns to something of a strange obsession – pig stuff. Everything on this disc is a pig pun or reference except maybe the walls themselves, and it’s always interesting to see what new pig reference the project can come up with next.

This disc features three walls over about forty minutes, each track lasting around the same length of time plus or minus a couple minutes. First wall is titled “Boarn Angry,” which features a bombastic, fast-paced bass judder underneath a crackling mid-toned static churning. The track remains relatively the same throughout except for what seems like a minor change to the wall minutes in, and Pig Shrapnel keeps the listener locked in the groove with a nice crunchy static texture.

The dynamic remains fairly similar as the wall transitions into “I Am the Ultimate Omnivore,” which seems to keep the rigid bass shudder in the background for more nuanced static. There’s an exterior sheet of static that is unmoving, just a slight hissing that adds one extra texture. Also found in the mix is more of that oscillating crackling static, though it’s somewhat softer than the first track with more controlled movement.

Again, track three – “Severely Lacerated by Razor Sharp Tusks,” a title that explains much of the CD-R artwork – moves seamlessly into place from the second track, continuing that bass-driven backdrop while removing the less-voluminous static for sharp, crackling, staccato textures. It’s also a stoic track, only punctuated by the random alterations of the static and bass and relatively unchanged throughout besides a few tweaks to the front maelstrom of static to make it a bit thicker.

Interestingly, Boar’d to Death is so interconnected that it could be a 40-minute track in itself, with three areas of change. Pig Shrapnel keeps that bass locked in a groove to make the transitions, and it’s an element that I like about this release – there’s a clear definition why the three tracks are on this release rather than another, giving it a defining quality that listeners should appreciate. This is a solid CD-R offering from Pig Shrapnel, and harsh noise wall fans will enjoy the onslaught of pig-related sonic textures.

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.

Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo – Doropea (C30, Old Bicycle Records)

ambient, Drone, Noise, Review

Doropea is an homage to Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo’s hometown of Torino, in reference to that town’s fountains and in part the rivers that make up its geography. In true thematic fashion Doropea is split into two parts, just like the duality of the two rivers. Both span one side and about 15 minutes, and they document two different styles for this artist.

The first side is a hypnotic series of sustained feedback drone tones with occasional found sounds, like the clacking of a typewriter. The whole thing is held together by occasional piano plinking and organ work, creating an ambient soundscape that works very well to pull the listener in. It feels organic and thoughtful, almost bucolic, and it’s an enjoyable fifteen minutes.

The second part also incorporates found sounds, although this one tends focus more on droning electronic elements. A faint repetitive tone seems to be sourced from the track’s early snoring recording, and Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo allows the track to expand outward from its initial drones, even giving the track some humming every now and then. It even quiets down for a slow climax outro, a twinkling echoing synth line that ends the album.

Doropea is an interesting release and one that certainly captures the intricate essence of “home” for an outsider; the ideas here help tell the story of what Palumbo memorializes from Torino, and it’s a deeply pleasant motif.

Wilt – Nocturnal Requiem (CD-R, No Part of It)

dark ambient, Noise, Review

Wilt is the project of Dan Hall and James Keeler, also members of Astronomy and Hedorah. This noise duo focuses on the dark ambient and drone side of the genre, and Nocturnal Requiem is six tracks of somnambulant tones that cater more towards the sinister side of drone and dark ambient.

The first track is “Wandering Echo,” and much like its title suggests, this is a very meandering track full of sustained drones and repeating patterns. However, those intersecting elements also create what I would consider a boiler room cacophony – there’s the clanging of pipes to add a percussive element to the ideas, and that keeps the listener intrigued.

That’s the key to good dark ambient, too – that the tracks ensure the listener gets caught up in the soundscape rather than tuning out of it because of its repetition. Wilt captures that on Nocturnal Requiem. “Even the Most Ancient Things Lie in the Weeds of Present Time” is relatively short, but its bass clicks and churns suck the listener into the frolicking patterns.

“Moon Diver,” the album’s middle track, adds a heavy maelstrom in the background as synth notes call out from the depths. However, this one tends to go on a bit too long – it has some alterations as it reaches the double-digit length, but for the most part it remains stagnant in its call-and-response drones, although it would be the perfect fit for a horror film’s stalking moments.

“Over Waters Hidden Below” brings it back, though, with a churning drone in the background and a subtle hiss in the foreground. Synth notes break in here and there to add emphasis to the sound as listeners get pulled into the tones. “The Autobiography of Dreams” brings it back to the clanging of “Wandering Echo” while adding a swirling windstorm and oscillating synth notes; this one’s my favorite of the six because of its execution and complexity.

“The Starless Vault of Heaven” ends Nocturnal Requiem on almost an upbeat note, with more ethereal synth tones and a house electronica beat. It’s an experiment, and quite different from the brooding offerings before, but Wilt captures the feeling of coming out of the dark into a celestial sea, and it’s a great way to conclude the album.

Nocturnal Requiem is my first Wilt experience, but based on the dark ambient material offered here, I would love to check out more. This duo is able to conjure up eerie tones, but the album shows their range with a couple of dynamic tracks that sees Wilt stepping out of its comfort zone.

 

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.