Empty Flat Resonance – Knowledge of Reality EP (MP3, 17 Sons Records)

dark ambient, Drone, Noise, Review

Empty Flat Resonance is a perfect name for this artist – the drones and subtle hums on this release really do sound like they might come from someone’s recording of an empty apartment while they’ve left for the day. Knowledge of Reality EP is a four-track release from this artist; from what I can find, it’s one  of two releases from the project.

Each track is six minutes long, concisely measured out with dark ambient synth tones and mellow, minimal sounds. “Convex Hull Serotonin” simply zips along with small meanderings of sound, something akin to radar bursts echoing and pinging through water. Empty Flat Resonance creates a lot of silence within the tracks; “Triangulation Cannabinoid” starts off so silent it feels like nothing is happening, but the volume turns up with some extra synth work added to create a vibrating effect that works rather well. The same is true of “Linear Programming Ibotenic Acid”, which starts very softly and escalates to some really loud, higher-pitched tones.

In honesty, Knowledge of Reality EP doesn’t progress very far from where it begins, and some of the tracks sound rather similar to each other. There’s not much about these drones that motivates the listener to go back and find something they’ve missed, and the space within all of them means that there’s nothing too hypnotic about them. While these are light drones, they don’t capture the listener as well because they feel too subtle. Still, it’s an interesting attempt at very minimal textures.

Auto/Sexual – Ultra (MP3,17 Sons Records)

EBM, Glitch, Music, Noise, Review

Auto/Sexual is another 17 Sons Records label artist that I can’t find much information about. This project has a few different releases out on the 17 Sons label, mostly Internet-download and MP3 formats of shorter style EPs. Ultra has five songs of decaying dubstep and rhythmic noise, often redacted and studded with manipulations of beats and sounds. The main focus seems to be the use of patters in the background, drum beats that have been fashioned out of different textures of sound and electronic noise.

Your enjoyment of Ultra, and quite possibly the whole Auto/Sexual project, will depend on how susceptible you are to electronica beats and rhythmic, noise-influenced rave glitch jams. There are moments of blown-out noise sound, like in the opening of the short “Disengagement is Betrayal”, and each of the songs uses electronic noises as music for beats, but for the most part Auto/Sexual is more interested in crafting jumpy, bass-heavy jams out of potentially destructive sounds rather than vice versa.

But the ideas that Ultra extols are nicely nuanced, alternating from loud extremes to pared down beats that click and clamor in the background until slowly evolving into more danceable songs. Each track often features a Venetian Snares-like breakcore drum background, but while it’s intriguing for a little while, the notion tends to wear thin once the tracks have reached their repetitive hook – for instance, “Obey or Die”, which loops through the same drum riffs over and over again.

The project is much more successful when it’s recycling more apparent electronic noise along with the drum beats, like on “Wolves or Bees” or the more minimal “Main Target”. That pairing works nicely, especially the low bass notes with the staccato click of static or glitchy samples. It’s the moments where the main focus of the track is the electro-drumming that Ultra falters, tending to mistake repetitive beats as hypnotic sound.

Toxic Toys Zone – Atropine (MP3, 17 Sons Records)

Drone, harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

Toxic Toys Zone is a noise moniker that has released much of their output on the now-defunct 17 Sons online record label. Atropine, their third downloadable release, is billed as four tracks of wall-like harsh noise with subtle variations. I hate to be nit-picky, but I would only minimally classify Atropine as wallish; it has walls of sound, but they are nothing like harsh noise walls – instead, they take on more drone-like qualities, often ambiently moving through shifts of sound while maintaining an ethereal quality.

The first track “Narcosis” features a lengthy drone of shimmering electronica, subtle lines of reverb-like static, and small shifts in sound throughout the 11 minute track. The synth tones tend to weave in and out, and the buzzy static often pulsates, finding footing and then backing out again. It’s a good drone, and while it does have moments of wallish tendencies, it’s more of a soothing piece to listen to, easy to zone out with. I quite like the reverberation of sounds, how they blend together – it’s texturally a rich piece.

It’s followed up by “Syncope,” one of the weakest tracks on this album, which combines an annoyingly grating feedback buzz with slow chord progressions. This one’s mastered at a higher volume than the others, too; but what might have been a very harsh track is beleaguered by the boring pace of its movement.

“Sedation” is another of those longish drones, similar to “Narcosis” with its shimmering synth background but also surprisingly flexible with the very low-volumed static that runs underneath. Like its title, this track is another excellent piece of hypnotizing work from Toxic Toys Zone, an ambient wall that works well because of its atmosphere and regard to subtle dynamism.

We end with “Micturition,” more akin to a HNW piece with a background swelling of mid-pitch feedback, slow static warbles, and a very light texturing of dispersed electronics. It’s minimal and slow-moving, but it’s well worth the ten minutes it takes to get from beginning to end. The way the droning of the feedback guides the static is masterful. If one enjoys harsh noise walls or ambient noise walls, this is the track to flip to.

Atropine is extremely promising, a nice blend of the grey area between drone and harsh noise wall. These aren’t exactly tracks that will scour you with sound, but they’re illusory enough to suck the listener in. The turn towards minimalism in “Micturition” hints at finesse froom Toxic Toys Zone, but “Syncope” proves that this artist can also create more chaotic spurts of noise.