Trou – Sans/Ni (C20, Autistic Campaign)

drone noise wall, harsh noise, Noise, Review

Trou is a harsh noise project from Mieczko K., the same person who runs the label Ciel Bleu et Petits Oiseaux. On Sans/Ni, a short release for Memory Wave Trasnsmission veteran Autistic Campaign, he experiments with drone noise walls – a deviation on harsh noise walls that emphasizes the layered aspects of synth drones without the harshness of static and bass. It’s an interesting take on the subject matter, and drone noise wall (DNW) has seen a wide variety of artists exploring denser, less harsh sonic territories.

The cassette is split by side with two nine minute cuts. The first, “Sans”, finds Trou experimenting with a warbling synth tone while a deeper one provides the unshifting wall-like drone. The tendency for Trou to loop the synth tone and then cut it off unexpectedly in the midst of its repetition adds a hypnotic layer to the track that makes up for the fairly rigid structuring. Thinking in terms of HNW, Trou has given us that base tone that locks the listener in and the constant static shifts that draw the listener’s attention, and “Sans” is a compelling track that does require a few listens before the idea really clicks.

“Ni” is similar in its approach, again featuring a drone that undulates almost identically to “Sans.” This time, however, Trou incorporates a grittier tone, with static that wouldn’t seem out of place on a traditional HNW track. It adds nice texturing to the track, and Trou randomly cuts things off in the track with a pocket of silence to keep the listener engaged. Again, this concept carries through to the end of the track, although the drone seems to get muddier throughout. However, the warbling is a bit too similar to “Sans”.

Sans/Ni is an engaging experiment from Trou, and it shows that drone noise walls can be effective with the right approach. And Trou’s choice to keep things short – nine minutes per side, twenty overall – ensures the listener won’t tire of the sound, because I’m not sure how well DNW would work at longer intervals. This is an refreshing tape and I’m eager to hear more from Trou.

Roadside Picnic – Failed Frankenstein (2xC30, Autistic Campaign)

Glitch, harsh noise, Noise, Review

failed frankensteinI’ve reviewed another of Justin Wiggan’s Roadside Picnic releases before, but it has little in common with Autistic Campaign’s big-box release of Failed Frankenstein, a five-track series of cut-up noise sounds with lots of warbling and texture throughout. To be honest, the actual theme of Roadside Picnic’s release escapes me to some extent, mostly because I can’t seem to find context to the references used on the second tape; but even without that meaning, the sounds themselves are a good representation of Roadside Picnic stitching together an amalgamation of noise parts into a patchwork whole.

The first tape’s A-side features the two title tracks, “Failed Frankenstein” and “Rectified Frankenstein.” “Failed Frankenstein” is the most difficult listen of either tape, a series of crackles, tape manipulations, and sounds that are abbreviated by pops and spaces in the track. It’s all held together fairly well, though it takes a couple of listens to see the appeal in Roadside Picnic’s Frankensteinian creation of utilizing different sound sources with lots of silence and stuttering in between. “Rectified Frankenstein” comes together with creature moans and some more static.

The other parts of Failed Frankenstein are slightly more walled in texture. “Paris 1953” starts, then cuts out for about 15 seconds before picking up with a heavy static crackle, opening up later in the track. The second tape, the two part “Egypt 1974,” is a series of glitchy feedback loops and circuitry squeals, varying slightly within the tracks but ultimately maintaining the segmented, splotchy texture that is perpetuated across this release. Roadside Picnic is emphasizing the use of pops, stutters, and glitches on Failed Frankenstein, and for the most part it works very well to draw attention to how interesting that sounds to the ears. “Part 2” does even more with the textured layering of sound, working in a shimmering feedback loop, extra-crackly static, and the occasional synth working through high octaves.

Failed Frankenstein is an interesting experiment, one that often works. The way Roadside Picnic has managed to create patterns out of his warbled patchy tracks is entertaining to say the least, and over the course of this two-tape release, the artist manages to come up with new techniques to make the method feel unique on each. Failed Frankenstein is a monster made up of different pieces, but they cohere into something that’s can’t be considered a failure.

Rvines/Prairie-Litiere – Rvines/Prairie-Litiere (CD-R, Autistic Campaign/Emergence Records)

crust, hardcore, harsh noise, Noise

rvines prairie litiere

Rvines play hardcore in the vein of Converge, a very heavy blast of sound with a lot of noisy guitars and bass along with howled vocals set far back in the mix. At first I thought their name stood for ravines, but later I realized that they were utilizing the “v” in the Latin sense, making them Ruines. Fun fact. Prairie-Litiere we’ve seen before on this blog, mostly with his own work, except this time on this split there is equal parts collaboration as there is solo stuff.

First up is collab track “Black Tar,” which definitely feels like its title. Rvines start things off with a relatively noiseless jam, serving up a heavy slab of hardcore until Prairie-Litiere begins to add subtle layers of noise/ First it’s feedback, then a bridge of more intensive electronics, until the whole thing ends in a cacophony where both Rvines and Prairie-Litiere pile on crumbling noise and feedback wails.

When Rvines plays alone, like on “Void Reich” and “The Mark On Your Arm,” there’s certainly a resemblance to the contemporary hardcore scene – as noted before, the sound of the guitars and the vocals remind quite a bit of Converge, although I’d say that I wish the vocals were a little clearer here; the guitar tends to overpower them, and they get washed out in the mix when the band isn’t using them as part of the noisier sound, like on their lengthy collaboration with Prairie-Litiere titled “Glory Be to Nothing.”

Prairie-Litiere gets one solo track, which equals about the same time as Rvines because it’s longer. Titled “Padded Disease,” this is a harsh track that combines quite a few squealing, roiling noises together. A lot of feedback and churning electronics in the background along with moments where he really layers on a number of difficult squalls, sounding like he perhaps used contact mic for the sources since there’s a lot of banging in there too.

Mostly, though, the moments when Prairie-Litiere and Rvines are working together are the best parts of this split. Unlike Merzbow’s recent collaboration with Full of Hell, this CD-R doesn’t come off as one artist’s project inviting another to join in now and again. I wasn’t too impressed with that aforementioned album because Merzbow sounded like an afterthought, rarely incorporated in the mix. Here, Rvines are able to smash out a quick blast of hardcore before allowing Prairie-Litiere to destroy the sound with noise.

It all comes together on the album’s longest song, the previously mentioned “Glory Be to Nothing”, and closer “Total War.” They morph into each other anyway, giving both tracks enough time to operate with both Rvines and Prairie-Litiere in the limelight. “Glory Be to Nothing” swells with both ethereal sustained notes and drums pounding away in the background, the use of the vocals here solely for atmosphere as the orchestral climax builds. “Total War” allows Rvines to do a crusty instrumental track at first, Prairie-Litiere’s softly buzzing noise boiling in the background.

Rvines and Prairie-Litiere come together to make some great tunes, both of them given free reign to do their own thing and also pairing up for some noise-infused hardcore. This is great for the fan of both styles of music, but those who don’t really enjoy crust or hardcore should probably keep away from this one; while Prairie-Litiere does get room to perform solo noise output, this is more of a hardcore release than harsh noise.

Torturing Nurse & Filthy Turd – Mechanical Organ (C20, Autistic Campaign)

harsh noise, Noise, Review

torturing nurse filthy turd

Mechanical Organ is a collaborative set between Torturing Nurse from China and Filthy Turd, from Darren Wyngarde (also of Urdwyg the Goldrr, various other projects). Both have an immense amount of releases under their belt, and Mechanical Organ finds them getting together to create an odd, vocally driven cassette of loops, lo-fi noises, and weirdness.

The first side is simply titled “FT + TN,” and begins with a vocal snarling of “Hey little dog.” This will be the basis for the rest of the track, looping over and over again, often reinflected with different sounds or processed into the mix. The track continues with more background spoken word, very muffled almost into obscurity, although the listener can occasionally pick out some words in the mix. Torturing Nurse & Filthy Turd add samples in at times, like the scream of a victim from a slasher movie or the quick swell of music; then it’s (I’d guess) Filthy Turd with quite a few more nonsensical rasps of spoken word, looping them into a crunchy squall (with a bit of electronics) while spoken word continues to flood the background.

Side B, “TN + FT,” starts with an even more lo-fi sound, squeaking car brake sounds or tape loop squeals pairing with a low searing sound of static and more vocal intonations. It sounds like a radio is slightly being tuned while behind it someone is bothering a bunch of chickens, probably the best way I can put it (and most likely a compliment to both Torturing Nurse and Filthy Organ). I find this side somewhat uninteresting, however; the way the sound is sort of pushed back and quiet doesn’t work as well as the first side, and the vocalizations are less effective the second time around. The slight static manipulations are nice, though.

Mechanical Organ is an odd release all around, and it will appeal to only those with the interest to listen to vocal stylings and seemingly random noise. It’s not for everyone, is what I’m trying to say, and though it’s not overly harsh it can be a difficult listen. However, it’s worth a look if you’re fans of either of these two projects.

Commingled Containers – Commingled Containers (3xC20, Autistic Campaign/Ikebukuro Dada)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

commingled containers

Commingled Containers is the duo of Paul Grémare and Romain Hebert, two artists that have worked together in the past in the project A Bangbus for Jennifer Ayache. This noise release seems to focus on harsh noise and walls in tandem, with each of the three cassettes sitting somewhere in between. Commingled Containers is a short film by Stan Brakhage, which I’m assuming is where the project takes its name.

The three cassettes are broken up into ten minute sides, with two out of three featuring side-long pieces. The first tape consists of more harsh noise than wall forms, with each of the tracks moving through noise territory including guitar distortions and feedback, shifts in bass-driven walls, squeals and off-key playing.

The second two tapes are less chaotic, specializing in walls that tend to move slowly and carefully without changing the dimensions of the track. “Meat Love (Part 1)” and “Part 2” serves up two linked tracks that tend to divide their time between slowly evolving walls and planned changes in the texturing. It works well, and it’s the best tape in this set.

The last tape finds Commingled Containers serving up crunchy static while maintaining relatively fixed pieces. “Air-Sud de Rosny (Part 1)” and “Part 2” both move and stay the same at the same time, with static set pieces fixing the listener in place while backgrounds and textures change shape. It’s not as adept as the “Meat Love” tape but it’s still a good listen.

Commingled Containers is quite the varied listen from both artists, but it works well as a three-tape set based (I assume) on an experimental film about textures. Grémare and Hebert are skilled in various forms of noise, not just walls or harshness, and this set utilizes all of their nuances.

Prairie-Litière/Logical Fiend/Rotkappchen/Knirschen Knacken – Split (C20, Autistic Campaign/Ikebukuro Dada)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

prairie littiere

A joint split between four projects and two artists here: Praire-Litière and Logical Fiend on side A are the monikers of Paul Grémare (along with Baptiste Villain in P-L), and Rotkappchen and Knirschen Knacken are projects of Romain Hebert. This short split is interesting, because it pulls together two projects from each of these artists in such a way that it forces them to coincide together – that could be strange if they differ heavily from each other, but these tracks seem to merge directly into the other.

The first side features Prairie-Litière’s work and then a very easy progression into Logical Fiend’s harsh noise walls. P-L pulls together some lower fidelity noise – a subtle banging of iron-like textures, a heavy bass pulsation, moving into some forms of slight feedback. Everything feels like it’s underwater here; the banging and clanking in the background of the track has a watery, submerged feeling, like the bottom of a boat slapping against the side of a dock. It’s hypnotic in its laid back design, and it leads well into the harsh noise wall territory of Logical Fiend’s “Total Dedication to Moral Issues”, which remains tightly structured throughout. It features a similar bass tone with density to it, but it’s also got a surging static swell to it.

The next side opens up with a devastating track by Rotkappchen, a harsh noise display of blown-out static textures and occasional peals of feedback from electronics that are being pushed to the limit. It’s a cacophony of sound, all melding together for quite a blast of noise that continues throughout its length. As a follow-up to the more pared-back side from Grémare, it’s effective. The last track, from Knirschen Knacken curiously titled “Confiscated My Cell Phone, I Cum On Your Desk”, ties things up with a standard harsh noise wall, very thick and straightforward without much notable about it. It does have some tendrils of static snaking through to add a little bit of varied texture to it.

This is a good tape from four monikers and two artists. The most interesting aspect, to me at least, is how both artists managed to link their different projects together, yet made each track different enough to warrant releasing under two different names. Give this short tape a listen, and enjoy how each artist brings their vision of noise to the table not once, but twice.