Citizen 2-13 – A Violent Means Til the End (C12, FTAM)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, power electronics, Review

violent means

Citizen 2-13 is Matthew Michuda, and A Violent Means Til the End is the latest release in his small catalog. It was actually sent to me on the Maniacs Only forum for review; a couple of other people got copies that they requested as well, because he was looking to get some reviews up (good or bad) about the project. This short tape put out by FTAM is a mostly harsh noise, but Citizen 2-13 has no need to worry about people saying good things about his work – this cassette is quality all around, from the packaging to the noise.

The first track, as far as I know untitled, features a loop of a girl screaming a loud pounding. Citizen 2-13 begins the loop just before the sample ends, and after a while we’re surrounded by the screech of this girl and heavy bass blasts. The track begins to distort, echoing the sounds and then moving away from the source with droning feedback. For a while, it retains at least the form of that opening mantra, but towards the end of the track, Citizen 2-13 transforms it into a churning drone that wails until the finish.

The second track starts with fuzzy static, although it’s not dense – it’s an open sound, with mid-range feedback vibrating underneath it all. There’s a good use of bass and crunch that punctuates but never envelopes the track; it gives this second untitled thrasher a percussive element, sometimes near harsh noise wall status, but relatively fluid in its movement. The last minutes give us a wall with juddering bass, and then finally it cuts out for just a pattering of footstep-like clicks.

Short though it is, A Violent Means Til the End is certainly worth a listen, and it gives the sense that Citizen 2-13 could do something great with even more time allotted. This tape is still available for $6 at the FTAM website, so go snag one.

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False Flag – Metal Birds (3″ CD-R, FTAM)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, power electronics, Review

False Flags is Justin Marc Lloyd’s other other project, an excursion into some extremely harsh realms that often features static, cut-ups, scratchy electronics, and simply a lot of other things that his other projects don’t utilize. There’s a difference between this harsh noise and Pregnant Spore’s; Metal Birds is really quite demanding, with short tracks that tend to move fast and jarringly.

There’s a hint of power electronics to False Flag, as there are some manipulated vocals that play underneath scratchy fuzzed-out static and pulsing lasers of feedback. But Metal Birds just as easily defies expectation, and the multitude of short tracks means that the CD-R moves back and forth from different sounds quite nicely.

There’s a lot to take in, from the mundane and dirge-like movements of  “Planning” to the more chaotic, intensely compressed sound of the lengthier “Manifesto.” It’s both shockingly heavy and also somewhat difficult to listen to; the constant shifts and changes of static, the little wavers in sound often don’t allow for hypnotism, but the sound is similar enough to almost warrant it. What it creates is a nice wall of noise that is difficult to penetrate, which means it’ll take multiple listens to get the nuances down, and the ear is bathed in pummeling noise each time, albeit perhaps with a different focus on what to listen to.

With that said, the generalities of the tracks do tend to blend together, and it depends on the mindset of the listener how much they’d like to decipher from Metal Birds. Should these tracks be considered a cohesive whole, or do the tracks just blend together to fit into the junk metal sound? Perhaps False Flag could use a sense of dynamism, but it’s also not necessarily a bad thing for each of these tracks to repeat motifs. However, the majority of Metal Birds does tend to blend itself into a collage of fuzz and judders.

But Metal Birds is not a bad harsh noise release, and it’s a new sound from Lloyd. You won’t hear the same things as Pregnant Spore, but you might hear much of the same sounds throughout the album. The blend of tracks can be a good thing if you allow it, but it can also be frustrating to distinguish much of the sound.

Dan of Earth – Shed a Soft Mongoloid Tear (3″ CD-R, FTAM)

Drone, Music, Noise, Review

Dan of Earth’s new album, Shed a Soft Mongoloid Tear, depicts a bleakness in its artwork. The cover is a gray-scale photograph of a house taken after the trees had shed their leaves on a somber-looking day, and the back shows more of the same with a fuzzy playground. Even the disc, with its spattered gray paint, hints at a foreboding atmosphere.

And it’s appropriate that the first track “Dog” maintains a dark thematic tone, with pulsing background drone and sped-up radio conversation. It’s difficult to pick out dialogue, which seems to foster the idea that the speech is not the important focal point of the track, but instead it is a medium of the soundscape which gives the track an odd juxtaposition: the slow-moving drones coupled with the unnatural speech creates an interesting conflict, not because of the compositional complexity but instead because of the lack of it. Yet the track seems to waver outside the bounds of the rest of Shed a Soft Mongoloid Tear, and it’s a strange opener to an album full of a

“This is the Golden Hour” changes things up greatly from the drones of the opener, instead opting for a tribal, tom-tom drum beat behind jungle-tinged sounds; a sense of buzzing and chirping, monkey-esque hollering. A very distorted growling runs through the track, as though lyrics are being recited by Dan of Earth, but again it’s as though the importance of the sound is elevated above any meaning to the language. Unlike “Dog,” “This is the Golden Hour” is very rhythmic, and its primitive sound is attractive, even if it does stray significantly from the opener.

“Carrizo Plain” continues the natural sound, with chirps and soft pings of noise, along with a low buzz of feedback far down in the register. I’d venture a guess that these sounds have been created rather than found, and according to the liner notes, Dan of Earth used electronics, acoustics, and C++ programming; the lack of mentioning found sound indicates that this track has been created, and it does sound more digital when compared to real bird sounds. The track’s sparseness does little for me, however, and when compared to the more active tracks before it, the track seems too passive and stoic.

“A Happier Orbit” returns to “Dog”‘s form, with drones and whispery background tones, along with a sense of sweeping brushes to carry it along. Again, the ideas present in the two drone tracks seem in contrast to those of the more tribal lens; though they’re both well-done ( especially “A Happier Orbit”), they are thematically opposite. The same can be said of “Tourette’s Machine,” the album closer; it’s full of interesting sounds, some which generate animalistic or tribal sounds, but it differs greatly from the majority of the album, making it better as a stand-alone track than one incorporated within the confines of Shed a Soft Mongoloid Tear.

While the lack of defined structure threw me, the breadth of Dan of Earth’s sound is nicely documented on this short 3″, and the interesting methods the artist uses to generate noise – mainly that of homebuilt electronics and C++ programs, creates an interesting listen, even if the listener might have a difficult time hearing the significance of the sound sources.

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