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.

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Roro Perrot/Rotkappchen/Superror – Acoustic Armageddon (CD-R, Ikebukuro Dada)

acoustic noise, Noise, Review

acoustic armageddonAcoustic noise is something with which I don’t have much experience, but I do know that when he’s not building walls, Vomir artist Roro Perrot is busy performing his blend of acoustic anti-folk with strummed guitar and, apparently, incredibly gargled vocal stylings. Rotkappchen has been featured on this site before, and, like always, the sound of this project has morphed for Acoustic Armaggedon. And Superror I confess I don’t know anything about besides the 20-minute piece I heard on this three-way split; however, it seems like that project falls somewhere closer within acoustic drone range than what both Roro Perrot and Rotkappchen offer.

I also must admit that I don’t really think this style of noise – in that it’s not really noisy at all, but the opposite spectrum of comfortably-strummed-but-irritatingly-improvised-guitar – is really my thing. That’s not to say that what these artists do is not good; it’s neither good nor bad and purposefully so, and that I think tells you all you need to know about the sub-genre. In a way, it reminds me of the shitnoise and shitcore styles of harsh noise and grindcore respectively – these projects are almost intentionally designed to play the worst spectrum of what one would expect in the sub-genres.

Roro Perrot’s quick 8 minute “Acoustamerdaa” finds him quickly noodling around his guitar in clearly improvised meanderings, all the while gurgling in an unsettlingly deep way without any real inclination of enunciation, sort of like Cookie Monster with his teeth knocked in. There are subtle bursts of harmonica, but really this is Perrot with his guitar, un-wall-like but still very repetitive. It’s also legitimately difficult to listen to.

Rotkappchen gives us four “Soloworks,” each of them attempting to glean different sounds from an acoustic guitar. It sounds like he’s torturing the poor instrument, picking apart the strings one at a time as a masochist might tease the fingernails from a hand. Again, like Perrot’s work, “Soloworks” is a trying listen where Rotkappchen runs the gauntlet of sounds elicited from an innocent guitar.

Finally, Superror ends things with the 20-minute piece “Spontane Klänge,” something that’s more akin to music than the rest of Acoustic Armageddon. That’s not to say that the track isn’t difficult; though it’s structured more traditionally, Superror trades off with various background sounds and elongated, repetitive drones of guitar sound – in layman’s terms, it’s got rhythm but will grate on anyone attempting to listen for pure musical merit alone.

Who knows? Maybe what I’ve described for these tracks is exactly the artist intention. I, unfortunately, probably won’t return to this album much, but I can see certain individuals in the noise sphere enjoying the shitty tones of a rapidly strummed and detuned guitar, bobbing their heads to awkward harmonica trills.

吉原 – January 4th, 2013 (CD-R, Ikebukuro Dada)

Drone, free jazz, harsh noise, Music, Noise, Review

january 4

吉原 stands for Yoshiwara, a Japanese red-light district that was well-known for its prostitution in the 17th century. Romain Hebert, the owner of Ikebukuro Dada, plays guitar and joins with Cedric and Mathieu (noted on Discogs) for some freestyle noise-rock, much of it sounding as though it was improvised during the time of recording. The title January 4th, 2013 simply notes the day the single 30-minute track was recorded.

The CD-R comes in a beautiful abstract-art case, a bloody collage of colors. The disc itself has droplets of blood on a white CD-R. And the noise on the actual disc is a chaotic blend of rhythmic drum, guitar, and bass, with much of it hitting the listener’s ear in a blur. The drums are competent, the bass is noticeable, and the guitar is often both noisy and melodic. There’s a fine line with 吉原’s sound between indistinct noises and music that works very well; often, a huge drone of sound threatens to overtake the track, but within that mass one can hear the plucking of strings and just a hint of rhythm.

It makes for a very interesting listen throughout, mostly because January 4th, 2013 tends to be all over the place, always focused on the free jazz-like sounds of improv and yet deliciously destructive. It doesn’t stop until the track ends, although there are moments where the rhythm drops out or pauses. The outcome is that you never know what you’re going to hear from 吉原, and it’s certainly worth the time it takes to invest in the disc.

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.

Venta Protesix – I’m the Most Intimate Fantasy of Your Sister (3″ CD-R, Ikebukuro Dada)

Drone, Glitch, harsh noise, Noise, Review

i'm the most

From loops to anime and hentai samples, pitch shifts to longer drones, Venta Protesix is all over the place on I’m the Most Intimate Fantasy of Your Sister. It matches his personality well – I’ve read interviews with him where he expresses dislike of being labeled a musician in any sense, and it really seems like he randomly cobbles together sounds without much thought to what goes where and how it might sound to a listener who isn’t aware of his noise formula.

Whether you subscribe to that idea or not, Venta Protesix doesn’t care – that’s what you’re going to be hearing. There are two short tracks on this 8 minute mini CD-R; the first title track is a hodgepodge of clipping loops, pitched oscillations, and Japanese anime voice-overs. Some of it works, and some of it doesn’t – that’s the trouble with cut-up because you never know what you’ll get, and obviously some of these loops don’t grab the attention as much as others. In longer form, it might have been more successful.

The second track is more of a harsh drone than cut-ups. “A Hikikomori’s Immoral Tendencies” features an feedbacked source drone with some variety of whirring, high-pitched sounds overtop of it. It’s a more focused track than the first, but overall it’s not an immensely rewarding offering.

Still, Venta Protesix has the ability to draw from a wide variety of sound sources. And from a guy who says he can perform live with just a couple of hentai loops, I’m the Most Intimate Fantasy of Your Sister is thankfully a little more nuanced and crafted.

Small Hours – Rhapsody in Wall (CD-R, Ikebukuro Dada)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

small hours rhapsody in wall

Small Hours is the experimental harsh noise wall project of James Killick, often known to have strong themes running throughout the project’s works. Rhapsody in Wall is a harsh noise wall framed by George Gershwin’s classical piece “Rhapsody in Blue,” featuring the actual score of that music that is centered around a wall that pulsates throughout.

The thirty minute wall begins with simply the classical “Rhapsody in Blue,” a piece that is in itself timeless and unchanged despite many variations of orchestra. The violins, piano, and strings continue unchanged until a couple of minutes, where a swiftly moving bass tone along with a slight crackle of static begins to mar the otherwise beautiful composition. Minutes later, as the bass begins to take center stage overtop of the other instruments, “Rhasody in Blue” fades out to become a raging cacophony of static wall, first characterized by the bass and then expanded to involve a sticky static tone.

Small Hours ensures that the wall moves quite thoroughly throughout its movement; swells of static, rhythmic bursts, all come and go without a hitch. After a chaos of wall, Small Hours turns the volume down – although for me, a bit too early – before the rest of “Rhapsody in Blue” returns to conclude the piece.

Killick’s motif is interesting but ultimately somewhat unclear. Is it that noise and music are consistently jockeying for position, that there is not one without the other? Or is it that harsh noise walls can eclipse the classical score, but only for a moment before the noise is ousted? It’s not defined. Nor is it necessary, however; Small Hours allows the listener to put meaning to this wonderfully nuanced release, making it more personal even in the wall’s distance.

Dead Body Collection/Static Mantra – Har Megiddo (2xC40, Ikebukuro Dada)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

har megiddo

Dead Body Collection and Static Mantra are both stoic harsh noise wall artists, and on this two-cassette set they offer up one tape of solo walls and another tape where the two band together for two 20-minute HNW sessions. Har Megiddo translates to Armageddon, and if you’ve heard any of the prior output from these two artists, you know what to expect – thick walls of sound that definitely do signal some sort of apocalypse.

The first tape, subtitled “Judgment,” features a track from each artist. Dead Body Collection’s side, “Judgment of All Men,” is a fairly common wall from the project. A muddy bass tone in the background moves in a shuddering manner while the foreground’s static is crunchy, rolling, and somewhat scratchy. It’s an unchanging sound that lasts for 20 minutes, and it’s an example of general HNW – bass, static, and thickness packed into one, with a tendency to seem as though it has changed even if it hasn’t. Static Mantra’s “Insight Judgment” has a headier bass tone, with a shuddering, punctuated static that seems to surge and abate every few seconds. This is very nearly ambient noise wall territory, and with less bass to power the track, it might have been. But Static Mantra’s offering is quite hypnotic.

The second tape is titled “Revelation 16:16,” and it’s the collaboration tape. First up is “The Plain Next to the City,” a raging wall of heady bass crumbles and thick static that leaves little room to breathe. The static is tightly coiled, so the roiling nature of it carries throughout the track without much staccato. Yet there’s still a sense of movement within there, with the crackles shuddering every now and again. Last track “World to Come” has much the same bass tendencies as its predecessor, but this time the static crackles move along rapidly with the bass so that there’s a fixed, fast tempo. These both seem derived from the same session, and they mix well.

Overall Har Megiddo is a good collection of solid walls, although for those looking for something outside of the normal HNW sound, you won’t find it. These are all unchanging, unbroken pieces, and Dead Body Collection and Static Mantra pair perfectly together, so much so that I would like to see another split between them because the similarities are so high.

Crash At Every Speed – Head On Collision (4xCD-R, Victimology Records/Ikebukuro-Dada)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

head on collision

This mammoth four-disc collection from Richard Ramirez’s high signal feedback project Crash At Every Speed is intentionally demanding. Each disc features on harsh noise wall at nearly an hour in length, and Head On Collision is a tour de force of high-pitched static wails. Ramirez is known for his excellent textures from around forty different projects, but this release is significantly different from the output I’ve heard from him.

The first disc, simply titled “Crash Victim 1”, features a very thin line of high-pitched static that sounds produced from a very whiny tape deck. The whole track is based around this “wall,” though to call it that is a little bit of a misstep since the feedback never overtakes the listener. It simply lingers, a headache-inducing static whir that features a slightly pronounced bit of bass along with it. The whole thing never technically changes, but it does seem to loop. In the background, one can find and outlying sound of a couple of whirs (again giving the impression that this is a badly damaged tape deck) and a surge in the static towards the end of the loop where Crash At Every Speed seems to lighten the high-pitched sounds for a more encompassing wall.

The second disc, “Crash Victim 2”, is a similar high-pitched track. In the front of the wall is a searing line of static that goes on and on throughout the 48 minute runtime, never ceasing. Behind it is a whispy layer of static, and then in the background there’s a crunchy, more bass-driven static that drives the wall – it’s the only real significant feeling of change in the track, constantly shifting around although even that seems to loop continuously. It’s a fantastically hypnotizing wall.

“Crash Victim 3” is the longest of this set at just over an hour, and this time it features two different textures. For about 50 minutes, the track spits crackles of high-signal static, a low-volumed swirl that nonetheless is quite painful to the ears. Along with that, in the forefront of the wall, are pops of bass static (as though quick bursts of sound from a poorly tuned radio) that alternate between left and right side of the balance. It’s mesmerizing for a while, but the 50 minutes lasts a bit too long. For the last ten minutes, Crash At Every Speed changes the texture to a low hissing that feels like an odd choice here, since the other tracks rarely switch so suddenly.

Lastly, we have “Crash Victim 4” and the fourth disc of Head On Collision. Like the others, it features a long-running track at just over the 50 minute mark with a very piercing feedback tone at the forefront and random crumbles of static throughout. Crash At Every Speed doesn’t let up throughout; around the last ten minutes, the track shifts into a quieter mode that still features random bursts of static, but for the most part, this is a super-harsh track for its long haul.

Overall I’d say that Head On Collision is an important experiment in Crash At Every Speed’s discography, but it often stretches its tracks too far. Most of these could be cut down to the 30 minute mark easily, and unless one really enjoys lengthy walls, they might not make it all the way through these discs.

M&Ogs – Pig Love Meets Bab(ies) and a Classical Dancer (3″ CD-R, Ikebukuro Dada)

Glitch, harsh noise, Noise, Review

photo

M&Ogs is the harsh noise/glitchy project from one-half of Prairie-Litière and Baptiste Villain. The abstract nature of the project’s title and the album title is lost upon me, and I can find no reference to it elsewhere on the web, but it’s obvious from this release that there’s a motive to all the madness. This mini-CD-R comes packaged on a piece of linoleum.

An interesting note about my own copy of Pig Love Meets Bab(ies) and a Classical Dancer: 

The linoleum and plastic housing the CD-R had kind of melted all together; the linoleum was sticky and the plastic attached, and I had to rip through the plastic and pry the CD-R from its plastic tabs to get it out. It took some Windex and elbow grease to remove the sticky adhesive from the back of the CD-R, but sometimes it still skipped in the CD player. That was interesting to me because it was almost like an anti-record of sorts; M&Ogs’ sound on this release is focused on oscillating textures and skipping, glitchy sounds, and when the CD skipped it increased the amount of oscillations tenfold.

But for most, that’s probably not going to be the experience when listening to this album. Pig Love Meets Bab(ies) and a Classical Dancer is odd because it features sonic oscillations that would normally be thought of as filler textures in other harsh noise tracks. The glitching sounds, the quick transitions from bass textures, are all very minimal in comparison to the soundscapes one might generally hear them in.

But put into context over 15 minutes such as is the case with this release, it actually sort of works. I’m not sure how successful it would be in a larger scope – say, if M&Ogs did something similar for every release – but Pig Love Meets Bab(ies) and a Classical Dancer is a solid listen, especially if you get a damaged disc like mine.

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.