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.

Halalnihil – Empathy Devourer (3″ CD-R, Ikebukuro Dada)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

Halalnihil is a noise act from Hungary. The sound lies somewhere in between grindcore, black metal, and power electronics, although to be honest it’s difficult to say where those paths diverge on Empathy Devourer. At only 11 minutes, the mini-CDR is something you might expect out of a DIY grindcore band; the majority of “songs” last about half a minute and the rest sort of sprawl until they’re cut off. Over the noise Halalnihil lends a throaty scream, with Hungarian vocals which he has kindly translated on his blog.

What ensues on Empathy Devourer is a combination of noises, many of them rather similar to each other in a way that makes the disc blend together into an indistinct jumble. Opener “Crush Useless Whore” and then “Belső Rendőr Megölve” feature a chaotic, almost indistinguishable blast beat from a drum machine, which could be interesting if it wasn’t overused throughout much of this release. Because “Magzat Massgrave” is effectively structured exactly the same, as though a helicopter was fluttering just outside Halalnihil’s recording room.

What’s more is that Halalnihil populates his noise with little more than repetitive, mostly unchanging lines of static, feedback, or buzzing. And when it all comes together in a track, it’s difficult to separate one from the other and instead everything mushes together. But it’s not one of those times where the track seems to blend seamlessly; instead, it just feels messy and uncalculated.

The best moments on Empathy Devourer are when Halalnihil drops his shtick: the end noise of “Empathy Devourer”, the track-long sprawl of “Your Positivity is Worthless”, which actually takes its time without rushing through the same blast beat sound.

There’s enjoyment to be had here, but the fleeting kind of recognizing that what you’re listening to is really just an amalgam of sounds put together to form a short wall. And they don’t meld that well, giving everything a muddy quality that isn’t so much harsh as it is unmemorable.

Earth Incubator – Wastelands (C20, Ikebukuro Dada)

Drone, harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Review

Wastelands is a C20 from Earth Incubator, a harsh noise/wall/drone project that often features some theme about Earth or nature. Two sidelong tracks make up the tape, which comes with a j-card that has a picture of the eponymous wastes on it, plus a white tape with markered side labels.

“A95” is a mixture of harsh noise sounds and static walls, and it begins with a whirring before falling into a static percussion that sounds like an intense rain storm. Static alternates between thin whisps and thicker bursts, but the difference between the two feels like just a tweak of a radio knob. A deeper boom fades in with a static strand behind it, and this also holds for a short time before we return to the rainstorm. However, the end of the track tends to fade into oblivion, with Earth Incubator twiddling knobs and incorporating short, low-volume bursts of static. Despite the dynamic, it’s nothing one hasn’t heard before for static, and the changes aren’t very distinctive besides seeming like the source was switched to a new AM channel.

B side is “Wind’N’Rain’N’Sun”, and trust me, that’s not fun to try and write. But this is a track similar to the first in that it imitates the noise of thunderous storms, this time with a bit more fury from a raging static line melded to a windswept judder. Again, it’s not completely a wall, as the noise does tend to oscillate and shift with separate waves of static, spurts of tremors, and other not-so-subtle changes to the texture. Most of this only lasts for a few seconds before shifting back to the storm, although there is a very jarring transition from static to empty space and back to static before feedback kicks in, only to stray back to the harsh rainstorm again. I must say that this track is the better of the two; it’s harsher, more abrasive, and feels more focused than the other, while also maintaining a better sense of technique.

However, as I mentioned before, this is certainly standard static noise, not something unique or inspired. Wastelands feels entirely like its namesake – two tracks that take somewhat bland static noise, thrown together into a cesspool. It’s certainly listenable, especially at only 20 minutes, but it’s not extraordinary or even very interesting for harsh noise.

Das Gonob Quasiforma/To-Bo – Split (C60, Ikebukuro Dada)

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

I’m not too familiar with either of these projects, although I have seen To-Bo releasing a lot more tapes and splits since I received this release from Rotkappchen. According to Discogs, it seems Das Gonob Quasiforma often alternates between noise music (which is featured on this split) or depressive black metal; here, DGQ (for short) focuses on synth-y noise wall textures. To-Bo has quite a few noise releases under its belt in the past two years, and is more of a harsh noise/power electronics project.

On side A is Das Gonob Quasiforma with “Ein Tanzender”, which seems to roughly translate to “dancing” if Google is to be trusted (probably not). At first, it does seem like dancing is an inappropriate title considering the drone textures generated from synth-like instruments that meander with rhythm-less abandon. Slowly very slow, loose static crunches over these drones, creating a very interesting mix of drone and harsh noise that alternates between allowing the synth to take shape or blotting it out with slowly shifting static. But DGQ explores other territory throughout the near-30 minute side, with walls and rhythmic synth work trading in and out through the piece. A very enjoyable track, one that never quite cements itself in either genre but instead transcends both.

Side B is To-Bo with “Schatten Red Blade”; with my faulty translation, I get “Estimating Red Blade” or some such nonsense but it seems that something gets lost in that translation because I’m not sure what that means. No matter, though. To-Bo’s side feels rougher, more abrasive, with scrap electronics and peeling shrapnel flying around with the quick cuts To-Bo brings to noise. There are a lot of oscillations and changes in sound, although vocals are sometimes incorporated over the electronics that go well with the screech of the noise. Despite the really caustic performance and almost overwhelming amount of sound featured in this never-ending wall, To-Bo’s track is not quite as memorable as Das Gonob Quasiforma.

Both artists contribute a lengthy, quality track to this split, and despite lack of prior knowledge of both of the acts, after hearing their work here I would certainly be interested in checking out more of their work. And the release itself is of high production value – black tape with thick reels, picture stickers on both sides of the cassette, and a thick J-card with interesting and breast-iful abstract art. Good harsh noise from these foreign artists.

A Bangbus for Jennifer Ayache – Saved By the Glasses (3″ CD-R, Ikebukuro Dada)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Industrial, Noise, Review

A Bangbus for Jennifer Ayache is a live collaboration between Rotkappchen and Knirschen Knacken. Performed and recorded in Rouen, France, Saved By the Glasses is three tracks of industrial clatter from Knacken with walls of guitar sound and noise from Rotkappchen. The set is relatively short, coming in under the 20 minute mark, but it’s an incredibly noisy experience with really good sound quality for a live set.

First up is the eponymous “Saved By the Glasses”, which begins with a quick grating shriek of feedback before exploding into guitar noise and crashes of cymbal, metal, and anything else the group had lying around. There’s often a real chaotic fit going on on this track, because Rotkappchen takes off with flying fingers on his guitar, creating thick squalls of sound fed through pedals while also maintaining some Boris-like riffing. Knacken is everywhere – smashing metal, scraping, clanging – and it feels like a very improvised, abrasive moment full of energy.

Similar sounds are true for “Jennifer’s Bangbus Adventure” and “The Legend of the Bangbus”. Rotkappchen explores noise with his guitar while Knacken experiments with more industrial noises. “Jennifer’s Bangbus Adventure”, with its sort of rhythm-less design, at times sounds like a traffic jam – honking, siren-like, and jumbled, but always stuck in the same place.  “The Legend of the Bangbus” has a very wall-like quality to it, while feedback and whirring scream out in the background with an eerie tone. At times, it’s difficult to hear Knacken’s percussion on these latter tracks; perhaps he adds to the noise, or maybe it’s drowned out by guitar layerings. It’s difficult to tell, but the industrialism isn’t as clear on the last two tracks as it is on the improvisational “Saved By the Glasses”.

But overall, this is a noisy venture with some energy, harsh noise that emphasizes the harshness of it all. Rotkappchen sounds great on guitar, reaching different noise avenues on each track while still providing a bit of blank drudgery underneath it all with pedal-laden crunch. And Knacken, when his percussion is audible, can be credited with the majority of the chaos heard on Saved By the Glasses – the crash of each cymbal, the scrape of the metal, provides an active sound to the wall’s stasis.