Justic Marc Lloyd – Your (CD, Love Earth Music)

Drone, Glitch, harsh noise, Noise, psychedelic

your

“[Your is a] conceptual effort intended as a highlight of JML’s output,” the album notes state for Justic Marc Lloyd’s solo release, and this is as good a summary as any that I can think of. Over the course of multiple monikers in the noise hemisphere, including Pregnant Spore, Dementia and Hope Trails, and his wall output as False Flag, Lloyd has spanned the gamut of the genre: HNW, harsh noise, drone, tape loops, electronics, glitch. Not every release incorporates all of these elements, but Lloyd has been right there on all of them, successfully delivering excellent releases at every turn. On Your, he combines all of these sub-genres for an eleven-track album that sums up his diverse discography perfectly.

Your is not a collection of eclectic songs that have relatively little in common with each other. Despite the variability of sound, Lloyd has crafted an album that swings effortlessly between genres, often in the same track. “Feeling Submissive? Signal Two: A Thumbing” strikes a balance between the wonky tape loops and the rhythmic, as does “The Number Five Tasted Wrong, Part 2.” The opening moments are full of Lloyd’s penchant for grabbing interesting sound clips and pairing them off together.

The album continues into the other elements Lloyd has worked with in the past. “Most of the World” is a guitar-driven psychedelic swirl complete with whispered vocals and a clicking computer error chirrup; similar things occur in “Most of Our World,” but with a more electronic bent. Lloyd follows many of his tracks with a sequel part, using many of the same elements in unique ways; it keeps Your feeling fresh and focused, continually reusing and recycling similar sounds.

“Seemingly Under-Lion Self-Talk in the Form of Adam’s Sharp and Heavy Apple” hits on the harsh noise wall crunch with a high-pitched but lo-fi feedback rumble before opening up into an airy drone. Your ends with a couple of rhythmic, warped numbers, one of which spans for nearly ten minutes, to finish strongly.

Lloyd has really crafted a fantastic disc, and any of those who have followed his other work will find themselves right at home with nearly an hour of material. Your is meant to be a comment on motivational works and especially those of Wayne Dyer, and it’s hard not to come away from the album with a more positive light despite the discordance: accept the chaos and malfunction, because “you feel how you think.”

recommended

Merzbow/Actuary – Freak Hallucinations (12″, Obfuscated Records/Love Earth Music)

Drone, harsh noise, Noise, Review

merzbow actuary

Merzbow’s noise output has certainly lessened in the past couple of years, especially after his 13-volume birds set that featured far too much drums, but this split with Actuary on Obfuscated Records and Love Earth Music shows he has clearly learned what his fans want to hear from him. You know what to expect from the Merz; Actuary is a group of five who play any number of different genres within noise, many of which can be heard on Freak Hallucinations. The pairing is interesting, because Merzbow offers up one long harsh noise track while Actuary divide their half into three tracks with three different avenues into noise.

The first side is Merzbow’s long-running “Sugamo Flower Festival,” which starts out with a repetitive whirring and looping static and ends with it as well. Over the course of the 20-minute runtime, Merzbow hits a lot of different sounds – there aren’t any drums, but the noise itself has a lot of bassy percussive elements. There are moments where it sounds like the track incorporates vocal samples; there’s a completely destroyed electronic synth effect that runs up and down the scale seemingly at random; a bit further into “Sugamo Flower Festival” comes a mid-pitched alarum tone that stays with the track for most of the way. There are a ton of effects in this track as per the Merzbow motive, but this release sticks out for me as a return to basics. Merzbow has thrown out the trappings of his previous output – and in the 13 Japanese Birds set, you pretty much knew what you were going to get every time – for harsher and more dynamic sounds, ones that pair electronic with analog or found sounds.

The Actuary side is split into three tracks, the last one being the longest. The first one, “Only Ghosts Hate New Things,” is a drone with synth stings and manipulated background vocals – there’s one deep, reduced speed sample, along with a couple that sound like kids playing or laughing. It’s a creepy track that utilizes very thin strands of static to its benefit. “Inhuman Bondage” follows the same idea with slow, trickling drone lines, and this one incorporates feedback wails repeatedly while the drones shimmer. The longest track, “Ritual Embrace,” finishes the record with an excellent power electronics-esque track, complete with a looping pattern that’s paired with a lot of different textures as well as the first sign of vocals from Actuary. It’s definitely the best offering on this record from the group, and it is an effective summation of the other tracks.

Both artists offer up a great side of vinyl; Merzbow finds himself back in form, while Actuary’s blend of droning harsh noise is both effective and nuanced. A recommended split for anyone who likes Merzbow, but also a well-rounded record overall.

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En Nihil – The Absolute (CD-R, Love Earth Music)

Noise, power electronics, Review

Everything about The Absolute is cold and skeletal. From the very dark cover artwork – where somewhere beneath the black resides a skeleton – to the track titles made up of combinations of nihilistic words fit together to give the proper feeling of hatred, En Nihil’s packaging proclaims the attitude of the artist moniker to the utmost degree. And then, on the disc itself, are spinning skulls, which on every playthrough begin to resemble us in their endless cyclical pattern of decay.

Most of the tracks on The Absolute play out in similar stylings, adhering to the power electronics genre’s use of loops and death marches to send the listener on their way through a soundscape that becomes terrifyingly futile to escape. Opener “The Absolute” sets a mid-to-fast-paced march right away with pounding bass and screeching metal scalloping the listener at every turn. The loops keep churning with “Cold March”, a slower-paced plod with stuttery static, bated breathing sounds, and huge pounding bass. En Nihil makes good use of volume control on The Absolute, and the mixing of each noise on the songs makes every piece distinct, noticeable, powerful.

And the name of the game here is the pulsing loop, which makes its way all around the entirety of the release. But for power electronics, the loop isn’t so much important as the intensity which is felt as the track continues to repeat and condense. En Nihil interlaces these tracks with a lot of complexity, pairing high feedback with lower rumbles and static, all at the same time continuing that steady marching effect. On The Absolute, no growled vocals are necessary to relay the power of the sound – instead, it’s the complex pairing of two distinct sounds together with syncopated rhythms that imbues the track with emotion. “Crown of Nothing” stands out in particular with its rhythmic, almost symphonically-structured sounds, electronics that sound like instruments performing a dark opera. There’s a drama going on behind the crash of sound that metaphorically stands for the stomp of the attacking army.

With the end of the lengthy “Everything Ends (In Decay)”, it’s apparent En Nihil has achieved the sense of oblivion sought after – a dusky, murky mix of somnolent tones and whispering sounds that end in an excellent organ song perfect for a murder victim’s wake. The Absolute is dark, disturbing, and noisy, but it’s also got great hooks. March to death.

I believe this is still available. Pick it up here.