Deeper Wells – Untitled (C20, Maniacal Hatred)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

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Deeper Wells is a power electronics with a few releases under its belt. Untitled, a C20 on Maniacal Hatred, has all of the seething rage of an aggressive noise track, with yelled vocals that lie underneath the noise because of their muffled nature, as though delivered through a loudspeaker covered in dust.

This tape offers up two untitled tracks, side-long. Side A features a repetitive track of surging and rhythmic high-pitched feedback, occasionally changing pitch. Behind it is an almost ambient loop that continues throughout the track, a light rushing sound that carries the track forward. The feedback is the most important piece of this track, as it is the one thing that differentiates the sound. The dark loop provides a stable structure for Deeper Wells to work with while single textures shift randomly, the vocals spiraling inside the sound.

The second side has a track full of shimmering static, which makes up the background of the track. There’s a rhythm going on in this “Untitled” output – muffled tones of noise churning transform into a feedback-laced forest full where Deeper Wells puts his vocal delivery. There’s a couple of heavy chords thrown in as well, and much like the other side, this one’s repetitive without feeling like it lacks depth.

The only thing that seems to be problematic about Untitled is that there never seems to be a climax in either of these tracks; side B does swell, but the swirling textures seem to stew rather than explode. These tracks are still good, but Side A could have advanced towards a clash of sounds rather than just straight repetition.

But overall Deeper Wells offers up two grimy tracks of power electronics that explore interesting textures. Straight feedback is emphasized over direct vocal delivery, but the textures that hold the tracks together are forceful and creative.

Corpuscle – Victoria Snuffbox (C40, Maniacal Hatred)

harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, power electronics, Review

corpuscle

Corpuscle is a harsh noise/power electronics project, and on Victoria Snuffbox, the sound goes both ways. The first side is split up into five tracks over 20 minutes, while the second gives one track a full side to destroy sound. Corpuscle’s work is heavy, and Victoria Snuffbox fits in well on the Maniacal Hatred label.

The first side runs together pretty smoothly; opener “Shadow of Golden Memory” incorporates a low spoken-word vocal tone which is difficult to really make out while the background sounds ebb and flow – there’s a repetitive but powerful synth and the staccato crash of static to keep things moving. These tracks blend fairly well; Victoria Snuffbox feels less like a collection of tracks than it does a tape meant for a single listening experience. “Golden Shower Sabaoth School Medley” and “Dreams Crushed + Snorted (Pure Trance)” meld together, the former a feedback-laced experiment in minimal harsh noise and the latter a continuum of that sentiment with a larger, blurrier sound and industrial pulses. Side A ends with a remix by Gnawed, “White Nose Miracle,” with all of the rage you’ve come to expect from that project as well as a consistency to stick with Corpuscle’s sound, and finally we’re out with the white noise stirrings of “Red Blood Reduction.”

The second side is one long focused track of harsh noise, titled “Ever Mother Nail Biting Son III (Father Rot)”. Destructive static pairs with a metallic rhythm in the background, while the brunt of the chaos comes from thin tendrils of high feedback and a devastating vocal delivery. A pulse keeps things in motion at all times, and the feedback never really stops – it just keeps its whistle-like piercing tone throughout, offset by vocals.

There are very significant differences between between both sides of this tape, but Corpuscle does both the long-form and short-form harsh noise track well. Victoria Snuffbox is a brutal tape, and it’s a perfect assault on your ears – 40 minutes, zero let-up.

Filth – The Witches’ Pharmacopoeia (C40, Maniacal Hatred)

Drone, harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

filth witches

Filth is the power electronics/harsh noise project of Rob Buttrum, and if you’re going to release a PE project, it might as well be on Grant Richardson’s label Maniacal Hatred. The Witches’ Pharmacopoeia is a little different from past Filth releases, and it’s not as transparently PE as one might expect; instead, the three tracks on this cassette delve into soundscapes rather than heavy density, and some of the tracks resemble Buttrum’s recent work on his Nite Shadez collaboration.

All of the tracks on The Witches’ Pharmacopoeia were recorded live to tape, which often requires a flexibility and precision that’s hard to produce. But though the pieces meander slightly, they never leave the areas they start off in, and Filth really reigns it in in terms of variability. The first track, “Mandragora”, is the longest on this release, and it begins with bubbling bass and hearty feedback swirls before giving way into noisy territory. Filth gives this piece a deep, foreboding aura; the quick percussive bursts seem to echo in the background with pulsing ferocity, and sometimes heavily modulated vocals pierce through the raucous beats. Sometimes Filth falls into the familiar ebb and flow of power electronics rhythms, only to sidestep the most common aspects of the genre.

The next side starts “Black Henbane”, a steadily escalating series of pitch increases, leading up to a rhythmic trouncing of regular power electronics rhythms and drum beats. Besides the pulsating drum hits, though, is a sustained amount of sonic destruction, often higher pitched but more laser-like. Filth’s vocals are used only slightly for effect, although it seems some tape loops also come into effect about midway through the track. This is one of the track’s I found similar to Nite Shadez’s output, especially because of the drum effects.

“Deadly Nightshade” is tacked on to the end of the side, by far the shortest of the tape at only three minutes. It carries the same torch as “Black Henbane”, but without the drum tracking, this sides much more sinister and dense. Though the shortest, it’s one of my favorites on The Witches’ Pharmacopoeia because of its consistency and subtle layering of sludge.

Filth brings a different approach to The Witches’ Pharmacopoeia, but I’m always amazed at the kind of sound that Rob Buttrum gets from his electronics. Everything was tracked live to tape, and I think that’s pretty grand in itself, but when the noise is also this good, you can do no wrong by picking this cassette up.

En Nihil – Pyres (C40, Maniacal Hatred)

harsh noise, Industrial, power electronics, Review

Pyres indicate a burning, a cleansing or a ritual to rid the evil. Whether that evil manifest itself in the mind of the victim on the pyre, or perhaps of those who chose to burn that victim, is something that varies from scenario to scenario, and it’s not clear where En Nihil might fall on this spectrum. There is darkness in Pyres; but there’s no telling if En Nihil celebrates the ritual of sacrifice, or if he revels in the cleansing of the spirit. If all of this sounds like philosophical drivel based off of a thematic idea, you’re definitely right: welcome to noise.

There are six tracks on this release, three per side for a nice even distribution of sound. The release comes with a black J-card with a print of some foggy picture in greyscale with… “things” poking out of the mist. Not sure what they are – to me they either look like dinosaur necks or long ballet dancer legs.  Anyway, the cassette looks great, another good showing from Maniacal Hatred.

As for the sound, En Nihil’s noise is somewhat different from the martial rhythms of his recent CD The Absolute. Opener “I” begins with some fuzzy static, a very deep bass line that shakes the core, and a feedback loop that stretches across the static in repeated strands. Pyres is less musical, more noticeably industrial in its use of electronic sounds as rhythm makers.

With that said, sometimes Pyres packs less of an aggressive punch in its power electronics; the mid-paced beats from static and juddering bass are toned down and less harsh, more condensed in their layering. Perhaps I shouldn’t hold En Nihil to produce the same sound again, but these soundscapes become more hypnotic in their softly sprawling sparks than the moniker would suggest they should. “II”, however, manages to slice right through the listener with feedback accompanied by muffled vocal samples in the background, cluttering the entire track with a junk aesthetic that is more akin to the nasty nature of PE. It also clearly hits its stride again toward the end of “III”, an unrelenting spray of screaming static blasting at the listener with a fury that I love from the artist.

“IV” establishes a good drone with a solid line of feedback running atop gnashing wheels repeatedly spinning underneath. It’s crunchy and dark, but the constant shifts in sound lose the intensity of the beginning build. There’s a tendency on Pyres to continually explore new sound terrain on the same track, a method that tosses away the finer qualities of En Nihil’s tribal rhythms for the eclecticism of harsh noise.

It doesn’t work as well to establish that sense of power in “power electronics”; the fleeting repetition allows for little climax. Instead, Pyres is a more extensive sound with a less enveloping reaction, a chaotic blend of harsh noises that never quite come together into the intensity that En Nihil can reach. What’s left burning on the pyre are those anthemic rhythms of clashing noise, sounds that ring out the darkest nature of self-sacrifice.

Gnawed – Purge (C40, Maniacal Hatred)

Noise, power electronics, Review

You know Gnawed. Envision the world ending, trains derailing from their moors on tracks; skyscrapers crumbling into the roads; planes falling from the sky in a terrifying and beautiful display of defeat. That’s Grant Richardson’s project, a layered feast of power electronics and hatred assaulting you aurally via looping drones and pounding bass. His latest, Purge, is very reminiscent of Gnawed’s previous output, with Richardson’s tortured howls forming a sort of middle ground between the snaking coils of electronics and the the thumping bass tones, yet there’s a sense that Richardson has tried to limit the ferocity of Purge with some occasional droning textures.

The tape opens with “Purge,” with loops of staggering synth lines, rearing sizzles and hitches in sound accompanied by background bass. It’s a rather droning piece that nicely layers these pieces together, carrying on for a few minutes as an introduction to “Culturing the Virus”. The opening loops linger a bit too long, their force not quite taut or tense enough to carry the noise into the riveting following track. What “Purge” lacks in its meandering suspension of aggression is made up for in “Culturing the Virus,” a heavy, marching track with lots of bass and the squeaking of wheels behind the whole thing. Siren-like wails of electronics filter in, along with very distorted and wavery vocals by Richardson – and it’s a good thing the liner notes give us the apocalyptic lyrics, because otherwise deciphering them would be near impossible. The vocals are interesting and add a nuance to the track, but their loopy sound can become cartoonish on this track, like a vision of Richardson trying to yell out these destructive words while submerged underwater.

“Contempt” and “Feeding” round out Side A, the first without vocals and the second including them. “Contempt” is a faster-paced affair with double-bass-like rumbles, high-pitched squeals of sound, and occasional whirrings that come and go. There’s not a clear rhythm at first beside the continuous churning of the bass, which gives the entire thing an off-kilter jive until the whirring pulsates and some echoing electronics take control to drone out everything else. “Feeding” pulses slowly with bass, and then alarum calls repeatedly break through, echoing higher and higher, then lower and lower as background howls of electronics work their way in. It’s all very tense, especially the consistent escalations of the noise alarms; everything’s wavering like the moments before a storm is ready to let loose. We’ve got those rippling vocals from Richardson again, but this time the underwater feeling is okay because it’s as if the noise is surging over his head.

And to move on to Side B, there’s a very similar sound as “Feeding”, as if each track is moving onward in a layer of rotating sound. “Bricklayer” continues the vocal onslaught, and again there’s a constant bass movement with feedback squeals behind it. Fast moving, and this is a good thing because there’s really no gap in intensity from the A and B side, no real way out of Gnawed’s aggressive disgust – and when the scraping electronics come in it’s really just icing on the powerful cake Richardson has baked (or some proverbial phrase like that). “Saturation” continues the movement, squeaking electronics, powerful bass, and those similar feedback lines oscillating with a rumble that seems like a marching band has taken residence in your house.

Simply, Purge starts out somewhat slow for a reason: it needs somewhere to build to, a climax of noises that must begin somewhere and makes it difficult to end. But Gnawed really hammers home with the sprawling last few tracks, heavy on the rumbles, with an explosive amount of bass and synth arrangements that are breathtaking in their anger. Especially “Human Vermin” – that track has a magnanimous amount of filth behind it. But then again, Gnawed always brings that special finesse that makes you hate life and love it at the same time.

Still available, so buy from Maniacal Hatred