While I confess that I’m not the most well-versed reviewer when it comes to dance/electronica music, I will say that I find Faster Detail’s Phase Lock to be my new entry point into those subgenres. Faster Detail is the project of producer Alex Chesney, also of Gam Spun. On Phase Lock, the first and last tracks of this C52 tend towards harsh noise with electronic manipulations of sound, the “Phase” and “Lock” of the title, while the rest of both sides include bass-heavy beat-laden dance music with tons of modulations, distorted vocal samples, and a bevy of catchy samples.
The beats really don’t stop after the wallop of “Phase,” with Faster Detail sticking to a mid-fast tempo throughout with similar but often slightly varied drum tracks. Vocal manipulations and clear sound samples are interspersed throughout, with the artist often mixing in genre ideas like dubstep drops, drum ‘n bass rhythms, and even some breakcore into the mix. All of these combine to make for a swift-moving and immensely danceable record.
It’s even appreciated when Faster Detail slows things down a bit like on the digi-pop “Slug Windows,” hitting some downright emotional tones along with its video game-like beeps and boops.
Overall, Phase Lock is an intriguing listen, a catchy and fast-paced dance album sandwiched between two harsher electronic tracks. Check it out on No Rent Records’ Bandcamp page and have a dance-off.
Facialmess is the harsh noise project of Kenny Sanderson, who uses a lot of cut-up sounds and techniques in his works to create an intricate, detailed document of noise which is often incredibly harsh in its output. On his most recent release for No Rent Records, You Trip Me Up, Facialmess changes his output a little bit, opting for a more refined palette of sounds that don’t necessarily range a wide gamut but instead utilize many ambient passages to create tension and explosive effects.
This C20 is split into two ten-minute sides. The first track is titled “Habit of Thinking,” and it begins with an ambient swirl of sound along with clicks and taps from perhaps a contact mic before launching into a tour de force of cut-up harsh noise. Feedback spurts and glitchy rhythms form the soundtrack, with Facialmess dropping the noise to allow that ambient texture room to break up the onslaught. If you’ve heard cut-up noise before, you know that it can ultimately become redundant – the listener can only go so long hearing multiple tracks of unrefined noise before it all begins to blend together. But Facialmess’ use of space and sparing the listener from a smorgasbord of the same noises makes both of “Habit of Thinking” and the second track, “Pessimism Without Compromise,” into a surprisingly agile release that is often chilling and suspenseful.
That second track uses a similar sequencing, though without the ambient texturing. Instead, harsh noise alternates with a sinister synth riff that leads to crumbling, pounding textures that move around the balance, opening up into intense percussive noise blasts and feedback. I love Facialmess’ use of stereo here, and “Pessimism Without Compromise” adds detail to what could just be a barrage of harsh noise.
You Trip Me Up is a huge success, and probably one of my favorite cut-up harsh noise releases thus far because of its nuance and dynamism. Unfortunately, though, this product is sold out from No Rent Records, so you’ll have to find it secondhand or listen on Bandcamp.
Stroker is Rachel Slurr’s harsh noise project, and The Bitch is a cassette release with a limited number of 100 that has already sold out. Some may know Slurr from Heaven’s Gate, but I must confess all of these projects are new to me. However, The Bitch is an intriguing title for this tape; the J-card comes with an insert picture of a cute little dog, along with bones separating the track titles, all with an excellent pink background. The noise on this tape, then, is a nice change of pace from the rather peaceful appearance.
Stroker cuts this release into two sides with two tracks apiece. Her output tends to have the low-end rumble of harsh noise wall and caustic crackling static; however, her work is much more chaotic than HNW often allows, and though Stroker does create dense textures, they’re significantly dynamic. There are lot of juddering effects to these tracks, with tons of cut-up-esque shifts along the way. In fact, a track like “Milk Bone” has so many quick cuts and transitions that it’s easy to get lost in Stroker’s continually evolving ideas.
There’s quite a bit of experimentation in here, too, which gives The Bitch some stand-out qualities. “Tube Top” makes use of harsh textures that almost sound like heavily distorted screams toward the end of the track; “Tube Top” takes a break toward the end of the onslaught to filter in some conventional songs, albeit partially deconstructed and shifted. “Leash Law” features some found sound at the beginning of the piece, seemingly taken from a roaring lion or something similar – then structures the harsh noise around it, using the roars to compliment the static crumbles excellently.
Chances are, if you like harsh noise, there’s something to like on The Bitch. Stroker changes things up so much from track to track that it’s difficult not to become enchanted by the whole spastic thing. And even then, final track “The Bitch” locks into a looping rhythm of churning static crackles that’s aided by some alterations (though perhaps a bit too many variations on the same theme). Still, this is a strong, short series of harsh noise tracks with quite a lot to hook even the most seasoned listener.