Torba/Dotåbåtå Split (C31, Hair On My Food)

Drone, Noise, Review

The relatively new harsh noise/drone artist Torba leads off this split cassette with four shorter tracks. The first, “Anemia Modulaire,” begins with crumbling static walls that vibrate and shift until a lilting high-pitched tone makes its way into the midst of the noise, providing a bit of melodic anchorage in the haze. Then the track slips into a bit of a harsher noise bent, building those crumbling walls of static while the drone of buzzing electronics and that sustained high-end chord continue on undisturbed in the background, creating a sort of oasis within the noise as the storm rages on until the electronics finally dissipate and allow that peaceful drone to end the short track.

“My Guitar Want to Kiss Your Mama” follows a similar pattern, starting with some hiss and static while sounds rumble into the forefront. There are times when Torba sounds almost like a HNW act, although the whirrs of sound rarely become static. Instead, the track loops, locking into a groove while other buffets of noise blast against the sound orchestrated from the opening of the track. Toward the end, we get a distantly screeching tone that completes the ensemble.

“Arduino” takes its cue from drone and harsh noise wall again, and like “Anemia Modulaire,” begins with a looping, peaceful chord that rises and falls in pitch until some snowy walls of bass rumbling break the calm. As the track progresses, Torba layers walls of crunch until that first melody is drowned out by thicker cacophonous walls, and then slowly breaks it down to its original component. Showing more attention to detail and volume than “Anemia Modulaire,” this is my favorite track off of Torba’s side.

And finally, “#6 (Extreme Noise Remix)” kicks in with what I’d describe as a noisier sunn o))), providing black and bleak guitar drones that are drenched in noisy static. This is a great track for those who take their drone with a side of black metal, and being a fan of that side of the genre as well, I think that sticking this on the end of Torba’s side of the split showcases an extension of his abilities as an artist.

Dotåbåtå delivers one lengthy track on his side of the split, entitled “Rusted Nails Driven Into Dead Wood.” With that piece of dark imagery already in the mind, it’s no surprise that the track opens with a very bleak drone of guitar chords and distant electronic buzzing. It stays in that mindset for a few minutes, until a screeching begins to claw its way into the mix. The darkness of the drone continues, staying around the same type of sound while also broadening its scope to include new chords and electrical whining that carry the listener through the track. Towards the halfway mark, Dotåbåtå switches over from guitar drones to more electronic walls, encompassing the listener with a barrage of harsh noise that carries over similar themes from the Torba side of the tape.

This split is definitely for those fans of drone who like their tracks infused with some harsher noise, and the tape should even appeal to those who have a fling for harsh noise walls. Both Torba and Dotåbåtå bring enveloping drones into the mix while also infusing each track with a great deal of harsh electronic manipulation, and it results in an exhilarating combination of melody and chaos.

Dementia and Hope Trails – Depress (CD-R, Twilight Luggage)

Drone, Noise, Review

Dementia and Hope Trails offers up a 40 minute CD-R for experimental/noise label Twilight Luggage, focusing on an idea you can probably guess from the title – depression. Split in three tracks, Depress explores this theme throughout, with titles like “Depression,” “Depressant,” and “Depressive.” But don’t let it get you down.

The first track, “Depression,” begins with some eerie manipulated effects that sound like noises made from the mouth, breathy and juicy if you will, with a slight hint of metallic scrapes akin to spoon clinks. It moves into a juddering loop, until a static buzz snakes its way into the picture and slowly drones the other sounds out. The tone oscillates in pitch, creating a very peaceful, lilting soundscape of shifting drone. Those first few tones are still audible in the background – though at first they took the forefront of the track, they’ve now become a bit of background noise that pushes through the fuzz of drone fog. The higher pitched tone loops for a couple of minutes until new bits of sustained chords weave their way through the tapestry. Dementia and Hope trails doesn’t dwell for too long on just one drone here, always intermingling new sounds with the old to build more layers, providing a varied listening experience that feels much shorter than its 23 minute run.

Track two, “Depressant,” follows a similar thread first began in “Depression,” with a distant whirring tone coupled with those same breathy mouth sounds heard in the last track. And quickly, the sounds shifts into a  background whir while sustained, melancholy guitar chords echo over it. There’s a dampened mood to this piece that I really like, and whereas the first track maintains a noisier drone throughout, this short track brings the melodic guitar sound out in an emotional, moving piece.

“Depressive” kicks off with some distant, muffled vocal sounds over a droning chord that sounds just like a synth, although it’s apparent that no synths were used on this record because of the notes on the back cover. This track is again more melancholy in mood toward the beginning, although the tones used are very transcendental because of their rich reverb coating. Dementia and Hope Trails builds this track through long sustains and soaring guitar notes until the finale, where darkness seeps in with gong-like crashes and guitar drones that remind of attending a dark church cult.

Depress provides a very ethereal experience throughout, and the album wavers between uplifting and depressive. The drones on this piece are phenomenal, crafted with an attention to maintaining the thematic ideas begun in the opening over the course of the entire piece. No piece drones on for too long, and if you’re not a fan of the sunn O))) type of drone with sustained minor guitar chords, Depress might be up your alley because of its ever-expanding soundscapes.

You can grab this release yourself here.

Dim Dusk Moving Gloom – Our Dark Lord (C60, Rainbow Bridge)

Noise, Review

Two intense, thirty-minute tracks make up Our Dark Lord, a clear-cassette C60 from Dim Dusk Moving Gloom. The release, from Rainbow Bridge, is one of the few in DDMG’s discography, although artist Justin Marc Lloyd isn’t new to the noise genre; he’s had over 20 releases under his now-dead moniker Sensible Nectar.

Side A opens with some atonal bell tones along with some interesting spoken-word vocal loops. “Oh hello” comes out in the mix a lot, as well as some sighs and groans, and the incorporation of the off-key bells makes this an eerie set of noises. DDMG keeps at the tones for a while until some electronic tones come in that exaggerate the original bells in the beginning. It reminds of a truly terrifying carnival, perhaps from the point of view of one who’s had too many spins on the carousel. Though the track drifts from the tones of the opening, DDMG brings it back and forth, from mesmerizing electronic noisebursts back to metallic bells and then out again. The track works into more mechanical territory with saw-like buzzes and a background drone that locks the listener in. And then, the bell tones eventually fade out into a darker drone that segues nicely into the B side of the cassette.

Side B has some great electronics manipulation with the emphasis on high-pitched frequency bursts. Sometimes it moves into bassy, crackling wall-ish territories, but it generally makes its way back towards those crunchy, sadomasochistic blasts of ear-piercing shrieks. Around the half-way mark, the track settles into an alarm-like shrill, complete with high-pitched stabs and frequent jagged twists until it comes to a “Roman Shower”-like squall of splitting feedback. Then, it moves into more mellowed territory with distorted vocal loops under hissy fuzz until atonal bells and more crushing fuzz kick in. Also of note is the more rhythmic aspect of this side, as it sometimes moves into vocals that are almost sing-songy in their looping. This side is definitely the harsher of the two, a sort of offering to the dark lord that Side A hinted at towards the end of its thirty-minute run, although it does maintain a lot of similar themes from Side A.

Our Dark Lord is a very enjoyable cassette featuring a lot of high-end feedback. It’s great for people who love that kind of thing (namely myself), but those who find sharp squeals a little out of their frequency range might not dig as much. However, this C60 shows off a lot of Dim Dusk Moving Gloom’s variety; though the tape never sticks to one set soundpiece for too long, a lot of restraint is shown – rather than continuously move the tracks on a never-ending set of new noises, Lloyd brings each piece back around to its overarching theme, a circular device that traps the listener into the bountiful 60 minute runtime due to the tape’s connectivity.

Have the release yourself via the artist’s download link.

Violent Noise Atrocities

Drone, Music, Noise, Obsession, Review

I know I haven’t been posting… at all. And my spam comment box is empty, which tells me just how terrible I’ve been about updating this blog.

But recently, I ordered a tape through the label Violent Noise Atrocities, run by the noise artist Churner. Not only was it ridiculously cheap, it was also accompanied by two Churner releases that are gigantic slabs of harsh noise pleasure.

Considering that VNA is run basically out-of-pocket, I was incredibly pleased with everything that the label did. The product was shipped fast, great communication, nice guy, and totally respectful of customers.

If you get a chance, and need some great HNW releases, check out VNA Records (here), and also check out Churner – he’s got a ton of releases, and each one seems pretty varied from the other.

Piandrone goes on and on

Drone, Music, Noise, shapeshitter

Got another (exciting) piece of digital catharsis here for everyone who has been checking out my one song as Shapeshitter. This is still a short experiment in drone, but there’s a bit of harsh noise feedback going on as well. This time we’ve got a recurring organ theme downtuned to utter shit-inducing lows, plus a few Slayer guitars, one of which is adjusted so much that makes that squealing sound. PLAY AT HIGH VOLUME. I hope it startles you, at least a little.

Again, these are just short demos, done on FruityLoops. I’m not trying to get “big” or “popular” or become “mainstream,” they’re for my own and hopefully others’ pleasure. If you enjoy them, why not tell me? Or if you hate them, I’d love to hear from you too. And any suggestions would be more than helpful.

Shapeshitter – Piandrone Goes On and On – 2:50

Experimenting with drone and noise myself

Drone, Music, Noise, shapeshitter

Below is a demo experiment I created using FruityLoops software. It’s mostly drone with what FL calls a Slayer guitar sound, muffled, feedback’d, and detuned all to nothing. There’s a few different guitar parts going down in there to create the fuzz, but I realize it’s not doing a hell of a whole lot besides a very reminiscent Sunn O))) song off of OO Void.

Right now I’m just messing around, not really knowing what I’m doing. At this point, it’s all digital, and I don’t really have any equipment to do this as a live recording (nor do I play guitar or know a lot about electronics), so most of my forays will be digital for right now. I’ll probably mix some more later, preferably longer and more varied than this first one. I’d love to hear something about it (tips, likes, dislikes) – Matt, got anything to add?

My moniker is temporarily Shapeshitter I guess. Thought it was clever…

Give a listen?

Shapeshitter – Drone 1 – 3:00

Matt Henshaw’s Unfurled, finally!

Drone, Noise, Review

unfurled

Matt Henshaw brings the noise with his release Unfurled, a 75-minute long sprawl of oscillating industrial drones and metallic clanks and blips that remind one of underwater submarine life on a sub doomed to a life of hell. In fact, this is one of Henshaw’s darker, harsher forays, one that literally furls and unfurls into minimalist, extended low notes and high pitched squawls.

It’s the softer minimalist aspect of the track that draws this listener in, what with the ever-underlying hum and the quick clanks and patters that suck the listener into a dark lull. The subtle, rolling drip-drips coupled with the low notes are calming and pleasant to the ears, designed to put on in a trance. After a while, squealing feedback works its way over the drone, penetrating that trance in an homage to the track’s title, unfurling what was glacially built up. The feedback of the track is harsh and unsettling, and although it’s a nice jar from the quiet solitude of the minimalism, they sometimes proceed a little bit too long.

This listener enjoys, however, the subtleties that Henshaw plays with, an experimentation within lower and higher volumes. Though repetitive, the track mimics its title, slowly pulsing its way towards dark oblivion. It’s slightly creepy, too, and a good listen for late-night spooks. The industrial tones of the piece are more reminiscent of Henshaw’s 320 than his previous works, and a lot more inaccessible to those not familiar with harsher noise. But Henshaw’s ability to lull the listener and then snap them out of the gentle hands of the drone is captivating, even if the feedback does make for a very difficult 70 minutes.

This is not easy listening, nor is it a track meant to be taken in pieces. To get the full experience out of Henshaw’s album, one must take in the entire track, which is no easy task considering its length. If one can get past these hurdles, though, there’s a harrowing experience underneath that Henshaw has provided. The hum of the radiator will never sound the same again.

And again, Henshaw has dedicated a lot of time and energy to the presentation of his work, wrapping the album’s case with a nice tie to again emphasize the importance of unfurling.

Buy it here

The philosophies of Noise/Music: A History by Paul Hegarty

Books, Music, Noise, Review

But is it a history?

This is one of the things that struck me as I finished the book. One does not have to worry if the book is well-written – it’s almost too wordy and garrulous for the normal reader. In fact, I would suggest being accustomed to philosophical works, and not expecting a thoughtless pulp read when you pick up the book.

Noise/Music: A History chronicles the uses of noise (i.e. cut-ups, harsh noise, digital, analog, etc.) through the late 1800s until now. It follows a course from early classical music, free jazz, progressive rock, power electronics, industrial, up until the rise of harsh noise, glitch, and the use of sampling, while also contributing a complete chapter to Merzbow‘s work.

While Noise/Music does present a very factual, interesting look at the evolution of noise in music, it doesn’t serve as a great introduction to noise music for the uninitiated. The use of certain selections of noise, and Hegarty’s delving into the inner workings of each section’s meanings, are critical readings which seem too in-depth for a supposed “history.” It feels as though Hegarty is expecting the reader to know and understand his philosophies into what makes noise what it is – and though he does explain in the beginning that he did not want the book to become an extensive and pretentious discography of his album collection, to me, it became just that. Instead of Hegarty explaining the history in general of a certain style of noise, he takes certain albums – probably ones that you’ve never heard, due to the sheer enormity of the noise genre – and critically analyzes them, explaining in needless detail their point to society and their cultural relevance. Honestly, I just wanted to know a little bit more about the noise genre in general, rather than be immersed in a philosophy of noise and sound that I really couldn’t contemplate the meaning of.

I did learn, however, how describing noise can be put into words. Also, some of Hegarty’s points on the validity of noise as a genre of music seemed true. However, over all I felt that Hegarty’s take on noise was too long-winded and complex for the noise beginner. If you would like to have an introduction to the noise genre, I would suggest looking elsewhere. But if you’re a student of noise and sound, this would be a really relevant introduction for those looking to join the noise genre.

Catch this on Blogcritics

A listen to Matt Henshaw’s Bury Me Before I Die

Drone, Music, Noise, Review

Matt Henshaw recently sent me a review copy of his album Bury Me Before I Die, one that I was looking forward to as I’ve heard some of his other releases like 320, Pull Him Along, and Hollow Stone Space. He uses a combination of noise, drone, and more “normal” guitar riffs in his music, along with what seems to be some improvisation.

When I received it, I immediately opened the package up to see the album’s packaging. Henshaw’s album has a very DIY feel, as it comes in a DVD case with a picture of a river running under a stone archway. He printed it himself, and even when the printing of the song titles didn’t come out well on the back, he wrote them down on a little note and attached it. Inside the case is a baggie of dirt and a sheet of paper, with a hand-drawn human form, and the note “Cut out the figure above, write on the figure the qualities/thoughts you want to move past, fold and bury.” And then I thought, “So THAT’S what the bag is for.”

Everything is hand-written, showing how much time and effort Henshaw actually puts into his work and his art. It also shows how much he cares for it.

The disc starts out with “Sergovkiln,” a fairly traditional guitar piece, solo-esque and resembling Henshaw’s work on Pull Him Along. The tune is fairly straight-forward, and creates a nice and catchy melody to have stuck in your head. Yet the guitar is slightly fuzzy, signifying that this experience isn’t going to be only improvisational soloing. And in fact, track 2, “Zamanzor,” leads us into a fuller drone that “Sergovkiln promised with its fuzziness.

“Zamanzor” features low, fuzzy pulsing drones, slowly working its way towards development. Its repetitive wah-wah like effects, its pulsation, and its ability to slowly build on itself create a hypnotic trance, where one reaches the end of the 5 minute song wondering where the time went. Its length seems shorter due to the trance it induces, and the wavering between highs and lows in pulse mimic that of a heart monitor of a patient undergoing frequent scares. It ultimately ends up fading out before the track can finish, reminding of Merzbow pieces that seem to go on indefinitely. “Zamanzor” remains one of the better drone pieces that I’ve heard.

This leads into “Tass,” a short inclusion of digital noise instrumentation. What this most reminds me of is a staccatoed aluminum can song, with cut-ups and a slight hint at an underlying rhythm. It’s an enjoyable little bridge of noise between two drone pieces.

I had a little trouble with listening to “Vyasovkha,” as the review copy that Henshaw sent me seems to have an error at 1:37 in the song. However, I was able to listen from 1:39 on, which uses a repetitive droning guitar pattern, with squelchy,  crackling noise. It goes from low notes to high, piercing tones, and at times it seems like the crackling electronics will overtake the guitar and converge into one mass of noise. Yet once we hit the 6 minute mark, the noise seems to drop out a little bit, allowing the drone to continue without ending. Enjoyable and hypnotic, just like Zamanzor, it’s an interesting listen because of the battle between noise and guitar.

“Bissmillah” ventures into ritualistic chanting and electric fuzziness, the only track on the album to feature voices of any kind. The guitar is relatively distorted like the rest of the tracks, but what really adds to this track are the chants that really change it up from the other songs. While the song is short, it adds a flavor for me, one that signifies that Henshaw has really thrown tons of influences into this record. When the guitar drops out at around the 2 minute mark, ending with a lone chant, it feels as though what was important to this song was less the drones and fuzz of the guitar but the mantra of the voice, and the chants had been another instrument to create the atmosphere.

We move on to “Sokhir Bukh Alakh,” a static-y pulsing tune of feedback buzz, and come back to “Sergovkiln” via a reprise, yet it’s not the same guitar that we’ve heard in the first one. It resembles a circus ditty, almost bell-like and synth-y in tone, fading out but reminding us how far we’ve come into the stretches of noise from the first track.

“Enerhothar” again differs from the other songs in that we get a tinny, distant sound much higher than most of Bury Me. It most reminds me of bestattungsinstitut‘s foray into vibraphone on the self-titled LP. Again, the tones are coupled with background noise, but the sound is slightly clearer than earlier. It seems we move closer to the sound source, understanding that it seems to be some sort of altered guitar that we’re hearing. A clever use of distance in this songs keeps the audience listening, always on the verge of understanding but never fully. As we near the end, the noise becomes more prevalent, hinting to us that the noise is always forcing its way back to the top and cannot be transcended.

“Krasnorad” is a deep, dark abyss of drone, slowly shifting almost unnoticeably, slight pulses stretching out of the darkness. It is fuzzy, it is black, it’s the perfect song for a long ride home at midnight. And it shows that as we have moved along through Bury Me Before I Die, this is where we end – a dark crevice for us to lie in, the deepest depths of drone, neverending – a perfect, hypnotic sleep.

Henshaw’s ability to combine different forms of noise and drone, along with more conventional guitar, stand out here on this record because of how perfectly it seems to fit together. The short tracks, what one would call interludes on CDs in different genres, bridge the gaps between conventionality and droning noise perfectly, recalling to us that the noise could be our unwanted attributes – and yet the noise is enjoyable, always coming forth, and that if we don’t bury it in “Krasnorad,” we may keep them forever.

Oh, and the great packaging of Henshaw’s album doesn’t hurt to sell the album.

Visit Matt Henshaw, buy his music

View this album on Blogcritics