J. Peterson – Obsess (C40, Not On Label)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

j peterson obsess

J. Peterson, sometimes under JCP, offers up two harsh tracks about foot fetishes on Obsess. It’s a release that’s been crafted by the man himself – there’s a homemade cassette case in blue and printed artwork taped to the front, along with a blue cassette hand-labeled. Pulling that DIY feeling into this tape emphasizes the obsession of the theme, even if the track titles aren’t there to tell you.

The first track, “Heel to Toe,” is a blown-out rumbling affair. It’s not quite a wall – there’s a lot of movement within, often using staccato elements of the quiet static as a backdrop for the shuddering bass throughout – but the idea and the magnitude of the sound is there. The bass textures aren’t deep, but they’re rigid enough to work, and instead of providing background for the piece, they are the main focal point of “Heel to Toe.” The spastic static later is just an additional player in the difficult listen of this piece.

Side B, “Refinement of Object,” is much more wall-like in texture, starting with a crackly bass rumble as though a train is passing and sticking to that subject for much of the track. There’s a subliminal pattern of static below the straightforward judders, sticky and crunchy, that adds quite a bit of depth. J. Peterson does end up shifting this wall to and fro, adding feedback and the sound of exhaust-like whispers of noise as he sees fit, but “Refinement of Object” does nicely stay stuck to its initial rumble.

If you can find it, it’s worth the effort to pick up Obsess from J. Peterson – one track harsh noise, one track semi-HNW, both of them well-done in my book. And the nice blue tapes that this release comes on look great as well. For foot fetishists, this is definitely one for your shelf.

Street Sects – The Morning After the Night We Raped Death (7″, Not On Label)

Industrial, Music, Noise, Noisecore, Review

the morning after the night we raped death

Street Sects is the duo Leo Ashline and Shaun Ringsmuth, performing loop-based noise/grindcore. It’s the sort of thing that works well when paired with the aggressive vocal delivery on this five minute 7″ record. The Morning After the Night We Raped Death is the first in a five-series set of LPs titled “Gentrification: A Serial Album,” and on this vinyl, you get the double-sided singles plus an insert with an essay.

The first track, “Bliss,” hammers away at the listener for just under two minutes. Street Sects define their motif on this track, punctuating moments with blurry, seared vocals. The loops are utilized to their full potential, at times stretched to give a 4/4 time signature while remaining significantly raucous, then switching to considerably faster speeds for a breakneck finish. It’s difficult to tell what is used for each loop; they kind of meld into one another, and some of them may be so damaged as to be indecipherable. But it’s fun to listen to “Bliss” and attempt to figure out what’s being used, whether it be a simple guitar line sped up and chopped or actual songs mangled up to form the basis of a new, noisier track.

Side B, “Fate On Her Knees,” is a little slower, a little less noisy. The first part of the track takes on an industrial march of sorts, the loops toned down to highlight the percussion over the mass of sound. There are a lot of vocal differences here, and I’m not sure if that’s due to manipulation – speeding up and slowing down pre-recorded vocals or something else entirely – but it makes a really interesting listen that, again, makes the audience wonder what’s going on behind what we can actually hear.

Street Sects is a wonderfully interesting project, and their five-part “Gentrification” series is well on its way. At this time, part two is done and up on their Bandcamp. In the meantime, you can check out both of those works here.

recommended

Griefhound – Griefhound (CD-R, Not On Label)

doom metal, harsh noise, Music, Noise, Review, sludge

griefhound

Griefhound is an interesting doom/noise project from Harvey and Novak, both members of various other projects including Snuff Film and Leach Mine. Their self-titled release finds the duo working through five tracks of heavy riffing laced with selective noise and drone works, switching back and forth between the two with relative ease.

The first couple of tracks, “Holy Flesh” and “Mizzah Mills and the Temple of Gloom,” sit more comfortably within the slude/doom territory of Griefhound’s sound. They combine heavy bass riffs with Novak’s pounding percussion, often a bit more frenetic than most doom metal allows for, and occasionally mix in noise atmospherics akin to Indian or Buried At Sea. It’s an effective element, and Griefhound does it well.

The final three tracks are noticeably longer and filled with more noise, relying less on doom song structures and taking breaks to incorporate longer passages of drones and swirling, pulsating sounds. “Behemoth,” at over 20 minutes, works as a series of vignettes; the riffs give way to noise, then back to riffs, then noise, a concept that sounds good enough but is perhaps a bit too extended. “Ghost Ship” and “Date Raped By the White Wizard… In Space” allot nearly all the running time to buzzes and hiss, a nice way to break up what could have been more of the same gloomy doom.

Griefhound is a great introduction to this duo’s output, a release that caters to doom and noise fans. Those who don’t like their music filtered with grating harsh noise might be turned away, but it’s unlikely, since Griefhound’s heaviness is attractive to those with more experimental palates anyway.

The Elderbranch Campaign – Aural Histories of the Jovian Survey – Book II (Not on Label, MP3)

ambient, Drone, Music, Noise

book iI

The Elderbranch Campaign has been pumping out releases that fall into the category of the Jovian Survey, an idea that encompasses the exploration of life on Europa and Jupiter’s moons. It’s a sci-fi idea that fits right in with the kind of fantastical sounds that drone can often encompass, and Aural Histories of the Jovian Survey captures the essence of space quite well by flooding the listener with sound.

The release offers two tracks that float just a bit past the 20 minute mark. The first, “And the Extinction Event Came In the Form of Ice,” is a strong opener that contains an intensely cold experience; synths wail and scream, layered upon each other with just the hint of a rhythmic yield underneath it all, each layer ebbing and flowing with elongated tails of sound. It all resembles the sound of a howling windstorm, but this would fit in on a movie soundtrack about a horrifying space exploration trip just fine. There’s a denseness to the work that’s both intriguing and suffocating.

“They Coded Resurrection Seeds Into Digital Microbes” features a similar concept, with a droning track slowly building to cacophonous levels, and the sounds continue to waver and flow without completely ending. There’s a feeling of perpetual chaos within the sound, that whatever event is being portrayed sonically is horrifying – almost like the continual trill of flute and violin in a horror movie soundtrack, except this drone is stretched to lengthy extremes. Eventually the track moves into more recognizable synth tones, a chilly but beautiful melody that sustains for the rest of the track.

It’s easy to get lost in Aural Histories of the Jovian Survey – Book II and write it off as two lengthy tracks that do relatively the same thing, but that would be overlooking the grander scope of these pieces. Though they resemble each other, and use a wall of drone in each, the feelings and attitudes of the tracks are different, and only appreciated by a calculated listen akin to harsh noise wall.

Bitchneck – Step 4 (C30, Not On Label)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

bitchneck

Bitchneck is a harsh noise/power electronics project from Boston, and on this C30, the tracks tend to highlight drug addiction and recovery. In the twelve-step program, step 4 is truth, and it certainly feels as though Bitchneck is emphasizing that the past be scorched away, the only thing remaining being the truth about the addiction.

This is a two-sided cassette with the same tracks on both sides, so it’s possible to flip it over and start in again – the tracks are good enough to warrant this. “Misalign” is a squeaky rush of electronics that leads right into “Swallow,” one of the best tracks on this cassette. It utilizes a simple form – blurred harsh vocals and a continual high-pitched feedback squeal, combined with the fuzz of occasional static – but its lack of texture seems to indicate that sense of truth in step 4. There’s not much to mask the sound, just the hesitation of actually talking.

“Commitment” uses a spoken word sample about addiction as its backdrop, continuing throughout the track as scratchy walls pile upon it. Again, the sense of giving voice to addiction is present here, with the walls signifying how easy it is to attempt to cover up the truth. Finally, “Misremember” returns us to the echoing sounds of “Misalign” with metallic scrapes enunciated by distortion.

Step 4 is a short release but it has a lot of substance to it, and it sticks to the theme of drug dependency well. There are simpler, controlled bursts of harsh noise, and there are also layered textures to fuzz the brain. Both are done extremely well.

Unknown – To All My Little Friends… (CD-R & C90(?), Not On Label)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

unknown to all my little friends

Unknown is a harsh noise wall project from Extreme Volume Pop; To All My Little Friends… was sent to me like the rest of Extreme Volume Pop/Meat Glue releases, sort of mysteriously packaged and DIY with both a CD-R and one-half of a C90 so I could listen to the medium in a way that I’d prefer. I chose to tackle the CD-R, and it offered up an interesting idea about the album: To All My Little Friends… is split up into 13 harsh noise walls that run about 3 minutes a piece with very little change within those walls, yet the CD-R runs as one long track without cuts.

For me, it’s more interesting for these tracks to run as stand-alone pieces, even if the listener can’t tell the difference when the song switches from one to the next. Cutting the piece into tracks makes sense because this is not one wall but a baker’s dozen of them, and tracks allows the listener to go back and potentially repeat that one wall for as long as they would like. With a block of walls such as the one on the tape and CD-R, we aren’t allowed to do that or at least as easily.

Diatribe aside, though, Unknown presents some excellent cuts of harsh noise walls experimenting with the different sounds and sources one can make. These thirteen walls range the gamut between general static and bass, rhythmic repetition within the sound, slight momentum, crunchy bass, very fizzy mid-range shuffling, and everywhere in between. As To All My Little Friends… is presented to the listener, it’s all sort of overwhelming because of the tremendous range of sounds, which is why I sort of lobby for these tracks to be chopped up instead of melded together. Still, one gets a great feel for what Unknown can do with static and bass, and the shortness of each wall is simply a taste of how organic and original HNW can sound.

“Cadaverous Hue” (title found from Bandcamp doesn’t work all that well as a harsh noise wall per se, and feels ostracized from the rest of the album. Otherwise, though, these tracks are spot-on and very well situated within the expanse of sound Unknown tends to work in. It’s an album that will appeal to both groups of harsh noise wall listeners: those that like crunchy, bass-driven noise, and those that don’t appreciate having to sit through long works.

Whore’s Skeleton – Honey (CD-R, Not On Label)

Black Noise, Drone, harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

whores skeleton

Whore’s Skeleton is a harsh noise project from Columbus, Ohio, and on Honey, a CD-R of just under ten minutes, the project presents one live-recorded track. Whore’s Skeleton has released a couple of other albums, but apparently none of them have been easily producible in a live setting. Honey is meant to change that.

It certainly does feel recorded in a live setting, and the electronic sounds all feel authentic to the session. The track opens with a lingering, melancholic drone which acts as a frame for the rest of the track. There are a few vignettes in this sub-10 minute piece; the first one begins as what seems like a sound sample from a movie, but it has been distorted and/or looped to create screams and a pounding that mimics what one might hear in power electronics. It’s a good use of sample, and quite effective.

The track moves on like a bus, using the drone to carry the listener until we get to a second wave of noise, this one being a washed-out electronic whir with harsh vocals from Whore’s Skeleton. The noise buzz is only mediocre – it seems as though there’s too much room within the sound, and it’s probably due to a recording element rather than a lack of texture. Finally, another sample, this time from The Tracey Fragments (which could be the source for the other sample, but I’m not sure), carries the listener out with a discomfiting thought.

It’s an interesting, sometimes fairly original, piece from Whore’s Skeleton, and it creates a sense of wonder of what the project can do next. It’s not perfect, but neither is performing live, and that’s kind of the point of this release. A well thought-out effort.

Vasculae – Receding Stasis (CD-R, Not On Label)

harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

vasculae

Vasculae is the harsh noise/HNW project of Jon Borges, the man behind Emaciator and Monorail Trespassing. Receding Stasis was released both as a C64 tape and this CD-R release for his 2012 US tour. Over an hour of moving harsh noise walls are on offer here over two dense tracks; Vasculae works in immense and overwhelming textures, and neither of these tracks can be considered to be “receding.”

The first track, “Virulent Lapse,” begins with a huge wall of static and bass that remains somewhat rigid until about the ten minute mark. From there, a blown-out bass frequency alternates between swirling static until Vasculae brings the sound down to a dull roar. It’s here where “Virulent Lapse” falters; when Vasculae comes down from the heavy wall, it feels like there’s too much of a lull between where the track was before and where it ends. Instead of a climax, the last 15 minutes are sort of anticlimactic, and it left me wishing that the two textures had been reversed.

The second track, “Inferential,” is more substantial, with large sizzles of static and a heavy bass tone that continues throughout the track. This one feels more relative to standard HNW, although it still does feature shifts in its textures throughout the piece. But what strikes me is the fidelity of the sound, which is very crisp overall.

Receding Stasis is a great release for those who enjoy harsh noise wall with shifting textures. Vasculae brings a lot of tones into these pieces and he stretches them out with enough changing elements to warrant the longer track lengths. It’s definitely worth a few listens to focus on the depth of these walls.

Meat Glue – Winona (CD-R, Not On Label)

Glitch, harsh noise, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review, Shitcore

meat glue winona

Meat Glue is a difficult project, not just because of the sound but because their releases are so illogical, mysterious, and unlabeled that it’s hard to document them or review them for something like Memory Wave Transmission.

I take pride in keeping a fairly well-organized blog of information about many limited-release noise albums that might not be readily available on the Internet, but everything Meat Glue does kind of undermines that. I had to search high and low to figure out what exactly this release was called, because the packaging I have for Winona is simply a double-sided CD sleeve with lots of graffiti-ed paper artwork, all of which tells me nothing about this release. The only thing I managed to find was a scrawl on the CD-R that says “Winona,” as well as being able to compare the sounds to an Archive MP3 Meat Glue uploaded.

With all of this in mind, with no track titles (or tracks themselves) to guide me, I sat down to listen to Winona. All 74 minutes of it. That’s a long time for any release (it completely fills a CD-R), but for a project like Meat Glue, 74 minutes feels like an eternity. That’s not because I hate their noise or I think it’s bad, it’s just that Meat Glue loads this release with tons and tons of sound. It’s hard to keep track of everything that’s happened after you finish with it.

That’s one way to look at noise – to dispense with all the trappings of “music” and to piledrive the listener with sound. Meat Glue lives up to their moniker; like the pasty substance derived from mounds of waste meat from all different animals, they take any bit of sound they can get their hands on and then mush it all together.

That means Winona is both crushing and frustrating at the same time. There are parts of this release that I really loved, and then there are parts (like the first few minutes of vocal collage) that I could have done without. But since Winona isn’t divided at all, and it’s thrown together haphazardly even though it seems it was recorded at different times and then edited together, you’ll never have the chance to just go back and revisit the good moments. You can fast forward, of course, but that’s time-consuming in itself.

That leaves you listening to the mountain of noise on this release just for key moments, and maybe you don’t have the time to invest in over an hour of trash-banging analog and reverbed samples. But there’s a reverse edge to this as well; if you can’t listen all at once, Winona works well as a CD-R that you can pause and come back to, as though every time you listen it’s a different recording.

It’s up to you whether you like this sort of thing, and I can’t say that I have an interest in going back to Winona anytime soon. But Meat Glue present this CD-R simply as-is, and they don’t make a claim that it’s anything more than a pile of shredded noise molded into thick, clumpy mess. Take it at face value.

World of Metal and Rust – Songs for Prisoners (CD-R, Not On Label)

dark ambient, Drone, Industrial, Noise, Review

world of rust and metal

World of Metal and Rust makes beat-driven drone and noise; sort of like dusty, dirty jams and down-tempo percussion. Songs for Prisoners is a self-released collection of tracks meant for different, unnamed prisoners; each of them gets their own song, all of them melted into a dark abyss of beats and repetitive rhythms.

World of Metal and Rust isn’t focused on completely obliterating the idea of a “song”; instead the project combines an industrial, echoing vibe with slow percussive rhythms, and most of the songs on Songs for Prisoners morph into a hybrid of what a hip-hop song might sound like if it was slowed down extensively and then fed through a guitar pedal. These songs don’t always include drums, but they’re all very slow and plodding.

They’re also very repetitious, and that can be a good or a bad thing depending on the track. Sometimes the tracks go on for too long, like “Prisoner G”‘s unending factory tones or the pulsating beat of “Into the Night.” The best cuts on the album are the shortest, the ones that use the rhythms repetitively, then slowly change the sound towards the end. Frankly, some of these tracks feel too similar to each other, using the same format with different noise and a slight mix of beats.

Songs for Prisoners definitely has some potential, but the length of this disc – nearly an hour! – and the repetitive nature of each track make it difficult to sit through. There’s a lot of content on here that could probably either be discarded or conjoined to make fewer but more interesting songs.