Skin Graft’s Ill Will gives the listener two significantly different tracks. While Side A is generally harsher and more eclectic, Side B puts forth a wall of moderately moving, endlessly looping minimal textures that vary little to not at all. It’s an interesting shift for Skin Graft’s harsh noise project, one that works to include both types of listeners.
Both sides are split into two fifteen minute tracks. Side A covers a wide range of electronic sources, from the static whitewash of the first few seconds of the track to more frenzied moments later on. The full track is split into segments, each punctuated by moments of silence to make this side feel less a wholesome track, instead one defined by vignettes. It works to a certain extent, but I couldn’t help wishing Skin Graft would chop some of the added seconds off of the silence to give the track a stuttered pacing.
Side B is much less forgiving, a textured wall of sound that includes a low feedback swirl and a staccato static clicking layer on top. It’s excellently crafted, with a sense of variation when there isn’t any, and it relies on this throughout the whole side. Some harsh noise fans may disagree, but despite the lack of change I find this side a lot more likeable.
Skin Graft offers two very different tracks, ones that will probably have listeners divided on which they prefer. But Ill Will is an effective release of grime and clacking industrial noise all the same, sure to find a good home in many noise collections.
Harsh noise is often cut-up and glitchy, but Skullcaster takes it to another level with the two tracks on Cognitive Infiltration – these are jumpy, chaotic, and often more digital-sounding than analog. This C32 tape features two 16 minute tracks across both sides, with the A-track a bit more caustic than the B-side.
Both tracks are untitled, and they’re relatively similar in terms of content – bleeps, bloops, whirrs, all rather glitched-out and sampled in different areas of the tracks. Side A is certainly a harsher track, although the sounds Skullcaster creates aren’t technically difficult to listen to. Their edges seem rounded, if you will – they’re not sharp blasts of noise, but they’re still confrontational all the same.
The thing is, Cognitive Infiltration never hits the same areas twice, although both tracks seem corralled into an overall theme. The sounds are all over the place, and that’s a good thing – you’re not going to hear Skullcaster reiterate the same sounds, or at least not in the same ways. There are certain samples that stick, others that don’t, but that’s the way it is with the hectic harsh noise of Skullcaster and you either like it or you don’t.
The second side is slightly less noisy, with a focus on controlled bursts and blasts. There are moments of relative calm, only to be tainted by heavy hits of sound. Both tracks work well, and at the medium length 16-minute mark, you don’t have to spend a lot of time getting into murkier territory.
Cognitive Infiltration is worth a pick-up if you like harsh noise, and occasionally Skullcaster reminds of Merzbow in his digital era – unrelenting noise swirled with all sorts of samples.
Vertonen has been making noise for years; the earliest releases on Discogs date back to 1994. I haven’t heard any of Vertonen’s work before Le Coeur Mecanique, but from most descriptions it seems that this release is somewhat of a deviation from the bulk of the artist’s work. On this CD-R, Vertonen has compiled a series of tracks using real recordings of industrial equipment, as noted by each of the song titles.
From the tracks themselves, it seems like Vertonen has done very little to manipulate the sounds other than what they were originally. He’s obviously cut them down and looped them, and at times he brings in different sounds to pair with the main layering. For the most part, though, the recordings really do sound like the sources that Vertonen states they are.
“Recycling Facility” sounds the most like its namesake. One can actually hear the machines pressing and squashing, with the bottles making their trademark wrinkling sound as the plastic is pressed into tiny pieces. Others sound vaguely mechanical, but without the captioning afforded by the song titles, one might not be able to pick out the source.
On the first listen, Le Coeur Mecanique sounded somewhat fresh. The repetitious mechanical loops barely changed, and it was interesting to hear what industry sounded like without manipulation. On subsequent listens, however, tracks don’t stand out from each other as much – they follow the same formulas, and many of the industrial sounds tend to blend together. The most noticeable track is “Air Circulation and Ventilation Feed, Shredding Facility”; its loop sounds like a slow dirge thanks to a clank that resembles a snare drum hit. The whirrs of machinery don’t blend into each other like the other tracks.
It’s still a fun listen to immerse oneself in the act of production, and Vertonen spent a lot of time listening to the pure sounds of steel and machine to compile these sources. The idea is there, and it occasionally results in some interesting sounds; but it also falls into a repetitive lull, showing that even pure sounds can grow stale after a while.
I wonder if the artist name for Terror’ish comes from the P.O.S song of the same name? Not sure, because I can’t find much information on Terror’ish besides the Myspace Music page of his (which does feature an reenvisioning of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” that is apt for the holidays). Weak Stance is the only actual physical release that I can find; released in Ratskin Records, it’s got five tracks over the course of twenty minutes, and it’s all very rhythmic noise focusing on industrial-tinged glitch and dubstep beats that incorporate lots of harsh sounds along the way.
There’s the tribal clicking and clanging of “Last Slice” that sounds like it’s being played on overamplified tubes that the Blue Man Group might use on stage; the two A-side tracks, “As Long As the Outcome Is Income” and “Over Your Skin”, are longer, letting the repetitive rhythms sprawl while Terror’ish adds new layers throughout. The former even features some drum programming that highlights the similarities between the clicks of sticks and the sharp bursts of differing static sounds that begin to crash away at the listener. “Over Your Skin” drones at first, adding low volume breakcore underneath synth tracks.
These tracks are strangely hard on the ears, even though they do stay fairly rhythmic. It’s like listening to a dying washing machine, metal scraping along inside of it while it judders up and down, left and right. To that end, Terror’ish does a good job of keeping Weak Stance barely listenable for those who like beat-driven electronics akin to Fuck Buttons; for those who like noise, it’s still harsh enough to craft a trippy and surprisingly melodic cassette.
Gold Six comes on a gold-tinted cassette, obviously. But it’s a gold five minute cassette instead of six from two psychedlic noise outfits, Hans Grusel’s Krankenkabinett and Headboggle both toy with the idea of linear songs, and on Gold Six their tracks are more rooted in regular song structure than noise. Still, both of these excruciatingly short offerings are messed with, screwed, and otherwise distorted to provide an aural experience that seems somewhat wrong.
Hans Grusel’s Krankenkabinett does a reworking of “Crimson & Clover” titled “C & C”, which finds the artists looping the meandering sounds of the original song and adding doses of synth work and noisy sprinklings. As a cover, it takes the best elements of the original and repeats them, adding its own flavor, and despite its short length, it’s quite an enjoyable listen.
Headboggle give us some psychedelic krautrock with “In Santasound”, which is apparently an excerpt from a longer work that they have recorded. Unfortunately, this short track doesn’t really do Headboggle justice, and it’s difficult to tell just what Headboggle by listening only to this excerpt. Where “C & C” excelled because of the limited amount of time, “In Santasound” simply feels incomplete.
For the amount of music on this cassette, however, it can’t really justify the $5 price tag – you’re basically paying a dollar a minute, and though “C & C” is a clever cover, it’s not worth it for the financially thrifty.
Bonus Beast is Ryan King’s noise project; it’s an assemblage of noises, often not harsh, mostly electronic with some multiple layerings and churning tones. Just Because You’re Paranoid is a collection of 15 “tracks”, although where each one starts and stops is a matter of opinion because the tape merges everything together into two side-long ideas.
The first side finds some filterings of noises, with a repetitive beeping sound held together with what sounds like slight guitar manipulations, pulsing electronics and feedback whirs, and often bleeps and bloops that feel sourced from computer or NASA samples. Bonus Beast does a good job of feeding each of the sounds into each other, and I’m not sure where each of the tracks come in here, because the entirety of this side feels interconnected with each other, linked by the sounds Bonus Beast incorporates. In a way, the titles seem to indicate parts of a whole; when Bonus Beast switches from rhythmic noise to a psych sound sample, it feels like a movement to a new idea but not a shift from the encompassing theme.
Side B has nine “tracks”, and starts with some vocal samples looped over and over along with some shrieks and distorted synth-like samples behind it.There are bursts of noise, static, digital bubbles of sound, and outbursts of electronics. It all combines for a soundscape of sorts, very nuanced and detailed, often seeming very controlled and focused on the subtleties. I like how Just Because You’re Paranoid takes us through different variations, often crafting different moods out of similar noises, and each movement tends to simply occur. It’s best not to think about how these sounds happen, but instead allow Bonus Beast to take you along.
Two really great tracks on this cassette that I categorize as such because Bonus Beast does such a good job of blending. These are harsh noise tracks, often feeling slightly cut-up, but there’s a controlled texturing to the samples which makes the tape an easy twenty minute listen, a nicely connected affair.