Vinland Special Services – The Articles of Confederation (C80?, Red Light Sound)

ambient, Drone, harsh noise, Noise, Review

vinland special services the articles of confederation

Vinland Special Services is a from the same artist who does Ilsa Koch and runs the label Winter Solace Productions. On this release, Red Light Sound collects various recordings from Vinland SS, either compiled from small-quantity demos or other tapes the project has put out in the past. Because of this, the title The Articles of Confederation is fitting; these are old, somewhat outdated tracks for the project, yet still important to its history.

The first side starts off with the three tracks from the demo tape Vinland Protection Squadron. They’re mostly very quiet, confined cuts, beginning with the marching procession of “ZB Delirium.” The soft patter of footsteps continues to the tune of whistling feedback, which begins to open up into louder and more insistent noises later in the track. At over 20 minutes long, this track is the longest on the cassette but also has the most depth, often pushing the boundary of what the listener imagines the sequence will do. It’s followed by “The Patriots March on Washington,” with sizzling electricity and an constant whirring/churning texture that grows throughout its ten minutes. Ending side A is “Imposters in Glory Suits,” a very quiet echo of voices with soft feedback.

Side B features some of the B-sides of Vinald Special Services’ output, including “People’s Radio,” which did not make the cut on Vinland Protection Squadron. This is another lengthy track of repeated whirring, eventually morphing into what sounds like a distorted scream intentionally becoming static crackles. Eventually the track returns to its whistling alarms, and starts the process over again. Towards the end, it starts to become too repetitive, alternating between textures too quickly.

“Untitled” is the unique track on this release, tremendously different from the rest with its free-form ambient drones because it was not originally a Vinland SS track. “U-Boat Resistance Campaign” rounds out the noisier aspect of The Articles of Confederation with quiet feedback whistles and what sounds like a buzzing of strummed guitar in the background. Lastly is “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye,” Vinlad SS’ take on the traditional Irish song. It’s a creepy crackle of electronics and soft whistling drones, set to Vinland SS’ own vocals.

This is a nice release from Red Light Sound that compiles some of Vinland Special Services’ older tracks into a generally cohesive album; these tracks are often quieter yet still quite difficult, and certainly worth a listen.

Roadside Picnic with John Byrne – Nightlitter (C70, Red Light Sound)

dark ambient, Drone, Noise, Review

roadside picnic

Roadside Picnic’s sole member Justin Wiggan joins forces with John Byrne of Cindytalk on Nightlitter. The album is a solitary track at 35 minutes in length on a single-sided cassette tape, and the titular track weaves its way through ambiance and minimalism during its runtime.

Nightlitter is a very quiet recording, and that has as much to do with the dubbing as it does with Roadside Picnic and John Byrne’s original intent. The track is certainly minimal enough, with quiet droning synths that ebb and flow with low bursts of bass to help punctuate. In a sense, this is music to listen to when you have a headache, or taking a bath – some soothing salve for a bad day, perhaps. I could see Nightlitter playing in a really swanky cafe, the patrons commenting how serene it is while sipping their tiny cups of espresso.

And yet it’s difficult to tell whether that enduring quietness of the tape is actually supposed to be, or if it’s because the cassette’s dubbing is poor. Listening to Nightlitter on the Red Light Sound’s Bandcamp, I’d have to go with the latter – the mix on the tape is so much lower than normal, to the point where I had to turn my stereo all the way up to hear it. I’m not complaining about the quality of the tape, because I don’t really get into that nor do I care about it; but when the volume starts to affect how the track is interpreted, that’s kind of a problem.

It’s unfortunate, because Nightlitter often sounds like it could be a jet flying high overhead, cutting through the air with sharp shudders. When you hear it so minimally, though, that affect doesn’t register as it should.