Richard Ramirez/Black Leather Jesus – Scrapyard (CD, Phage Tapes/R.O.N.F Records)

harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, Review


Scrapyard was originally released in 1995 with a limited run on vinyl, and as has been the custom for much of BlackLeather Jesus’ earlier work, the album has been re-released on Phage Tapes with a more attainable number. The disc features all three of the original tracks, with two cuts from Ramirez and one longer track from the ensemble Black Leather Jesus. There’s also an additional, new track from Ramirez, which adds a bit extra for those who already own the original.
The Richard Ramirez tracks are extremely recognizable, certainly reminiscent of his early work in harsh noise. “The Collapse of an Industry Long Forgotten” is mostly cut-up work, scrap electronics writhing together, with shards of static and twirls of feedback oscillating together. Occasional rhythms stay for only a minute before Ramirez tweaks the sound, and there’s a more chaotic approach to his early work here; it’s also quite a bit less refined than later projects, even in the setup, which seems very minimal here. Overall, the first tracks pretty standard harsh noise fare, with much of the shifts being subtle knob tweaks or static shudders that trade back and forth between feedback bursts.
“Male Nudity Among American Wreckage” is similar in style to the previous track, but it’s a bit more structured, keeping defined tones longer than its predecessor for a less-varied but more rewarding track. Ramirez keeps some of the churning static longer, adds an incessant beeping sound, and even moves the noise amongst different speakers, making this an experiment that finds Ramirez capturing a more dynamic sound. It’s still very jumpy, but it manage to return to the same themes throughout. There’s even some interesting vocal sample work, decomposed and twisted into small bits of repeated bursts. It seems a prelude to the porn samples Ramirez uses on the new recording on this disc.
Black Leather Jesus get one track on the disc, the longest-running “Human Connection (An Obscene Turn of Events)”. If you know the noise act, you know their sound often combines industrial scrap sounds with harsh noise, and this track is no different. The sound seems a little pared back, with a rumbly bass filling the void while screams, electronics, and even some guitar-like fiddling progress in front. There’s a lot going on during the track, and that’s thanks to the myriad members that make up the project; each gets a substantial role here, and the twenty minutes of the track are nearly filled with different sounds throughout.
And finally, there’s the new addition to Scrapyard from Ramirez titled “Just Like Me”. Like Ramirez’s newer solo stuff, the track begins with a lengthy gay porn sample; although that is the end of the explicit content, if you’re not comfortable with that kind of thing (for any reason), I would suggest staying away from this track, and especially at work, since it does get pretty dirty. Nevertheless, the track has the best mastery on the album,and it’s also the most original piece. Ramirez uses his background in walls to create a subtly moving piece of harsh noise that really emphasizes cut-up sound; the bulk of the track has a real junk metal sound to it, with the electronics used sounding like they were heavily deconstructed and recorded through a terribly scratchy contact mic. With that said, it’s an excellent piece of noise, and it’s so interesting to compare the changes in Ramirez’s sound and note the growth of this remarkable artist.
But while the last track on this split is spot-on, that doesn’t make Scrapyard enough to recommend to those who already have the original LP. To be honest, the original tracks are only sub-par from both artists; I would recommend, however, for those who haven’t heard this to pick up the new edition.

News: Crash At Every Speed’s Teen Memory Wall Memorial now available from New Forces

harsh noise wall, News, Noise

The Richard Ramirez project Crash At Every Speed has a new release out on New Forces, a double-cassette entitled Teen Memory Wall Memorial. The high-frequency harsh noise project of Ramirez has been known to focus thematically on car and accident destruction.

The tape set features two C20s with artwork, inserts, a vinyl box as per other New Forces releases (including two other Ramirez-related projects Fouke and Werewolf Jerusalem), in an edition of 50 c0pies. From the press release:

“Very minimal noise textures; the sound of dying machines hissing out their last few minutes of life while the highway traffic rushes by, eventually exploding and killing the trapped occupants.”

You can pick it up for $13 postage paid in the US/$19 worldwide at the New Forces blog.

Release Helen Rytka/Transductor – Stranglehold/E.L.F.N (C46, R.O.N.F Records)

harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

Release Helen Rytka is a harsh noise wall project from Richard Ramirez (Werewolf Jerusalem, Black Leather Jesus – you know the drill) and Nicole Dirge (Adult Crash Unit and various Ramirez-partnered projects). Transductor is Manuel M. Cubas, owner and operator of R.O.N.F Records, and “E.L.F.N” appears to be the only track under that moniker. The cassette is forty-six minutes stretched over two twenty-minute walls, full of crackling, rumbling, crunchy goodness.

“Stranglehold” takes up the entirety of side A, a relatively unchanging wall that feels a bit sparse. There’s some slower static crunch that gives the wall a sort of syncopation and crispness, and a background rumble and crumble that is constant throughout the track. But the most interesting aspect of “Stranglehold” is the incessant drone behind the static; it’s almost like an echo of the static that gives a sort of higher-register hum. Occasional bouts of static seem to alter, but for the most part, this lengthy track rarely steps away from the original wall. Yet the track is well worth the twenty minutes spent on it, and it feels shorter because of its hypnotic effect. It’s not a mammoth wall, but its crumbling, paced static is mesmerizing.

Transductor follows up with a similar themed track, “E.L.F.N”, which contains a lot of the same pitches of noise as “Stranglehold” but with a twist. The track begins with a sample of a person walking and a dog barking, and it unexpectedly jumps into a wall that’s very loudly mastered. It’s a great delayed opening to the wall, though, and I’m a sucker for those instances where the listener is caught off guard until the static smashes them in the face. Here is definitely the case from Transductor, who hits hard from the beginning and maintains the static rumbles. The track wouldn’t be as successful as it is by just sticking to the rigid wall sound it opens with, however; it’s too familiar for that. But Transductor simply incorporates tendrils of feedback at random times that add a change and depth to the sound. What at first seems like an error recurs again and again, and I really enjoyed the simplicity with which the wall could be interrupted by high pitches.

You know if you like HNW or not. These tracks rarely change. If you’re not a fan of that style of militant noise, you won’t like this. But if you like Ramirez’s work, or looking for the subtle changes in walls and the strange illusions that harsh noise walls can create, these are certainly quality walls.

Buy from R.O.N.F Records

Richard Ramirez – Choke On It a Little, Then Swallow (3″ CD-R, Pigdurt Productions)

Drone, harsh noise wall, Noise, Review

Some pretty explicit artwork on this release hints at the sound of Richard Ramirez’s latest work Choke On It a Little, Then Swallow: an abrasive harsh wall that holds nothing back from the listener. One track of twenty minutes is on display, marking Ramirez’s first appearance on the Pigdurt label. The disc comes on white CD-R, numbered, with blue gay porn cover art including anal fisting. Not for the kids.

The titular track is a heavy wall of sound, first starting out with a dense mass of bass and higher-pitched static with a nice static texture on the right side of the balance. Surging static cuts in and out as the track progresses; unlike some of Ramirez’s other monikers, this wall maintains a nice dynamism to it. Fairly soon that thick wall is chopped in half, as static taps out for deeper rumbles while one static layer rages on. That penetrating static gives the wall an overtly harsh feeling, a higher-end crispness that juxtaposes the deeper rumbles. A high-pitched whir plays at odds with the static; other shifts find crunch mixing with a harsh windy wash of sound.

Continual barrages of changing textures abound. There’s a repetitive nature to the theme, where deeper tones are toyed with, brought to the surface and then disrupted by the shifts. “Choke On It a Little, Then Swallow” is a track suited for those wallers who like subtle shifts; it doesn’t cater to a pure sound by any means, and the opening has little in common with any other sound throughout the release. It’s an orgiastic track showcasing the skill ┬áRamirez has – his ability to engineer quality walls and shift them precisely without losing that sense of depth the track started with. An excellent use of sound balance allows Ramirez to experiment with textured static, and it maintains a detailed and engaging listen for Choke On It a Little, Then Swallow.

Buy from Pigdurt