The original Running Man film is an hour and forty minutes of Arnold Shwarzenegger badassery, but if it could be boiled down to five minutes, harsh noise is certainly the way to do it. Condensing all of that action into a short period of chaotic, manipulated electronics, Running Man: The Home Edition is an ode to that film on a biz CD-R that only allows about six minutes of actual content; the artists, then, are forced to overload their track right from the start.
Most of the artists on the compilation get about thirty seconds of material to work with. It’s not a lot of time to make a statement, but they get their point across with no problems. Opener “Deactivist” from Post Mortem seems to use alarm buzzes and the clang of industry as a soundtrack; “Captain Freedom’s Workout” from Ginger Cortes is an incredibly harsh blast of screeching noise set to a commercial by Captain Freedom, using pauses to great effect.
Italics comes in with a whirring, pulsating slab of harsh noise with “Cadre Cola,” another very intense portion that whines and squalls and then blasts itself out. “Tunnel Vision” by The Outside World is just that – a very condensed, low track of static that feels thin in comparison to the next wall by Wet Dream Asphyxiation, “Dedicated to Ben Richards”; that one is a very dense and expansive static mass. Bedawang’s “One Mean Motherfucker” uses a sample of dialogue and feeds it through electronics to create an echoing cacophony, although this is probably one of the only real missteps on the album – it doesn’t feel up to par with the rest.
Finally, Raven’s “The Curse of Arnold Schwarzenegger” is a high-pitched mix of oscillating wonks with static set as the backdrop, while Vasectomy Party rounds things out with the wall Give Them What They Want!”, a low static, almost digital drone with laser beam squealing.
There are a surprising number of tracks on this collection, and each of the artists in question brings something different to their own rendition of Running Man. Always a pleasure to see different areas of the noise sphere coming together with a defined theme, and the use of samples from the film ensures the album evokes a nostalgic memory, then smashes it with sound. It’s a wonderful compilation where the tracks are the stalkers and the listeners the runners.
Sindre Bjerga’s offering for Serious Business is… odd. Strange. A little different. It’s certainly a rather weird choice of two tracks to put on a very short 5-minute CD-R, that’s for sure. Let’s get right to it, because I’m not exactly sure what to make of this disc; I haven’t heard Sindre Bjerga before, so I don’t know the style at all.
A Possible Outbreak of Clinical Hysteria starts off with a one minute title track, of a man growling and another man talking. It reminds me a little bit of old Hammer films, of a monster like Igor in a castle; other than that, though, I’m not really sure what all it adds to this release except to give a context to the title of the release. After that is the longer but not much meatier “Tape Deck Battles with Microphone,” which sounds pretty much exactly like the title suggests. There’s a whirring from the tape deck, some punctuated feedback occasionally, and towards the end, a recorded woman’s voice greeting the listener with “Hello.”
It’s interesting, but at the same time it’s very sparse. For those who don’t know Sindre Bjerga’s output, this is probably not the best place to start. With such a short length, it’s hard to get a grasp on what exactly the artist does besides dabble with things. But sometimes that’s the best sort of experimentation. I’ll leave it up to the listener to make that distinction.
I think Serious Business still has some.
There aren’t a lot of releases under the Faker moniker, but if Confirmation Bias is any indication of this harsh noise wall project’s output, it’s time to start looking for the rest. This short five minute track, put out on the Serious Business label that releases biz CD-Rs, is a very harsh, very loud offering of fairly stoic HNW with intermittent changes within the wall.
It begins with a short introduction, of people talking and an orchestra beginning some sort of song, before opening up into a huge wall of heavy crackling static, a rumbling bass, and something in the middle that sort of sounds like the subway coming to a stop – it’s high-pitched, sort of grating, and often feels rhythmic until Faker allows it to sustain that sound for some time.
It’s is this middle portion of feedback screech that makes up the changes in the wall; it feels like there are three or four sources within, and though the static and bass hold tight, the scrabbling changes in Confirmation Bias make this a more difficult listen than other walls. It’s also mastered pretty loudly, so it pummels the listener right out of the gate if you’re not paying attention to volume.
There were only fifteen of these released, so I’m pretty sure that this little guy is sold out from Serious Business – although the site still shows it for sale, so I’m not sure if it just hasn’t been updated or if he still has some available. Head over to the website anyway to pick up the newest releases.
If ever there was a title unsuitable for a Pissdeads album, Proud and Full of Joy really nails it. Pissdeads have little pride or joy in their sound on this release from Serious Business; instead, they play through the noise, the bad garage recordings, the pain.
This is where the biz CD-R format really shines. Though the discs only hold five minutes of content, Pissdeads pack it in there, getting in eight tracks before the close of the album. It’s grind/power violence at its rawest and fastest, with Popster destroying the drums and vocal cords while Tumus gives just the hint of bass.
That is, at least in the first three recordings. “Death Destroyer,” “Hurt the Stupid,” and “Scumfinder General” are very rough recordings, the kind where it’s difficult to make out much besides the drums and cymbals. The bass comes through nicely at moments, and in “Scumfinder General” they find time to slow things down for a sludgy interlude.
It’s the last five tracks that explode, though. These are loudly mastered, a direct opposite to the first cuts. Again, the bass is hidden behind cymbals and screams, but that’s the point – there’s actually little to make out from the bass anyway besides a constant barrage of frayed sounds. Pissdeads dominate on those final tracks, making this well worth the commitment.
Tjere is Mitchell Rotunno, a harsh noise project that has released a hell of a lot of releases within the past couple of years. His presence on Serious Business, a label that only releases on biz CD-Rs with five minute running times, makes sense – Tjere’s harsh noise is abrasive and rapidly moving, and it warrants the shorter length.
On Stream, Tjere gives us alternating bursts of high, hyper-fluctuating feedbacks and whorls with shorter parts of the track serving to carve out a maelstrom. Stream never lets up through its five minutes; it is consistently zooming forward, and even the oscillations within the feedback are quickly rushing by just to assault the ears.
It’s not the most original release, but it quickly becomes a likable one – Tjere isn’t padding the track with random elements, or throwing in very different sequences of sound. The track is patterned and rigid and connected throughout, making this Biz CD-R absolutely worth the five minutes.
RU-486 is the harsh noise project of Thomas Mortigan, and even on this short 5-minute biz CD-R he brings aural pain to the listener. There’s one track on this release, the eponymous “Isolation Kennel,” a relatively busy sonic assault for such a short time span.
The track starts out with a digital noodling sample underneath the track, a “bleep-bloop” noise that continues underneath for much of it to give the track some form while a bass crumble guides the noise forward. Towards the middle portion of “Isolation Kennel,” RU-486 begins to go crazy with blown out feedback alternating between formless but nearly tonal riffs. From here to the end, though, there’s a steady feast of random blasts of noise interplayed with a bass static background. Sometimes these bursts of sound tend to have a blown-out and unconnected feeling, like some of the looping patterns, but for the most part RU-486 holds things together rather well.
Isolation Kennel is a solid experiment from Mortigan’s project, a demanding listen that engages for the short running time. It won’t take up much of your time, and for fans of charging harsh noise, this will be a pleasurably tortuous listen.
Available from Serious Business
Black Leather Jesus normally toys with long-form soundscapes; they’re more interested in forming heavy slabs of noise instead of quick bursts. For a five minute disc, one would think that BLJ would make a track that encompasses the entire span of the release. In a surprising turn of events, though, the group has put together three very short tracks for this biz CD-R.
The first on the disc, “Dames Are For Pussies”, is a short grindcore-like burst of sound. It’s only 50 seconds in length, but it builds a huge wall of noise that Black Leather Jesus is known for, and when it fades out, it’s apparent that what we’ve heard is only a short blast of something much longer.
Then Gloryhole Anonymous moves on to “Ass Up”. These short pieces all seem gleaned from the same recording session – they have that encompassing mass of sound in the background – but they are also defined by the subtle changes in the forefront of the tracks. In “Ass Up”, there is a lot of feedback shifting that distinguishes it from the others. And finally, the ending “Trusting Rod and His Loving Thrusts” gives us a similar sound but with some moans or yelps in the background. The shifting feedback, the crumbling sounds of the static, and a whitewashing tide of bass, along with what sounds like the quick use of either a sample or synth track, bring Gloryhole Anonymous together for a great five minute excursion of sound. A great experiment from BLJ.
Serious Business is a label that only releases on mini biz-CD-Rs – these hold about five minutes’ worth of material and are excellent for getting a quick glimpse at a project. Justin Marc Lloyd sends up one track for five minutes of a looping synth track that makes significant use of its short time.
The titular track uses the whole length of the CD-R for that one synth loop; it is the mentioned cycle that dirties itself. It starts out crisp – there’s some additional electronics and whirs overtop of the tone that gradually begins to weave its way out of the track, first fairly unnoticeable until some small pops and blips begin. Then it leaves just the loop for a bit, allowing it to smolder, until the cycle again dirties itself with a little bit of static.
All of this starts to become a bit chaotic at the end, though, once the feedback increases. There’s a moment where things can’t really get any more blurred for the loop, and that’s when a harsh noise burst kicks in to carry the track out. The glitchy cuts do sound like they’ve been sourced from the original loop, although I’m not sure if that is the case.
It’s a tight, thematic approach to the release, although I would have liked to see the loop return again towards the end, if only to enforce the never-ending cycle. Still, it’s absolutely worth it to check this out, especially at such low cost and short length.