Shiver/Sterile Garden – Candle Burning Magic (C40, Diazepam)

Drone, harsh noise, Noise, Review

candle burning magicShiver is the project of Mauro Sciaccaluga, who also runs Diazepam, and Sterile Garden is Jakob, Eric, and Joseph on amplified metal and electronics. On Candle Burning Magic, both projects bring a dark droning sound to this retro-looking cassette, offering harsh noise that would be great for a seance or ritualistic sacrifice.

First up is Shiver with his side-length “Either Forward or Reverse.” This is heavy with guitar and drones, a melancholy rhythm sprawled out across the side while behind it, percussive and staccato beats play out in a punctuated attack. Shiver adds various tape and field recording manipulations, often allowing them to barge into the mix; there’s a lot of banging and crackling like a chair being rolled over uneven floorboards, and the other layers even drop out for a little while to allow for these bangs to centralize. When more sound returns, it’s a cacophony of squealing and out-of-tune electronics with a semblance of the riff that used to be.

Eventually, a sound clip from the film Palindromes works its way in as well, cementing a theme for this work, and then Shiver really lets lose with a huge wall of static and accompanying background drones – there’s very little room within the swirls of chaos, but one can pick out some differing textures and electronic twists. There’s a lot of ambiance and darkness in the way it all builds to a sinister climax, and Shiver’s work here is quite affecting.

Sterile Garden’s side features on track, although it often incorporates moments of silence that tend to indicate a change in the make-up of the sound. It starts out with a blasting, modulated drone before a vibrating shimmery tone takes over. Sterile Garden use amplified metal and tape manipulations as their source, and one can definitely hear the contact mic-esque sounds generated from the metal – there are the standard electronics sounds like bass and percussive elements, but the whirring and drawn-out tones they generate seem to come from those metal materials. It has a unique feel to it that I found refreshing, a somewhat grating drone that doesn’t rely on straight feedback.

Candle Burning Magic is a good place to start for both artists, as this is a strong performance from both Shiver and Sterile Garden. Both artists get about 20 minutes per side, and they make the most of the time afforded. It’s a harsh and noisy cassette, and you can listen here.

Shiver – Born to Lose (3″ CD-R, Diazepam)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

Shiver is Mauro Sciaccaluga, the owner and operator of the Diazepam label. Shiver has only a few releases under its belt, with three of them being from this year alone. The project specializes in power electronics, with screaming vocals from the artist buried underneath rumbling bass and punctuated rhythms. This 3″ clocks in around 17 minutes, with three tracks on blank white CD-R in an oversized case. A disturbing insert with a skeletal child and a full-page spread of the cover comes included.

Born to Lose is certainly going for a more horror-themed tone, which is not only limited to its artwork and song titles but the sonics as well. “The House of Others” begins with a feedback squall which doesn’t puncture the ears, instead providing a minor irritant. Underneath is a rather dark sound clip of a group fighting, and despite the muffled vocals, a few key phrases like “don’t panic”, “call an ambulance”, and “die” resonate from within before the track explodes into a bass-heavy rhythm that recycles the feedback from before; Shiver’s unintelligible vocals echo behind. The bass has an interesting feel to it, because at first it almost feels like there’s no rhythm at all to the noise, but instead a mess of crumbling sounds. Not so – the repetition soon brings to light the hidden power electronics march, a track that is not instantly gratifying but becomes so after concentrated listening.

“There Was Blood Everywhere” continues the mid-paced saunter of noise, this time with a rhythmic throbbing buzz along with sweeps of atmospheric electronics behind it. Pounding vibrato static creates continuous beats, and sustained sounds give this track a dank, drone vibe that feels nicely layered, always being built upon by Shiver, including echoing, manipulated sound clips. The track has a slow burn to it, a method of bricklaying that eventually crafts a textured wall of moody noise that mimics the thematic story of the speaker on the track.

A heady wall of surging static and fast-moving beats rounds out the whole affair on “Poison the Spring.” This has got some energy to it thanks to the repetitive rhythm, and harsh feedback whistles and squeals on top like a deranged marching flutist. Very wall-like in design, this track establishes a density that the other tracks do not, and there’s a real sense of urgency generated with the pulsing noise. Shiver’s vocals are also their strongest on this track, overcoming the onslaught of sound with a delivery that’s better bodied than on the first track.

Born to Lose is power electronics done with an element of unsettling dread on each track. The pieces are fairly repetitious, but that returning rhythm often generates cascading noises that play over the continuous sounds to add a new dimension. With the dark sound samples and conglomeration of sounds, Born to Lose ensures that it doesn’t live up to its title.

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