Facialmess – You Trip Me Up (C20, No Rent Records)

harsh noise, Noise, Review

Facialmess is the harsh noise project of Kenny Sanderson, who uses a lot of cut-up sounds and techniques in his works to create an intricate, detailed document of noise which is often incredibly harsh in its output. On his most recent release for No Rent Records, You Trip Me Up, Facialmess changes his output a little bit, opting for a more refined palette of sounds that don’t necessarily range a wide gamut but instead utilize many ambient passages to create tension and explosive effects.

This C20 is split into two ten-minute sides. The first track is titled “Habit of Thinking,” and it begins with an ambient swirl of sound along with clicks and taps from perhaps a contact mic before launching into a tour de force of cut-up harsh noise. Feedback spurts and glitchy rhythms form the soundtrack, with Facialmess dropping the noise to allow that ambient texture room to break up the onslaught. If you’ve heard cut-up noise before, you know that it can ultimately become redundant – the listener can only go so long hearing multiple tracks of unrefined noise before it all begins to blend together. But Facialmess’ use of space and sparing the listener from a smorgasbord of the same noises makes both of “Habit of Thinking” and the second track, “Pessimism Without Compromise,” into a surprisingly agile release that is often chilling and suspenseful.

That second track uses a similar sequencing, though without the ambient texturing. Instead, harsh noise alternates with a sinister synth riff that leads to crumbling, pounding textures that move around the balance, opening up into intense percussive noise blasts and feedback. I love Facialmess’ use of stereo here, and “Pessimism Without Compromise” adds detail to what could just be a barrage of harsh noise.

You Trip Me Up is a huge success, and probably one of my favorite cut-up harsh noise releases thus far because of its nuance and dynamism. Unfortunately, though, this product is sold out from No Rent Records, so you’ll have to find it secondhand or listen on Bandcamp.