Sweet mother of God. I must be going through a self loathing phase at the moment because I seem to have accumulated quite a number of extraordinarily nasty records in the past few weeks. Let’s for example chuck this opus from Richard Ramirez out for consideration. I am a huge fan of one of Ramirez’s other vehicles Werewolf Jerusalem and to be frank, although both projects explore the concept of harsh wall noise, I think the Werewolf Jerusalem records I own are much more interesting than this. Perhaps it is because those records have a much more guttural pitch to them and this record is pitched just high enough to be mildly unpleasant. I didn’t extract much of interest from the three noise tracks. It’s pretty straight forward stuff and I think The Rita does this sort of thing a lot better. What did get me thinking though is the idea of the inspiration for this project because everything from the title of the project, the names of the songs (You Can Never Have Enough Meat in You) and the cover art indicate that the focus here is on sex, big old gay sex in fact. So as I was listening to the first two tracks I was trying to figure out the connection between the imagery and the noise itself and I wondered whether the link was that both were transgressive (one of the tracks starts with the work “Fist”) or was there a sadism link. It was kind of like trying to reconcile Merzbow’s Bariken with his love of ducks – ultimately a bit pointless. The third track did make the connection clear because it is a simple recording of two blokes having it off. I’m not sure what the relation is to the harsh noise wall (although one of them did sound to be in a great deal of discomfort). So maybe that is the link. This record buggers the bejesus out of your ears. I get it now.
Now here is a band that should be much more well known than they are. Towards the end of last year they released their new record The Grain and when I found out, well – let’s just say that I was pretty excited. You see Slomo have released two of my favourite records – 2005′s The Creep and The Bog which came out on Important in 2008. Since then though, nothing, absolutely fuck all until now of course. But first I think The Bog is worth bringing to people’s attention. I reckon it may be one of the strangest things that Important ever released. Slomo are a duo from England who specialise in a slow moving, doom/ambient/creepy vibe – think what it would sound like if Mike Connelly asked Steven O’Malley to help out on a Failing Lights record. The band describe their sound as highly ritualised glumbient. I love the term glumbient but it may not quite encapsulate how sinister the music can be. The album itself is a one hour long meditation in blackened dreamscapes and the threat of the unseen. I don’t listen to that much doom or black metal anymore but The Bog has been something I have gone back to again and again. If you stumble over a copy on your travels it might just be worth picking up.
I first heard Joe Panzner last year when he released the absolutely amazing Recollect Reconstruct split cassette with Mike Shiflet. That record was only edged out by Mike Shiflet’s indispensable The Choir, The Army from being my favourite record of 2012. I decided to do a little bit of further exploring into Panzner’s output – the only problem is that there is not a great deal out there. Besides the split with Mike Shiflet he has released two albums proper, this in 2011 and Polished Rocks in 2006 (which you can get from Panzner’s bandcamp store for a couple of bucks.
Clearing, Polluted is actually a great title for this record because, especially on the first track, there is a counterbalance between micro-static noodling (think very early Kevin Drumm) and absolutely exquisite showers of volume-basted static noise which is quite extraordinary to experience. I won’t lie, I had a couple of tries coming to terms with this record before it suddenly clicked – it is certainly pitched at the more difficult end of the experimental electronic/noise spectrum but I always think that it is those “more difficult” records that have the biggest payout for the listener in the long term. There is a shit tonne of things going on here from long form drones to John Wiese style noise hyperactivity and if you decide to give this a play and think that the “silent” noise of the first few minutes of the first track are representative of what you are going to experience then you are in for an absolute treat. I just wish he’d make more records.
Who new that Incapacitants were quietly sneaking out a few releases last year of their own brand of uncompromising extreme noise, I kind of lost track of them after dabbling with the better than the reviews would have you believe Lon Guy that came out on Harbinger Sound in 2009. Lon Guy was pretty full on and it firmly planted Incapacitants at the unrelenting extremity of Japanese Noise.
It is for this reason that people should approach records like Zashikiwarashi with some caution. There is no concept of compromise on display here. There are absolutely no recognisable musical forms, no beats, no identifiable instrumentation. Indeed there is absolutely no concession to the listener at all.
This is pure noise; harsh, ugly, nauseating ear drum abusing nastiness. The five tracks on offer here offer the listener the evil, primal scream therapy oftwo salarymen who are both exhausted and inebriated on Sapporo and sake.
This is not one for the faint hearted. If you decide to track this down, don’t say you weren’t warned. Shit just got real (ugly).
Hey did you know that Mike Shiflet snuck out another CDr in 2012? Me Neither. But thanks to the power of the twitter and the majesty of bandcamp you can snaffle a copy either digitally or a physical CDr if you so choose. I would have got myself the CDr but there is no international shipping so usnon-american noise people will have to make do with the digital version. It should not be a real mystery to anyone who reads this blog regularly that I appreciate Shiflet’s art. In fact he produced my two favourite records of last year. There is just something about the gritty, intense drones that Shiflet produces which do for something for me. Although Blurred and Scorched may lack some of the shimmering epicness of The Choir, The Army, it’s ten tracks are great examples of agitated experimental drone music. It’s the type of sound that is meditative and challenging at the same time. If I had heard it last year it would certainly have sneaked into my top 10. Shiflet along with Aaron Dilloway and Kevin Drumm are currently making up my unholy trinity of US experimental artists right now.
At the moment (until the end of February) Mike is using the proceeds of the sale of Blurred and Scorched to help some fellow Ohian musicians with their medical bills. Coming from a country with universal healthcare I find the thought of that kind of depressing but please make sure you pick up a copy before March and while your there get yourself a copy of Llanos and Omnivores. Both classics.
For those of you following the absolutely indispensable ”The Antidote Podcast” you may have had a sneak preview of my best of list for 2012. This year I decided to be less of a pussy and actually rank them. 2012 has been an amazing year for experimental music and getting my list down to 10 has been a slog
1. Mike Shiflet – The Choir, The Army
2. Mick Shiflet / Joe Panzner - Split
3. Helm – Impossible Symettry
4. Carter Tutti Void – Transverse
5. Trouble Books – Concatenating Fields
6. Lee Gamble – Diversions 1994 – 1996
7. Daniel Menche – Guts
8. Heroin In Tahiti – S/T
9. Gyps – Den
10. Jason Lescalleet / Aaron Dilloway – Grapes and Snakes