Review: Russell Haswell – Value + Bonus (No Fun Productions) 2010

Russell Haswell has produced a rather odd record. The first nine tracks on Value are merely tonal and sound-texture tests for want of a better description. Sub Bass Test is exactly that and only that. There is no trick to it. Sine Wave/nO!se @-10.2 Db RMS gives you a fair idea what that track sounds like. I suppose if you were interested in noise building blocks then the first nine tracks have some interest but I found it all a bit perplexing. The question is- is this merely noise onanism? Is this an indication that Haswell thinks of his art so highly that it should be dissected and analysed? I don’t know what the answer is but after those nine strange tracks, Haswell goes on to produce a fantastic racket which would satisfy any noise fan.  The eleventh track (Trk 4) is a melting pot of distortion, futuristic pulse, Wiese-style cut ups and reversals and grinding noise circa 1994 Merzbow. Acid nO!se is where glitch meets noise and made for the most hardcore Rave ever held. Coventry is my favourite track-   It begins as a lone .snd style beat mixed with a noise that is oddly reminiscent of a field recoding of a jet taking off before morphing into a harsh beat-fest. Thursday Afternoon 15102009 is all jack hammer noise nastiness. The second disc Bonus comprises two tracks. The first, Nocturnal Playlist Edit + Wave Repeat Variations combines what might be field recordings of birds with  the sound of the beach underneath it before being slightly processed to make something much more unpleasant. I thought it ws pretty intresting that even a minor tweek in the field recording can make something go from peaceful to the exact opposite. The hour long final track says it all really Roberts R871 FM/MW/LW/SW 1-12 Unedited Radio Scan Solo (after Michael Snow, Consumer Electronics,Toshiji Mikawa).

I’ve had this for three months and I still don’t think I’m any closer to revealing its secret. I enjoyed it but it’s not one of those records you can just dip into. I found this an all consuming record (and at times overwhelming). But the ride was way more fun than I though it was going to be. Haswell is one of the more interesting noise artists out there at the moment. Value is worth checking out.

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