Archive for the noise Category

Various – New Weird Australia; Bleak Metal (NWA) 2011

Posted in Australian underground, metal, Music, noise with tags , , on February 3, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

 

Well this is a revelation. In the 400 or so posts on Ducks Battle Satan, this is the first time that I’ve ever reviewed a compilation. I stumbled across this after seeing a small add for New Weird Australia in the back of The Wire. NWA are a not for profit organisation which gets some funding from the Australia Council for the  Arts to  distribute and publicise experimental  and avant garde music. They run a small boutique label called New Editions as well as produce a bimonthly compilation which can be dowloaded for free of which Bleak Metal is one.

The title of Bleak Metal does it some injustice. The bands on this run the full spectrum of noise nastiness from the noise/doom/DanFriel-esque of Axxonn, the black metal of Blutennacht to the sine wave crackle noise of Alex White. The mighty psychedelic noise metal of No Anchor makes an appearance in Dead Pony but the absolute killer for me was the track from Dead Boomers which is a glorious exposition of rumbling noise. Another highligh is the Lightning Bolt ferocity of the fantastically lo-fi Dies on Plane’s. Their track Hunting For Teeth starts full of Sword Heaven malevolence before launching into some groovy post-metal throb. In fact there is hardly a dud on this and you really should  head over to www.newweirdaustralia.com to download this. The Australian underground is alive and well.

Daniel Menche -Guts (Mego) 2012

Posted in Daniel Menche, Music, noise with tags , , on January 31, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

Menche has had a great couple of years. After threatening to turn his back on releasing records after his fucking excellent Glass Forest CD, the quality of his output has been great. A few of  you have emailed me about Feral being my record of 2011. One of the reasons why I selected that record is that Menche turned up the harshness factor so that his processed field recordings became a much more visceral experience.

On Guts, Menche abandons his processed field recordings and records himself abusing the crap out of the “guts” of a grand piano. He has a photo of it up on his website if you want to check it out. But what of the actual noise he manages to extract from thrashing the inner workings of such a nice instrument  and then processing it. The first track is titled “Guts 2 x 4” and it is one of the  most disagreeable things that I’ve heard Menche do. I’m not sure if it was a mistake to start the record  with something so nasty but then again it could be actual genius. After “Guts 2 x 4” abruptly finishes, Guts One begins in a much more recognisably Menche fashion but the thing that struck me about it was the portentous heaviness of it all. This is Menche in Dark Ambient mode. His frequent interruptions of the cloud of filth with a sound which might be him dropping the whole mechanism  gives it a quasi-indistrial vibe. Yet as it continues it descends(ascend?) into old fashion noise and has some similarities with Werewolf Jerusalem’s static wall noise.  “Guts 2” tones down the all obliterating noise to add in much more creepy sounding effects. It’s all a bit sinister really but if you have a look  at Menche’s photographic work I reckon he has always had a bit of an interest in desolate post apocalyptic imagery. And if I’m right about that then Guts may be his finest example of it. Those wanting to dabble in Menche need to stay the hell away from this. It is the  heaviest thing I’ve heard him do. For those who don’t mind getting their bleak on this may be just the thing to start the new year with.

Merzbow – Lop Lop (Rustblade) 2011

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on January 21, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

A theme through a fair bit of the press last year was the death of noise. The American scene which had been dominated by the Wolf Eyes axis has morphed away from the transgressive metal scrape to more meditative forms. Well known noise players such as Nate Young, John Olsen, Jon Wiese, Gerritt, Daniel Menche,  C Spencer Yeh and Mike Connolly have grown their sound. Pete Swanson (ex-Yellow Swans) went techno for fuck’s sake. Are the latest records by Daniel Menche and Mike Connolly easy listens. Of course not. All of those artists are still making great records that challenge and confuse. I suppose what I’m wrestling with is that I don’t know what noise is anymore. If I look at what I actually bought last year, my listening was dominated by the experimental artists on Type like Black to Comm, Rene Hell, Mokira and Richard Skelton. Noise in a pure sense was limited to following Merzbow.

So I suppose in many ways Merzbow is one of the  last artists still doing proper noise records. There is still a European noise presence but it has been a bit quiet in recent times. The great thing about Merzbow is that 2011 was an absolutely cracking year and emphasised, at least to me, that noise, when done well, provides some moments of pure pleasure.

There are three versions of Lop Lop. A super limited three CD fancy edition, the two DC deluxe edition and the single CD version. I went for the two CD version which came with some postcards and a bird pendant in a DVD case. I’m not really interested in the packaging and the extra $40 for the third CD seemed difficult to justify.

Lop Lop is a fantastic Merzbow record and when you consider that this was the sixth solo release from 2011 the lean years which have come to be defined by the mediocre Thirteen Japanese Birds series have been truly forgotten. Lop Lop starts with a sense of urgency. Canaanda reveals  an almost perfect juxtaposition between inanimate electronic throb, analogue roars and what at times, what  sounds like the jettisoning of  a thousands saucepans down a long flight of stirs. He also manages to play with the stripping back of layers to rudely flood the tracks with light when least expected. Yet by the second track, My Voice At The Pace of Drifting Clouds, things take a decidedly more mellow approach (at least in a Merzbow sense), but is a fine example of one of Merzbow’s more kinetic pieces. The final track on the first disc, simply called EQ, begins as a thumping industrial track coated in fuzz and by the time the layers get added it has a meditative sway to it all before it all starts to consume itself.

The second disc also  has three tracks and it is just as strong as the first disc. This is where I get a bit annoyed at record companies. There is a reason why consumers get pissed. By limiting the availability of the second disc, the label is inviting downloading. The idea, I suppose, was to tempt fans with the pendant and the past card. Really? Why not just make it a double disc or split it into two separate records? Get the two disc version if you can the extra money is worth it. I think Lop Lop is the other essential solo Merzbow  release along with Dead Zone of 2011. Merzbow manages to show that noise is still relevant and can still excite.

Merzbow – Surabhi (Hypnagogia) 2011

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on November 27, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

2011 has been a very interesting year for Merzbow. None of his recent albums have been particularly easy listens but I think it is because of their difficulty that I have enjoyed them more. I think it is always  better to be difficult than boring.  Some of my favourite “difficult” Merzbow records have been when the unrelenting brutality of his noise squall becomes a transcendent meditative mind fuck. The key to reaching that transcendence is to be totally submissive to the noise Merzbow makes.  Without that submission those records become pointless.

Records like Surabhi are the exact opposite of unrelenting noise records such as Tombo or Camouflage. In order to achieve some relationship with it, the listener has to be actively engaged with the sound. This is not a record that welcomes a passive listening experience.

As the second instalment of his Merzcow trilogy, Surabhi has some  things in common with the first Merzcow record, Kamadhenu. The sub bass and sci fi electronic doodling all make an appearance on the first track Vanamali and Shravan. The track is an absolute cracker and as good as anything on Kamdhenu. The second track Balaram features Merzbow’s version of celestial space music. What starts of as one of the weaker Merzbow tracks of recent times thankfully becomes more interesting when bass throbs and a bit of guitar shredding makes an appearance but on balance it is a bit of a disappointment. The third track unfortunately extends that disappointment. All  of the elements are there for a great Merzbow track but it is only when the track is eight minutes in that he starts bringing things together and the sound resembles an electronic firework display.

The problem with Surabhi is two fold. The first is that after the excellent Kamdhenu and Dead Zone, it feels that in some ways he has returned to generic Merzbow. The second is that for all of the active listening that is required on a record like this, there is only marginal return to the listener. His weakest of 2011. For completists only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Various Artists – Extreme Music From Africa (Susan Lawly) 1997

Posted in Cut Hands, Music, noise, Whitehouse with tags , , , , on November 23, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

If you read the liner notes of this “compilation” released and compiled by Whitehouse’s (now Cut Hands) William Bennet, you may be left with the impression that somehow through the use of the internets and various other means he was able to locate a noise underground in places as diverse as Zimbabwe and Morocco.  It is all a big con of course. The groups whose tracks are allegedly compiled on this record  are all fictitious and all of the tracks were probably created by Bennet himself. It makes sense given Bennett’s flirtations with African rhythms in some of the later Whitehouse Records and explorations in ethnic percussion in Cut Hands

The subject matter which inspired this alleged noise underground is a powerful potpourri of transgressive bits and bobs for the power electronics set. Torture, despotism, massacres, corruption, mutilation etc are all stories of modern Africa.  The problem is of course that even a cursory listen will reveal that many of the sounds used are hardly African in nature. Take the first track Blood Lullaby. It is basically a noise remix of Deep Forest’s Sweet Lullaby which I have stuck at the bottom of this review to remind you just how awful the ethno-techno fad of the early 1990’s was and the vomitous pretentiousness of the videos of the time. Of course the problem with the actual Lullaby sample used is that it is from the Solomon Island which is in the Pacific Ocean and not Africa. On one of the later tracks I swear there is didgeridoo being played which, if I’m right, makes a mockery of the African premise.

Notwithstanding that,  the music and noise on Extreme Music From Africa are absolutely superb. It is jaw-droppingly fantastic. For the most part the music doesn’t quite live up to the cover. This is less a transgressive power electronics album than an avant garde interpretation of a fantasy underground. There are some uncomfortable moments in some of the tracks  that rely on high frequencies but they are in the minority. Tracks range for the Nitzer Ebb Industrial dance music of No Rada No Rada (allegedly by Petro Loa) to the sampled military brass band butchering some awful post colonial national anthem or something. There are great samples of Toureg tongue trilling and even some Burundi-style drumming. At times the samples of human interactions reminded me of Nurse With Wound’s Shipwreck Radio.

This is on of the best records I’ve heard all year. You don’t have to be a Whitehouse fan to dabble with this. It is less noise and more avant garde electronic weirdness. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Skullflower – Fucked On A Pile Of Corpses (Cold Spring) 2011

Posted in Music, noise, Skullflower with tags , , on November 21, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Have you started to think of Christmas gift ideas? Tossing up whether to buy the new Susan Boyle CD? Worried about whether Christmas is really as transgressive as it probably should be. Can I suggest a copy if Skullflower’s most excellent new release, Fucked On A Pile Of Corpses. Not one for the kids mind. But if you have a lovely old Gran looking for something different to listen to this might just be the thing (especially if she was a former member of the Khmer Rouge).

Over the past few years I’ve paid little attention to Skullflower. I’m a big fan of main man Matthew Bower’s work and somehow I’ve ended up owning every Sunroof! CD and a sizeable amount of Hototogisu. Fucked On A Pile Of Corpses is my first outing with Skullflower since Tribulation and it is a mighty contrast to the shimmering light blasts of Sunroof!.

Lets deal first  with the press around this release. Is it the heaviest most brutal Skullflower release of all time? Well kind of. I mean for the most part it is pretty brutal but it also has some doom laden, gothic ambience which gives at least the first four tracks a distinctly ominous vibe. In fact if Sunn O))) had embraced their darker side after Black One instead of following the path that lead them to Monoliths and Dimensions, it is not hard to imagine that they may have ended up nearer a sound like his. For the most part it is just so oppressive. This is black metal noise at it’s most intense. Skullflower have been mining this territory for some time but it all seems to gel fantastically well here. Noise freaks will revel in the multilayered guitar distortion whilst Doom kids will get off on the “blackness” of it all. Together the two sides create that transgressive transcendence that all good noise bands aspire to.

I was really looking forward to getting this and it has not disappointed. Believe the press for once. It is every bit as good as they say it is.

Sightings – City of Straw (Brah) 2010

Posted in Music, noise, Sightings with tags , , on November 16, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

 

I love Sightings probably to the point of obsession. You see Sightings sounds to me like the perfect deconstruction of rock music into its essence. It’s difficult and loud and messy.

2010 saw the release of their last record, City of Straw. Compared with their previous record Through the Panama it just seemed to sneak out without much fanfare. I think it is a shame because it is on the finest things they have done and one of the best records of last year. If I go back and listen to their early works like their self titled debut or Michigan Haters, they sounded like a cross between Pussy Galore, Jesus Lizard and Wolf Eyes. After each album their sound has grown to the point where (I think in part to their producer Andrew W.k.) they have become a much more sophisticated group with influences ranging from No Wave, DNA  and the Swans. The chaos is still there but in a lurching kind of way. Instead of staying sonically messy like their earlier records their sound became focused and probably a bit harder. In fact I’d go a step further and say that there is a sonic coldness to their recent output especially when the zombie dead pan vocals kick in. For a three piece from Brooklyn they make a great racket and are one of the few noise rock bands that have not compromised on their vision or sound.

Mouthus – Slow Globes (Troubleman Unlimited) 2005

Posted in Mouthus, Music, noise with tags , , on November 7, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

What happened to Mouthus? They seem to have disappeared. The last releases seem to have popped out in 2009 but since then, nothing. This is a shame really. The Brooklyn duo of Nate Nelson and Brian Sullivan seemed to exist in their own little biosphere of experimental, noise goodness. Although they were always lumped into the noise continuum along with Wolf Eyes and Hair Police, Mouthus are a very different beast. On Slow Globes they meet their quasi-psychedelic side. There are smatterings of shamanic groove which when it fully takes flight is a very dark experience indeed. At other times much of Slow Globes reminded me of the same shambling avant lo-fi pioneered by The Dead C.  What this means in a music context is that Mouthus can be a very challenging listen. I own more Mouthus records  than is healthy but I think Slow Globes is great place to start if you’ve ever been interested in dabbling. Any one know what happened to them?

Merzbow – Dead Zone (Quasi Pop) 2011

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on October 15, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

 

2011 has been a very good vintage for Merzbow. His last release that I picked up ,Yaho-Niwa, was a complex record that I ended up really connecting with although initially I found was a bit overwhelming. I had no such problems with Dead Zone. It has an immediacy that is both compelling and if I were to make a prediction, it is probably one of the finest records he’s released in the  past four years.

Dead Zone is dedicated to the anti-nuclear movement. It was mixed the day after the nuclear catastrophe in Japan.  The photo’s in the booklet are interior shots of the deserted cities surrounding Chernobyl. They are both chilling yet rather beautiful. The tracks themselves are taunt and wonderfully diverse. Many of his noise themes from the past year or so are present. Fax machine blips, tortured whale song, 1950’s sci fi effects are all here. What makes Dead Zone so special is the little everyday sounds he manages to sneak in that hint of the  isolation of the cover art. For instance at the beginning of the third track The Wandering lights, Merzbow uses a sound that reminds me of that  tone you hear in American movies when a telephone is disconnected. On the first track some haunting flute (yes flute) weaves in and out of the layers. It is in fact  a meticulously constructed record. For instance the first half our long track may be the most significant single Merzbow piece for years. A track which defines the joy and power of noise as a muscial form.

If you only buy on Merzbow record this year (and I know there are more coming) let it be this one. It is accessible without being obvious and harsh without being alienating. One of Merzbow’s finest moments and I think if he manages to keep achieving records this great I am gong to go broke.

Russell Haswell – Wild Tracks (Mego) 2009

Posted in Drone, Music, noise, Russell Haswell with tags , , , on October 14, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Russell Haswell is not exactly a prolific artist but when he manages to release a record it is usually something worth tracking down. Since my early adventures into noise and experimental music I have been fascinated by the use of field recordings to create something that can be brutal or beautiful or simply unrecognisable. The later work of Daniel Menche is a  brilliant example of this approach. I’ve always found Haswell’s approach  a much louder, more difficult but no less rewarding experience. Wild Track is tremendously interesting. Here Haswell allows us to hear to his source recordings. Exceptionally Loud Propane Gas Cannon Bird Scarer and Helicopter Trip are exactly that. There is no editing or overdubs. My favourite was the recordings of an ant colony which almost provide the perfect organic  drone track. These type of recordings are probably not for everyone but for those of you, who like me, have a strange fascination for such things, Wild Tracks is experimental sound heaven.

Cut Hands – Afro Noise 1 (Very Friendly/Susan Lawly)

Posted in Cut Hands, Music, noise, Whitehouse with tags , , on October 13, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Well September was a complete write off but it did give me the opportunity to listen to lots of records including some that were actually released this year. Cut Hands is the new project of William Bennett from transgressive power electronic pioneers Whitehouse. Any of you who may have had contact with a Whitehouse record probably won’t readily forget the experience. But hiding in those brutal slices of nastiness were examples of Bennett’s interest in African rhythm. On the majority of Afro Noise 1 he explores different poly-rhythmic ideas using traditional instruments such as Doundouns and Djembes. Two of the tracks, Nzambi Ia Lufua and Munkisi Munkondi are old Whitehouse numbers and have previously appeared on Ascetisists 2006 and Birdseed respectively. The rest have been pulled from sessions from 2003 until this year. The term “noise” in the title is probably more appropriate in the context that most of these tracks have absolutely no melody rather than a more traditional understanding of a nosie record.

Afro Noise 1 is a much less extreme record than I was expecting. In fact for the most part is rather charming. It’s a good record, I thoroughly enjoyed it and those who have been scared off by much of Bennett’s previous output have nothing to fear here.

Merzbow – Noisembryo (The Releasing Eskimo) 1994

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on September 1, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

I feel a bit nervous about writing on Noisembryo. I’m actually a little late to the  party. I finally found someone willing to sell mea copy for a reasonable price in the last two months and it is only now that I’ve been able to spend some time with it. Noisembryo is one of those key records for Merzbow nerds. David Keenan named it Merzbow’s most essential release, a view that I know is shared by many of you. So here are my thoughts.

Noisembryo much like most of his mid-1990’s output is difficult to define. It is certainly uncompromising and although in many ways they are very different records my interactions with Noisembryo is much like the one I have with 1930. The only way I can consume Noisembryo is to totally give myself over to it. Stick the headphones on, close my eyes and concentrate. It is only then that the real hidden depths of it are revealed and Merzbow’s playfulness becomes apparent. Initially I though Noisembryo was overwhelmingly intense, but Merzbow manages to sneak in some surprises. I also know that what I hear is not necessarily what you will hear. I find that idea completely awesome. In fact that is one of the joys of noise as a genre. For me it is not about the transgressiveness, the supposed eroticism nor its brutality but more in the fact that  a noise artist can never tell the listener what they are hearing and how to interact with it. As a  musical form it is completely anarchic in terms of its consumption and appreciation  The way that much of this noise is made is often a compete mystery and I couldn’t give two fucks whether this is analogue, digital or how many ES synths were used. I just don’t care. It is not important how the record was made but what I hear. And what I hear on Noisembryo I really like. It was well worth the hut and deserves its reputation.

 

Consumer Electronics/Merzbow – Horn Of The Goat (Freek) 1995

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise, Whitehouse on August 30, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Now here is a Merzbow collaboration I was keen to hear. To be fair I had never really looked at the cover in any detail so the whole lady/goat kissing thing passed me by but this is Consumer Electronics, home of Pete Best from Whitehouse, Matthew Bower from Skullflower, Hototogisu and Sunroof! and Gary Mundy from Ramleh. In fact the aristocracy of British transgressive power electronics are all lined up here. So when you combine that line up with Merzbow at the height of his powers what would you expect to hear? The hardest, most brutal thing ever transferred to disc perhaps? Not quite. This is not a Whitehouse-style bludgeoning of the  senses but a remarkably varied noise record that Merzbow dominates. Is it still harsh in places? It is, but it also surprises with its experimentation.

This is a record that benefits from high volume. It is only then that the nuances of the noise can be plucked out. The first two track are great examples of Merzbow style industrial noise. There are some of those space age phazer sounds that appear on Space Metalizer. There is also a four second section which has Merzbeat style business going on. The third track is where all preconceptions  are buried. Think trumpets, drums, a lopping ambient oscillation with  the constant threat of an ever present industrial noise enveloping the whole thing. Track 4 sees the return of Merzbow harsh noise punctuated with a Nurse with Wound style looping female yelp. The real treat is the final 18 minutes bookend with its bastardisation of (I think) a Handel minuet which begins as the most twee track of any noise record you’d be likely to hear. Its saccharine start melts into a what essentially amount to a great noise track.

Horn of the Goat may be a different record than I was expecting but I quite like it. Not too harsh and a fair bit to discover between the layers and the blips.  It is a record that comes up cheaply on Amazon from time to time. Not bad.

Merzbow – Scene (Waystyx) 2005

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on August 6, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Sorry for my absence. In the past few weeks I’ve been coming to terms with a veritable avalanche of CD’s that have hit Chez Ducks Battle Satan. Much of this avalanche has been the result of Brisbane’s last remaining indie record store closing down and then somehow staying open. They had a 50% of everything sale and a wonderful $2 table which I pillaged (Francisco Lopez for $2.00, Rice Corpse for $5.00; happy days for me – sad days for them). The second  reason is due to my renewed interest in Merzbow. I’ve joined a Merzbow message board or whatever the name is and through a fellow member have managed to plug some of the holes I though existed in my collection. So between the helpful fellow traveller and discogs and even amazon, Noizhead, Spiral Honey, Horn of the Goat, Merzdub, Noisembryo, Partikel, Mercurated, Akasha Gulva, Merzbow vs Tamarin, Tamago, Artificial Invagination, 24 Hours – A Day of Seals and Scene have all made their way to me. Many of the records span the essential 1995 – 1999 period but some of them populate his later  work.  So although most of those records may be better know to the average Merzbow tragic, it is actually this four track beauty from 2005 which has sparked my imagination.

Some of the best Merzbow seems to either appear on obscure eastern european labels or via some random collaboration. I’ve known of Scene’s existence since I started my Merzbow fixation in 2007 yet had never bothered to pick it up. It is extraordinary and has moved itself in to my favourite Merzbow records. If it came out on a better known label it would be treated with the same reverence as 1930 or Pulse Demon or Day of Seals. Things start of with a 90 second interpretation of carnival music before the real business begins. Part 2 is 35 minutes of sinister throb and clatter which is as threatening as anything he has ever done although it would only rate a 3 on the harshness scale. It is not until 10 minutes in that the squealing guitar-like textures make an appearance but even then they are restrained and make way again for the beat and throb. The relative calm of Part 2 gives way to a more blistering track which at times reminded me of the processed hail and storms of Daniel Menche’s Feral (a record which I am starting to think might be the best of the year so far). Yet as it continues it reveals itself to be a rare example of Merzbow exploring the micro rather than his usual layers of noise approach. If you were trying to fool a Merzbow tragic you couldn’t go far past this one. Track 4 is a far noisier affair. It’s all industrial clatter combined with a more dance orientated throb – a bit like an epilogue to Part 2.

This cost me all of 3 euros. That is insane. Discogs have a bunch of them on sale and you could make far worse decisions with your cash than nabbing this one.

 

Jazkamer – Matthew 28:17 (Pica Disk) 2010

Posted in Jazkamer, Lasse Marhaug, noise with tags , , , on July 12, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Matthew 28:17 was the August release in Jazkamer’s fantastic monthly series of 2010. What sets this one apart from others (in addition to the awesome cover art by Government Alpha) in the series is the massive dose of drama  that makes it one of the best releases in Jazkamer’s entire catalogue. Here we find Jazkamer up to all sorts of noisy goodness. The epic drugged-out guitar of the first track, Psychedelic Buzz Aldrin and Pragmatic Albert Hoffman, is locked behind an impenetrable wall of fuzz and drone. The walls of noise become sentient, surging masses in Cosmic Cookies which envelop and almost strangle that same retro psychedelic guitar in a winner-takes-all death roll. There is an over riding “space” influence on Matthew 28:17 but their is no sign of the celestial bliss that might accompany such a theme. I own a lot of Jazkamer records and I can’t recall ever hearing them embrace psychedelic noise in such an overt way. In fact it is a very good starting point if you’ve ever wanted to dabble in the vast Jazkamer world.

Dylan Nyoukis – Owl Tapes (Chocolate Monk) 2007

Posted in Dylan Nyoukis, Music, noise with tags , , on July 11, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

My favourite Invisible Jukebox feature in the Wire was when they asked Dylan Nyoukis to participate. If the transcript is correct then he seemed to get rather upset at the suggestion that his Chocolate Monk label has an aesthetic of some type. I couldn’t care less either way but for all of his protestations that his label is not an arbiter of taste the fact is that Chocolate Monk have released records by some great bands. In fact the Chocolate Monk website is where every fan of noise and other strange sounds should spend some time. Initially I went to his website to pick up a Family Battle Snake CDR that I had heard great things about. When it arrived this was also included.

As much as I like Family Battle Snake it is Nyoukis’s Owl Tapes that I found the morefascinating release.  Although he gets heaped in with the harsh noise crowd I reckon you could draw a line between the weirdo tape experiments of Nurse With Wound and Owl Tapes. Nyoukis uses his own voice to set the tone and his growls, mutters, breathes, screams and snorts certainly make for an uneasy listen. It also happens to be awonderfully compelling document of difficult experimental music.

Merzbow – Yaho-Niwa (Nuun) 2011

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on July 3, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

This is Merzbow’s first release on Nuun Records. Yaho-Niwa just happens to be the first release in their Climax series. I’m not sure what this means in the greater scheme of things or how Yaho-Niwa will fit in with the series as a whole, but it looks interesting and you should head over to their website to check it out.

As a stand alone Merzbow record I think Yaho-Niwa is excellent. Over the past couple of releases I’ve heard, he seems to have toned down the harshness factor without making any of those albums any easier to listen to. The identifiable noises and forms you may hear on the last few records might seem like a safe refuge in the sea of oscillations and noise, but those identifiable bits and pieces often sit within the tracks with little context to the rest of it. Yaho-Niwa like other records of the last few years such as Tombo or Kamadhenu are pretty difficult listens – they are not the type of Merzbow records that you just plunge yourself into and somehow get a buzz from the violence and ferocity of what is on offer. Nor do they offer something refreshingly tangible like his excursions through big beat, digital electronica, folk, jazz or grindcore.

These recent albums have had me  scratching my head but at the same time I’ve felt strangely compelled to come to terms with them – to classify them somewhere in my Merz -journery which is now over 100 discs long. My first impression of Yaho-Niwa is that there is a frightful melancholy on display here. Other Merzbow albums display anger, or a sense of humour or even an artistic intensity – Yaho-Nowa on the other hand is bleak. This bleakness is most acute on  the first and third tracks. The third track has that windswept tundra sound that may as well have come off Sunn O)))’s Black One. These are my two favourite tracks on the album which I think is a weird way of putting it when you consider that Yaho-Niwa was mixed after the horror of March’s tsunami. Is it any wonder that sadness has crept into his sound?

The second track seems to be the odd one out. This in itself not a particularly remarkable thing for a Merzbow record because more often that not there is no identifiable theme that links all of the tracks. The second track displays the effects are coming more and more common in his recent work. They are those 1950’s incidental science fiction bleeps and what not. I quite like them. What relationship this has to the  rather handsome poultry on the disc’s cover is anyone’s guess – unless of course they’re some sort of retro-alien chicken.

The fourth track feels quite emotional to me – I can’t help but feel sad because in the relentlessness of the noise and what sounds like metal rubbing and twisting together, all I can see is the video of  those huge waves roaring through that seaside town where massive buildings are just picked up and smashed into others.

Yaho-Niwa is a challenging listen but isn’t that the point of Merzbow in many ways? I reckon one of the tasks of noise is to make the listener define their own experience with the record. The intent and purpose of the artist is always up for interpretation but isn’t that so much better than being spoon fed? This one is worth tracking down, it just might take a little time to connect with.

Werewolf Jerusalem – The Flies of Our Tragic Dear (Breathing Problem Productions) 2009

Posted in Music, noise, Richard Ramirez, Werewolf Jerusalem on June 26, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

By golly I’m enjoying this at  the moment. Werewolf Jerusalem is, as someone much cleverer than I  put it, Richard Ramirez’s “Wall of Static” noise project. What an apt description because these six tracks are meditations in the dynamics of static. This is my first experience with Ramirez’s work and the thing that strikes me about this record is the way that static can be used to create pieces of sound which somehow move and evolve and at time bloom. Static is  one of the harshest elements used in “noise” and the thought of an entire record of just that element might sound like a bit of a slog and frankly an unnecessary assault on the ears. The interesting thing about static is that by its very nature it is always moving, always kinetic. Ramirez manages to place  this element on a potter’s wheel and moulds and shapes  the sound as it continuously moves into both thick impenetrable walls and wafer thin slices of fragility. He layers it, stretches it and plays with its internal dynamics. I’m not sure if I understand the visceral theme displayed in the cover and the titles. I think that sometimes those things can be a distraction to just how good some of these records are. If you told me that a record based on walls of static would open up new ways of hearing sound I would have scoffed but this is immensely enjoyable and listening to it has lead to me approach “noise  in a new context.

Sudden Infant – Radiorgasm: Reissue (Blossoming Noise/Harbinger Sound) 2006

Posted in Music, noise, Sudden Infant with tags , , on June 14, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

 

This was originally released in 1991. 15 years later those nice people at Blossoming Noise had the good sense to re-release it. The field of noise seems to be awash with reissues at the moment.  The almighty Merzbient, Necro Acoustic, the first two Kevin Drumm records, Nurse With Wound and Current 93 has all been released in the last couple of years. This as been a boon for me particular because I came to the genre of experimental/noise so late.  My first experience with Sudden Infant was the tragically overlooked Psychotic Einzelkind. The punk rock/noise on display there is a very different beast to  the sounds on display on Radiorgasm.

Radiorgasm is a very difficult record. It’s all experimental tape stuff and dada primal scream weirdness with added gibberish In fact it has much more to do with early Nurse With Wound that it does with many of his Noise contemporaries.  I’m not sure whether this is a good record. I’m not a huge fan of the more arty aspects of experimentalism and in some ways this record seems almost self conscious in its difficulty. On that basis I’m not recommending this but  I can’t stress how important it is to listen to his more recent offerings on Blossoming Noise. Those records are great. This has only mild interest.

Merzbow – Kamadhenu (Hypnagogia) 2011

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise on June 11, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Alrighty then. This is the  first Merzbow I’ve dabbled  with since Merzbient and I suppose it is his first proper album since Marmo. Merzbow’s recent output has been sketchy to say the least. I think Ouroborous was great and I still stand by the second volume of the Japanese Birds series as another example when he gets it right. Marmo was meh and I didn’t bother with the collaboration with Z’ev. If I was to be truly honest the two albums that were amazing in the last three years are Another Merbow Records and Merzbient but considering they are both compilations or old material they probably don’t count.

When I first played Kamadhenu I was disappointed. Actually I was a little pissed. It struck me as mediocre and a little samey. Now eight listens later and the damn thing has grown on me. There is something wonderfully hypnotic about the surging, down tempo scree and throb of this record especially on the first track. Weaving in an out of the layers is a high pitched squeal which at times has an almost middle eastern flavour to it. It is a sound that returns to all three tracks  and sounds almost like a call to prayer. At other times it sounded like a snake charmer coaxing a dance out of a reluctant reptile. The first track  is a slow and unambiguously deliberate. Shards of industrial clatter are sparingly used and if I was to go out on a limb, I would say that this might be more ambient than much of what I heard on Merzbient.

The second track I suspect  has hidden sounds of tabla and Merzbow also adds some of his celestial space vibe. It’s a much noisier track than the first and towards the end sounds like a tape being run backwards at speed. By the time the third track starts Merzbow has managed to coax a sub-bass effect that fucked around with the pressure in my ears. It is much more recognisably Merzbow if you know what I mean.

This is not a record for a casual listener. It is a record that the more I listened the more compelling it became. I might be the only nerd that has spent eight hours of my life trying to process it but I think it was worthwhile.  People are going to hate this but If you commit yourself to it then it might be one of the more enjoyable noise experiences you’ll have this year.

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