Archive for Music

Mike Shiflet & Joe Panzner – Split (Rubber City Noise) 2012

Posted in Joe Panzner, Mike Shiflet, Music, noise with tags , , , , on April 25, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

This year Mike Shiflet has turned up on my noise radar in a serious way. I had no idea the guy even existed until he teamed up with Daniel Menche on the mighty Stalemate. I’ve now become a bit obsessed. Shiflet’s bandcamp site is a treasure trove and if you haven’t heard his record of last year, Llanos, then you are missing out of something very special indeed.

I was pretty happy when Rubber City Noise (the label that released the fantastic Cane Swords record last year that would have easily been in my top three releases of last year 2011) sent me a copy of Shiflet’s split release with Joe Panzner, a fellow mid-western noise guy. Each artist contributes a 22 minute track. Shiflet’s is titled Recollect and may in fact be the most accessible thing he has done. It is a stunning piece of ambient drone work which begins as a beautifully meditative composition until the comforting tones are stripped away to reveal its desolate heart. An amazingly emotional track from Shiflet which abandons the austere distance of some of his earlier work.

Joe Panzner’s track is titled Reconstruct and begins as a jittering, stuttering noise track that recalls Jazkamer at their Merzbow like best.  Yet lurking under the barrage of fuzz, feedback and static is a Stars of the Lid style drone. It takes a fair bit of active listening to hear it but as the barrage dies down and brief glimpses of calm return the drone shrinks away. It is one of those tracks which combines everything that is wonderful in drone, noise, experimental weirdness. It is a remarkable composition. Utterly amazing.

Both of these tracks contain some of the finest experimental sound you will hear all year.  Rubber City Noise is in danger of becoming one of the best labels around right now and you’d be mad not to get a copy of this. Another absolute winner.

Gate – The Dew Line (Mie Music) 2012

Posted in Drone, Gate, Music, The Dead C with tags , on April 11, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

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Gate is the name used for the Dead C’s Michael Morley’s solo output. A few years ago I was lucky enough  to get a copy of his remarkable electronica infused record, Republic of Sadness. That record was a strange yet totally compelling blend of Morley’s wonky, codeine-infused, lo-fi vocals with almost Hot Chip style electronica. On paper it shouldn’t have worked but it was one of my favourite records of 2010. The excellent Mie Music have taken it upon themselves to re-release The Dew Line which originally came out in 1994 and is a very different from his most recent work. Mie Music have put a lot of thought into rereleasing this record and it now appears as a double vinyl set, remastered, with its initial seven tracks expanded to twelve to include some other previously unreleased material recorded about the same time. If you are a Dead C fan there is a treat in store with the unreleased tracks because three of them ended up as Dead C tracks  including the almighty Bitcher (from 1995’s Whitehouse)yet on The Dew Line  appear in a prototype form. This record has a great deal in common with the Dead C’s material from the same time period which I have always considered to be among their best. The Dew Line find Morley exploring his repetitive guitar lines and outsider vocals which no one could mistake for anybody else. Yet throughout these utterly unique songs  there are glimmers of Sonic Youth style tunings  and even a little Pavement-like song craft. Beyond those thoughts it very difficult to describe this claustrophobic, chaotic, almost on the brink of collapse experimental rock music. It is music that has to be experienced to appreciate and I recommend you do just that. The Dew Line is  an absolute pleasure from beginning to end and is well worth tracking down in it’s remastered form.

Vampire Slayer – Dumb Death (Indian Gold) 2012

Posted in Music, Vampire Slayer with tags , , on March 19, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

I may have become a little obsessed with bandcamp over the past two weeks. It has become my favourite late night time suck. I came across Dumb Death about two weeks ago and well let’s face it, music not withstanding, album has to have the best cover art of any record ever in the history of music.  Here is yet another absolutely wonderful slice of hypnogogic electronica, this time from Valentin Torres, a self taught musician from Mexico who is also the cofounder of Indian Gold Records. This is like one of those great records that Not Not Fun release every now and then. Dumb Death is like  a giant day-glo chill-mix of Dan Friel electronics, Oneohtrix Point Never style synth love, DJ Scotch Egg computer game dub, Mego ambience and even a pinch of Roni Size drum and bass. I can’t recommend this enough. One of the great records of 2012.

You can get it here.

Drexciya – Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller I (Clone Classic Cuts) 2011

Posted in Drexciya, Music, Techno with tags , , on March 18, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

At the end of 2011 this popped out through an obscure Dutch label. Techno/Electronica is not something  I usually don’t post on Techno but it is something that  I listen to a shit load. I need white noise when I work to achieve anything. It helps me concentrate  and is probably one of the reasons I like noise so much. But when I put on Surgeon, Basic Channel, Robert Mills,Robert Hood, Luciano, Zomby, Rustie, Vladislav Delay and Gas my productivity goes through the roof. Yet I don’t think I’ve been any more productive in the past ten years than when I chucked this on the ipod.

Drexciya has been mythologised in the past ten years in the same manner in which they created a myth around their own work. When they first released their records on labels like Tresor and Underground Resistance, the people behind the band were a mystery. The mythology was that Drexciya was an underwater Atlantis type city full of people  who were the unborn babies of the pregnant African slaves that were thrown overboard on their way to America. The theme of the underwater city flows through all of the tracks on Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller which in its self is combined tracks from many of the band’s EP’s which have been unfairly out of print for years and exceedingly difficult to come by.   The tracks are placed here without the context of their original EP’s in a non-chronological order and if I hadn’t known that I would have been none the wiser. I love stuff like this and this is one of the best compilations released last year. I’m a bit excited that this is merely the first instalment of a series of Drexciya compilations. Bring it on.

Gyps – Den (Self Released) 2012

Posted in Drone, Gyps, Music with tags , , on March 12, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

Sorry I haven’t been around but I’ve been a bit preoccupied with trolling through bandcamp looking for undiscovered gems. This is the first record I want to bring to your attention from my new obsession – Gyps amazing record, Den. Gyps is the side project of  Xander Witt, a musician based in Athens, Georgia. Xander also plays in the very fine Muuy Biien (which is also worth your time tracking down). On Den, Xander manages to concoct a glacial, guitar based drone in a similar vein to Stars of The Lid. But whilst Star of The Lid manage to evoke a feeling of calm, Gyps creates an atmosphere of shattering sadness. He is also not afraid to abandon the formula half way through a track to pile more emotional bleakness and a certain dark ambience. If you love the style of drone that Stars of the  Lid produce you are going to wet yourself when you hear this. Den is already destined to be one of my picks for 2012. A shockingly, brilliant, strange, sad record. You can pick it up here.

Merzbow – Green Wheels (Self Abuse Records) 1995

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on February 28, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

Green Wheels is one of those Merzbow records that has  a special place for a Merzbow tragic like myself. The packaging is wonderfully mid-1990’s with the CD and a 5′ vinyl record being housed in a cheap plastic video case. It’s another one of Merzbow’s fetish objects and now ridiculously difficult to find. Every now and then they pop up on ebay and I think this is where I tracked this one down.

Like much of his mid-1990’s period Green Wheels is an uncompromising cascade of brutal noise. Somewhere between Oested and Pulse Demon. It’s extremely good and if you ever see a copy I recommend you consider nabbing it.

When I first started ducksbattlesatan (or noisenoisenoise as it then was) my focus was to try to write sensibly about my interactions with more experimental music and describe the sounds from an outsider’s perspective. As I started to listen to more difficult and noisier records I became interested in coming to terms with other people’s reflections and writings on noise but those excursions have all been disappointing. Listening to a record like Green Wheels after a decent break from Merzbow had me reflecting on a quote from Alain De Botton who said that ugliness is the the material manifestation of a crooked soul. So if the quote is correct I’m scared to follow the reasoning to analyse noise as a genre. If noise is the most ugliest of sounds what does it say about the souls of those who enjoy it. Am I a deeply crooked or abhorrent soul?  I suppose it highlights in some way, that writing about noise as a musical genre and it development over the years always has some problems. Every essay or analysis I read on noise seems to miss a fundamental point. If noise itself is left over sound or valueless then where does the aspect of pleasure in noise come from. It can’t be simply an appreciation for the transgressive and it surely can’t be a reflection on my nature. I think it reveals that noise has value – that to say that it is left over sound misses the point.  Or maybe what gives noise value is the context. For instance a 30 minute recording of a jack hammer has no value but that same recording of a jack hammer when covered with layers of fuzz and other sound may be a highly meditative experience which I as a listener give value to. So intrinsically the sound may have no value but with context it’s worth is secured. And this is how records like Green Wheels have worth and how people like me  derive pleasure from them.

Cane Swords – Big Warmup In The Mouth Of Eternity (Rubber City Noise) 2011

Posted in Cane Swords, Drone, Music, noise with tags , , , , on February 20, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

At the end of last year I stopped posting as much as I should have. I’m not sure why. It may have had much to do with the lack of sleep that my kids inflict on me on a regular basis. So sometimes I feel a bit of a prick because there are records that get sent to me that really blow me away. When I first heard this I emailed the  band to get some further info. I certainly don’t post on everything that gets sent my way but I do listen to all of it. Cane Sword’s Big Warmup In The Mouth Of Eternity was a record I fell hard for and one that should have been in my top five of last year. So I feel really shitty that after telling the band how much I dig their record I didn’t end up posting on it – and that was March 2011. Again, I can’t stress this enough, I feel like a prick.

So, anyway, with that out of the way lets talk about Cane Swords. Cane Swords are the “house band” of Rubber City Noise a record label/performance space/equipment manufacturer run by Curt and Karl from Akron Ohio. Big Warmup was originally released on cassette but you can download it for free from here (and while you’re there click on all of the  Black Unicorn stuff – amazing). Cane Swords record their material live and in one take. They have some idea of the theme when they start  but the sound is built through live experimentation. In my email exchanges with the band they pointed to the strong cathartic and hypnotic thread and when I first heard it I was reminded of the Yellow Swans, the sci-fi B movie records of Merzbow and maybe a bit of Oneohtrix Point Never. But that only tells part of the  story because Big Warmup contains influences in drone, noise, experimentation, dark ambience, pop and  hypnogogic electronica. It is a complex, immense record which contains everything I like about experimental music. I may be a prick for not posting earlier but you’d be a prick not to hear it.

Hypsiphrone – And The Void Shall Pierce Their Eyes (Black Plagve) 2011

Posted in Doom, Hypsiphrone, metal, Music with tags , , , on February 19, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

I haven’t listened to a Dark Ambient record or some time. But when this little ripper showed up from Malignant Records sub-label, Black Plagve I thought,just based on its title alone, it was worth a spin. One of the first mistakes I made was to read the press release which spoke of virgins bathing on their own blood and other such crap that I have absolutely no fucking interest in. Does anyone actually write this crap without giggling to themselves? The fact is that what is done here is excellent but creation of  a lame mythology detracts from the greatness of many of these tracks. I’m probably the wrong guy to review this because black metal imagery is always funny to me yet I like to wallow in some dark/black/death ambient/metal records from time to time. I’m no expert but if you like Sunn O)))’s Black One or anything by Lustmord then this will be right up your alley.

Hypsiphrone is a one  guy project from Greece and this record  is pretty consistently great. Lots of evil wails and hammer-horror neo gothic death metally goodness with wonderfully absurd  titles. It’s fun though probably not in the way Hypsiphrone meant. There is one dud track on this and that is a track which begins about half way through which cuts up media broadcasts about necrophilia. How fucking transgressive. Why it is actually on this is a bit of a mystery and kind of made me angry. It’s inclusion just felt that he was trying a bit too hard. But hey, Mamuthones made one of my favourite records in recent times and the initial track on that sucks. It happens and shouldn’t be fatal to you buying this.

You can pick this up from the excellent Malignant Records site.

Werewolf Jerusalem – Confessions of a Sex Maniac (Second Layer) 2011

Posted in Music, noise, Richard Ramirez, Werewolf Jerusalem with tags , , , on February 13, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

One of the  things that has struck me about noise is that for a genre that encapsulates useless or left over sound, noise artists seem to get a kick out of documenting their output with elaborate box sets. Kevin Drumm, Jazkamer, Incapacitants, CCCC and of course Merzbow have all released quite significant box sets in recent years. The question is why? What makes the tracks that are placed on these discs representative or more significant than anything else they’ve done. The answer is that they, for the most part, are not. There is of course some significant noise pieces on some of these discs, Kevin Drumm’s Organ on Necro Acoustic comes to mind but in the case of Merzbow for instance why is Timehunter a box set and 1930 not. The answer may be in Merzbow’s rather famous interview with Edwin Pouncey in the Wire from 2000. In that interview Merzbow’s fascination with transgressive sex and the erotic are explored. Had it not been for that interview (and the Merzbook)I would have missed the whole erotic nature of noise recordings because, frankly,  it is all a bit lost on me. Merzbow was a bit of a perv in the day and he described a box set like the Merzbox as a fetish object. Now that is something that any record nerd can relate to because these box sets with their well thought out liner notes are fetish objects for people like me. Am I ever going to listen to Merzbient again? The answer is probably not – but would I ever sell my copy? Shit no!

This now brings me to Werewolf Jerusalem’s Confessions of a Sex Maniac. My lovely wife ordered it from Second Layer for  me for Father’s Day at year. Nothing says Happy Father’s Day than listening to a few hours of Richard Ramirez’s static harsh wall noise project. Over its four discs, Ramirez explores the manipulation of something which can only be defined as pure noise. This is not a project where you listen to it over and over again  to  tease out the layers to reveal hidden sound and recognisable forms. This is noise in its most primal and dense form.

There is a great essay from Sam McKinlay in the booklet which accompanies Confessions. In it he says that after listening to one of Werewolf Jerusalem’s early works … that release led myself and other in the constantly evolving harsh noise scene to firmly believe that texture and concentration itself can mean violence, drama and even dynamism within the crackles and crumbles.

I absolutely love the idea of deep concentration of noise, free of layers and distractions can lead to a subtle yet violent variant of drone. The texture and tone of the noise might change but the intent is always the same. Sound which  carries this much violence should not be as calmly meditative as it is.  Everything on these four discs is pretty essential for any noise nerd especially the collaborations on Disc 4 and the packaging is like a sugar rush to a noise fetishists such as myself. This was one of my favourite releases from last year and deserved more attention.

 

Treasure Hunt – Seatec Astronomy (Slyme Records) 2012

Posted in Music, noise, Treasure Hunt with tags , on February 4, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

Treasure Hunt is the name that Myles Byrne-Dunhill gives to his ongoing musical project. This is his second album after the excellent Meems of last year. Myles calls Treasure Hunt a pop collage project but I think that what he actually achieves on Seatec Astronomy is a the next line in avant garde pop music of a lineage which includes  bands like Vibracathedral Orchestra and Sunroof. Myles is one of the  new breed of artists who embrace the pop cultural references of their youth without irony. It’s OK to like pop music now and that idea is refreshing and has been the theme behind many of the great records released on Not Not Fun for instance. In making that reference though, it is important to point out just how experimental Treasure Hunt is . There are some similarities with the  Danse Manatee sound of Animal Collective  but it is the layers of field recordings, tribal drumming, blissed out drone, marimba’s it’s like the Avalanches for the Hypnogogic pop set. I can’t recommend this highly enough. If you like your pop music difficult this may be the record for you.

All of Myles records can be downloaded off his bandcamp site.

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.

Nurse With Wound / Graham Bowers – Rupture (Dirter) 2012

Posted in Music, nurse with wound with tags , , on February 2, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

What an extraordinarily cheery concept for a record. Rupture is the musical interpretation of the last hour and three minutes of a person’s life after they suffer a stroke. Lovely. Now based on that premise I was expecting a bit of the horror minimalism which was so on display on NWW’s last proper outing The Surveillance Lounge, but this record seems to be Graham Bowers show. Bowers is a respected composer who has a bio listing on the BBC Wales Website. He is a bit of a big deal in contemporary composition yet the sounds explored on Rupture are the musical and media memories of someone who grew up in a land of English street parties and village fairs. A sentimental life which, I suspect for many of those who will buy this, will be quite foreign. For the most part this is an exposition of memory as it marches towards an imminent death.  But the sounds that have been chosen to represent those memories can be, well, clunky. Especially when the traditional wedding march make s jolting appearance. When I heard that I thought it was being horribly obvious. There are some lovely avant garde orchestral bits in this but frankly I’m not sure why it needed to be recorded. It just doesn’t  sustain interest  even in the middle of listening to it let alone for repeated listens. It is a piece written for performance and in that context it may actually be OK. The subject matter of Rupture lent itself to something quite terrifying. I think if there was still some consciousness after having a massive stroke I would be screaming for an hour about the lack of control and the inevitability of death. A massive disappointment. It shouldn’t suck this hard.

Bitch Magnet – Umber (Glitterhouse) 1999 (rereleased 2011)

Posted in Bitch Magnet, Music, Seam with tags , , on February 1, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

Bitch Magnet were the band that Sooyoung Park lead until he started Seam and they  are one  of those bands that defined the post hardcore college sound like Squirrel Bait and later Slint. I remember this sitting in my local record store a few years after its release and for some reason I never picked it up so although I own every Seam, Polvo, Squirrel Bait and Slint record, the sounds of Bitch Magnet were lost on me until now. Temporary Residence has had the  good sense to release a compilation called Bitch Magnet which encapsulates all of their recorded output which includes their albums Umber, Ben Hur and Star Booty as well as some extra tracks. I picked it up on the Temporary Residence  website for like $15.00 which is insane for such a greatly packaged set of essential eighties hardcore. Bitch Magnet were a bit more easily digestible than Squirrel Bait and the math rock strangeness of Polvo and Slint. Park always had a pop sensibility to his music and Bitch Magnet are almost like the missing link between Big Black and Seam. I cannot recommend this highly enough. If you like any of those other bands I’ve mentioned then you are going  to love this.

 

 

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?

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