Archive for noise

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.


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.

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.

Haters – Further (Transperency) 2008

Posted in Haters, Music, noise with tags , , on June 1, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Here is another review from reader Adam. Thanks Mate!

It is not easy to write about The Haters, one of the longest running noise acts around. It is basically the project of one man, GX Jupitter-Larsen, although he has played with many people both live and on recorded material too. Writing about his work is not easy because it’s very conceptual – in fact, music is only a part of it; his concerts are performances too (and for a long time there actually wasn’t any music during his performances). I have to say I’m not exactly sure what Jupitter-Larsen is trying to express with his art, but my guess is it’s absurdity: absurdity that perhaps he sees as permeating life in general. Or perhaps he just loves absurdity. Or maybe he wants to show that he finds life and/or a lot of everyday actions meaningless. At least these are some of the ideas that come to my mind when I consider his obsession with counting sand grains, strange mathematical and time-space concepts, entropy and decay, making a blank video tape and then sending it to film festivals and so on. And of course, he’s obsessed with noise too – pure noise, such as the sound of glass breaking, fire crackling and cars crashing.

I guess you could say he’s just a snob or an idiot who claims to be an artist. As for me, I really like his ideas (even if I can’t claim I understand them fully): how he often mixes the absurd with the mundane, like making noise with shovels and suitcases, or having a noise generator built in a wrestling belt (he likes wrestling too). Everything he does is in his own style which was already pretty much fully developed around 1980, when he started releasing records. In 1983 he released a 7” which had no music on it and the instructions said to complete the record by scratching it so it could be listened to. Some “serious” avant-garde composers might have released similar records by 1983 but probably no one in the sort of underground that GX became a participant of.

There were more conceptual releases to follow and more regular releases too. Based on the roughly 15 CDs/records I know, the style of The Haters is harsh noise with no “musical” elements whatsoever for the most part. Monotony is typical too. Sometimes he loops the sound of car crashes; sometimes he amplifies the sound of stapling records together with a stapling gun, and so on. However, his Further CD is a great mix of his pure noise approach with more sound elements that ultimately make the CD more musical. The funny thing is, at the end of the day it’s still not musical at all. There’s a basic flow of electronic feedback, but in the background there are various sounds and effects such as screeching tyres and even synths. Somehow it creates the effect of being musical due to the contrast between the foreground and the background, but at the same time it’s still very much anti-music.

Probably a lot more could be written about the work of Jupitter-Larsen – for those who care, there’s a book about The Haters that was published by John Wiese not long ago. There’s a very nice career-spanning article by GX in the magazine As Loud As Possible too. For those who like the music of The Haters, Further is highly recommended. And for those who want to get to know his music, this album is a great starting point – but if you like it and want to hear more, prepare yourself for serious anti-easy listening that may well leave you scratching your head.

Kevin Drumm – Kevin Drumm (Perdition Plastics) 1997

Posted in Kevin Drumm, Music, noise with tags , , on May 31, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

When I listen to records like this I just want to give up writing this blog. Must find words to describe sounds. Very hard. I suppose if I think of Kevin Drumm in terms of his recent output he takes on either the guises of the drone genius of Imperial Distortion and Organ fame or the noise beast on records like Sheer Hellish Miasma and Land of Lurches. When I first forked out my cash for his self-titled debut and the followup, Second, I was expecting something that, while I concede may not have sounded like those more familiar Drumm records, wouldn’t sound quite like this. This almost verges on sound art. The seven untitled tracks almost explore the vastness of silence and the listeners reaction to its disruption. There are long stretches of near silent amp buzz which are assaulted in various ways by what sounds like a plugged in guitar falling down a flight of stairs, strings being violently ripped out, an electrified pice of felt and … well you get the idea. Strange, uncomfortable and challenging. What does it all mean at the end of the day? I have no idea. I simply do not have the patience to work it out. Is it a good record? Sure. It’s a great record. I’m just not sure if it is an enjoyable one. It’s a very different experience to the normal record that Kevin Drumm has given us in the last 10 years or so. This is noise on an almost micro scale and the more I stretch my comfort zone to take in records such as this, the idea that what artists such as Kevin Drumm do is a series of noise rather than as a block of noise  makes sense. Maybe this  is what any noise record would sound like if you took a three second snippet, shaved off the layers and played it all separately as a long strand of sound. Maybe this is an exercise in unwinding noise DNA.  I’m keen to hear other people’s experience with it. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Jazkamer – Chestnut Thornback Tar (Pica Disk) 2010

Posted in Jazkamer, Music, noise with tags , , on May 30, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Jazkamer’s 2010 monthly series was an absolute cracker. I say that even though I’ve only tracked  down five or six of the releases. The joy in any Jazkamer record besides the obvious quality of the noise, is the expectation of which style the record is going to take. I’m a big fan of Jazkamers grindcore records such as Metal Music Machine and I think they do minimalist noise very well. Chestnut Thornback Tar is a bit of everything. The 20 minute opener is as good a harsh drone track that you’ll hear. After that shit gets weird. There is rumbling free improv drums, electronic scree, rock n roll feedback, electronic malevolence, cut up field recordings and general noise weirdness. This is one of my favourite Jazkamer records probably because the sense of humour that first drew me towards them is in full effect here. The thing about Jazkamer is that I don’t think any casual listener let alone a nerd like myself can ever get a true handle on what they do. This afternoon I listened to this, the psychedelic something or other of Matthew 28:17, the perplexing almost Nurse with Woundish Spaghetti Western Rainbow (Marhaug solo record) and Peanuts. There is nothing to suggest that any of those records are from the same band except that they are all definitively non-music.  If noise is the pinnacle of rejecting musical conformity then Jazkamer add another layer of refusing to embrace a style or sound within that sound. They are one of the most transgressive noise bands right now. Take a dip.

Government Alpha – Quaint Putrid Slag (Xerxes) 2008

Posted in Government Alpha, Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on May 22, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Government Alpha is the name of the harsh noise Project of Yasutoshi Yoshida. In the past couple of months I’ve been trying to explore other Japanese noise artists besides Merzbow. The problem with this is that I keep wanting to reference Merzbow when I think about what I’m going to say about those records. On the face of it Government Alpha create a noise very much like Merzbow but I have listened to Quaint Putrid Slag  a bunch of times and I hadn’t been able to put my finger on why this is different to Merzbow until today.

I’m not sure how many of you are aware of William Burroughs “cut-up” technique. He spent a good deal of his career literally cutting up his written text and then rearranging it and fixing up the punctuation. I think the theory was that great art often comes about through accident and randomness. What it often did was made everything he subjected to the technique not make any sense but hey, what the fuck would I know. With Quaint Putrid Slag what it sounds like is Yoshida getting the basic building blocks of a Merzbow harsh, noise  record, deconstructing the layers and then having a chop at cutting it up and assembling it again. What it means for you as a listener is a slightly left field take on Merzbow-style noise. Still as brutal and harsh as hell but I think he adds something new to the genre. It is one of those records that gets better the more I listened. One of those great noise records that you can explore and always hear new things.  I’m going to track down a few more Government Alpha records and see where they take me – should be an interesting ride.

Daniel Menche – Feral (Sub Rosa) 2011

Posted in Daniel Menche, Drone, Music, noise with tags , , , on May 11, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Since Menche reactivated as a recording artist last year he has produced some of the strongest and strangest work in his catalogue. There are four tracks on offer here. Two being some of the nastiest recordings I’ve heard Menche make and the other two much more mellow – if you’re idea of mellow is the creeping realisation that the world will end.  What I think Menche does on the second track is explore a much more dark place than he has in the past. This isn’t so much about the blood and energy  flowing through nature but more an exploration of the blacker, hidden side both in its dark recesses and its ultimate destruction. The word “desolate’ gnaws at me when I listen to Feral. Devastated, forsaken, hopeless, ravaged.  The thing to listen to on Feral is the  lower registers. This is where I think Menche excels. Feral One is all noise nastiness with emphasis on giants swarms of static and enveloping clouds of blackness but underneath all of that  is a bass level. There is life underneath the noise but it requires some deep listening. The spooky, chalky, bone  fossicking which made an appearance on his Coultis collaboration is on display  in Feral Three but only lasts momentarily before what sounds like the digestive process of Cthulu takes over  before changing into what sounds like a field recording of a wind, sleet and hail event in Menche’s beloved forests.   Feral Four sees him bringing a lighter touch once again but somehow the creep factor delves into dark ambient territory and is one of my favourite Menche tracks period. Feral is one of the most diverse records of his catalogue. Worth tracking down.

Daniel Menche & Anla Courtis – Yagua Ovy (MIE Music) 2011

Posted in Daniel Menche, Drone, Music with tags , , , , on April 27, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Yet another helping of Menche-y goodness – this time on vinyl and scheduled to be released in June. I am a huge fan of Menche’s collaborative work and this time he gets together with Anla Courtis, the Argentinian  experimental guitarist. I’m a tad embarrassed that this is the first time I’ve heard a record featuring Courtis. After hearing this, it certainly won’t be my last.

Yagua Ovy is based on an Argentinian Werewolf myth  of the “blue dog”. The two tracks are an amalgam of Menche’s processed field recordings and Courtis’s instrumental experimentation. The two work very well together. Menche’s treated nature recordings are always disorienting. Actually strike that – most of what Menche does full stop is disorienting. To hear and then try to process the sounds of nature after Menche has finished often leaves me with the feeling that something sinister had been created. Nowhere have I had that effect more than on the first track, Runa-Uturunco,  where walls of static and squall wash over and often intimidate the creepy ambience created by Courtis. What Courtis does has to be heard to be fully appreciated. It is almost like someone is walking through fields of discarded bones – a chalky, hollow, percussive effect which lasts for the first seven minutes before yielding to  cacophony. I almost felt that I was being stalked.

The second track El Relincho has Courtis’s guitar experimentation overlaying what initially sounded like static but once the track progressed, revealed itself to be akin to someone struggling through banks of snow. If I felt like being stalked on the first track, the second is all about fear and flight. It’s both ominous and terrifying.

Menche says that the sound he creates is very controlled and is designed to provoke the listeners imagination. I think this is one of the best representations of that intent. Excellent. If you are lucky enough to have kept your record player then Yagua Ovy can be pre-ordered from

Dove Yellow Swans – Live During War Crimes 3 (Release the Bats) 2009

Posted in Drone, Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , on April 17, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

After the Yellow Swans broke up they released the final chapter in the excellent Live During War Crimes series. Like the first two records, Live During War Crimes 3 captures the band in full frontal assault, harsh drone territory. The four untitled tracks on display here are almost overwhelming. They each churn away as if the shimmering transcendencies of their later work got taken over by the forces of evil. The first track in particular is something so brutally oppressive listening through the full 25 minutes seems foolish in retrospect.

It is only on the fourth track that light and oxygen are allowed to filter through the noise and its 25 minutes strikes a fantastic balance between noise, experimentalism and drone. In many ways it is closer to the tracks on Burning Star Core’s Papercuts Theater – a record that is undoubtably heavy going but ultimately  rewarding …. once my ears were able to tease out the subtlety.

Live During War Crimes 3 is not a place to start if you’ve never heard the band before but for Yellow Swans tragics, this tricky to track down, final hurrah is worthwhile getting. Track 4 especially made me miss them all over again.

Zbigniew Karkowski and Daniel Menche – Unleash (Alien 8) 2008

Posted in Daniel Menche, Music, noise with tags , , , on April 12, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

This is my favourite noise record. Period. I’m not saying it’s the best noise record, merely my favourite.

Much of Menche’s best work (like Kevin Drumm and Merzbow) occurs in collaboration. Here the combined force of Menche’s processed, percussive, drone and the electronic squall and decay of Karkowski make for a heady mix. The six tracks on display here are in fact one long real time improvisation split up as it glides seamlessly into different movements. I’m much more familiar with Menche’s work so the striking aspect for me is his percussion which both stabilise and propel the collaboration. By the time I reached the half way point in the second track that percussion had been essentially buried. The promise of the title bore fruit. It is a torrent … a hurricane of noise – this time anchored by a tense, tonal undercurrent. As track 3 starts the sounds morph again and what is essentially released is very ugly indeed – like tar being flooded with electricity.

The two disparate elements that Menche and Karkwoski bring to the collaboration is what creates this very fine record. I think Unleash is a pretty essential record but seems to have been ignored in noise circles. Neither artist is particularly trendy in a noise sense but ignore this record to your detriment. Brutal and compelling.

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