Archive for noise

Kevin Drumm – Land Of Lurches (Hanson) 2003

Posted in Drone, Kevin Drumm, Music, noise with tags , , on March 24, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

I like Kevin Drumm. I like the fact that he never puts out the same record twice. His explorations of processed guitar  are never less than fascinating. Land of Lurches is now out of print but is pretty  easy to track down and if you like your noise with a dose of heaviness then, friends, this is the record for you.

The first track, Samson’s Cold Minotaurs might start as a heavy duty drone track, but the tsunami of blackness that builds in the distance and crushes everything in its path, might just be of the thrilling noise moments I’ve ever had … and it only gets better from there.

I might be howled down for this but I think that Land of Lurches is a direct challenge to the Sheer Hellish Miasma tragics. Is Land of Lurches actually a better record?

A fair bit of Drumm’s back catalogue has been rereleased in the past couple of years. This one may not have the reputation of Sheer Hellish Miasma or even his self titled debut but it would be great to see Land of Lurches get the same reissue treatment. Noise nerd heaven in less than 40 minutes.

Kevin Drumm – Imperial Distortion (Hospital) 2008

Posted in Drone, Kevin Drumm, Music, noise with tags , , , on March 9, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

The problem with discovering a new artist is that it might be entirely possible that the first record that you hear might not exactly be representative of the work that the artist is known for. Take for example Kevin Drumm. I had listened to his great split with Daniel Menche some time earlier but Imperial Distortion was my first experience of solo Drumm. Most sensible people would have started with Sheer Hellish Miasma which is considered by many (including me) to be one of the finest noise records ever made. On SHM, Drumm produces a harsh electronic guitar masterpiece. Imperial Distortion is a much more muted ride.

In a recent interview, Drumm said that he created the sounds of Imperial Distortion from discarded work that he rediscovered. Pieces that had a less dense quality about them. So in effect this record is made from work produced between 1995 and 2008 which has been processed, tampered and played with to create one of the finest meditative drone records I own. Hardcore Drumm fans might tend to be a bit dismissive of Imperial Distortion due to an absence of noise per se, but if you pick you way through his back catalogue the drone has always been there; usually sheathed in layers of blistering distortion or fuzzed out walls of extreme volume but they were there. Drumm called these “go nowhere tracks” but you know, sometimes the fun is is staying in the same place.

Merzbow – Tentacle (Alchemy) 1999

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on March 8, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Has anyone else noticed how the absolute arse has fallen out of the CD market? Stuff that I thought I’d never get the chance to own has become infinitely affordable. I won’t brag about the $14.00 copy of Green Wheels I tracked down last week (yet) but Merzbow’s back catalogue, which had been shockingly expensive has now come within reach.

Last year a reader tipped me off to a guy on Discogs who was offloading his Merzbow collection pretty cheaply. I really wanted Sha Mo 3000 and Vibractance (Adam – do you want to review that one?) but I also picked up Tentacle for shits and giggles. Tentacle is one of Merzbow’s laptop recordings and in many ways it has a lot in common with the uncompromising harshness of the mid-1990’s output like Oersted and Pulse Demon. Some  of the tracks are pretty short by Merzbow standards and for what is essentially a harsh noise record, pretty varied.

The two tracks that worked best for me are Stormy Tuesday and Stormy Monday. Stormy Tuesday is a style of noise that I can hear reflected in the work of Russell Haswell and is a track that reveals the level of control required to make great noise. The second Stormy track is the pick of the record. What starts out like the Kakadu field recordings of KK Null’s Fertile morphs into  pop Merzbow, speed metal Merzbow and all points in-between. It’s like the entirety of 1930 and Space Metalizer crammed into 26 minutes. If you find this in your travels pick it up. Another great Merzbow record. About a 7.5 on the harshness scale I reckon.

Keith Fullerton Whitman – Disingenuity b/w Disingenuousness (Pan) 2010

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

If you want to set yourself a challenge as a music reviewer, try finding words to describe a Keith Fullerton Whitman record. Over the years I have managed to create a way of writing about Merzbow but noise/experimental artists like Keith Fullerton Whitman are really tough. One of the things I promised myself I wouldn’t do when I started this blog was to reference the obscure with the more obscure. If I wanted to go down that path then I could tell you that this record sounds like John Wiese and Russell Haswell recording each other in the hull of a disused oil tanker but that would be cheating.

If you are familiar with noise then in the words of Dylan Nyoukis  will make sense – this is a record of noises, not noise. There is no layered wall of sound. The layers have been stripped back, the noise compartmentalised, and then strung together to create an, at times, hyper-kinetic library of experimental sound that bounces around in a an expansive, echoing acoustic space. There are compelling reasons why this record turned up on so many people’s Best of 2010 lists. Challenging, fun and mesmerizing. An excellent record.

Birchville Cat Motel – With Maples Ablaze (Scarcelight Recordings) 2004

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, Drone, Music, New Zealand Bands, noise with tags , , , , on February 26, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Two of the first “out there” experimental/noise bands that I heard were the almight Yellow Swans and New Zealand’s Birchville Cat Motel, basically the alias of Campbell Kneale. Sadly both “bands” are now gone. They’re all still making records under different names and both bands left a legacy of fantastic records.

It’s worthwhile tracking down some of Birchville Cat Motel’s work because I think he is one of the few artists that managed to combine field recordings and drone so well that a menacing pastoral ambience is created.  BCM also straddled other genres. I’m a huge fan of his black metal/psych records like Bird Sister Blasphemy  and Astro Catastrophes but I think he did his finest work when he embraced the drone. Maybe With Maples Ablaze is my favourite record of his entire catalogue. I found this heavily discounted at my local record store a fortnight ago and I nearly wept when I found it.

Over its 10 untitled tracks Kneale creates extraordinary palettes of field recordings and drone.  With Maples Ablaze often sounds somewhere between KTL, Menche and ambient Kevin Drumm. It is superb and like just about everything BCM released now out of print. This record has inspired me to reconnect with the ten or so records of his that I own. There are some great records you need to track down but if the only thing you can find easily is Seventh Ruined Hex put your hand in your pocket. When I reviewed it a few years ago I was dismissive of it. I was wrong. As an aside – I don’t advocate this often but if you find a sneaky download of With Maples Ablaze start clicking. An important work from a band that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Black Mountain Transmitter – Black Goat of the Woods (Aurora Borealis) 2010

Posted in Music, noise with tags , , on February 11, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

I’ve always liked the idea of a record that gives me a fright. The problem is that the genres of music designed to do this don’t work for me.  Take Black Metal. Lord knows that I’ve tried to find a great Black Metal record but they always give me the chuckles. Wolves in the Throne Room was the last Black Metal record I dabbled with and it crystalized the problem that I have with the genre. It all sounds horribly forced. Even Khanate’s last one was a bit of a doddle.

The only records that do a good job of unsettling me are those in eth noise realm. Think Wolf Eyes, Prurient, Hair Police and Cherry Point but I’ve done those bands to death and I’m looking for something new.

Luckily along came The Wire’s 2010 wrap up and an intriguing essay from Mr Savage Pencil himself, Edwin Pouncey. Lord knows that magazine lives to create a new genre of music and according to Pouncey bands like Black Music Transmitter fall under the banner of Hauntology.  It’s a stupid genre because the bands listed in that piece are all totally different but the thing that unites them all is the idea of using horror soundtracks and related spookiness as source material.

Black Mountain Transmitted are a duo from Chicago, Black Goat of the Woods was originally released on a limited release CD-R before getting the re-release treatment from aurora borealis last October.

The single 40 minute track that makes up this record is a tribute to the incidental, atmospheric music of long lost horror soundtracks. This is less about demon screams and the cries of people getting eviscerated and more about swirling mists of tense strings and ominous vibes. This is the music that plays when you see the dark figure walking through the woods. It is not the sounds of violence but dread. This album works for me because the band could have been terribly obvious about their intent, but on Black Goat of the Woods they hold back and it is all the most creepy for that restraint.

Yellow Swans – Bring The Neon War Home (Narnuck) 2005

Posted in Drone, Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , on February 10, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

I miss Yellow Swans. Their last two albums were some of the finest noise/experimental/drone/whatever records you’ll ever hope to hear. They were particularly stunning in their ability to move from their more noisier incarnation to some truly beautiful sound moments. They were my favourite “noise” band. I suppose part of that bias is that the Yellow Swans were one of the first noise bands that I’d heard and when I began  my explorations of tuneless music, those Live During War Crimes records on Sweden’s Release the Bats were my soundtrack.

For those of us who are into the band the releases of Yellow Swans fall into two broad categories: The proper albums like At All Ends and Going PLaces and the albums where they became D.Yellow Swans (Dreamer, Drowned, Dove, Drift, Descension). Yet, stylistically, whether I listen to the “D” records or their proper releases, the progression of the Yellow Swans sound is quite linear.

Take their proper release from 2005, Bring The Neon War Home. I’ve been meaning to get this for the past four years and it was only last week that I saw it sitting in my local indie rip-off store. On this record the band sound like they are having a crap load of fun. In some ways it reminds me of a classier, noisier, more fully realised version of Hospital’s Hairdryer Peace. That comaprison comes not only from the scope of the ideas that each record contains but also the heavy use of dub underneath all the squall. The use of electronica and are I say it, minimalist techno beats under the soaring and quite majestic noise rock, makes me think of Black Dice but that said Bring The Neon War Home is a much more “together” affair. In the final track the beats are abandoned and instead we get a sign post of the calm, yet noisy beauty which would mark their later work.

It is an excellent record. It gives me  the same buzz I got from heating Burning Star Core’s Challenger for the first time.

Astro – Astral Orange Sunshine (Blossoming Noise) 2007

Posted in Astro, C.C.C.C., Music, noise with tags , , , on February 9, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

In the past couple of months I’ve decided to expand my knowledge of Japanese noise and general musical weirdness past Merzbow, Boredoms and Boris. Much of this exploration has been facilitated by my local rip-off indie record shop which has decided to downsize its avant garde section by more than half. This has meant that they have heavily discounted some absolutely fantastic records and I’ve been picking a stack of these records up. I suppose to those of you in foreign lands, the prices I’m now paying is basically what you can get these records for online. There is a reason why record shops are dying. I don’t mind paying a  bit extra but the mark up on some of these pre-discount was disgraceful.

Astro is the name of the solo work of Hiroshi Hasegawa of C.C.C.C. This was recorded over four years and uses an EMS Synth as its main source of noise. Astro shows a different side to Japanese noise, The three tracks found on this record are lengthy explorations of “space” music. I’m sorry for using that word – I’m always turn off a record when I read it in a review but I struggle to think of a better term. This sits somewhere between Japanese noise as defined by Merzbow and 1960’s US Sci Fi TV musical interludes. Think Lost in Space meeting the avant garde. If I take the “Space” theme to its stupid conclusion, sometimes this sounds like floating towards a distant nebula and sometimes it sounds like the soundtrack for getting stuck in a rather nasty asteroid field. Most of all though, it seems to be the noise equivalent of a bad psychedelic LSD trip. Space is scary people. No one can hear you scream. A record that combines bliss and fear. Love it.

Masonna – Inner Mind Mystique (Release) 1996

Posted in Masonna, Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , , on January 29, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Masonna is the name used by Japanese noise artist Yamakazi Maso – he seems to have been a bit dormant this decade but readers tell me that his releases from the mid-1990’s are some of the best noise you’ll hear. I’ve stayed away from Masonna until now because I assumed he was a fair bit like Merzbow. I was wrong.

I read an interview with Whitehouse’s William Bennet in which he was saying that in the early days of his labels such as Come Organisation, the majority of their product was sent to Japan where there was a huge market for it. Late last year I decided to increase my exposure to Japanese noise and weirdness past Merzbow and Boredoms and onto Government Alpha, Incapacitants, Masonna, Solar Anus and Guilty Connector. My earlier exposure to Japanese noise was limited to Merzbow and there isn’t great deal of relevance to the transgressive power electronics of Whitehouse and Ramleh etc In Mr Akita’s work. On Inner Mind Mystique the  seven tracks drip with the fetid ugliness of Mr Bennet and Mr Best. I am partial to a bit of Whitehouse. The lyrics (when I can understand them ) are usually disgusting   but the sound is one I really enjoy. Masonna works for me on the same level and the real joy is that I can’t understand a single thing he is yelping so I have guilt free power electronics pleasure for the first time in my life. This record is  my first experience with Masonna, I think  I need to hear more.

Merzbow – Sha Mo 3000 (Essence) 2003

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on January 26, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

The beauty about writing about music and noise in particular is that my readers let me know of records I need to hear. This 2003 offering from Merzbow is one of those ones that often comes up in conversation and when I have read the Merzbow forums it became apparent that Sha Mo 300 is considered with some affection by Merzbow fans. After listening to this repeatedly over the past week I can understand why.

Sha Mo 3000 is one of two records that Merzbow has released through the Brazilian Essence music label (the other being Camouflage) and to be honest you won’t find two more diverse offerings by the same artists. If Camouflage is a trip back to the harsh, uncompromising days of the mid- 1990’s then Sha Mo 3000 is a continuation of his wickedly playful side.  Sha Mo 3000 is one of those great, fun Merzbow records where harsh noise meets beats and rhythm, where guitar psychedelia meets doom laden distortion and  mutated field recording death-disco makes an appearance. To give you an idea of just how diverse this sounds on the fourth track, the 22 minute Dreaming K-Dog, a cuckoo sings, an alarm clock starts ringing, chicken noises are looped, guitars that sound like they have been recorded backwards play  and electrical menace overlays the whole thing – and that is the first two minutes.

Sha Mo 3000 is a thoroughly accessible noise record. It all sounds so completely effortless but it is one of those terrific Merzbow records that you can play again and again and hear new things. If you like you Merzbow in an ear bleeding kind of way then you’ll need to track down something like Pulse Demon – Sha Mo 3000 is not the record you’re looking for. It is a record that explores all sides of Merzbow’s sound interests – psychedelia, harsh noise, percussive beats, drumming, field recordings and animal noise.  It is one of the easiest hopping on points for anyone thinking of exploring the world of Merzbow. On a harshness scale this is  somewhere down near 2 out of 10. Don’t listen to the Merzbow tragics who dismiss everything he’s released after 2000. This is one of his best.

Merzbow – SCSI Duck (Fourth Dimension) 2003

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on January 8, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

When I first started listening to Merzbow I wondered whether there would be  a point where  I could differentiate between good Merzbow records and ones that were less than essential. I think I am probably beyond that point now and my ears are tuned in to an extent where a Merzbow either excites me, has some moments of greatness or is simply dull.  I wasn’t a fan of his drumming records and I think that sentiment goes for a lot of noise nerds out there.  The trick when writing about Merzbow is to try and figure out why a record like SCSI Duck is an exciting record even though many of the sound forms are instantly recognisable.  I gotta tell you I think I got nothing sensible. But for what it’s worth there is some great noise textures in this record, the rate of change in the scree, blast and hiss are all good, there is even some quasi-industrial goodness at times but to borrow from some outdated slang I think on this record Merzbow “got his shit tight”. This is a record you rarely see being written about and I think that is a shame. It’s not in my top five Merzbow records but it is definitely in my Top 15. It also proves that those Merzbow purists who reckon everything he did post 2000 is crap are wrong – very, very wrong. There seems to be a massive amount of these being sold at the moment cheap on ebay and discogs. I advise you to pick on up.

Daniel Menche – Terre Paroxysm (Utech) 2010

Posted in Daniel Menche, Drone, Merzbow, Music with tags , , , on January 8, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Terre means Earth inFrench and a Paroxysm is a violent outburst. The name makes a lot of sense when you hear this new set of processed field recordings.

I’ve spent a fair bit of the year listening to Menche. The percussive explorations of the past few years have given way to recordings such as the almighty Kataract that capture the violence of nature in extreme drone recordings. Terre Paroxysm is a follow on from that work and a very different beast to Ordardek. What Menche does on Terre Paroxysm is record storms and other violent weather events which happened at his home in Oregon. He then processes the sounds to create a drone laden set of field recordings which somehow create a creeping tension whilst the primary sounds are still recognisable. Never before have I heard water drips, sleet hitting windows and torrential downpours sound just so damn evil,. I love this sort of stuff and he was good enough to include the Blood of the Land mini Cd when I ordered this from him which is just as good. If you only buy one Menche record from 2010 you won’t go far wrong with this one.

Wolf Eyes / Prurient – The Warriors (Hospital Productions) 2006

Posted in Music, noise, Prurient, Wolf Eyes with tags , , , on January 1, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

This is sadly out of print but readily available if you stalk Discogs. When I first experimented with leftfield non-music the idea of subjecting myself to another Wolf Eyes record after my experience with Burned Mind was a remote possibility at best. But as the years have trickled by and my ears have tuned in properly, a Wolf Eyes record is an exciting prospect. From the outset I should mention that this is not a collaboration. Wolf Eyes do the first two tracks and Prurient has  the final eleven. I’m not entirely sure what the point of that is except perhaps a financial collaboration for the band. Initially on buying this I was a bit disappointed because I was keen to hear  a pure collaboration like Prurient’s work with Kevin Drumm to Wolf Eyes work with Black Dice. But when I approached it as two separate EP’s from giants of the noise scene it became a lot more fun. The two Wolf Eyes tracks explore the creepier more minimal side of the band rather than the horror death disco of Burned Mind. They are great – brooding horror- capes of unsettling intensity. The eleven Prurient tracks rank among his best. High pitched scree and industrial clang moves into those distortion laden dark ambient passages found on Black Post Society. Quality stuff. This morning is New Years Day and after a night of being subject to a great deal of U2 and Powderfinger I’m probably enjoying this a little too much.

Zaimph – La Nuit Electrique (Utech) 2007

Posted in Double Leopards, hototogisu, Music, noise, Zaimph with tags , , on December 29, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Maybe we need to figure out a better word for noise to describe some of these records because the deeper and deeper I go into noise I get the feeling that the term is for the most part redundant. Take a well known “noise”  group such as Jazkamer. Their recent series of records are all completely different and very few approach noise in a Merzbow sense. I suppose even called Merzbow noise is getting a bit silly – I own 70+ Merzbow records (80+ if I include Merzbient) – given the variety of sound he produces. Maybe that bloke from Choclate Monk has it right when he demanded the use of the term “noises” instead of noise.

You see Marcia Basset (Double Leopards, Hototogisu) is a pretty important artist in the field of “noise” except the sound that she produces is not the same as the brutal Japanese stuff, or the Rust-belt decay of Wolf Eyes of even the playfulness of the Scandanavians. The sound she produces on La Nuit Electrique is both haunting, sinister and at times uncompromising. The first track is like a broken pianola which plays all by itself whilst an AM radio broadcast of the sound of fireworks bubbles underneath. In the last third I get the hint of disembodied voice floating through the track. It demands close listening and a fair bit of volume to tease out all of its hidden gems. The third track is my favourite. Lets just say this afternoon whilst dealing with back pain through the liberal use of codeine and muscle relaxants, I had the distinct feeling of entering a cavern in the middle of an ancient religious ritual. Pimmon used similar vocal effects in his recent show and that just blew me away. This is my first exposure to Basset as a solo artist. This record is certainly not noise in the way most of us define it but it is just as creepy and much more unsettling. I might need to hear more of Zaimph-  this records works for me pretty well.

Merzbow – Merzbient (Solielmoon) 2010

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on November 20, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Before I get too my own thoughts on Merzbient  – this is how Solielmoon explain where this comes from.

Merzbient” is a twelve CD collection of Merzbow’s previously unreleased ambient recordings. The music was recorded in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, at a time when Masamik Akita (Merzbow) was becoming famous for his live performances, which featured some of the harshest sounds ever heard. The records he released mirrored these peformances, and helped establish his reputation as the prime mover in the Japanese noise scene. The electronics he used for his recordings were the same ones he used for live shows. Out of necessity he toured with gear that was small, simple and portable. But all the while he was secretly recording quieter, more atmospheric music, and using a wide variety of acoustic instruments including an impractical monstrosity he describes as a “big handmade junk instrument made from a metal box with piano wires”, which he played with a violin bow. He made hours and hours of recordings, but kept them private and never released them, until they were eventually set aside and forgotten. He recently rediscovered the multi-track mastertapes in a box and remastered them for release on CD.

As  you trawl the interwebs you might notice that there is a defined sense of elitism when it comes to Merzbow. Have a look at some of the stuff on Lastfm for instance. There are the people who question Merzbow’s relevance, the “I don’t listen to anything after 2000/1998/1994 (take your pick) crowds, the analogue purists, the anything softer than Verenology is crap mob, the Masonna are better club. The absolutism of many of these views is something that surprises me. I’ve said it before but if you are undertaking a journey in to the world of noise, or Merzbow specifically, then that journey is going to be a very private one. You are going to hear things in the sound that no one else will. Your relationship with it will always be unique to everyone elses. So when I review Merzbow the only things that are going to be relevant to anyone else is a general overview of the sound. In the past I’ve relied on a definition of harshness, the presence or absence of recognisable forms and whether it has a beat, the style (big-beat, industrial, pure noise). Four years ago I wrote about my experience with Merzbear, a decidedly easy hopping on point for anyone new to Merzbow or noise, then onto Merzzow, Amlux, Tauromachine and the one that really blew me away 1930. Last year I was inspired by a reader in New York to explore the really harsh stuff of the mid-1990’s and realised I didn’t need to hang on to those recognisable forms anymore.

The sound on Merzbient covers a period from from 1988 to 1990 and in a noise sense covers a huge amount of ground. Before we got too much further, the first thing I wrestled with when hearing this was my definition of ambient. I’ve always defined it in the context of Eno’s Music for Airports. If you do the same then Merzbient is sure as shit not ambient. This is Merzbow after all, the King of Noise and Merzbient is a decidedly noisy affair. Even when the tracks are flooded with light such as the music on Disc 1 there is a distinct ominous vibe. As I trawl through each of the discs I’ve been struck with how some of Merzbient  sounds like that creeping dread that you might hear on quieter Wolf Eyes tracks. In fact, there is a real sense on some of these discs of the rust-belt decay of the Michigan noise scene. I could pick out bits and pieces of the tracks and tell you that this bit sounds a little like this record or that. I could tell you on Disc 2 that the use of sample animal recordings made me think of Nurse With Wound before some decidedly No-Neck Blues Band style acoustic guitar and drum vibe shattered that illusion – but to pick out all the bits that worked for me over these 12 discs would require me starting a separate blog that I would suspect would defeat the purpose of why I started this blog in the first place by referencing the obscure with even more obscure comparisons.

I encourage anyone with a Merzbow interest to buy this. I know that many of you have got it already and I’d love to hear your thoughts about  it in the comments (or send me an email I think that in the scheme of noise, Merzbient is, dare I say it, extremely important. When the next scholar writes on noise I think that Merzbient will be considered one of it’s seminal works.

Merzbow – Yoshinotsune (Clu Clux Clam) 2004

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise with tags , , on November 9, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

This is one of my favourite Merzbow records – truly incredible. An absolute must for Merzbow fans.  A reader of this blog, Adam from Sydney, kindly agreed to write his thoughts on it. Cheers Adam.

This is one of the more unusual Merzbow albums. It’s unusual mainly because of the first track, clocking in at 25 and a half minutes. It starts out with some pretty mean deep-end rumbling, a la Zbigniew Karkowski (with whom Akita has made a couple collaborative albums as MAZK). Soon afterwards a distinctive drum rhythm kicks in and it will go on through the entire track.  However, this is not the sampled jazz or rock drumming (as heard on Aqua Necromancer, for example) or Akita’s own drumming like on the 13 Japanese Birds series; it’s rather “tribal”. I’m not sure if he’s used similar drumming on other albums (from what I’ve heard, Dust of Dreams might be somewhat similar). Anyway, the piece starts building up slowly, more sound events start happening but the freeform noise chaos so characteristic of most Merzbow never really sets in. Mind you, the track is still a beast: at one point a sound is added that is not too dissimilar to what you’d expect giant horns to sound like (I was reminded of the Yoshi Wada album “Earth Horns with Electronic Drone” on which a couple “homemade pipehorns”  are played, with even the shortest one being at least 5 meters long). Listening to it I was trying to figure out what the track could be likened to most and I came up with this: it sounds like an unstoppable factory with all its noises compressed into a rhythm that beats the shit out of you (with a certain amount of non-rhythmic noise matter present at the same time), and this factory happens to be marching to the harsh sounds of giant horns. I know this makes no sense so in case you’re still wondering, I’ll just say this: it’s intense. Very intense.  Now with Merzbow, that’s usually an understatement, but this time it’s intense in a different, much more controlled way. Then comes the second track (all track titles are in Japanese (although in Latin letters) so I won’t bother inserting them) which starts with Akita playing the acoustic guitar like a madman. This might or might not be looped but quickly becomes a texture upon which a grinding noise loop is laid. Basically the whole track is looped and quite hypnotic.  My favourite part comes around the 12th minute mark where for a short while everything stops, leaving  an awesome electronic loop – and it’s not even distorted.  This part returns a couple minutes later and the piece ends with the same acoustic part it started with. The third and final track begins with the kind of synthesized bird chirping/electronic sounds mixture that is also the starting theme of the last track on the Puroland album. Then it’s loop territory again: this time the loop has a bit of an industrial flavour. It continues basically throughout the whole song which is the shortest on the album, almost 12 minutes. It’s the track most typical of Merzbow on the album, although the loop means there’s a strict structure.

Yoshinotsune is very rhythmic (but not at all in a way the Merz-series on Important Records is) and much more structured than most Merzbow albums. There are much less high frequency abstract noise freakouts too (for me this sound has become the “trademark” Merzbow sound). It shows (especially the first track) a fairly different and very rewarding side of Merzbow. But – and this is probably crystal clear anyway – it will still test your speakers and the endurance of anyone nearby who’s unfortunate enough not to like noise music.


Lasse Marhaug – The Quiet North (Second Layer) 2010

Posted in Lasse Marhaug, Music, noise with tags , , on September 14, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Lasse told me that he made the Quiet North to make a better  version of what he thought The Great Silence was lacking. On the face of it, this is a half hour long, dirty slab of layered, extreme distortion. I’ve got loads of this on my ipod so why does this work for me  in a way that no other noise record has for a while? There is this undulating texture within the distortion itself which is really hard to explain. So on a break from contemplating The Quiet North I read an interview with jazz drummer Andrew Cyrille in which he says “ You can look at the water flowing and it doesn’t have any division but it’s rhythm ….Rhythm is just nothing but motion and movement.”

What on the face of it seems a bit simplistic takes on a very different context when you hold it up to a pure noise record like this one. You see despite all of the  brain scrubbing ferocity, there is a type of rhythm in the pulsating distortion of The Quiet North. It may not be apparent from your first listen but I guarantee you it’s there. So if a type of rhythm defines what we call music, is The Quiet North music? I’m not going that far but it may in the scheme of things this may be as important a noise record as you  are likely to find. If there was any justice this will feature in many best of 2010 lists.

The Dead C – Patience (Ba Da Bing) 2010

Posted in Music, noise, The Dead C with tags , , on September 13, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

I was having a drink with a newly acquired friend that I’ve met through the kindy our kids go to. We got onto the subject of music and I told him about this blog. His taste is pretty mainstream and it’s always awkward trying to explain to someone why noise is so special and the sort of records that I review here.  He’s an ex-pat New Zealander so in order to find mutual ground I told him how much I loved the Dead C. “Those old guys?” he said “Jesus. Are they still around.” We then moved onto the topic of the dearth of new ideas in music and left the topic of the Dead C hanging. In many ways the point he was trying to make is proven with Patience. There are no startling new ideas on this record. This is classic Dead C, but it still absolutely shits all over much else of what is being released at the moment.

On October 12th this gets released. If you are a follower of this band you will know that there is no other band that sounds like the Dead C. Whether they’re doing Sonic Youth style avant rock, experimental improv or extended lo-fi jams they still sound like the Dead C. Dead C records have this foggy, lo-fi beauty to them – like three blokes one day sat in someone’s garage and fire up the tape recorder. This is part of their charm and without it the band wouldn’t be the same.

After the excellent career spanning Vain, Erudite and Stupid compilation the band seemed to get a new lease of life. Besides some vinyl reissues of some long out of print records, the Dead C as a creative unit picked up momentum again. Their first original release on Ba Da Bing was Future Artists which was probably one of their most difficult listens. Secret Earth came out a year or so later with a more song orientated approach combined with stacks of classic Dead C moments and Michael Morley’s distinctive moan. Patience follows a similar path to Secret Earth – extended, droning, avant-rock jams, but on Patience the vocals are left out of  the mix. It is a bit more difficult than Secret Earth but a much easier to listen to than Future Artists. In many ways this might be the most social record they’re done in a while whilst keeping all of their difficult lo-fi charm.

If you are a Dead C fan then I am preaching to the converted – I guarantee that you’ll love it. For those that have never heard the band, this is as good a place as any to start. A fantastic record in any language.

Burning Star Core – Inside the Shadow (Hospital) 2010

Posted in Burning Star Core, Drone, Music, noise with tags , , , on September 10, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

For me, this is an almost perfect record. Originally released in 2005 as a limited edition CD-R , Hospital Records have had the good sense to re-release it to a wider audience. C.Spencer Yeh is part of my holy trinity of amazing drone artists (Kevin Drumm and Daniel Menche make up the three) and this is another extraordinary example of his craft. It is probably a little easier to get into than this years “proper release” Papercuts Theatre, but it is just as gobsmackingly fantastic. There are three tracks in all. The first Inside the Shadow (w Metals) is a drone track which is never allowed to become truly transcendent through the addition of  a steady stream of restrained clanging, clinking and tinkling of various objects through out its 15 minutes. The second track Now United showcases Yeh at his best – a processed violin, that when not descending into chaos, comes across as some elegiac, celtic jig. It is one of my favourite Burning Star Core tracks. Things are rounded off with the final track Inside the Shadow which is a much more straight forward drone track that switches between tones before creeping into sorrowful and at times more threatening territory as extra layers are added. It’s a little anti-climatic compared with the first two tracks but is still a great example of the emotional impact great drone can have on the listener. I know its five years old but it is still one of the records of the year

Prurient – Shipwreckers Diary (Ground Fault) 2004

Posted in Music, noise, Prurient with tags , , on August 19, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

This one took me back a bit. If you have dabbled in a bit of Prurient’s recent work you’ll know that it’s all a bit gothic, power electronics about sexual violence, death, self harm and fluids. I’m a big fan and anyone who hasn’t heard Black Post Society, Cocaine Death or his un-fucking-believable  collaboration with Kevin Drumm needs to do so now. prurient is still producing some of the most vital noise out there right now. Shipwreckers Diary is a much more straight forward noise record than we’re used to. There is no drama or screaming or thematically difficult stuff here. It is a record that owes a lot to Japanese noise and I suspect that if I sent this to you without the cover and wrote Merzbow on it you would be none the wiser although maybe a bit suspicious at the short length  of the tracks. I think it’s always pretty interesting if I discover a noise artist in their later career (hello Kevin Drumm) to have a bit of a fossick around their earlier work. This is a pretty good noise record. It may not be the Prurient I’m  used to but is that always such a bad thing?

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