Music Reviews

Artist: Compactor (@)
Title: Infrastructure
Format: Tape
Label: Oxidation
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed Compactor’s “Technology Worship” and found it to be absolutely inspiring, so when Marc of Oxidation dropped me a line to let me know that he was sending me the new tape from Compactor to review I wondered how it would measure up. Seriously – it was the best noise album I had heard in quite some time. Well, System Administrator Derek Rush has managed to do it again by changing the approach a bit. If Technology Worship was a manifesto of sorts on technology, this one can be seen as a statement on our crumbling infrastructure. First off, let’s talk about the packaging. I was recently lamenting to my wife that with the advent of digital downloading, we have gotten away from the ridiculous packaging that made each release more than simply an audio recording, but also an object of art. Benner has been in this scene for a long time and clearly was feeling the same thing because this packaging is fantastic. The tape is packaged between two weathered metal plates and wrapped in painted wire mesh, then held together by two bolts. The packaging also serves as a fitting enclosure for this album; I like to think that the fact that it is only held together by two bolts rather than the four it should have had to truly secure the tape is intentional, representing our impulse to cut corners when possible. The liner artwork echoes this sentiment, with scenes of urban decay overlaid with assessments from the American Society of Civil Engineers grading infrastructure at an overall level of D+. Now on to the music itself. This tape consists of two tracks. “Advancing Decline” kicks it off with an industrial track, and I mean this in the sense of Test Department pounding on iron girders in an underpass to make music. Pounding machinery merges with rumbling, distorted analog bass tones. This is music meant to evoke machinery. Metal clanks and rattles throughout as the bass plods away in its slow rhythm until it all dissolves into a grinding wall of distortion, static, and feedback. Turn it over and we have “Total Failure.” The machinery is gone and noise is all that remains. The sound evokes an engine that just can’t seem to turn over, the screech of gears out of place, a belt that is slipping. Overall, this is another solid release from Compactor. It’s limited to 40 copies, so if you’re like me you’ll want to get the physical release before it’s gone, but unlike some of the weird packaged releases from back in the day, this music stands on its own quite well. This tape weighs in at around 20 minutes.

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