Music Reviews

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Artist: Fertanish (@)
Title: Zero Zero Three
Format: CD
Label: Plus Noise Records (@)
Rated: *****
Fertanish is an experimental noise project by Bill Murphy from Washington, DC. On this full length debut outing of 12 tracks Fertanish ensures that the listener will be jarred out of complacency and exposed to some highly toxic sonic environments. The cover of this slick CD digipack (a mantis munching on a fly) is perhaps more symbolic than literal, as this isn't a field recording soundtrack for a Discovery Channel show on entomology. Well, there are places that have some of those elements, albeit sounding like they were run through a woodchipper, but more on that later.

'Practitioner' opens with a manic barrage of percussion and effluvia of noise that's akin to what Amon Tobin might sound like if he tried his hand in the noise genre. It morphs into this bouncy little Morse code rhythm for a bit and then the noise changes shape, size and dimension, spiraling ever upward. Fascinating. 'Mud' has a burbling, liquidy quality to it with heavy percussion loops and pounding drums. It moves faster than its title would indicate, but it does have a certain sludgy quality to it. 'Cockroach' makes use of sporadic gated percussion interjected with screeches until a torrent of noise overwhelms everything. Random sample & hold synth melody, chirping birds, other field recordings (then later some simplistic melodic synth) is a weird contrast to the shrieking cacophony that permeates this piece.

'Jetha' starts out with programmed rhythm on cymbals before the grating 'fingernails-on-a-chalkboard' noise takes over. Noise and field recording loops abound interspersed with burst rounds of kick-drum. 'We Wished for an Explosion' is heavy drum pattern and loops of other-worldly noise sonics, gated, backwards, over-under-sideway down. 'Airspace' takes field recordings of nature and environmental sounds and puts them in a blender of sonic distress. Is that jet overhead obliterating everything in its path? 'Grace,' the shortest piece on the album at a little under minute has a barely discernable melody in the background of this steadily harsh noise environment; you can hear a few tweets too, not of the Twitter variety.

'Lamb's Confusion' is more playful in the rhythm aspect, but no less heavy than what's gone on before. Storm giants dance a lumbering jig pummeling each other while gnomes laugh. 'Terminelegy' is ominous dark ambient with processed spoken vocals. 'Tired' has crunchy noise looping and a cuckoo sound descending synth sequence, and the sound of a billion birds gone wild. (The Hitchcock film has nothing on these avians.) Things get even wilder with bits of cleverly employed voice samples and a hundred elements I can't describe adding to the controlled chaos. Final track, 'The World Has Ended and We Have All Passed On' is an epic 14 ½ minute piece that seems to sum up everything that's gone on before it.

For noise enthusiasts, 'Zero Zero Three' is a veritable smorgasbord of turbulent pandemonium, and Fertanish shapes this sound sculpture like a true artist. You can tell a lot has gone into this work. I don't know the artist's vision for the future, but I'd like to hear Fertanish try something that tempers the abrasive side with less harsh sonic environments utilizing the sample and looping techniques that the artist has obviously mastered. (A little noise goes a long way in my world.) The CD seems to be widely available - Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, etc., etc., so if you're a noise enthusiast, I suggest you pick up a copy as it is quite an engaging listen.



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