Music Reviews

Sutcliffe Jugend: Shame

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Jul 03 2017
Artist: Sutcliffe Jugend
Title: Shame
Format: CD
Label: Hagshadow
Rated: *****
When I think about Sutcliffe Jugend of ten years ago, I think about chaotic guitar noise and distorted vocals, while if I think about the ones of the early 80s, I think about feedback and power noise. So, what about their sound of the latest years? Well, lately, their sound changed: they balanced the elements in a different way by using less distortions for the vocals, they combined different noise/sound sources together and they also changed the intensity of their sound on some tracks (check "Seedless" on their 2012 album "Blue Rabbit", for example), just to be able to have a wider palette of possibilities. On their latest album, titled "Shame" and released by Hagshadow, we have five new tracks that confirm the new path taken by Kevin Tomkins and Paul Taylor. I already listened to the opening track titled "Shame", because they played it on their concert at the latest W.G.T. festival in Leipzig at the beginning of this month and even if on the CD you lose a bit of the tension they create on stage, it sounds good and powerful. This track confirms what I wrote at the beginning of the review, as we have a melodic part played with a distorted bass guitar with the add of more guitar layers which create a fluctuating wave of sound. On this, Kevin is shouting his vocals about the worst human's behaviors, mostly concerning sex. On "Sledge" you can feel the tension but it's not a noise track, it has different layers of treated vocals with a clean one upfront while on the background we have a dissonant hammering of a which I think it could be a treated piano, which rhythmically repeats few notes. On "Hurts" we have noise tides which duet with a clarinet (or it's a feedback which is sounding like that). You don't know what to expect when the next tide it will arrive and this is a more effective way to create tension. "Bait" plays with guitar noise loops while Kevin shouts about survival. The closing track "Blood", is a long dreamy noise tune which is working as decompression room creating a dazing effect. I prefer this latest version of Sutcliffe Jugend, as they keep their sound more open to possibilities and I think that at this point of noise music, it's working better than an "in your face" formula. Well done!

Macronympha / Body Stress: Vile Affections Pt.1

 Posted by Marc Benner (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Jun 29 2017
Artist: Macronympha / Body Stress (@)
Title: Vile Affections Pt.1
Format: 7"
Label: 8EMINIS
Rated: *****
Macronympha is now Joe Roemer and Leo Sabatto (also known as Armenia) working together long distance and creating some of the best harsh noise available at this moment in time.

Body Stress is a newer harsh noise musician from Copenhagen. Body Stress is creating an excellent wall of sound in the same vein maybe not as cut-up but still pleasing to the ears for folks that like this type of stuff.

Vile Affections Pt.1 is two grueling sides of harsh noise on which may be the best sounding "lathe" I've ever heard. This 7" comes packaged in a nice hand-made cover with some excellent collage work.

This one is limited to 10 copies and may be pretty hard to get your hands on but if you can find this one it is well worth the effort.

Steel Hook Prostheses: Calm Morbidity

 Posted by Emanuele Ratti (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Jun 08 2017
Artist: Steel Hook Prostheses
Title: Calm Morbidity
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Steel Hook Prostheses (SHP for short) is a (well-known) heavy electronics/dark ambient duo from Texas.
In this specific experimental context bands have usually quite sophisticated concepts and stories behind their musical and graphical aspects. SHP is no exception. As you can read in several interviews here and there in the immense world-wide web, one of SHP’s member thought about such a peculiar name because of the time he spent in a Veteran’s Hospital, where his mom used to work back in the 1970s. Veteran’s hospitals ain’t ordinary hospitals, and this guy had plenty of time to observe atrocities and disfigured people. Therefore, most of SHP discography is really about medical stuff.
‘Calm Morbidity’ is no exception. A quick look at the songs titles prepares the listeners to a full-immersion into freaks (“Cyclopia”), confusion induced by drugs (“Doused with acids”), uncomfortable sensations (“Paresthesia”), etc. In other words, this album is about everything that can go wrong in the medical context. The ‘heavy electronics’ performed by SHP is not particularly original, but I think that in this genre failing in originality is not necessarily a vice. You have to do a lot of chaos, but you have to be good. You have to find a way to drag the listener into your own nightmares: this is the only important aspect of this music. And SHP are damned good. Their music shifts from a power electronics-based structure (“Hand of glory”, “Piss prophet”, “The medics” and in particular “Strangury”) to dark-ambient (“Doused with acid”, “Paresthesia”, “Sulphur Drip”). The dark ambient I’m talking about reminds me some Cold Meat industry-based acts such as Nordvargr or Necrophorus. But there is something more, like Lustmord (in particular “Purifying fire”) or some stuff produced by Aural Hypnox (Arktau Eos and Zoat Aon). The power-electronics parts are, let me say, more ‘modern’ and elaborated than classic projects in this type of music. The voice is distorted and modified way more than usual (take Genocide Organ to the extreme), but there is not a typical ‘noise-wall’, especially because of the dark ambient inserts and in general because it is really ‘synth-based’ (I would say less analog, more digital, but I might be wrong) rather than just grounded in the use of the typical home-made instruments of the noise scene. As I just said, it is not particularly original, but the way they combine different influences is remarkable. ‘Calm Morbidity’ is everything I can ask from an industrial album; violence and mystery at the same time: a perfect combination of power-electronics and dark ambient. Highly recommended.
I have to mention that this album is produced by Malignant Records. It goes without saying, Malignant Records has become one of the most important label for this type of music. I’m not exaggerating when I say that, if you like power electronics, dark ambient or death industrial more in general, then you can buy any Malignant’s release and you won’t be disappointed.

Stolen Light: Voices

 Posted by Marc Benner (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 08 2017
Artist: Stolen Light (@)
Title: Voices
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Inner Demons
Rated: *****
I have been familiar with Brett Lunceford's work as Stolen Light and Goose since the 1990's when I became obsessed with collecting the entire Troniks catalog. I then also began to discover his label Zaftig research which seemed to cease regular activity in about 2003. The label did continue to release its Christmas compilation until 2008, after that the label went quiet as did the projects with the exception of a few releases here and there on labels like Phage Tapes and taalem.

At this point, we come to the year 2017 which seemed fairly hopeless with everything going on in the political landscape. Early in the year though Dan Fox who runs the label Inner Demons announces he will be releasing some new work from some projects who have been dormant for some time. Projects like Fox's own Loss, 15 Degrees Below Zero and Stolen Light were announced in the new release lineup and hope had been restored to the world.

Stolen Light takes advantage of "field" recordings whether it be from television or just being out in an environment where a lot of activity is going on. In previous releases, the sounds surrounding these recordings can either be very noisy or subtle ambiance. With "Voices", Brett has utilized an approach that is somewhere on both spectrums. The first track Paranoia sounds like what a social anxiety attack feels like with the voices being clear in the beginning and the static building as time goes on. The noise at the end does almost fully envelope the voices by but they can still be heard in the background with no clear definition of what is going on.

The second track Communication And Commerce leads in with a much more dense layer of people chattering and talking in a loud restaurant or bar. The added noise on top is much more subtle this time but it works very well with this track. It is difficult to get good recordings in a crowded space with lots of sounds but Brett somehow manages to pull it off and make it interesting to listen to at the same time.

This is a great return of an understated artist in the experimental noise scene. My only complaint is the release is too short but since the label only does releases in the 3" CDr format it makes perfect sense. I hope to see Brett return to more long-form releases and there has been a rumor of resurrecting Zaftig Research, even if only for the Christmas Compilations.
Artist: Hey Exit (@)
Title: Caudata
Format: Tape
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Be careful if you decide to rise up the volume to catch the words by the disembodied voices, which seem to come out of a encrypted radiophonic transmission, while your mind is maybe getting ready to flow into the lulling stillness in the short opening track "Olm", as Brooklyn-based sound artist Brendan Landis aka Hey Exit will unexpectedly ignite a sonic blast that could let your eardrums bleed on the following "Irises", the harshest part of this excellent release, whose extreme and somehow magnetic virulence seems to be a preparatory storm to fertilize the listening soil for upcoming tunes. Residual electric charges and occasional muffled thunders fade out while the ambient layers, some chimes and a warming rising guitar tone begin to enfold listener in a soothing silent symphony on "But Is Not Consumed", a sort of anaesthetic following the previously described sonic fury. The metallic squeaking of sharpened blades and some scratches on scorched guitar chords are the elements that slightly disturb the static catalepsy of "So They Spoke", the track at the end of side A. The length of the last track I described is the same of "Small Burials", the almost ethereal mist which opens side B, leading to the catchy nostalgic sonorities of "Twin Moss", getting more and more "strangling" and estranging by the final short electric storm. The only moment where the listener can perceive a silent diving line is the one between these two tracks and the last "Lanterns, Chrysanthemum", the longest one where Hey Exit builds a sort of quiet cinematic drone over pulverised occasional resounding entities. In spite of the seasoned nuance of the sound rendered by the hissing of the tape, "Caudata" is a fascinating listening experience, including some field recording that Landis took in the desert of Arizona at the very end.
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