Music Reviews

Czernie: s/t

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Jan 23 2017
Artist: Czernie (@)
Title: s/t
Format: Tape
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Czernie means "blackness" in Polish, so this aptly named audial project of a musician known only as M. from Poland is his self-titled debut project, on cassette no less, and we don't get a whole lot of those to review. (Good thing I still have a couple of cassette players.) This is noise with a capital "N" and as Czernie puts it, "...tracks are ALL my sonic influences chewed, digested, filtered and put on tape." Sort of all at once I might add. These five tracks clock in at 23 minutes total, with the same tracks on both sides. These are largely static environments; in other words, constant and consistent throughout with very little variation. The opener, "Korony," sounds like a tape recording of a helicopter where it was recorded too close to the whirling blades and distorted. It is punctuated at several points with squealing feedback. "Kalabas" utilizes a deeper wall of noise with what sounds like the crumpling of cellophane bleeding through and the occasional feedback squall. My favorite track, "Raka," sounds like barrels being rolled or tumbled on some kind of wooden platform, or down endless wooden planks. There is also some crackling distortion in there. "Jadowe" at first seems to sound like massive amounts of water falling close up (say, the thunderous effect of Niagara Falls at full capacity) but there are other semi-subtle noises at work here as well giving it a more sinister ambiance. "Semuta" seems to be the most sonically varied piece having the atmosphere of a factory or manufacturing plant, but what's being made there I couldn't tell you. It is a richly textured piece though, and towards the end sounds like a swarm of electronic bees. Although this album is a lo-fi effort, it should be of interest to noise enthusiasts, but likely not so much to others. I would have like to have heard more variation within the individual compositions but it is what it is. If power noise is your thing, you really ought to visit the artist's website where you can play all the tracks and buy the download for only $2.00 or the cassette (hand-numbered, limited to 50) for $4.00.
Artist: Garaliya (@)
Title: Ventricle Replicant
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
If robots would ever "perfectly" emulate humans, they should be conveniently imperfect. For instance, they would get exposed to the risk of heart attack and other human diseases. Well, this brief releases including five tracks developed by Italian duo Garaliya (Andrea Belloni and Michelangelo Roberti are their names at the registry office) could get matched to imaginary significant cardiac diseases of a robot. The robotic atrial fibrillations of the opening "Ventricle", the decaying blips in the elastic electromechanical loops of "Z-Clones", the buzzing anomalies in the silicon glue of "Serpenter", the imperfect delay on the dystopian piercing tones of "The Roboteer" (close to some outputs by other past entries of Italian electro projects such as Monomorph or Dynamic Wave) or the chest-thumping alien race of the morbid synth sequences on the final "Replicant" could be the soundtrack for a non-existent branch of cardiology in a supposedly forthcoming cyber age. Another juicy sonic pill from the top-playing Ukrainian Wien-based label Kvitnu. Available on CDr as well.

Kryptogen Rundfunk: Liquid Circuits

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (9544)
Jan 15 2017
Artist: Kryptogen Rundfunk (@)
Title: Liquid Circuits
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
Active since 2004, Russian ambient/soundscape artist Kryptogen Rundfunk (M.M., aka Artyom Ostapchuk) is also the head of the Zhelezobeton label, a label that's had some very cool new music on it in my estimation. I'm very glad they keep sending me stuff. Kryptogen Rundfunk is a great name by the way, sounding like a character from a cyberpunk novel. This is KR's second solo album in 12 years, the first being '22.SZ' in 2004. In the interim, KR has been active doing splits and collaborations with artists such as Lunar Abyss Deus Organum, Sister Loolomie, Bardoseneticcube, Neznamo, Hladna, Forgttn, Umpio, and others. My most recent encounter with Kryptogen Rundfunk was on the 'Now It's Dark:David Lynch Tribute' with one of the better tracks on that comp. Here, KR employs analogue synths, effects processors, found sounds, samples and multiple kinds of radio noise. This is a very active kind of ambient over the seven tracks on 'Liquid Circuits,' and may fall more into the experimental-industrial than strictly ambient. Although the opener, "Subaudition Coils" is kind of a calm Blade Runner type of ambient, the followup, "Iridescence" eases you into a busier electronic environment. With repetition in loops, the firing of alien sci-fi oscillators and various types of noise (used to good effect I might add), you absolutely get the impression of some type of futuristic industry. In comparison, "Pyramidoid" seems minimal with its pervasive buzzing drone. M.M. really seems to have mastered the creative use of LFos as they are an integral part of his soundscapes. As you go deeper and deeper into 'Liquid Circuits' the atmospheres become more dense and intense, and also somewhat noisy. Twisting oscillators snaking through some of the most noise-tastic environments I've heard with garbled radio transmissions sounding completely extraterrestrial. Yet there is a terrestrial grounding in this; an undeniable familiarity. At times chaotic, but even the chaos is ordered. By the time you get to the seething conclusion on "We Forget," the firmament has boiled over and coalesced into something completely different. And thus, you should feel somewhat changed by the experience. If they ever decided to remake Godard's "Alphaville" or "Forbidden Planet," I'd recommend Kryptogen Rundfunk for the soundtrack. Masterfully mastered by Kshatriy, and limited to 333 copies.

Marc Kate: 00

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (9529)
Dec 29 2016
Artist: Marc Kate (@)
Title: 00
Format: CD + Download
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Unless you are from the San Francisco Bay Area you have probably never heard of Marc Kate. In his career as an artist/musician he has actually done quite a bit though. Originally trained as a filmmaker/visual artist, Kate applies cinematic and conceptual approaches to music and audio production. Among his accomplishments he is the leader of the post-punk band Never Knows and has released solo material on the labels Computer Tapes, Jacktone, Looq, HNYTRX, Trip Show and Treehouse Muzique, and his own imprints - Untitled & After, and Failing Forms. He has collaborated with dark cabaret artist Visantos and pop singer Tim Carr, composed soundtracks for choreographers Monique Jenkinson and Keith Hennessy (Circo Zero), and contributed to the soundtrack of cult horror film 'All About Evil.' He's launched a couple of podcasts (Why We Listen, and Scary Thoughts: Horror Philosophy and Culture), and even more than that. But let's get to the present release '00', an excursion into the world of dark ambient and power ambient.

Kate's description of the music on '00' takes the form of a sociopolitical statement. "I had hoped to create something that would simultaneously hammer against neoliberalism and cut an escape from the despair of its suffocating web. Seven short soundtracks for resistance. Seven songs lost in the confusion of what that resistance looks like." I can appreciate that, especially in music of this genre(s), where so much of it seems amorphous, and just of a general, dystopian, pessimistic nature, or yet another version of a Lovecraftian nightmare. '00' is the follow-up to 'Despairer,' an album in the same genre(s) released by Kate earlier this year. I have listened to some tracks from 'Despairer,' and in comparison '00' is a much angrier and oppressive listen. Where there was a certain amount of subtlety on 'Despairer' (not that there weren't sections that had walls of noise built on distortion and feedback) it has taken a back seat to a more aggressive and hostile environment. Most evident is that 'Despairer' is devoid of any percussion and drums. '00' opens on 'THEY" with the slow, methodical thudding of heavy drums. The music is colder and more sinister. The beast has woken and will not go gently into that good night. Even when passages are sonically minimal there is a pervasive aura of dread and foreboding. One of my favorite track on the album - "Coalition against Death" is pure tribal black metal. It could have gone on twice as long and built to an earsplitting climax and I would have been even happier. Final track on the album "We Weren't Designed to Live Like This" sums up the sentiments in the heaviest march of doom I've heard in a long time.

This is not the kind of ambient you can put on as background music. This is more than just the abyss staring back at you; this is the abyss enfolding and consuming you. And for'll have to take notice.

Himukalt: Conditions of Acrimony

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Dec 27 2016
Artist: Himukalt
Title: Conditions of Acrimony
Format: Tape
Label: Helen Scarsdale Agency (@)
Rated: *****
Himukalt is the work of Nevada-based artist Ester KÄrkkÄinen, who also does interesting visual work with Xerox machines. With a title like “Conditions of Acrimony,” it sounds like we’re in for a whole lot of love songs. Or not. The label describes this as “exhaustive, claustrophobic, and cryptic, these lacerated (de)compositions address collapsed psychological states that dislocate the body, the self, and the spirit into horror, fear, doubt, hostility. Such have marked the acme for the most virulent strains of power electronics and industrial decay (e.g. Puce Mary, Anenzephalia, Maurizio Bianchi, Maria Zerfall, etc.).” Let’s see if it lives up to the hype. We open up with pulsating noise and extremely distorted voice. Indeed, you could put this in the same ballpark as Genocide Organ, with its heavy static and overdriven bass. Next up, we have staccato voice snippets with pounding percussion and grinding noise. Himukalt definitely comes from the slow-moving school of power electronics and there is a good mix of high pitched whine and low bass rumble. “Without Laughter” closes out the side with a much more subdued track. This is like listening to a noise concert from outside the venue with short moments of louder sound. The overall feel is that of standing outside a power plant, with a menacing hum alerting you to the dangers inside as a helicopter circles around and over you repeatedly, closer and closer each time. This builds in intensity until you think that it is going to completely turn loose. But as quickly as it arrives, it is gone, with only the sounds of distant voices as evidence that it was even there. If I had to describe this track in one word, I would be “tension.” Seriously, not a lot of artists know how to pull this off, and this track alone is worth the price of admission. Flipping the tape over, we get pulsing drone with what sounds like a processed impact wrench sample. This gives way to ominous drone with digital tones and line hum just beneath the surface. All of this is punctuated by very short noise bursts until it becomes noisier over time. This is a nice balance of atmosphere and noise. Next up, we have rumbling bass with a man repeatedly saying “who cares? And other less intelligible things over a boiling analogue stew. The tape closes with the plea, “Please don’t call for an ambulance.” If you like noise and power electronics, this is definitely one to pick up. Bonus props for not taking the easy way out. With a title like Conditions of Acrimony, one might expect the standard violent imagery that has become almost cliché in power electronics circles, but this tape manages to portray a sense of ominousness that is more Amanita Phalloides mushroom and less serial killer. Well done. This tape is limited to 100 copies.
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