Music Reviews



Ysk: CLSOL

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Nov 17 2019
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Artist: Ysk (@)
Title: CLSOL
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this Hokkaido-based artist, but the bandcamp bio describes Ysk as “Japanese improvisation noise musician,” so that would be right up my alley. This album consists of three tracks. First off, we have “CLSOL001,” which comes out swinging with white noise and high pitched grinding noise. There are plenty of shifts in the track, though, as analogue noises peek through and the sounds of a tape on high speed lie just below the surface. This is harsh as hell with plenty of variety in both sound and intensity to keep it interesting. Well done. “CLSOL002” takes an entirely different approach, opening up with a pulsing sounds and crackling noise mixed with sci-fi analogue sweeps. Eventually the whole thing dissolves in a wash of feedback and distortion and Theremin-like sounds before it comes to an abrupt end. “CLSOL003” keeps the analogue noise going with a stuttering wall of harsh rumble. As with the others, there is a lot going on here, and it keeps everything moving and interesting until it slows at the end, drawing the entire disc to a close. Overall, this was fantastic. One comparison that comes to mind is Merzbow’s “Pulse Demon.” If you like your noise with everything thrown into it (including the kitchen sink), this is one to get while you can. Highly recommended.

TAB IN/TAB OUT: Always Wrong, Never Right

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Nov 17 2019
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Artist: TAB IN/TAB OUT
Title: Always Wrong, Never Right
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
This Portland, OR based artist describes their music as “Depressive Suicidal Harsh Noise Wall.” So I suppose it’s time to settle in for some nice, easy listening. The disc kicks off with “Always Wrong,” which is pleasant, bass rumble noise wall. Although it doesn’t seem to evolve much, it is kind of peaceful. I would like a bit more variety though. Next up, we have “Never Right,” which continues on this trajectory. Bass rumble with a bit of high-end, crackling static over the top. The static shifts a bit over the course of the track, but otherwise it continues in the same general direction. This is nice to listen to, but I would have liked a bit more variety overall. However, if you like your noise walls with a lot of bass, this is one to check out. The disc weighs in at 20 minutes.

Hana Haruna: Sakuraba Atsuko

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Nov 17 2019
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Artist: Hana Haruna
Title: Sakuraba Atsuko
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
I couldn’t find much on this artist, partly because there is a seemingly popular Japanese porn actress by this name the drowns out everything else (so if you are interested in this band, just start at Discogs, rather than with Google, especially if you are at work). With no background to speak of, let’s get into the music. Hana Haruna comes out swinging with a harsh wall of noise. Walls and walls of white noise static and what sounds like an electric guitar completely buried in the mix is what you get. After a few listens, you can hear barely perceptible changes in the mix, and bits of feedback leave as quickly as they enter, but overall the static overwhelms the other elements in the track. Oddly enough, the last second is my favorite, as it suddenly drops in some bass into the mix. Still, the changes are a bit too subtle for my tastes on this track, but if you’re a fan of harsh noise wall, this may be up your alley. This album weighs in at 19 minutes.

Ken Ganfield x Kurt Liedwart x Petr Vrba: Something Wrong There

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Nov 17 2019
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Artist: Ken Ganfield x Kurt Liedwart x Petr Vrba
Title: Something Wrong There
Format: CD
Label: Mikroton (@)
Rated: *****
What can you expect by an album title "Something Wrong There", consisting of two tracks titled "Unbearable" and "Nauseating", lasting more than 20 minutes each? One of the most logical answer could compile a list of side effects, related to intoxication or nervous breakdown. Well, some granola-heads could argue that it's better to avoid it, but besides a certain humour and a clear self awareness, the aesthetical choices by Kan Ganfield (synthesizers, electronics), Kurt Liedwart (synthesizers, cracked homemade and everyday electronics) and Petr Vrba (synthesizers and electronics) seems to assemble slices of electronics, fragmented crumbs of synthetic sounds and noises from dead radio transmissions into pulps of electric turmoils, that sound like feeding themselves. The ghost of ambient and cosmic music get violently pushed to the borders of something that could vaguely resemble an improvisational set, but where there's a willful sonic strategy, that could vanish the sometimes disliked label of 'improv'. Recorded in the August 2017 in Punctum, a cultural centre in the vibrant district of Zizkov in Prague, this turgid declension of electronics is often piercing and ferocious (in spite of occasional spray of flat pads and reassuring entities - vaguely resembling deformed pop melodies - in the middle of maelstrom) that you can surmise that the real purpose of this trio was to create a stress test for nerves and stomach for true, but I'm pretty sure both the testers/makers and the tested eardrums/audience enjoyed such a session.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: On Corrosion
Format: Tape
Label: The Helen Scarsdale Agency
“On Corrosion” is an ambitious art project. It’s the Helen Scarsdale Agency’s 50th release and the theme is based on founder Jim Haynes’ work curating an art collection under the name “On Corrision”. Ten different established sound artists have contributed their own full-length albums inspired by, or in response to, that theme. Over the course of nearly seven hours, these works head off in a variety of different directions, with diverse and varying appeal (some more than others). It’s appropriate that each album has its own artwork and subtitle as well, since largely they would stand up as sound works in their own right even if disassociated from the overriding theme- yet as I work through each release, I find myself spotting commonalities between each, leading to over-use of the word “also” in introducing each in the context of the last.

Fossil Aerosol Mining Project’s “Hydration Equilibrium” is a series of disquieting found sounds constructed into occasional patterns and rhythms on a drone base. ‘Disintegrated media’ is a successful subtheme, drawing and dismantling recordings from old tapes into an extensive entropy of modern broadcast noise, and meaty final track “Only The Green, Blue and Black” is a highlight.

The corrosion in G Park’s “Nosode” is largely digital, heavy bit-crunching, phasing and thick shifting equalisation taking fairly ordinary sounds like dripping taps and breaking them down into evil-sounding and edgy sonic abstracts across two fairly flat but intriguing 17 minute textures.

Himukalt’s “Torn Asunder- The Half Girl” is an exercise in unrelenting fury. Passionate angry feedback and noise walls punch your ears repeatedly, heavily distorted spoken-word monologues are barely discernible, raw sexual noises are thrown in for added affrontery. It jumps between structureless assembly and infrequent more industrial pattern-based sections such as when a kick drum pops in and out of “Cruel By Most Estimations”. “Absent” is the most successful track but the whole thing feels like reading somebody else’s private diary about a relationship that’s broken down in violent fashion.

Alice Kemp’s “9 Dreams In Erotic Mourning” also feels like relationship breakdown channeled into sound, but very differently. The stereotypical British bottling up of emotion seems at play here, as lethargic synth-piano melodies take precedent and suppressed feelings creep in at the edges, in the form of electric hums, masturbatory and pained vocalisations, identifiable rustling, and the like. These feelings break through periodically, most notably in the screams of “Alles Ist Wie Es Ist”, but it remains an odd balancing act of repression and expression.

Kleistwahr’s “Winter” also juxtaposes long harmonious melodic pads with more impulsive and gritty injunctions, this time more guitar-like, but across these two twenty-minute pieces it’s a contrast that feels more assured, almost enjoyed. It’s a tourist’s journey through discord but it somehow feels safe and unchallenging. Even as the pitch steadily shifts up and up and up in “Rust Eats the Future”, it somehow never sounds stressful or tense- which is very curious considering the ingredients.

“A Collection Of Damaged Reel Tape Loops” by Francisco Meirino also makes awkward noise palatable. There is no melodic element here, but there are windy envelopes that stroll over the main meat of the production, which is unrecognisably distorted sonic blowout and feedback that comes round and round, in looped patterns, to create rhythm and structure seemingly by accident. What could possibly me old music hall recordings drift through into your consciousness vaguely as it progresses, a literal but powerful interpretation of the corrosion of recorded sound-history.

No-wave, anti-rock duo Neutral offer up “Lagliv” which feels faintly anachronistic in this set thanks to the dominance of heavy guitar thrashing. A cacophony of dramatic documentary sound and spoken-word elements ride atop thick noise work but it still feels like the album here which is closest to what it would sound like if performed live. Of the two eighteen-minute tracks here, it was “Ganska lagt / Ocksa” that felt more accessible to me thanks to its increased inclusion of electronic noise, since I’m an electronics kid at heart.

Pinkcourtesyphone’s reliably minimalist “Shouting At Naunce” is an entrancing but uneventful forty-nine minutes of light electronic pulses, long delays, and slowly fading and breathing hums that’s absolutely charming and eminently soporific. Second piece “Alternatory” is marginally more melodic, adding to the sense of lullaby. If anything my only criticism of this work is that, in view of the overriding theme of the collection, this work doesn’t sound corroded- if anything it sounds smoothed, like a glossy sonic pebble. It joins other Pinkcourtesyphone releases on my sleep playlists.

Relay For Death’s “Mutual Consuming” is also a pair of long ambient works with a wave approach and a soporific flavour, but quite a different tone- there’s something steadily metallic about the resonances here, never straying fully into nails-down-the-blackboard territory but sharp enough to give an underlying sense of tension. Unlike the previous album, this does build to something dramatic, with second piece “Terminal Ice Wind” stepping assuredly up in level until it earns some dramatic deep bangs and crashes, corrosion akin to hearing the rapid cracking of a huge ice sheet from the point of view of someone trapped in the ice.

Alice Kundalini, as She Spread Sorrow, offers up “Orchid Seeds”. It’s storytelling-driven, powered by a breathy spoken word narrative that’s frankly hard to follow and feels invasively and deliberately over-intimate. This works on top of a bed of dark sonic textures, primarily super-low bass rumbles on the border of reproducible sound and ordinary hearing, but also cut through by higher-pitched rapid pulses and some very high-pitched squealing sounds that add to the discomfort. Occasionally, kicks and sub-bass sounds borrowed from dubby deep trip-hop bring everything up a level, making tracks like “She Didn’t Care” more memorable. Despite being split into five pieces, it mostly plays as a single unit, with the track divisions feeling as much chapter-based as they are by sonic change. A word of warning about the distant relentless old-fashioned telephone ringing sound that sits in the background of “Queen Of Guilt”- it will make you think your phone’s ringing, even if it doesn’t sound anything like your ringtone.

It’s presented as a 10-cassette set in a wooden box, but I only have the digital files to review so I can’t comment on the physical aspects of it. The packshot photo certainly makes it look like a thing of retro beauty though.

Sonically, it’s certainly a work of art. The way in which ten different artists have tackled the overarching theme, drawing parallels between themselves but also setting off in ten tangibly different directions. Everyone will have different favourites- I’d probably single out Pinkcourtesyphone and Francisco Meirino as mine- but people with a lot of time (and presumably money- I don’t know the asking price) to invest in dark electrosonic arts will find a lot that’s worthwhile in this nearly seven-hour-long collection.


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