Music Reviews



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Artist: Pure + Various Artists (@)
Title: No End Of Vinyl
Format: CD
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
Fourteen years after Vienna-based Mego released "The End of Vinyl" by Austrian dynamic producer Peter Votava aka Pure on 3" cd, someone could think that its sibylline prediction could be better spot-on if it were called "the.agony.of.vinyl", so that Cronica folks decided to fishes it out from the ocean of sonic memories by involving a number of talented noise and sound blacksmith for a number of reinterpretations and giving new shapes to all that molten black plastic, which lives again in this awesome collection they wisely retitled "No End Of Vinyl". All those menacing predictions by music market presumed gurus about the extinction of vinyl hasn't come true yet, even if its renaissance could be the last convulsion. Anyway, Cronica's heads, Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela, who introduced this selection in the guise of @c by means of abrasive liquid clots and ganglions on "Zweiundneunzig", decided to print it on cd, the format whose lifetime is going to expire before the vinyl one. The following sound artists explore a very wide stylistical range in a masterly manner, whose sense of subtle decay and a certain feeling of constant digging for a supposed sepulture got tempered with remarkable specimen of electronic refinement: the aural dark-ambient shades by Cindytalk's "Miyamizu", the mesmeric and somehow cinematic remixes of "The End Of Vinyl", where both Christoph De Babalon and Goner scans agony by impressive electronic textures and airy pad synths, which could resemble Beefcake's or Gridlock's epic hooks, the spellbinding buzzing whistles by Mego label owner Peter Rehberg aka Pita on "This & That Edit", the absorbing subtonal thuping and thunderous shocks on "Biological Agents Of Vinyl Degradation" by Jorge-Sanchez-Chiong (JSX), the gradual gurgling combustion by Rashad Becker on "Take Me To Your Lead Out", the illusory frugality of "Opera Povera" by Lithuanian sound artist Arturas Bumsteinas, the terminally ill dark ambient of "'end'end'" by Opcion and the final strokes of solemn atonement and the industrial drops on "Never Ending Vinyl" by Current 909 and Pure... a collection of adhesive stuff, whose rotting features seem to understydu for a new body.

Xiphoid Dementia: Secular Hymns

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Sep 02 2013
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Artist: Xiphoid Dementia (@)
Title: Secular Hymns
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Xiphoid Dementia is the noise/power electronic project of Egan Budd from Boston who has been at this since 1999, and 'Secular Hymns' is approximately his tenth or so release. Apparently Malignant Records found it interesting enough to release on their label. Never heard any of his stuff before, so once again, another 'blind' review. 'Secular Hymns' begins with the 14 minute 40 second 'Abortion Rites' which seems to have little to do with abortions. It is more akin to being strapped to the outside of a rocket and launched into space. It starts with a tiny laser pinpoint of noise that grows and swells from multi-timbral noise drone, goes through some power electronics changes where you encounter a bawling electronic monster (courtesy of lots of distorted vocal processing) hell-bent on the destruction of, well'¦everything in the audio spectrum. Played loud this is sure to shred your speakers, or under headphones, your eardrums.

'My Time Will Never Come' begins with a clicking-ticking and electronic drone, ratcheting, then some dumpster drums and maybe sawing through same dumpster. A chiming clock emerges briefly, ceases, then returns later. Very industrial. Midway the loops stop and there is some metalish banging around, then the rhythm of a single church bell begins. Playing off this slow rhythm a buzzy synth bass plays a dirgy melody. Other higher frequency synths melodically embellish this funerary march taking it out to the end. Kind of crude, but quite unexpected in the context of industrial noise/power electronics. 'What You Believe' begins kind of low key with industrial machinery in a factory environment with various types of industrial noise and drones, and eventually electronics. It takes a while to build up steam and get into the big noise and electronic squalls, but rest assured, they do come. A buzzy electronic sample and hold loop becomes the backdrop for crushing explosive sounds, and eventually higher frequency electronic sounds enter the mix. A sampled voice rant (only barley intelligible) enters the mix (something about a mental patient complaining to his doctor about whippings and medication) and this goes on for a while. The track culminates in a barrage of noise until the end.

'Breathe' may be the spookiest track on the album, with the sound of breathing and ominous low-key punctuations of bass electronics, eventually giving way to a rising tone-drone that keenly slices through the gloomy ambience. Further down the line a slow and steady percussive pounding and snippets of echoed electronics and noises inject infernal aural madness into the mix becoming more prevalent and less incidental until it all dies away in a single tone.

No doubt 'Secular Hymns' is a multi-faceted noise/power electronics album with a good amount of diversity and quite a lot put into it. It may not sit well with noise purists, but who cares? I found it interesting enough, though not all quite to my liking as power noise isn't really my thing. There are sections I would have like to have heard expanded (the beginning of 'What You Believe' for one) and other sections I could have done without (the sampled complaining mental patient) but you can't always get what you want. I should make mention of the bizarre artwork on this 6-panel digipak which I won't even try to describe; it's just really, really weird. If you're tired of the same-old same-old in the harsh noise genre, give Xiphoid Dementia a shot.

Steel Hook Prostheses : The Empirics Guild

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Aug 25 2013
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Artist: Steel Hook Prostheses (@)
Title: The Empirics Guild
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Steel Hook Prostheses is John Stillings and Larry Kerr out of Texas. If you're unfamiliar with the name, let's just say they are an industrial dark ambient and sometimes noise/power electronics outfit with an obsession with the bizarre, abominable, and macabre as related to medical and surgical procedures. The medical/surgical aspects in nearly anything (I can't even watch hospital-themed TV shows) really creeps me out, so it was with some trepidation that I finally got up the nerve to listen to and review this disc, and I have to say my fears were nearly justified'¦.nearly.

First, if you like the usual kind of creepy dark ambient Malignant is known for but don't care much for NOISE, move on. You won't find much solace here. Second, if human (or unhuman?) suffering, or even the thought of it turns your stomach, you'd best be leaving now. You've been warned. Steel Hook Prostheses's discography goes way back to 2001 with such visceral titles as 'Torturous Anxiety,' 'Hell Hospital' and 'Wounds Bathed in Piss Water' to name a few. I haven't heard any of them so I had no clue what I was in for. Creepy isn't the word for this stuff. It didn't really hit me until the third track, 'Sadomedica' full of female moans and groans in an oppressively bleak atmosphere while some subtle but hellish machinery is in operation. 'Debrided Necrotic Tissue' begins with what sounds like a lecture from an ex-Nazi doctor commenting on Third Reich medical experiments but it isn't long before hissing noise and unintelligible distorted processed vocals take over. 'Gula' has a distorted industrial percussion rhythm and more waves of noise, distorted vocals, ominous gloom drone, and occasional electronic squalls. 'Emaciated Angel' sounds as if conjured from the abyss. I suppose the distorted whispers were supposed to add a spooky touch, but they were lost on me. 'Disfiguring Aesthetics' has a dark throbbing drone supplemented by permutations of noise and later a distorted mechanical loop and evil processed vocal. In 'Decrepit Hands Emerge' nefarious processed voices rant over a background of noise opening up into a chasm of monstrous proportions. 'Scald' features an annoying buzz of noise with infernal drones in the background and more ghastly processed voice. 'Disease Incubator' sounds like some kind of infernal ritual where a horror of epic proportions is about to be released into the world. 'The Blood Cough' builds into a monumental tower of noise before it all comes crashing down. Furious noise begins 'Antiquus Morbis' but the track goes through a variety of sonic changes, a real potpourri of mostly noisy industrial elements often vivisecting the oppressive gloom. I know I skipped over the first two tracks, 'Rendering Human Tallow,' and 'Leprosaria Dross,' but let's leave a little something to the imagination, shall we?

Overall 'The Empirics Guild' is not quite as appalling as I thought it was going to be and contained some interesting excursions into the netherworld of dark ambient industrial noise. It has enough elements of horror without completely saturating you in it, but still you may come out xsomewhat scathed and haunted. I have to comment on the artwork on one panel of the six-panel digipak the CD comes in ' four skeletal figures (one wearing religious mitre headgear) stand around a vivisected human on a stone slab while one of the skeletal figures points with a pointer to the lowest rib on'¦a skeleton! (of all things), the other hand pointing to a place in the vivisected guy's body. There's a weird occult medical symbol, an open tome on a stand and skeletal faces peering in the background. Hmmm, quite gruesome but in a black comedy sort of way. It could be Kerr's attempt to lighten the mood, or just his morbid sense of humor. In any case, I wouldn't recommend listening to this in an altered, anxious or depressed state, or late at night alone. You might begin to question your sanity'¦or worse.

Norbert Möslang: Killer_kipper

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 28 2013
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Artist: Norbert Möslang (@)
Title: Killer_kipper
Format: 12"
Label: Cave12 (@)
Rated: *****
We're surrounded by a plenty of sounds and waves we don't really care about during our ordinary day as they're often overwhelmed by inner sounds or noises or just because they acclimatize within our sensorial sphere. Nevertheless, we're immersed into clouds of microwaves, light and sound waves, magnetic fields, which are sometimes close tot the threshold of perceptibility or silently cross our bodies and interfere with our neuroelectrical activity. The sonic research of Swiss improvisor, clarinetist and saxophonist Norbert Moslang seems to be focused on the channelization, the moulding and the organization of those sounds and grated this bump on his past collaborative projects such as Voice Crack, an interesting experimental free jazz collaboration with Andy Guhl, or the amazing quartet Poire_z. This performance has been recorded on 23rd September 2011 after the Cave12 and fmac associations invited him to perform in the conporary art festival Mac 11 in Geneve and gives a remarkable sample of his performative art. Compared with other Moslang's recordings I listened before, noisy sneaking movements of "killer_kipper" sound less random and better organized: there's an inner syncopated pacing which often resurfaces and more or less silently control the traffic of noises and electrons Norbert grabbed by cracked everyday electronics. The 27-minutes lasting performance has been splitted into two tracks and sides: on side A, this regulatory function got fulfilled by a subtle low frequency which gradually turns into a sort of pumping machine and the reaching of saturation levels seems to be more gradual than the dynamics on side A, where the constant flow of electrons rolls on a sort of hiccuping knock. Very interesting trial of noise manipulation.

Ensemble Skalectrik: Trainwrekz

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 26 2013
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Artist: Ensemble Skalectrik
Title: Trainwrekz
Format: 12"
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
A plentiful nourishment for lucid visual mental imagery comes from Ensemble Skalectrik, the most radical performance-based side-project of Nick Edwards aka Ekoplekz, which got assembled on the basis of one-take improvisational sessions and a heap of sounds he pulled out of old vinyl (mainly collections of sound effects and easy listening records), turntables and other devices before moulding them by means of a wide set of filters, loop-pedals and equalizers. Even if this project dangles on sonic experiments, there's a strong connection with other offsprings from this talented Bristolian sound-artist, as its distinctive declension of turntablism which often sneaks up on the pulpy sonorities of Dub, Industrial, Musique Concrete, random electronics and electroacoustics as well as a certain concatenation of the sonic insertions are features which recur in many Ekoplekz tracks. You can savour this record track by track as the way Mr.Edwards messes with sounds is really amazing or as if it were a continuum. You can easily imagine a surreal journey on a train before, during and after the "happy" ending the title of the album quotes, so that the initial track "Wreckwahn" could let you think about the beginning of the ride: looping chugs, the unstoppable rhythmical march on the rail, the red-hot iron which begins to condition the temperature inside the compartments seems to pressurise the listener. On "Wrecktoo", Nick seems to translate the financial term "liquid assets" into sounds by inbreeding the typical chiming of old cash register and other concrete sounds with gurgling waters and bubbling sounds, a crossbreed which sound like an abstract psychedelic and somehow nightmarish carousel. You could imagine that the running train became covered by a thick fog where lights could look like laser beams and its clattering got muffled as if it crossed the gate of fourth dimension while listening to the last track of the first side, "Wrekfree". On the flipside, Nich seems to emphasize the hypnotical progression of the journey by means of the disquieting other-wordly progression of "Wrekfore" and the sinister sequences of "Wreksank" which could let you think about the wreck as a spite by wicked goblins, who dwells in the tunnel your unlucky train must pass through. And what about the lovely twitters of the final "Wreksikz (for Louis Johnstone)" the label describes as a "serene ornithological drift"? Is it possible you are experiencing the heaven some believers fantasize about? The noises of the wreck, which gradually resurfaces and disturb those heavenly transmission, could be the clue that those lovely chirping birds just belonged to the reverie caused by a pharmalogical coma...


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