Music Reviews

Human Herd/Schizoid (Split 7”): Never Despair/The Next Extreme

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (7084)
Jun 10 2012
Artist: Human Herd/Schizoid (Split 7”) (@)
Title: Never Despair/The Next Extreme
Format: 7"
Label: D-Trash Records (@)
Rated: *****
Well, for the final review of this season's batch I present the Human Herd/Schizoid split 7'. This was released back in September 2011, but you know how slow these things get to us reviewers, and as we're not paid professionals (at least most of us aren't) we review them when time permits, which usually takes a while to assimilate, and then a while longer as we slog through the stack of stuff we get in large packages. My apology to the artists for the delay, but we get to 'em when we get to 'em. For me, this is the first piece of vinyl I've gotten from Chain D.L.K. to review, and I probably should have put it first rather than last, but...whatever.

A little background on the bands- both are from Canada; Human Herd now based out of Hamilton, Ontario, and Schizoid located in Toronto. Human Herd was formed in 2003, and according to them are influenced by NON, Mayhem, Skinny Puppy, Iggy Pop and The Doors. (I didn't hear much of those influences on this record.) Schizoid goes back to 1998, and are the owners of D-Trash Records. Schizoid claims Atari Teenage Riot, Canidru, EC8OR, Meathook Seed, Mayhem, Malformed Earthborn, Thorns, The Berzerker, Brutal Truth, Ultraviolence, (and others) among their influences. (I could hear some of those in what they did on the record.) Schizoid is apparently a well-known name in the digital hardcore scene. Schizoid is also known for performing in 2000's black metal act Dead of Winter, as well as remixing exclusive tracks for Red Harvest, Agnostic Front , and Mortiis. Live, Human Herd has shared the stage with acts such as Behemoth, Cryptopsy, Nargaroth, and Kataklysm; and Schizoid with EC8OP, Merzbow, Faxed Head, and Phallus Uber Alles.

Let me preface this review by saying that I have nothing against the Digital Hardcore genre. I think a little loud, abrasive, fucked-up noisy music is not only good for the soul now and then, but also cleans the wax out of yer ears. That being said, let's get on with the review. Human Herd's 'Never Despair' on the A side relies on a distortion-driven, semi-slow 5 note guitar riff that continues throughout most of the 3 minutes and 16 seconds of the track. It modulates key once, going up a half step. Other elements include what sounds like backwards breaking glass and cymbals, and some rudimentary percussion. Of course, there are the growly speak-sing vocals of which I could occasionally decipher a word here or there. You'll find that guitar riff pretty monotonous after about a minute. Maybe Zen and drugs (incompatible?) would have made it more tolerable, but I relied on neither. I figured the other side had to be better, I was wrong. Schizoid's 'The Next Extreme' sounded like a shitstorm of guitar distortion and hoarsely screamed vocals. I couldn't make out a word of the lyrics. I couldn't hear any drums. To say this track doesn't translate well to vinyl is an understatement. I cranked it up loud and couldn't hear any bass. I thought my cartridge might be cooked, but I put on some other vinyl and it sounded fine. Now to be fair, I checked out the YouTube video of the song, and that was a whole lot better. I could actually make out a word now and then, the mix sounded better, the bottom was there, and the video was pretty cool too, in an apocalyptic way. But I really have to rate this record on the way it sounded to me, and that wasn't too good. I dunno, maybe the mastering, or my system, but it didn't come across well.

Even though I'm giving this a low rating, I strongly suggest you buy it anyway. Why? Several reasons ' Maybe it will sound better on your turntable. Hey, it's vinyl, and could become highly collectible over the years (limited to 300 copies). Some might believe it's the worst record they own. (There are many, many worse things on vinyl though; that's a tough award to clinch.) It could grow on a fungus. It's only $8.00. The bands need the money. Pressing vinyl ain't cheap, and I respect artists who put out music on vinyl these days...well, the independent ones anyway. I also like the Schizoid T-Shirt (you should buy one of those too), but I doubt D-Trash is going to send me one after this review.
Jun 04 2012
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Artist: Richard Francis & Bruce Russell (@)
Title: Garage Music
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Alone at Last (@)
Distributor: Alone at Last
Rated: *****
The independent russian label 'Alone at Last' despite its name certainly does not leave us alone. This label announced his birth until march of this year and has already released three excellent works simultaneously. One of these discs are the "Celtichants" by Maurizio Bianchi. I have already talked about here on Chain DLK.
And I also said about the painstaking care with which, our friend Dimitry (the eclectic producer of Alone At Last) realizes his records. A treatment that makes all limited edition copies as little gems contained into a package similar to an origami paper, with color and graphics intriguing and different.

The content of this review is one of this origami work, produced by a duo of great New-Zealand's noise- musicians. One of them is certainly more well known also here in Italy, a country from which I write. It is the volcanic Bruce Russell. And i hope most of you remember him thanks to its "free-noise manifesto".
Bruce is also the musician who has created (with Michael Morley) a very important band like the DEAD C ( The Dead C is considered by many people to be a real cult formation that invented the 'New Zealand-Noise'.
Bruce Russell in the eighties, also founded an independent label named 'XpressWay Records' (the one that produced works of other noise artists such as Dadamah, Pin Group and Terminals) and after XpressWay experience Bruce created also another label, the Corpus Hermeticum, which published the works of his most recent project "A Handful Of Dust" (with the violinist Alastair Galbraith). For all of those reasons I think Bruce Russel is certainly a big name in the noise musical scene.

The other musician who played with Bruce in this "Garage Music" is Richard Francis. ( )
I don't know Richard before this work, but i've found many materials on the web and about it. And i think it is another interesting musician with different important works and many collaborations between New Zealand and Japan, also thanks to his project called Eso Steel. And here, into this work with Bruce, Richard proves certainly lives up to comparisons with the another great noise-designer.

We come finally to talk about this record of our two "noisers". It is a disc which contains 3 short tracks about 5 minutes each entitled at the same mode: Garage 1, 2 and 3. And contain also two beautiful and long suites of sound, of 13 and 17 minutes.
The resulting product is a big example of industrial minimalism and noise ambient based on drones, with analog sounds, guitars and other synthesis music. But I want to tell about this work not only for the beautiful substance of his sound but also for the very particular form in which it was created and registered.

The two musicians have in fact cooperated at a distance. Initially only by exchanging mail, one with each other, between 2007 and 2009. In this way recorded all traces of guitar, played by Bruce, and synthesizers and computers, manipulated by Richard and finally assembly into these 3 short tracks i talk before, with the same title "Garage" . But also the two long suites are the result of a different and strange mix of live recordings in part sincronous and part a-sincronous.

One of those two long suites is titled "Undead" and is a strange marriage between two different recordings of a solo-set performed by authors. The gigs are recorded separately but are performed on the same day.
The resulting fusion is really intense and highly processed.
This long track is titled "Undead" and is certainly the best piece of the whole work. A carpet of sound industrial smoke and whirring motors that rotate and beat synchronously in-phase or anti-phase. Also in this track sound manipulation and real-time computer and synthesizers owned by Richard and cords and ribbons clavioline played by Bruce, create a dough environmental dense and liquid from which it emerges hypnotic listening to fatigue. Really a great job.

For me Undead is very beautiful, alienating and also personally upsetting for the kind of ambient noise-that in some instances is created. With drones sounds and cyclic sinusoidal rhythms. All of these drones going to overlap, defeating and counter-beating, to meet at the end, even if quite by chance, on the same rhythmic pulse.

The fifth and last track of this album, also long, is titled simply "Live" and was recording during a live real-time concert. This concert happens in February 2009 and in the same place as other live tracks. And finally he sees, for the first time in this work, the two musicians play together your noise and industrial music. Live is a great final noise gig for all of us. To leave us "Not alone at last..!"

I close here my review. But I will tell you that, even if our Bruce and Richard are surely accustomed to frequent the lands and seas far away from our Europe, as I listened to their record I imagined the ideal backdrop to their live set with sounds of this type.
I hope these two noise-surfers will forgive me if I don't imagine them lying on the sands under their New-Zealand's sun but I see them play their industrial musics in a nocturnal gig set, amid the ruins of a factory and near the cold seas of north Europe. I imagine also, behind them and their musics, only the dark blue color of sky and the grey of clouds moving slowly over the Finns seawaves.
Artist: Richard Pinhas & Merzbow (@)
Title: Rhizome
Format: CD + DVD
Label: Cuneiform (@)
Rated: *****
Another release by Cuneiform landed on my deck with a certain delay is this astonishing collaboration by French trail-blazing guitarist Richard Pinhas and Japanese noisy sorcerer Merzbow. I already appreciated their sonic mongrel on the occasion of the issue of Keio Line, which occurred four years ago. The amalgamation between these the sonic elements sounds even more disorienting than its predecessor as there are many moments of the listening experience where it's quite difficult to discriminate between laptop and guitar, due to wise DSP by Merzbow who recorded in real time some harmonics by Richard while flooding sonic space by ceaseless billows of hisses, frizzling pulses, hypnotic fibrillation, wobbles, screeches and binaural beats interbreeding with performative technique by Pinhas, based on an overlayered and heavy orchestration of guitar loops, even if in some moments of the performance it seems exploring those reverb-driven primitive forms, which are going to be appreciated by Pink Floyd or Fripp's fans. In order to have a visualization of their sound, you could get the inspiration by its nice cover artwork, whereas a gentle geisha girl looks like threatened by a demonic freak of a piggy bear, arguably a metaphorical translation of the seemingly dissonant siege of harmony by noise, but I assigned different parts to playing elements while listening to their aural soundscapes: it seems to me that in the first moments of their performance (Rhizome comes as a recording of their live show at La Maison Francaise in Washington D.C. on 24th Septemeber 2010) Merzbow laser guns and other sonic weaponry have been set to remove any possible fastener or tier of the listener, which could thwart Pinhas'propulsion for listener's mental flights , and step by step they melt together in unison by emphasizing a sort of involving chorale. The listening experience has not weighed down with unuseful preciosities, as some tricks and the whirling assortment of sonic tricks make it everything but boring all over the four rhizomes and the additional one - the one I prefer -, which look like the highest level the gradual ascension their sound could reach. In spite of the delay, I think some copies are still available. They include a DVD, recorded live during the above-mentioned performance, a document which gives the possibility to have a visual approach to these surprising music minds.

Severe Illusion: No More Alive Than You Deserve

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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May 17 2012
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Artist: Severe Illusion (@)
Title: No More Alive Than You Deserve
Format: CD
Label: Complete Control Productions (@)
Distributor: Sound Pollutions Distribution
Rated: *****
Swedish finest Lo-fi/Chaostronica-EBM project returns with an all new album, now signed to the new label Complete Control Productions. And the featured quality of their latest recordings for this album reaches the level of their finest works, since it has been a bit silent during the last three years around them. Fredrik and Ulf are performing with the same harsh rage combined with their ongoing fine nose for the Experimental side to be installed into their sound environment, so that most contributors of the Harsh-EBM/Hellectro camp are standing in a poor light. There isn't magic included behind their synth-arrangements, they rather play with already known and often minimal constructed sound-patterns. But nevertheless you'll get another boosting Severe Illusion release filled with authenticity. After the rather on their side-projects Instans reminding opening track 'Mockingbird', they return into their classic style known from their state-of-art-albums 'Discipline Is Reward Enough' or 'Accomplishments Of Leopold II' with the top-notch tunes 'Try Harder' and 'Clear Head (Album Version)'. Fredrik offers again his 'monstrous' vocal fx-processing, as well as the tracks itself stealing the show with a monotonous bass-line programming resulting in a hypnotic expression. The integration of some Powernoise-like elements also receives an expected revival at latest with the bizarre sound-excesses of 'Rotating Knives, Yes'. All in all, you'll get another plus-good album of this Swedish duo, which comes out a bit like a long missed friend. Severe Illusion stands for a nice, but rather expected addition to the Swedish CCP-label.

Subterraneanact: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 16 2012
Artist: Subterraneanact (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Z6 (@)
Rated: *****
It's really difficult to recognize the points of departure of this collaborative project by Henk Bakker aka HEK (former member of Dull Schicksal with Lukas Simonis, Hajo Doom an Colin Mclure and one leg of Static Tics) and Jelmer Cnossen aka Malorix, but I think the drawn analogy between the computer (or ableton) assisted way they dissected, miniaturized, crumbled, aggregated and treated inputs from respective instruments - bass clarinet and drums - in order to discover their hidden and more extreme sonic potential and excavation, digging or any other possible activities concerning underground passages or tunnel (as well as any related biological reaction such as the stuffy feeling related to the rarefaction of air) is proper with their sound. You could feeling like some worker in the bowels of the earth for extraction of minerals or for the drilling of the rocks in order to create tunnels for underground trains while listening heavy matsuri-like bumps or hammering, saw-like cacophonic noises, sinister echoes, disturbing explosions and other sonic sketches with many somewhat imaginative episodes - my favorite ones are Specon 9 (where it seems there are sudden gusts from dark underground zones, mixing with clanking rods), Conlet (it seems that the track echoes the devastating whirling of a drilling blading while severing electric wires during its rotation, inspiring some dizzy feeling), Exart (during its listening I imagined some mad miner, who decided to kill a big community of underground bugs or rats with a plenty of sticks of dynamite...), Fiek and the final S-Scape (you could imagine the above-mentioned miner, who frantically looks for a way of escape after realizing that he destroyed its torch together with a plenty of rats!)-. This impacting Dutch project offers a little bit uncanny but very immersive listening experience.

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