Music Reviews



Noise Nazi Featuring Bagman: Mind Altar

 Posted by Shaun Phelps (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Apr 12 2012
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Artist: Noise Nazi Featuring Bagman (@)
Title: Mind Altar
Format: CD
Label: Medical Malfunctions Records (@)
Rated: *****
Noise Nazi is the enigmatic and often offensive harsh noise project of Matthew Bonk of Wisconsin. Noise Nazi boasts an intimidating catalog of over 100 albums, EPs, and split releases in a variety of formats. Bagman is a power electronics noise project from the United Kingdom. I have had limited exposure to Bagman's work, but he appears to have released almost 30 albums, EPs and splits since 2008.


Mind Altar is a CD-r released by Medical Malfunctions Records in a plastic sleeve, which is pretty standard for this genre. The album consists of 4 tracks ranging between 6 and 10 minutes each. The sounds presented in Mind Altar are dense and old-school: gritty, harsh, and dominating. This release captures Noise Nazi doing what he does best, creating a world of his own, tempting the listener to play Mind Altar loudly, but leaving the listener in fear of severe hearing loss. Bagman provides a vocal compromise to the noise that manages to perfectly match the intensity--sometimes yelling, sometimes talking, never decipherable--but ultimately becoming a source of comfort amidst the aggression.


Mind Altar album would fit nicely into any noise collection, reminiscent of Massonna or Merzbow, but with less churning and more cohesion. By the end of Mind Altar I actually have the impression the artists have reached into my brain and are massaging it for me with their violently soothing work. Certainly now that the album is over there is a numb feeling where my brain is supposed to be.

Skin Area: Rothko Feild

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Apr 10 2012
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Artist: Skin Area (@)
Title: Rothko Feild
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this project, but evidently it is mainly the work of Martin Bladh, who is best know for IRM. According to the label, 'Rothko Field is a highly charged and visceral auditory experience...mind bending and turbulent sonic explorations that are grainy and tense, where uneasy frequencies intersect with caustic drones, infected, insectile buzz, swelling drifts, and intense, slow motion percussion driven sludgery. Further comparison reveals Rothko Field to be less schizophrenic, less challenging, and more structured than in the past, coming off as both spacious and yet suffocatingly claustrophobic (and ultimately closer in style to IRM), suggestive of a spiral downwards into mental decay and degradation, and further enhanced by Martin's uniquely distressed and provocative vocalizations.' How's that for two really long sentences? On to the music itself. From the very beginning you know that this is going to be an odd listen as the singer(s?) shout out a litany of potential behavioral problems that may befall a young person. What makes it all the more powerful is the staccato vocals and the fact that you can actually understand them. Overall, this album is much more varied than the typical power electronics release though. For example, 'Hypnagoga' is calming spoken word over a peaceful melody and the sound of cats meowing. 'In the Skin,' reminds me of some pretty dark PE stuff ' think some of Navicon Torture Technologies' older stuff on Malignant. 'Void' is supposed to function as the 'mirror' of the two parts, according to the label, and this is interesting ambience and dissonance. At his point the album titles become backward as well, and there is a kind of stylistic similarity between the forward and 'backward' tracks, especially with 'dlohserhT.' 'dleiF okhtoR' is the longest track on the album at 17:11 and consists of some punishing, slow grinding guitars and percussion. It seemed to go on a little long, but if the intent is to wear you down, it certainly does the trick. Overall, this is one of those albums that defy a neat categorization, which is nice for a change. But it is definitely noisy and heavy. This album weighs in at around 57 minutes.

Sutcliffe Jugend: With Extreme Prejudice

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Mar 28 2012
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Artist: Sutcliffe Jugend
Title: With Extreme Prejudice
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Many horror movie fans complain about the fact current movies don't manage to scare anymore. Well, if they're not scared enough by a critical reading of financial reports, daily news, pop culture, media addiction or just ordinary life, they could reach their goal with this new frightening release by Sutcliffe Jugend, a renowned project led by Paul Taylor and Kevin Tomkins (former member of Whitehouse...in very truth Sutcliffe Jugend, whose name derives from the combination of Hitler Youth and the one of Peter Sutcliffe, a tranquil British citizen also known as The Yorkshire Ripper, who's currently serving a number of life imprisonment, recently confirmed by British High Court, for the homicide of 13 women and many aggressions, born as a sort of Whitehouse side-project). I'm not reproaching the result at all, quite the opposite! If it was not specified these psycho-thrillers, whom many music filing clerk have been considered one of the most violent exponent (as well as forerunner) of the so-called power electronics, recorded "With Extreme Prejudice" in Vortex Studios, someone could assume they've recorded it nearby a snuff movie set or in some frightening chamber of horrors, rented by John "Jigsaw" Kramer: vocals could often make listener's flesh creep as well as its wide gamut of disruptive atmospheres - astonishingly motley if compared to some past releases - since the initial title-track where after a sort of 1-minute lasting intro of unidentified crumpled sounds, the voice tears the stage up with a creepy alternation of piercing shouts and a dramatic voice-over which looks like a running commentary of a torture while some sinister sounds draw an obsessive whirl around the listener. Suspense is even more palpitating in the following tracks, such the unsettling narration of a meat lover (let's call him so) in "Lucky", the scary sonic collage of "I Have Kissed This Sick Sick World, Goodbye" (a possible sound track for The Ring-like videotape...), the claustrophobic sense of oppression evoked by other "narrative" tracks like "Oblivion" or "Death Of A Post-Christian Humanist", the disquieting pulses of "Fuckrage", the sensation of being tied on a ducking stool while a revolving saw blade gets closer and closer in "Bound" or the one of gradual constriction by the obscure sonic gluts of the final "Fall Of Utopia". Dreadfully absorbing.

Candor Chasma: Rings

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 07 2012
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Artist: Candor Chasma (@)
Title: Rings
Format: CD
Label: Old Europa Cafe (@)
Rated: *****
A piercing sound close to a synthetic brass effected by some playful boxes belonging to the rich sonic equipment (arguably derived from wise modulations on VCO and LFO knobs knotting frequencies of some glorious sound machines such as Korg Ms 10, EMS VCS3 or the younger Doepfer Dark Energy), occasionally punctured by sharp squeals and loud electrical discharges, while a disturbed voice seems to describe such a sonic storm, in the initial track "Inside The Ether At 06.00 A.M." acts as a sort of tuning for the listeners in order to give them the possibility to intercept the transmissions these skilled sound forgers launched towards Planet Earth. Well, Simon Balestrazzi (aka T.A.C. and Dream Weapon Ritual) and Corrado Altieri (better known for his project Monosonik) supposedly never made extra-vehicular activity outside of a spacecraft, but the denomination they have chosen for their collaborative project, Candor Chasma - one of the most visible valley of Valles Marineris on RedPlanet, where an incredibly big canyon has been observed by Mars Observer -, evokes such a cosmic imaginary and highlights the alien kernel of such a potentially alienating (but wholly immersive) listening experience, so that the following track "The Third Void" could let revive those scenes of sci-fi movies where there's some undefined emergency in a spaceship caused by the mysterious interference of some entity, a flight of associative fancy, whose propulsive force has been boosted by sonic stimulation such as sort of alarm bells, jammed messages to some crew, gradual sonic saturations and its sudden blackout. Electric storms of "Chemical Analysis Of Ectoplasm" and dive-bombings of pulses and deafeaning explosions of "Hallucination Doors" precede the final suite "Apophenia", whose overechoed silent space, where Simon and Corrado inoculate some bizarre sonic freaks (I particularly enjoyed a sort of blade fluttering in a dense air and sudden high-pitched gusts), perfectly describes the phenomenon the title refers to, a distortion of reality based on connections of meaningless data, which someone uses to explain by speaking about the notorious perception of a face from a shot of the surface of Mars. Ultimately "Rings" uncovers possible psychedelic direction of the so-called post-industrial researches.

Koji Asano: Polar Parliament

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 28 2012
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Artist: Koji Asano (@)
Title: Polar Parliament
Format: CD
Label: Solstice
Rated: *****
As I said while reviewing "Solstice Eclipse", a title who can be misinterpreted as a possible elegant way to wriggle out of the scene, Koji Asano's game is not over at all and "Polar Parliament", his 46th release, is the best proof this fecund Japanese sound artist could produce. I could say Koji looks like having polarized this release not only as he splitted it into two very long drones, so that setting two opposite polarities, but it seems that these two drones have different physical-chemical properties so that someone could imagine he carried out a rheological experiment or a sort of electrophoresis on his sound-machine's viscous exudates. The first drone has been built on tiny variations of a single sound, which could remind some listeners of their recent scaling and root planing to remove plaque from teeth, as it's similar to the sound produced by an energic brushing on teeth but it could also be associated to different images such a strong pressure during a convulsive drawing with a pencil on a sheet of paper or deposit removal from water pipes by acids; such an hypnotic sonic homogeneity has been just occasionally broken by extrusions which sound like surfacing this corrosive stream. The second movement features bubbling liquid sounds, which rises trepidation of listening experience till the moment when after some hits which are similar to the noise of locked doors they are transformed into something close to effected train chuffs or helicopter's blades, so that its dynamics are aybe more catching than the ones in the first movement. "Polar Parliament" could be interpreted in a different way as well, as suggested by some clues of the release: many reviewers had some troubles in explaining the choice to put the wheels of a garbage bin on the cover artwork as well as the one to enclose a packet of kleenex with a sized portrait of Mr.Asano inside. A possible explanation could be based on some references to the urban riots occurring in reaction to the way some governments controlled by bankers opted to afford financial, economical and social crysis and consequent "polarization" of societies so that those garbage bins could refer to the typical way protesters use to build barricades and that packet of kleenex an help by Koji against tear gas!


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