Music Reviews

Sutcliffe Jugend: With Extreme Prejudice

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (6955)
Mar 28 2012
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 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
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
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!

Merzbow: Lop Lop (2 CD Deluxe Edition)

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Feb 16 2012
Artist: Merzbow (@)
Title: Lop Lop (2 CD Deluxe Edition)
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Rustblade
Distributor: Rustblade
Rated: *****
Noise musicians are infamous for unleashing a caustic landslide of CDs, tapes, LPs, free downloads; it can be overwhelming and headache inducing to try and take the plunge, to know where to begin. Merzbow, the long-running alias of one Masami Akita, created the standard, with over 350 releases to his name. As a result, most album reviews are negligent and dismissive, boiling down to essentially 'this is a noise record.'

This is not helpful. There are as many different ways to make noise as there are body types: from the dreamy, organic drone of Growing; to the narcotic lull of Liz Harris' Grouper project. There is a HUGE gap from early 80s industrial noise to the current wave of laptop fiddling, floorcore basement dwellers.

So the question is: 'what am i getting into?' What makes this record stand out from the 349 other albums i already have by Masami Akita. Why bother? It depends on what you are looking for.

Noise re-conditions the way we look at and listen to the world: the passing traffic, the whirling wind turbines, the rain on a tin roof, become incidental symphonies, after an afternoon or evening listening to Wolf Eyes or Throbbing Gristle or Whitehouse; they are like generative synthesizers, and the world becomes a more artistic, more ordered, more inspiring place. Noise musicians take harsh, unwelcome sounds like feedback and industrial sounds, like power tools, and embraces them, incorporates them, and they become less hostile, less intrusive. Its like making friends with yr environment.

On Lop Lop, Merzbow expands his usual arsenal of feedback and oscillators to include guitars and the human voice, he strives for constant innovation and mastery over tone and texture. The result is a more colorful, more psychedelic, more emotive monster than on his early 80s industrial splatter porn material. Its like watching the snowy static on a tv, back when they had antenna, turn technicolor, a swarm of unknown insects, whirling with life.

There is something to be said for having released over 350 albums: you are eventually going to figure out what yr doing, even if what you are doing is intensely odd and abstract. Akita has become a Paganini of the mixing board, finessing rumbles and wind-fire from archaic knobs and buttons, that the uninitiated would never notice. That's part of what pisses me off, which is part of what made me want to write for this site in the first place. The dismissive, condescending attitude towards experimental/avant garde music and art; this is noise, this is drone, blahblahblah. Its like saying Vivaldi and Appalachian Hill Music are the same thing, because they both write for the violin. Ignorance.

My other main incentive to write about this music is just an excuse to listen to it, and listen closely. There's such a barrage of music these days, its hard to know where to begin, and we are all left with cultural ADD, and people might not notice the wheat from the chaff. Merzbow's been making music for over 30 years, he essentially created, or helped to create, power noise. I am always curious what separates the master from the disciple. What makes for a good noise record? Listening to Lop Lop, i am struck by the continuity, by the flow, that i must chalk up to intelligent editing. The subtle warbling bass LFO from album opener 'Canaanda', flowing through the first half of the second track, 'My Voice at the Pace of Drifting Clouds,' then fading out suddenly. I am reminded of bassoons, dropping out of the second movement of a symphony. Graceful. Subtle.

The flow of songs makes listening to Lop Lop like a journey, no verse chorus pop structure; more like being swept along in a fiery river. And, of course, the firm foundation creates a solid structure for pyrotechnic freak-outs to take place, Merzbow's signature oscillator/feedback scree, like standing in a wind tunnel.

Most people that hear noise for the first time's first comment is: 'This Isn't Music'. It is chaotic, violent, assaultive, and that's part of the secret. It takes some getting used to. Over the past few months, dipping back into Merzbow's catalog, and other innovators of the genre, i have been reminded of the eye of the hurricane. This music is not meant to be ignored, it is true, it is not background listening. It screams and demands attention. But late last night, i succumbed to its windstorm, threw on a pair of headphones, and had the blackest of black metal evenings: listening to Merzbow and sewing. Once one has surrendered, there is a peace here. The music rages and surges around you, and produces all manner of interesting mental and physical side effects. Most adventurous music of the past 100 years, from Bebop to Stravinsky, was considered atonal, not music. It produces riots and chaos, but it is reflective of the world that we live in.

Lop Lop does not cater; you must come to this work on its own terms. You must acclimate to its extreme volume and frequencies. You must stop yr busy life, or bring it along for the ride. But embracing noise music, exploring it, learning its intricacies, is like planting a zen garden in yr mind: unshakeable.

Lop Lop comes in three version, from Rustblade: a single disc 3 track version, a deluxe 2 cd box set, with additional artwork and swag, and a 3 disc limited edition, that came with a shirt and a carrying case, which looked beautiful but is unfortunately sold out. I have the disc version, and it is lovely packaging, pure fetishistic delight, holding the luxuriously designed packaging in yr hands. A real work of art.

Plaster: Platforms

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (6866)
Feb 16 2012
Artist: Plaster (@)
Title: Platforms
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
Another very good release delivered by postman in a packet with Ukranian stamps from Kvitnu, the industrious label by greatly respected artist Zavoloka bears the signature of Plaster, bicephalous electronic freak born from two skilled Italian sound forgers, Giuseppe Carlini and Giancarlo Hashem Moniri, whose headquarters are in the chaotic Rome, a metropolis where there are the best conditions for electronic musicians' inspiration (alienation, sociopathies and a rich sample collection of behaviourial disorders and mental diseases, multiculturalism, contradictions, impressive cultural and social asymmetries, urban brutal landscapes, human feelings' slaughterhouses and so on), but where there're just some small hotbeds for electronic music, which are still too small to be considered as a scene. In spite of such a situation, Rome sometimes delivers some very interesting stuff (I could mention Lory D, D'Arcangelo brothers, DSP recordings for instance...and some of you knows some of them reached important goals such as signature with legendary labels like Rephlex) and Plaster could reasonably be considered one welcome gift from that scene. The method they use in order to assemble their electromechanical structures seems to be more or less the same for each track as Plaster like gradual ascensional progression according to a compositional scheme based on the crossbreed of deep bass tones (looking like a mechanical unlabored ventilation, a sort of robotic eupnea, or an involuntary muscle contraction...) with subtle, cinematic and more or less highlighted sonic swarm, reminding to me the style of projects such as Autechre (many click'n'bleeps whirls recalled to my mind their masterpiece Tri Repetae), Hecq, Ltd.Noise or Denny Almonde, a scheme which seduced many notorious bands as well (Depeche Mode, Young Gods, Nine Inch Nails and so on), overloading speakers till peaks of saturation. Sometimes they depart from crystalline sounds, but instead of cleansing frequencies it seems they like to zoom on impurities, so that if you follow the progression of a bass tone, listeners could almost renderize its gradual indentation, especially in tracks like "Rearline", "Component" and "Double Connection" (a track where Christina Gasparetto interprets a sentence taken from "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle). The conceptual framework explaining the title (Platforms) they have chosen refers to a mental journey through the flow of music, where each track turns into a sort of platform, i.e. a point where listeners can stop or start again and again like in life through routes, with large or narrow corridors, obstacles, blurred visions, confusing or neat directions and so on. A nice way to describe their release, but I'm sure many listeners will appreciate it without embracing such a perspective. The Cd has been enhanced with the inclusion of a videoclip by David Terranova, titled "Lydia K", looking like the vision of a dancer who gradually lose the perception of space. I warmly reccomend Plaster's sonic prophylaxis as well as I could reccomend to pay attention when pulling cd out from its card package!

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