Music Reviews

Olekranon: {bilal}

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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May 19 2011
with image
Artist: Olekranon (@)
Title: {bilal}
Format: CD
Label: Housepig / Inam Records (@)
Distributor: Housepig
Rated: *****
Okay, I admit I'm not a true connoisseur of noise projects. I like 'em every now and then, some of the stuff they do when it's creative enough and has something more artistic to offer then well, just a lot of noise. There are numerous sub-genres under the larger umbrella of 'noise music,' and with so many variants, crossovers, etc., some projects like this one are very hard to categorize. The aesthetics of Merzbow, Aube and Non is a lot different than say, that of The Melvins, Neurosis, and Wolf Eyes, although for brief instances, there can be overlapping similarities. Here though, Olekranon skirts convention and ends up sounding no other project in particular, but an amalgam of influences, styles and techniques. The intriguing artwork by Megan Abajian on the CD heralds this as well.

For some frame of reference, Olekranon is one Ryan Huber, based in Bloomington, Indiana. One of his other projects is called Bob Crane (or, Bobcrane) and since that was the only website address I could find for him, that's the one I listed here. Be advised though, Bob Crane is nothing like Olekranon. Exactly what kind of noisefest takes place on {bilal} is hard to pin down, so it is best described. Opening track 'Adamkan' starts with a bit of melodic drone and drum beats shifting quickly into a My Bloody Valentine wall 'o guitar noise with a 3-chord pattern. Even with all that distortion I can tell the guitar sounds horribly out of tune, likely intentionally so. Before the end everything is put in a sonic blender set to 'ice crush,' but it does end up pouring out as smooth as a milkshake.

Next track, 'Engels,' is a hodge-podge of processed, echoed drumbeats, drones, sustained overdriven guitar, rhythmic noises, etc., chaotic at first but merging into something more cohesive. 'Brng Yvwh' is a foray into beat-heavy psychedelic rock with plenty of noise and feedback added. Somewhere in this squalling mess there is even a vocal. Think of the Velvet Underground rehearsing while everyone in the band is on a bad acid trip. There is a quite a rich sonic palette to this piece. 'Deka' has a darker tone with various shades of droning noise, spurts of pink & white noise, and a repetitious drum machine banging away in the background for much of it. It morphs into processed feedback with a bassy undertone. Title track 'Bilal' is one big-beat huge drone metal fest with totally obscured by processing vocals. Somewhere in the proceedings, Olekranon bludgeons to death the most clichéd guitar riff ever in rock. All the while the track builds to a frenzied crescendo of sonic squalls, distorted wall of guitars, thundering beats and with a whistling overtone, then slowly fades away. 'Mouths Flame' offers a diverse array of processed noise with its atmosphere of thick sludge, and pinwheeling bursts of pink and white noise, evolving into something more droney and less chaotic and noisy. A distant melodic guitar theme even emerges briefly towards the end. 'Sunblind' is eerie and minimal, especially compared to what went before. It is all simple slow beat and muted shades of drone, with a vaguely melodic undercurrent, although it doesn't remain static. 'Daisycutter' is soaked in reverb and distortion with drums that sound dominant at first, but soon fall into the miasma of the primeval. 'Master Swine' begins sounding like the most electronic track on the album, perhaps something akin to Oval, with a basic beat and minimal electronics, but when the noise and drone elements subtly creep in and takes over, it's a different story. It's interesting how they support the rhythm, to a point. Final track 'Deitus' is a fitting end to {bilal}, in a way summing up what went previously.

Although Olekranon often employs a rhythmic form in the vein of noise rock, grindcore, and sludge metal, this music bears as much resemblance to that as Lou Reed's 'Metal Machine Music' does to 'Transformer'. There are subtleties to [bilal} that you are undoubtedly going to miss on the first couple of plays. What Olekranon has accomplished here is providing a smorgasbord of noise offerings that will have noise enthusiasts debating just what this is, and its influences and merits for some time to come. Limited to 500. Get it while it lasts.

Igor Bardo: My Sweet Nightmare

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 04 2011
Artist: Igor Bardo (@)
Title: My Sweet Nightmare
Format: CD
Label: Some Place Else (@)
Rated: *****
Well, sweet dreams could consist of travelling the world and the seven seas, but what what are sweet nightmares made up? The talented Russian musician and sound artist Igor Potsukaylo, known for being one leg of the quite renowned project Bardoseneticcube together with Vladimir Manevtsov, whose style embraces both shamanic techno and the harshest lung of electro-industrial body, introduces to his ones.

His butterfly net to catch possible sonorous translation of his nightmarish overturned hyperuranium as well as listener's consideration has threads, that sound electrically excited by an appreciable collagist work of effected vocal samples, unnatural sci-fi sounds, field recordings (it's nice the whirling sound experience entitled Nightmare ending with the sound of a wake up alarm and the noises a frightened person just awaken with a sense of confusion), instrumental sketches, cryptic choirs or obscure mantras (such as in the scaring crescendo of Religion or the impressive The Gnostic Mass, featuring Aleister Crowley), reflections on history (you'll be really scared by that sort of march Igor manages to assemble by combining heavy thuds and the recording of one Hitler's speech - ...and the extolling fomentation of his brainwashed supporters as well...-, who gradually turns into something ghastly, able to induce a baby into a desperate cry, in a track which cannot be entitled but "The end of the end"...and definitively a nightmare disturbing many wise people's sleep...), metallic tumbles and water plops, explosions, jazzy breaks (the one of the track "Expirience"- what a tragically whimsical title! - could remind some obscure breaks by Amon Tobin, played in a brothel patronized by many opium smokers!) and emotionally powerful stage mutations, mixed together with a devilish taste for visionary humour, just sometimes buttoned inside an hallucinated bundle of esoterical references, ritual dim lights, crepuscolar sets so that the listening experience of this album could result in some good air-conditioned astral trip, which could dive your mind into the surrealist scene of a movie by Maya Deren or Jean Cocteau.

Don't be scared: you're not going to become mad after listening to Igor's sweet nightmares. Igor could arguably introduce himself as "Your best friend" (the title of the last track), but I cannot rule out the possibility such an occurance could be considered a nightmare as well! It made me laugh the play on words the Finnish record label Some Place Else made on the typical caption "All rights reserved", meaningfully transfigured into "All rites reversed"!

Pete Von Petrin : Smoke & Mirrors

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Apr 28 2011
Artist: Pete Von Petrin (@)
Title: Smoke & Mirrors
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this artist before this disc arrived in my mailbox, but when I saw what it was, I was definitely interested. The album consists on the single track, 'Smoking Mirror,' which the press sheet describes as 'A symphony for springs and delay pedals in thee movements with an interlude.' With a blurb from the creative director of NorCal Noisefest, I was ready to check this out. Luckily for Von Petrin, this lives up to its credentials. This is solid waves on waves of noise, constantly shifting, and constantly evolving. He mixes it up so there is always a consistent thread of droning static throughout with a nice mix of midrange and high pitched tones. This is like listening to a recording of the ocean while on a subway. But it really does seem to function like different tracks at times, when toward the end we have what sounds like a man having a fight with a trash can in a dumpster in a parking garage. Yes, it is every bit as cool as it sounds. Overall, this is quite enjoyable noise music. Even the packaging hearkens back to the old school DIY noise scene with a 100% post-consumer recycled sleeve with spraycan art hand applied by Pete von Petrin on the front and rubber-stamped art by Iggy Vans on the back. He is quick to note that 'despite the hand-assembled nature of the package, this is a glass-mastered CD with offset print art.' If you don't want to take my word for it, you can check it out on his website for free. It's definitely worth taking a look. This album weighs in at 42.22.

R.Y.N.: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy

 Posted by Barton Graham   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Apr 14 2011
Artist: R.Y.N.
Title: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
Format: 12"
Label: Equation Records (@)
Rated: *****
This record by R.Y.N. draws the title 'Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy' from the 1951 work of Mircea Eliade which was a comprehensive study on one of the most intriguing sets of beliefs to date. And I think that they really channel some of that energy in this release. If you close your eyes and FEEL the ravaging soundscapes they offer us, you'll begin to feel the pull as you're transported to another dark realm. Spacious and damning the two pieces take up a full side of the LP each, giving the listener ample time to give in to the powers within. These songs are aurally very tense, uneasy and create just the right amount of despair to grip you and not let you go. You'll find yourself very much immersed in an unnerving delve into the psyche of insanity. This album was crafted entirely from manipulated field recordings and the results show that R.Y.N. definitely have a mastery of their trade. Make sure to catch this one at home in the dungeon, alone, in the dark, with your vice of choice close by and let yourself be overtaken by its dreadful beauty.

Blue Sabbath Black Cheer and Nihilist Assault Group: Planned Obsolescence

 Posted by Barton Graham   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Apr 14 2011
Artist: Blue Sabbath Black Cheer and Nihilist Assault Group
Title: Planned Obsolescence
Format: 12"
Label: Gnarled Forest (@)
Rated: *****
Blue Sabbath Black Cheer and Nihilist Assault Group's collaborative effort 'Planned Obsolescence' doesn't f**k around. They take their HNW very seriously, and with this release command you do the same.

This is what I imagine it would sound like if you were in the epicenter of a massive explosion and captured just a single nuance of it, then looped it indefinitely. This recording is just a thick, unapologetic wall of destruction. Every second offers no hope or retribution. From the second the walls of noise close in, until the moment they fade away, you're pummeled with the harsh ferocity of a sonic shoe to the groin. Minute sounds and variances pour in and build up throughout to offer just a hint of tonal fluctuation that slowly swirls to a head by the end of the record. Side B seems to show more of these nuances than Side A making sure by the last seconds you're not quite sure what kind of truck just hit you. There's not enough that can be said to attest to the brutality of this collaboration, you must simply experience it for yourself, however, be very aware, that it is not for everybody. While the title may be 'Planned Obsolescence,' this is definitely a stew of timeless carnage that will be just as destructive years from now as it is today.

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