Rejection Ops – Rejection Ops vs. Rejection Ops

Posted: 19 November 2021 in Albums
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Nim Brut – 19th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The hardest battles are those against yourself: they’re perpetually self-defeating and at the same time impossible to win. A duelling duality creates the core dynamic of Rejection Ops. The Leeds-based duo’s bio describes them as ‘a drummer and bass-and-electronics player who sound like each is trying to outdo the other at driving audiences from the room’, presenting a scene of duality and conflict, and this document of that internal tension was captured in its rawest form, namely self-recorded on a Zoom recorder during May 2021, so no engineering panache or highly-detailed production values here, no layering, multitracking, or overdubs. And it’s a mangled, gnarly mess of noise from beginning to end. It’ sets your teeth on edge, it makes your organs vibrate. It makes you feel tense, and grind your teeth. And these are the reasons to love it, because it has impact. It’s not some comfortable background work, and it’s not even songs that drift into your ears and lodge softly but with longevity. Rejection Ops vs. Rejection Ops is pre-emptive revenge for something you may do, and it’s going to punish you hard for it.

The first track, ‘Agendas Vary’ is a squall of feedback and overloading noise pitched against a tempest of thunderous drumming, and it does that free jazz thing of sounding like the climactic finale of an epic set without there having been the epic set preceding it. As such, it’s seven minutes of ear-bleeding, cranium-crushing chaos that doesn’t go anywhere, but then isn’t intending to.

‘Atomic Basketry’, the album’s longest track at almost eight minutes in duration, ratchets up the noise and almost buries the percussion beneath a blistering squall of screaming noise, a tidal wave of treble, a deluge of distortion. Blistering electronic noise, a bowel-shredding harsh noise wall splatters against arrhythmic clattering.

Thereafter, the form shifts away from expansive and exploratory towards brief blasts of mangled abrasion, every one faster and harder and wilder and more off the wall. Guitars thrashed hard splinter in a mesh of treble while the drums pop like bubblewrap. ‘Heeding Tartan’ is particularly abrasive, two-and-a-half minutes of metal-scraping, crunching, white hot molten noise, and ‘Raging Ninepin’ rages hard, so hard it blisters and peels and pulverises the grey matter to the point of near liquefication. The drums ricochet hard and fast like machine gun fire through ‘Rat Pie’, which snarls and crackles hard, but it’s all just a prep for the sonic blitzkrieg of the final cut, ‘Soon Learned’. Even sooner remember earplugs would be the advice, because this absolutely fucking hurts. Again, it’s three and a half minutes of everything all at once, only here, it’s the head-shredding crescendo climax it sounds like, rather than just some avant jazz end without a start.

By the time it’s over, you feel battered, bruised, drained, but also buzzed and exhilarated. The purpose of art is not to entertain, but to challenge, to arouse the senses. Rejection Ops certainly challenge – not only the listener, but themselves and one another, to create a stupendously intense experience.

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