Posts Tagged ‘abrasive’

Sacred Bones – 16th August 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I’ve barely recovered from Uniform’s last punishing album and the gut-punching spectacle of hearing it played live when they land a second collaboration with The Body, only a year on from their first, the punishing noise-fest that was Mental Wounds Not Healing. An album that roughly ravaged and picked deep into the scabs and scars, it was everything you’d expect from two of the most uncompromising acts around right now.

NY purveyors of sonic violence Uniform carve their own trench of frenzied fury, and if they lack variety, where they excel is in their capacity to relentlessly attack, spitting and spewing their raging antagonism and venomous vitriol, while experimental noise duo The Body have largely forged a career from adding layers of abrasion to myriad collaborations – and this one is no exception.

The press release provides a fair summary of the kind of noise contained on Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back: ‘Comprised of an amalgam of abrasive influence that spans Swans-y dirge and purge, Whitehouse’s clenched-jaw noise, middle-period Ministry’s penchant for metallic post-industrial everything, New Order’s nose for melodic emotionality, and Juicy J-inspired beats.’ It’s all in there, and none of it’s pleasant, although somewhat ironically, when pressed against the full-tilt ferocity of Uniform, The Body serve more as a counterbalance, as if the two have a certain cancelling effect on one another’s most extreme aspects. The result, then, isn’t intensified – it simply wouldn’t be possible – but mangled and mutated into a different distillation of the component parts.

‘Gallows in Heaven’ is perhaps a misleading opener, stylistically, sonically, and in terms of mood, in that it’s goth to the core, a deep, surging three-chord bass sequence and thunderous mechanoid drumming at its core. With a wonky, fractal guitar line weaving over the top, it’s a vintage slice of post-punk – only there’s feedback and extraneous noise all over and backed off in the distance, Michael Berdan’s vocals, eternally petulant, the epitome of fucked off with everything.

If ‘Not Good Enough’ sounds a bit like standard Uniform but with additional electronic noise thrown over the top of it, the thumping disco groove that underpins ‘Vacancy’, which shudders, shimmers, and howls, is another kind of proposition altogether. A snarling electronic bass booms in along with a jittery sequenced synth rhythm, and this is something that’s got ‘80s dancefloor’ all over it – or would have were it not for the mess of noise all over it.

‘Patron Saint of Regret’ is little more than a mess of noise at first, evolving into some kind of fucked-up post-Wu-Tang trip-hop crossover that miraculously works, while ‘Penance’ takes the hybridisation a step further, a collision of thumping industrial beats and lumbering synth chords, with tinkling 80s synths worthy of mid 80s Cure or A Flock of Seagulls and impenetrable shrieking vocals by way of an interlude from the grating keyboard drone.

The stripped back ‘All This Bleeding’ brings the industrial clank of NIN and gentle cascading synth melody –paired with the raging rants – of Prurient together to forge something both anguished and atmospheric. Twanging guitars echo around punishing percussion and create an unexpected spaciousness amidst the claustrophobic intensity. The electronic inches to the fore, culminating in the sample-soaked ‘Day of Atonement’, which consists of little more than a droning synth bass over spiky drumming and Berdan’s distorted vocal amidst a howl of excruciating extraneous noise.

Instead of softening the relentless blows, the graded transition toward the album’s final cut only accentuates the unforgiving nature of the material: the churning maelstrom of dark ambience of ‘Waiting for the End of the World’ is the sound of the apocalypse as a jaunty tune plays in the background and ‘Contempt’ grinds into the desolation of nihilistic blackness.

This feels like the collapse of it all, the degradation of society, represented in sonic form. It sounds like the cover looks. Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back is nothing short of devastating.

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Uniform and The Body

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The monolithic collaboration between industrial-noise post-everything bands Uniform and The Body continues with a second entry, Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back. Comprised of an amalgam of abrasive influence that spans Swans-y dirge and purge, Whitehouse’s clenched-jaw noise, middle-period Ministry’s penchant for metallic post-industrial everything, New Order’s nose for melodic emotionality, and Juicy J-inspired beats, Uniform and The Body’s approach delves deeper down the rabbit hole than before, igniting a sonic world of terror and bliss poised to grip the throats of fans yet again.

They’ve now shared the album’s lead track ‘Penance’, which Uniform’s Michael Berdan explains, “has to do with an ongoing attempt to hold oneself to a higher standard than you did yesterday. Human beings are bound to mess up as often as not, which can lead to either teachable experiences or nihilistic resign. I grew up surrounded by religious types who could act like monsters six days out of the week as long as they were willing to say ‘sorry’ to some priest and pray a rosary on the seventh. Continuing in malicious behaviour and demanding arbitrary absolution is a garbage way to live. However, if we take account of where we’ve done harm to others and ourselves and endeavour to learn and not repeat these actions, then maybe we can grow into empathetic and loving people.”

Listen to ‘Penance’ here:

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Uniform Live Dates:

06/07: Groningen, Netherlands – Vera

07/07: Leper, Belgium – Leper Fest

09/07: Malmo, Sweden – Plan B

10/07: Stockholm, Sweden – Hus 7

11/07: Anyksciai, Lithuania – Devilstone Festival

12/07: Kutná Hora, Czech Republic – Creepy Teepee Festival

13/07: St. Petersburg, Russia – Serdce Club $

14/07: Moscow, Russia – Pluton $

16/07: Bratislava, Slovakia – Protokultura

17/07: Kosice, Slovakia – Collosseum Club

18/07: Ostrava, Czech Republic – Colors Of Ostrava Festival

19/07: Berlin, Germany – Kantine Berghain

20/07: Den Haag, Netherlands – Grauzone Summer Festival

21/07: Bristol, UK – Crofters Rights +

22/07: Hull, UK – The Polar Bear +

23/07: Leeds, UK – Temple Of Boom +

24/07: Cardiff, UK – The Moon +

25/07: London, UK – Electrowerkz +

26/07: Paris, France – Espace B

27/07:Bamberg, Germany – Pizzini

28/07: Rokycany, Czech Republic – Fluff Fest

19/08: San Diego, CA – Casbah *

20/08: Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar *

22/08: San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger *

23/08: Austin, TX – Barracuda *

24/08: Denton, TX – Rubber Gloves *

25/08: Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall *

26/08: New Orleans, LA – Poor Boys

27/08: Birmingham, Alabama – The Firehouse

29/08: Tallahassee, FL – Wilbury

30/08: Tampa, FL – Orpheum *

31/08: Gainesville, FL – High Dive *

01/09: Atlanta, GA – Masquerade *

03/09: Nashville, TN – Exit/In*

04/09: Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel *

07/09: Washington, DC – Black Cat *

08/09: Jersey City, NJ – White Eagle Hall*

10/09: Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere *

11/09: Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club *

12/09: Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall *

14/09: Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace *

15/09: Grand Rapids, MI – Pyramid Scheme*

17/09: Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall *

18/09: St. Louis, MO – Delmar Hall *

20/09: Denver, CO – Marquis Theater *

21/09: Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall*

23/09: Seattle, WA – Neumos *

24/09: Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge *

26/09: San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall *

27/09: San Jose, CA – The Ritz *

28/09: Camarillo, CA – Rock City *

29/09: Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex *

$ w/ Thou

+ w/ Bad Breeding

* w/ Boris

The Body Live Dates:

04/07: Roskilde, Denmark – Roskilde Festival #

05/07: Kassel, Germany – Goldgrube *

06/07: Leipzig, Germany – Conne Island *

08/07: Prague, Czech Republic – Modra Vopice *

09/07: Budapest, Hungary – Durer Kert *

10/07: Munich, Germany – Backstage !

11/07: Paris, France – Gibus #

12/07: London, United Kingdom – The Dome #

13/07: Dour, Belgium – Dour Festival #

15/07: Nijmegen, Netherlands – Valkhof Festival *

16/07: Berlin, Germany – Zukunft Am Ostkreuz *

17/07: Oberhausen, Germany – Drucklufthaus %

18/07: Crispendorf, Germany – Chaos Descends Festival

20/07: Birmingham, United Kingdom – Supersonic Festival

21/07: Sheffield, United Kingdom – Doomlines V
22/07: Glasgow, United Kingdom – Broadcast %

23/07: Manchester, United Kingdom – Soup Kitchen %

24/07: Bristol, United Kingdom – Rough Trade %

26/07: Moscow, Russia – Mutabor

27/07: St Petersburg, Russia – Opera

28/07: Rokycany, Czech Republic – Fluff Festival

29/07: Milan, Italy – Macao %

30/07/: Bologna, Italy – Freakout Club %

31/07: Linz, Austria – Kapu %

01/08: Kosice, Slovakia – Tabacka Kulturfabrik %

02/08: Katowice, Poland – OFF Festival

05/09: Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge

06/09: Denver, CO – Denver Hex at Lost Lake Lounge

07/09: Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room

13/09: Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre ^

14/09: Hudson, NY – Basilica Soundscape ^

15/09: Brooklyn, NY – The Bell House ^

^ w/ Assembly of Light

# Collab set with Full Of Hell

* w/ Full Of Hell

! w/ Full Of Hell and Napalm Death

% w/ Black To Comm

Uniform and The Body

Today, Uniform unveil the second single off their highly anticipated album, The Long Walk – coming August 17th on Sacred Bones. ‘Alone in the Dark’ is an homage to Jack Sholder’s slasher flick of the same name. Vocalist Michael Berdan explains that “in the film, Jack Palance, Martin Landau and Donald Pleasance star as a gaggle of mental patients who escape an asylum during a power outage and proceed to hunt down their psychiatrist. In our song, I’m referencing my personal feelings of isolation that come in the middle of the night, when I’m left with only the sensation of college level existential terror and prayers to a God who may or may not be listening, if even there at all.”

The Long Walk already looks like being one of Aural Aggro’s albums of the year. Get your lugs round ‘Alone in the Dark’ here:

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Uniform - Long Wak

Sacred Bones – 17 August 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Of all of the bands to make an impact recently, Uniform’s arrival has to have been one of the most hard-hitting. Wake in Fright was appropriately-titled: a terrifying mess of industrial and punk compressed into a brutal explosion of unproduced noise, it was the kind of tinnitus-inducing horror that rang in your ears as you sat bolt upright at 4am in a sweaty state of anxiety after a bad dream. When I say ‘you’, I’m presenting the personal as universal.

Yet none of this really prepares anyone for its follow-up. Whereas its predecessor was a ragged, raging sonic inferno, raw and trebly, having expanded to a three-piece with drummer Greg Fox (Liturgy, Zs) joining Michael Berdan (vocals) and instrumentalist Ben Greenberg, The Long Walk (the title of which references a Stephen King book) brings a newfound density to intensify the ferocity. That doesn’t mean they’ve toned it down: if anything, they’ve cranked it up and added new dimensions to the ear-bleeding brutality that defines the Uniform sound.

If I were being cynical, I might contend that Uniform only have one song, which they repeat with various minor adjustments. Michael Berdan’s vocals are hardy varied: a raging punk sneer smeared across a cyclical riff that grates and throbs amidst a tempest of overloading noise as the needles all quiver towards the top of the red. It’s a simple method, but often, simplicity is most effective, especially when the aim is to produce art that drills directly through the skull into the soft tissue of the brain. Maximum impact doesn’t require complex algorithms or theory. Maximum impact taps into the most primitive aspects of the psyche, targets the visceral, punches straight into instinct. And maximum impact isn’t necessarily about variety: that isn’t Uniform’s ambition: they’re out to batter relentlessly at the senses. The effect of The Long Walk is cumulative. And that effect, for those predisposed, is anxietising, stressful. Listening to The Long Walk actually raises my heart rate, and makes me perspire. And really, so it should: this is intense, claustrophobic, a different kind of aggression that speaks of derangement and blind rage.

The Long Walk is as raw as it gets, to the extent that its complete lack of refinement makes some of the most aggressive, antagonistic, and purposefully unlistenable songs even less appealing: you actually have to get through the jarring noise, the treble, the wilfully impenetrable mixing and what could safely be described as anti-production – to find the songs, let alone the appeal. The be clear: this isn’t just noisy: it’s fucking nasty, and is the work of a band deliberately pushing even the most accommodating of listeners to their limits, if not away altogether. It’s almost as if they don’t want any fans.

I can relate: as a spoken word performer, I discovered greater satisfaction in driving as many people from the room within the first couple of minutes than a smattering of polite applause from a full room at the end. Producing art is not about popularity. It’s about release, about channelling, about, catharsis, about being true to oneself or one’s aesthetic. If it’s commercial, it’s probably not art.

I know that in my writing I’m prone to revert to various ‘paint’-related tropes when reviewing work of a certain volume and / or intensity. But Uniform absolutely fucking decimate. Everything.

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Uniform - Long Wak

Ventil Records – V008

Christopher Nosnibor

Variations on Bulletproof Glass follows 2016’s Decomposition I-III which also featured Christina Kubisch, and set out to explore – and demolish – the well-worn thematics of field recordings.it represents something of a deviation in terms of its methodology, as well as its focus. This fourth decomposition collapses material rather than location, and places a very different focus on the concept of field recordings, centring not on the out and about, but the controlled space, and with a clearly defined specificity.

Variations on Bulletproof Glass is a literal title, being constructed from ‘waves which were transmitted through a bulletproof glass pane while it was exposed to major physical impacts’. But of course, like most works which are devoted to a microcosmic sound source, that source becomes increasingly obscured the closer the lens looms. While there are moments that do sound vaguely evocative of glass, cracking and splintering, there’s not a single classic crash and tinkle, a solitary smash and splinter. None of the sounds here betray their origins, and Kutin and Kindlinger have manipulated the source material to forge something altogether in a different sonic sphere from the pieces that lie scattered at source. There may be hints of scrapes and ricochets on/off glass, but there’s nothing which overtly says ‘this the sound of glass’ in the (de)construction of these samples. Because this is bulletproof glass, for a start. It has different properties, and can withstand greater punishment. The consequence is that so must the listener: this is challenging, and difficult to readily access.

‘X26’, the first of eight pieces, clanks and scrapes, and the chanking treble is countered by woozy bass. It has all the hallmarks of experimental dub, and even builds some dense, gut-churning rhythmic pulsations and dynamic beats – none of which even hint in the slightest at the source of the sounds. ‘Throne’ is a jolting, stop/start attack, and Elvin Brandhi’s vocals are stark, dishevelled, wild and wide-eyed. ‘PANE#2’ blasts away at a beat that echoes Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Discipline’ as synth-like sounds howl and wail aggressively before tapering to a quieter place.

Elsewhere, the sonorous, trilling done and scrape of ‘L.I.W’ is uncomfortable, and not for a single second does one listen to this and think that this is an album to mellow to, or even to function to. It’s not just distracting, but the sound of abstract obstruction.

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Kutin Kindlinger – Decomposition IV

Edition Beides – beides 2 – 9th December 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Why am I enthralled by a deep, churning low-end rumble that sounds like a slowed-down washing machine with pops that sound like a ping-pong ball being smacked around? What is it that’s so compelling about a distant sound that may or may not be a sustaining guitar that suddenly breaks into ear-shattering strains of feedback? It’s uncomfortable, it attacks the senses. Perhaps it’s a deep-seated defect which lurks like a parasite in my psyche, and gnaws away invisibly, driving me toward audio works which induce discomfort, craving a psychologically twisted, deviant form of amour. Perhaps I’m just wired differently. The answers to these questions do not lie in Paul Wirkus’ ‘psycho-acoustic essay’, described as ‘a consciously digital ambient album between laptop electronica and field recordings’, which is forged with ‘mental strolls… are combined with real strolls through the green fields of the summery, loud city on the search for security, calm, and a chance to exhale’.

The four tracks on Discours Amoureux offer little sense of comfort, of respite, of security or calm. In fact, it’s a fairly dark and oppressive work from beginning to end, although a sense of exploration, of discovery, does still linger in traces in the corners of the uncomfortable, claustrophobic sonic spaces created by Wirkus. There’s something reluctant, grudging about Wirkus’ stance in relation to his art, and just as there’s little sense of concern for the listener’s reaction to it, there’s equally little sense of context or framing.

Welcome to 1982. I can only assume, in the absence of information, that the track’s title – and the titles of the other tracks – are dates. This first track on Discours Amoureux is in the same kind of difficult noise field as early Whitehouse (although not nearly as trebly and harsh as their work of this time), Prurient, and Merzbow, and as such, evokes the spirit of the emerging underground scene of power electronics as it was in 1982 or thereabouts. Or maybe not. Nevertheless, it’s abrasive and disturbing. The origins of the sounds are unclear, and the sleeve divulges precisely nothing beyond the artist’s name, the album title, record label and track listing. But there’s an organic feel to the slowly-evolving layers on the individual compositions. From the amorphous, shimmering wall of sound emerge moments of outstanding beauty, towering, glistening…. Yet still rough-edged, rusting, with a sufficiently abrasive surface as to scour the senses.

‘1499’ is more overtly electronic. At its foundation, the piece explores resonating notes ringing against one another, the undulating pitch creating a strangely harmonious melody. Incidental clatters and clangs – spanners against scaffolding, the chank of glass – interrupt the flow, and the notes increase in pace and the mellowness gradually is lost to rising tension and ultimately, echoes into the void of a sea of static.

The more overtly ambient ‘2016’ takes the form of a sound collage, with found sounds and field recordings assembled over random percussion and multitonal hums and drones. A gloomy, dense atmosphere descends, encapsulating in sound the long shadows which have cast themselves over the world during a year marked by catastrophic political, economic and humanitarian events. Back to a golden age, and much happier times: 1888. The year in which the great blizzard hit the US, Jack the Ripper began his notorious spree, and the first (known) recording of classical music was made, is represented by a long, sonorous, humming drone, its surface distorted with crackling, clicking. It seems reasonably apposite, intentionally or otherwise. Distant voices, slow, warped, intimate a dark spirituality and an even darker future.

What kind of perverse amour is this? How do Wirkus’ sonic explorations move you? Discours Amoureux is an uncomfortable, unsettling experience which speaks of a dark love, a brutal and torturous love, a love which causes pain, physical and psychological. Yield to it.

 

Paul Wirkus – Discours Amoureux