Posts Tagged ‘Breaking Bad’

Noisequanoise – 29th January 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

What is this? A reimagined soundtrack to the popular TV series? Having not watched it (I know, it’s a crime against contemporary popular culture) I’ve no idea if the track titles are references.

What I do know is that we’re in ultra-niche ultra-noise territory here: Breaking Bad was recorded on a CD-R data discs and released on an initial run of CDs limited to 8. Yes, 8. There’s a wilful obscurantism that’s part and parcel of the scene that this clearly taps into, and it was ever thus going back to the dawn of Come Organisaton. There’s a whole essay, or even a book, in the culture surrounding the scene, and that isn’t for now, but despite what all this may seem to imply about elitism and snobbery in the noise scene, my personal experience has to date presented many accommodating, pleasant, self-effacing and self-aware, not to mention shy and reasonable people. It;s often the case that extreme art is not a reflection of the individual, but simply an outlet.

The opening bars of the album’s first piece, ‘Hidden Threat’, are serene, almost ambient, and pleasant. Then in a turn it explodes and what sounds at first like a metal bucket full of stones and a broken contact mic being kicked down the stairs in a tower block swiftly becomes a relentless swirl of churning metallic distortion, a churning blast of noise that’s excruciating. There are some vocals in there, too: pained shouting, submerged by a blistering wall of distortion. It’s so intense as to make five and a half minutes feel like fifteen.

Shifting into lower frequencies and breaking the wall with the occasional stutter, ‘Stream of Thoughts’ conjures the anguish I feel around 10am on most mornings in the office – and while the actual office experience is rapidly receding into the distance as a memory, the recollection of the trauma of operating in such surroundings will likely never fade.

And so it is that ‘My Future Plans’ is a shrieking mess of treble that jolts and jars, and with so much turbulent top-end, ‘More Pain!’ is appropriately titled as a trudging, sawing sound grinds back and forth against a squall of shrieking ballistic white noise. And it just keeps on going. There is absolutely no fucking respite. The spaces between the tracks are negligible, and while the tracks are all different, when presented with so much relentless blasting noise, the effect is ultimately flattening. That doesn’t mean it’s numbing or desensitising: six or seven tracks in, it’s still as eye-wateringly assaultive as in the opening minutes – but you’re just too battered and beaten to really differentiate one shade of overloading distortion from another, in much the same way as standing in a DIY store comparing paints. Only this is like comparing paint while having an electric drill penetrating each ear.

That said, the final track ‘The Way No Nowhere’ does seem to increase the intensity, with more rapid circulations of the internal rhythms that manifest within the whorl of noise.

It’s draining, and hard work: but then, it’s not intended as easy listening and one of the primary purposes of harsh noise and power electronics is a sonic catharsis, and one which often involves an element of self-flagellation. And in terms of delivering against objective, Breaking Bad brings it.

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