Posts Tagged ‘Harsh Noise’

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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Noisequanoise – 1st January 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Avery Vickers, aka Death Circuit, isn’t exactly big on info, biographical or otherwise. But, specialising in Harsh Noise, Harsh Noise Wall, and Power Electronics, what more do you really need? Personality and politics are less than nothing in the face of instrumental annihilation.

An Easy Passage To The Mind is noted as having been ‘recorded on 90 minutes of cassette tape’. The medium naturally brings a roughing, analogue feel to the two tracks, which are both exactly 15:03 in duration (90 minutes would surely be unbearable even for the biggest fan of this).

What’s impressive is just how much sound is packed into those thin, magnetic-coated strips. It’s not just harsh, noisy, and a wall – that’s pretty much a given. But the density is more than a towering slab of basalt. And of course, there are no smooth edges here: this is pure abrasion.

On ‘1’, there’s an emphasis on the lower mid-ranges, meaning the experience isn’t cranium-splittingly abrasive. The sound is very much like a cross between a helicopter at close range, and a washing machine on a spin cycle, the air torn and shredded, and rent damaged by the obliterative volume. After the initial shock of the sheer sonic force, it becomes immersive. Not pleasant, but not unpleasant.

The same cannot be said of ‘2’, which may or may not be the same track cranked up to a level of overloading distortion and does actually hurt and fuck with your head even more than your speakers. It simply sounds broken. And after a quarter of an hour of it, I certainly am. It’s torture by frequency, and it’ torture by volume, and it’s torture by dissonant vibration. I feel jaw clenching involuntarily as every muscle in my body get gradually more tense. It’s horrible. And exactly as intended. Harsh.

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Basement Corner Emissions – 28th June 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

For those outside Ukraine, and those who aren’t completely immersed in the most underground of underground scenes, few are probably aware of the fact there’s some seriously good noise shit emerging from Ukraine right now. And Portland, Oregon, US, too, on the strength of this release.

This split release between Vitauct and Crepuscular Entity is a monster, and one which demonstrates that there’s contrast and variety within the field.

The first piece is a seven-minute wall of noise courtesy of Crepuscular Entity. There may or may not be distorted vocals screaming low in the mix of a blistering white-noise assault. Noise doesn’t get much harsher than this, and everything is total overload. But there is texture, if you listen closely enough – if you can bear to. It’s not quite Harsh Noise wall, but it is a wall of harsh noise.

Vitauct’s ‘The Abominable Mechanism’ combines squelchy electronics with a thumping mechanical rhythm, the sound of a machine grinding and pumping away. Distortion and decay enter the equation at some point, upping the intensity. In context, however, Vitauct’s contributions are light relief against the relentlessly abrasive shards of pain served up by Crepuscular Entity: ‘Electrical Storm in an Electrical Storm’ is full-treble pain, an amorphous mass of blistering hiss with no discernible form, while Vitauct offers up something more overtly rhythmic. There is nothing accessible, or easy, or comfortable about any of this. It hurts, and it punishes and it fucks with your head. This is exactly what it should do and in the field of power electronics, it’s more sonically articulate than most.

The final track, ‘Madhouse’ is something else altogether: distorted vocals and maniacal laugher against a backdrop of fizzing electrodes and scraping noise. It’s deranged, and it hurts, but this is everything that’s good about it.

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