Posts Tagged ‘Mike Vest’

Cruel Nature Records – 29th January 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Talk about an ambitious and epic release: Cruel Nature have really gone all out on this one, packaging four – yes, FOUR!!! – Lush Worker albums ‘brought together on a chunky double cassette’. It follows last year’s packaging of three of the 2019 Lush Worker albums as a single cassette, and says ‘hey, why stop at three albums when we can bundle four?’

I mean, it takes some balls to do obscure music on cassette anyway, but this is next level. But then, Cruel Nature have a track record and a clear understanding of their audience and market, with a long line of killer releases in editions of 100 or less that have all sold out by or shortly after the release date. At the time of writing, copies of this extravaganza of solo work by the bewilderingly prodigious Mike Vest (of, among others, Bong, 11Paranoias, Drunk In Hell, Blown Out, Haikai No Ku, and Melting Hand), released as a run of 75 copies, are already running low.

The two cassettes feature an album on each side, and a total of twelve tracks in all. This compendium picks up where its predecessor left off, in filling some gaps from the creative blow-out that was 2019 with Immunosuppression, originally released online in February 2019.

The four tracks from Immunosuppression, which occupy tape one side one, are remarkably varied, despite being developed around heavily echoed guitar, with the emphasis on ambience and space. ‘Powder Relic’ marks a seismic shift from the slow-burning deserts of feedback with a murky squall noise propelled by a drum machine and welded to a throbbing bass and it’s characterised by that lo-fi compression of bedroom demos recorded on a Walkman of old-school cassette four-track and an ambient condenser mic. Then again, ‘Hb1c’ goes super-ambient, spreading formlessly over some ten and a half minutes and sounding like the universe slowly expanding in real-time.

Next, we explore Preacher originally a digital-only self-release, which appeared in November of 2019. Consisting of a brace of swampy paced-out monsters, it’s led by the twenty-minute glooping murk of ‘Zudan’, Metallic scrapes screed and cascade over ponderous bass stroll before it all goes a bit prog and a bit psych, all at the same time, with wiffling drums and rippling waves of synth coalescing with the bass, which switches from stroll-mode to dirty stun somewhere along the line to forge something vaguely motoric. The echoic guitar trip of ‘Suz’, being nine minutes in duration, feels like but an appendix in comparison.

Cygnus was originally released on 7th January 2020, just five weeks previous to Consort, and comprises a trio of longform explorations in the ten to fifteen-minute range, and the tiles alone are clue enough to their sound: ‘Planetary Transit’, ‘Simultaneous Stellar’, ‘Double Star System’ – ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space. Although with distant cymbals crashing like gongs of violence across the galaxies and sensing rippling waves through the cosmic expanse of slow synth washes and elongated guitar drones that manage to convey the experience of surveying a slow-drifting nebula from a station floating free from orbit, the experience is more in the trippy domains of Kubrik’s 2001 than anything else. There are moments where the sound is more of a heavy, trudging drone reminiscent of Earth 2, but distant and vague, and with additional extraneous sounds ebbing and flowing.

And so arriving at side four of the cassette we’re presented with Consort, dominated by the two-part ‘Empress’: ‘Part 1’ is a twenty-minute space-age epyllia, a microcosm of all the immersivity epic ambient soundtracks imaginable. With vodka and low lighting levels after an arduous day of day-job and parenting, I begin to nod off at my keyboard, and I’m reminded, as I feel the last vestiges of alertness trickle from my body, just what an effect music can have on both mind and body. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this still, this serene. I know it won’t last, either but this is a rare moment, as ‘Empress Part I’ drifts into ‘Part II’, there is a confluence of calm. As the swirling vortex of a drone of a drone collides against a wash of heavily-reverbed guitar and what even sounds like some free jazz sax, but it’s hard to know what’s all in the blender on this dense, simmering sonic tapestry, it’s a different kind of vista that expands and leads the listener toward the horizon.

Dronesome as this epic four-album set is in its leanings, like its predecessor, it highlights the broad range of styles and sounds that are all part of the Lush Worker oeuvre. It’s pleasing to know there’s plenty more to go at, and likely plenty more to come.

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Cruel Nature – CN132 – 25th May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Mike Vest happens to be in several noisy bands I really, really rate, notably Ozo, Bong, Blown Out, 11Paranoias and Drunk in Hell. And now, while I’m wondering if the guy has somehow mastered cloning and not told anyone, you can add to that staggering list Lush Worker, his solo project.

Cruel Nature, one of two Newcastle-based cassette labels who represent the city’s tight-knit but remarkably prolific and outstandingly strong underground scene, which is a melting pot for all shades or nasty noise and dark metal-orientated music, here serves up a whopping portion of Lush Worker, with three albums bundled onto a limited-edition double cassette spanning nearly two hours of what they describe as ‘heavy shockwave drone and dream guitar noise overload, perfect to bliss out to’.

The first of half a dozen Lush Worker releases from 2019, Cruise was first released digitally last February, and essentially comprises the twenty-eight-minute title track, a long, swirling guitar drone that straddles shoegaze and ambience, with a brace of shorter (sub-two-minute) ‘sample’ tracks, omitted here presumably for space, continuity and purpose. Because while this may be three albums, it may s well be one monster album, and is perhaps best approached as such.

Admittedly, no-one is likely (alright, I’m making a substantial assumption here) to listen to this either an album at a time, or as a whole in a single sitting. Not because it doesn’t flow perfectly as a single-sitting piece, but because even in lockdown, does anyone have that kind of time?

So ‘Cruise’ cruises on, slowly, a spiralling cathedral of guitar that simultaneously drones and soars in a mess of wailing feedback and misshapen chords. There’s some distant beat in the mix, but its submerged beneath an undulating tide of treble.

The five cuts of ‘slow burn guitar’ from the appropriately-titled Uplift, released in October 2019, with the exception of ‘Flatliner’ are all around the nine-minute mark, and are more rhythmic, if not necessarily overtly structured: ‘Sub-Ether’ is a heavily psychedelic shoegaze swirl, centred around a repetitive, cyclical motif overlaid with layer upon layer of FX-soaked overdrive, with the album tapering to an elongated buzzing drone on ‘Frozen Egypt’, where it’s the slow-melting bass trip that makes it.

Somewhere in the haze of dubby desert rock, there’s a soaring experimental psychedelic drone on ‘Slow Zone Design’, and howling lead guitars duel against one another, occasionally colliding in a smash of metallic sparks.

Although presented here out of sequence (and the cassette sequence is different again from the digital release), with Hb1c MkII having been released in May, it makes sense for its two half-hour behemoth efforts to round off this release, mirroring its opening counterpart. However, ‘Hb1c MkII’ is a much mellower piece, a near-ambient drift of echo and delay, the chiming notes floating and fading into a rippling haze, before ‘Sobek 110’ delineates things further, a twenty-eight minute single-note drone at heart, it’s a meditative, medicated, soporific experience.

Collectively, these three albums demonstrate different but connected and complimentary facets of Vests Lush Worker output. Dim the lights and explore.

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