Posts Tagged ‘Noise’

Buzzhowl Records – 26th July 2019

Left Limbs are Raul Buitrago (drums) and Jake Saheb (guitar), and Hexes is an album of two halves, two sides, two tracks, each sprawling over ten minutes apiece in duration. And they pack a lot of challenging noise into that timespan. At times uncoordinated, at times harsh, it’s very much a journey.

At the risk of infinite repetition, I’m a fan first and foremost and critic on the side, and of the many people I work with doing this, the PR and labels – and artists – who are clearly in it for the love are my favourites by miles. The passion invariably shines through. And so I’m disproportionately excited when, during a Twitter exchange, I’m told ‘In the second track, about half way through some kind of beat emerges and if you listen all the way through it’s a really great moment, but I just like the sound, distorted guitar and drums – but dismantled.’ And I get it. sometimes -often – the ‘ow!’ of a rack lies in a fleeting transitional moment, where something = often something random or incidental – happens. You notice it. And once you’ve noticed it, you can’t unnoticed it. But it something special and sweet and it’s a ‘moment’. Your moment, a personal insight and intersection between creation and reception. And it becomes everything, the moment on which the entire piece hangs and pivots from good to magical.

And so I’m on the edge of my increasingly-worn suede-covered chair, which I’ve sat in to write reviews for the best part of a decade now, squinting in the darkness at the screen as erratic, irregular beats clatter and clank and feedback screeches, howls and whistles among echoing unevenness. And ‘dismantled’ is the word. It’s spectacularly disjointed, difficult in the most glorious of ways.

Where is this all going? It’s a clash of experimentalism, avant-garde and jazz without the groove, a messy exploration of sonic incongruity, rich in atmosphere and angularity. It meanders, thumping and bumping and squawking and screeching… and then suddenly, there it is, crashing in around the nine-minute mark. A dolorous bass booms in and the drumming picks up and it’s like Filth-era Swans for a moment as things get frenetic and the sound rapidly descends into a distorted mess of speaker overload.

It’s the crushing, headache-inducing unprettiness that’s precisely the appeal: Hexes may not be remotely political or even engaged in anything about anything, existing in its own microcosmic sphere, but it’s an ugly album for ugly times. It helps release the pain.

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Left Limbs - Hexes

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Cruel Nature Records – 29th July 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, social networking really works. When Facebook isn’t about infighting, trolling, bitching, pissing and moaning, and people accept contact from strangers based on mutual friends and mutual interests, good stuff happens. I can’t exactly recall how I came into contact with James Watts, who runs Newcastle-Upon-Tyne based tape label Panurus productions, but some months after, I ended up performing in London alongside Lump Hammer, one of his numerus musical vehicles, thanks to another mutual friend with a penchant for big, noisy guitars who found me via Aural Aggro reviews. And so it came to pass that said mutual friend – Owen, from Modern Technology – introduced me and Steve Strode, who’s also in a bad and who also runs another Newcastle-based tape label, Cruel Nature Records. Fret! happen to feature Strode on guitar (twang), alongside Rob Woodcock (credited with ‘flails / screams’) and Cath Tyler (‘thrum / la’). And with cover art by Tom McCarthaigh, the design/layout is courtesy of none other than James Watts. It really is a small world. Especially in Newcastle.

This is lo-fi, low-budget, scuzzy. The production is proper rough, the guitar sound fuzzed-out and unpolished – we’re in home-recorded four-track demo quality here, with crackling at the edges and needles pushing the top ends of red, and opener ‘Belly’ comes on like early Fall with its repetitive riffage played rough ‘n’ ready. It seems fitting, not only because this is a cassette release, but because this is underground in every way.

On the lumbering slow-pace riff noise of ‘Hucknall’ (pretty much all of the titles are indecipherable one-worders), there’s a hoarse howl all bit buried in the mix, by accident or design, countered by a drawing monotone counterpoint. ‘Davy’ goes for the all-out screaming racket that not quite metal but is unquestionably all-out in its frenzied brutality, but most of the album favours the frenetic but contained blistering squall of 90s alternative. By which I mean bands like Fudge Tunnel, Terminal Cheesecake, Helmet, are all viable and appropriate reference points, and by which it should be apparent that this is a monster riffageous racket of the highest order. ‘SUSD’ sows it down, grinding away at a repetitive cyclical riff that’s as messy as hell, wash with distortion, reverb, and tremolo, while ‘Cowboy’ piledrives into got/psychobilly/hardcore/crust-punk territory with obliterative fury.

Is there an element of nostalgia in the appeal of this, as a 43-year old fan of grunge and more subterranean 90s alternative? Well, naturally, but that really isn’t the primary appeal here. What appeals about A Vanity Spawned By Fear is the simple fact that it’s raw and uncompromising and blindingly intense. It isn’t pretty or nice, and isn’t supposed to be. It wouldn’t work if it was.

The last track, ‘Country’ is a slow, hesitant cross between early Pavement and Shellac. But A Vanity Spawned is most definitely not derivative, and there’s nothing remotely lifted or directly referential here. Instead, they amalgamate a mass of influences and condense them in a mould of their own making. It’s hard, heavy, and difficult. Stylistically, it isn’t any one thing, but it’s completely ace.

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Fret - Vanity

19th July 2019 – Buzzhowl Records

Christopher Nosnibor

This quartet from Richmond, VA, may have a name that suggests quiet, introspective contemplation and piety, but their third EP, which follows ‘Touched’ (2015) and ‘ICUP’ (2017) whips up an unholy racket.

It’s a lumbering, off-kilter, shouty discord that defines their sound. Chugging, math-tinged rhythms cut across with angular guitars that evoke the spirit of Shellac, The Jesus Lizard, and the essence of the Touch & Go roster from the late 80s and early 90s. It’s gnarly, gut-churning, challenging – and hits the spot like a punch to the oesophagus.

Should we consider why there seems to be a resurgence of music that recrates that period around the grunge explosion, when alternative music that wasn’t grunge but centred around dirty-as-fuck guitars and difficult rhythms that would come to define ‘math’ rock? Probably. Back then, there was a revolt against radio-friendly rock, the slick sonic paste being pumped out by major labels. Of course, the ‘alternative’ sound very quickly got co-opted, but no-one was ever going to flog acts like Tad or Tar or Helmet or Guzzard to the masses even when Warners were angling Ministry at MTV and A&M had launched Therapy? As a top 40 singles band. The bands who got signed and broke through may have changed the face of the musical scene, but it was always the bands who remained underground who defined the era.

Now, with the chasm between mainstream and everything else wider than ever – and long beyond the point at which it becomes unbridgeable – the underground is more resolute than ever. They’re never going to make on this… but they have every inch of credibility intact as they channel their frustrations against an ever-grimmer world of conformity and vacuity. The bands that matter aren’t in it for the money – but then, they never were, and Prayer Group are admirable in their absolute lack of compromise.

They’ve just unleased the EP’s closer, ‘The Other’ by way of a taster. It’s nicely representative, and trust me, you need it.

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Prayer Group - Eudean

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

Buzzhowl Records / EXAG

I caught Thank way back in December 2016, supporting Oozing Wound at The Brudenell in December 2016. Having a gig to review never fails as an excuse to leave a works night out early: it’s up there with a family emergency, only way cooler. Obviously, working with a bunch of straights who listen to whatever’s on the radio and have next to no concept of ‘alternative’, the sphere in which I exist and the music which is the focus of my ‘other’ job is completely beyond them,

The review of that night described Thank as something of a ‘“supergroup” collaboration between members of various bands, including Irk and Super Luxury’, clocking Irk’s front man Jack Gordon on drums, and Freddy Vinehill-Cliffe, bassist with Beige Palace, providing off-kilter vocals. And a lot of Day-Glo. On reflection, it’s probable that not a single member of Thank had been born when Day-Go was all the rage first time around. I remember my eye-watering acid yellow tennis socks with fondness. As I also now remember that show, meaning that a new release is most welcome.

‘Think Less’ prefaces the arrival of their second EP, ‘Please’, set for release in October, and finds another Leeds noise luminary, Theo Gowans adopt a permanent place in the latest lineup. It’s a wild frenzy of lo-budget industrial funk that throws together Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle and early Nine Inch Nails into a blender, tossing in a messy vocal with an unashamedly northern accent and spraying the resultant snarling mess all over a chunky and deeply infectious cyclical groove that’s an instant earworm. Raw, ragged, jagged and all the better because of it, it’s cause to get excited.

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Thank - Please

Christopher Nosnibor

This is a show I’d been looking forward to for weeks, even months. Arranged as a benefit gig for Mind and Shelter, Aural Aggro and personal faves Modern Technology have pulled together a truly killer lineup for their official hometown EP launch show.

So I arrived at The Victoria a full two hours before loading in and soundcheck was due to begin. Ordinarily I’d be positively crapping myself, a mess of perspiration and palpitations, but unusually, the only reason I’m sweating is because it’s bloody hot. But kicking back with my book in the beer garden outside The Victoria, I’m decidedly chilled.

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I get a message from Owen, Modern Tech’s drummer, asking if I want a pint since he’s arrived and getting a round in. Of course I do: I’m sweating them out faster than I can sink them, and I finally meet him and Chris in person after months of to-and-fro and co-producing a tabloid zine for tonight’s event, which I’ll soon see has tuned out brilliantly.

I walk in during Bruxa Maria’s soundcheck. The snare alone is punishing, and the full band’s run-through is devastating. This isn’t a venue that’s afraid to turn it up. It’s also a really nice space, too, something Owen and Chris comment on as we riff bout work, mental health, merch, and whatever else. The rest of us soundcheck. We’re all buzzing with anticipation. The sound is fucking incredible. And I realise I’m in a room with some of the nicest, most decent people you could find. No bullshit, no posing, just mutual respect and support.

Tim, aka Cementimental, and I take the floor – literally. We’re playing in front of the stage at 8:20. The plan really is as simple as ‘you do what you do, I’ll do what I do. I’ve got maybe 15-18 minutes of material including gaps, and I’ll drop the mic and walk off when I’m done.’ And we stick to the plan. It works better than I could have ever dreamed.

Nosnibor v Cementimental

Nosnibor vs Cementimental – photo by Phil Mackie

I’d been genuinely concerned about my ability to perform, wrestling with a cold that had affected my ability to speak for a full week. Friends had advised me not to perform, but I don’t ‘do’ defeat. I don’t know how long we played for, but I managed all six of the pieces I’d planned – ‘Thoughts for the Day’ / ‘News’ / ‘Ambition’ / ‘Punk’ / ‘Cheer Up… It Might Never Happen’ / ‘Alright’. Tim’s racket was punishing, and spanned broad sonic range, tapering down and going full nuclear with remarkable intuition. It was brutal, and it broke me. And we went down a storm: I was inundated with people – perfect strangers – enthusing about the set, how well it worked. They were all incredulous when I croaked, squeaked, or barked at them that we’d not even met properly, let alone rehearsed even once beforehand.

Lump Hammer – whose front man James I’ve has been sending me stuff from his label for review for a while, but who I’d also not met in person previously – are a different kind of punishing. With pounding drums, and guitar – churning, overloading with distortion – providing the music from the stage, James is in front of the stage with some kind of sacking over this head and eyes. He’s a tall guy with big presence and a lot of hair, and he howls impenetrable anguish into the churning aural abyss of dirgy downtuned grinds, some of which last an eternity. And yet for all the agony, the unremitting catharsis, there’s something immensely enjoyable in this kind of torture.

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Lump Hammer

Exploiting the limitations of a drum ‘n’ bass (no, not that kind) duo arrangement, Modern Technology focus heavily on the rhythmic and the low-end. It’s the perfect backdrop to Chris’ dramatic vocal style: there’s an arch-gothic hint to it, and it lends a sense of detachment and alienation to the heavyweight blasts of disaffection and desolation. Tonight’s show is the first of three of a mini-tour to officially launch their debut EP, and while on record they’re intense, live, they take it to another level. There’s nothing fancy, or even pretty about their performance. There’s no great showmanship, no empty chat between songs, just hard riffs played at hard volume.

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Modern Technology

Things are starting to catch up with be a bit during Bruxa Maria’s set: I get to witness it from the front row, next to the right-hand speaker stack, which is both an optimal spot and handy as my voice is so fucked I can barely speak. And Christ, they’re noisy and intense. The guitars are dirty and distorted, and they play fast and furious, a relentless frenzy of punk and no-wave that tears your ribs open and punches your intestines, laughing at the blood. Gill Dread may be diminutive but she’s one hell of a presence – just on the other side of deranged, her raw-throated scream goes right through you. If I was close to being finished before, I’m utterly spent by the time they bring their set to a roaring close.

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Bruxa Maria

People hang around afterwards to chat, and the merch stall does steady trade. I’m struck by the levels of enthusiasm and appreciation for all of the performers, and not only has the evening drawn a respectable turnout, but a bunch of really great people, the likes of whom collectively demonstrate that however bad sit gets, not everyone is bad shit.

We have more beer, and Owen finds a late-night wrap joint where I join him and the Lump Hammer guys for what I realise is my first proper meal of the day. It’s 3am when I finally hit the hay. Rock and fucking roll. Yeah!

Christopher Nosnibor

3pm on a Sunday afternoon may seem like an odd time for a noise gig, but one of the many great things about this rehearsal space that sometimes puts on live music is that being truly independent, it can do whatever the fuck it pleases. Noise aficionados tend to be undercatered for in general, and while it’s fair to say the Leeds scene is pretty healthy, even the most nocturnal of creatures have crawled out of the woodwork for this afternoon’s session of sonic torture. And being in the middle of an industrial estate, they don’t have to worry about the neighbours, meaning they can really crank it up at CHUNK.

The thing about a small scene is that you get to know or otherwise at least recognise people, and while we’re all misfits, we’re all misfits together, and the atmosphere – as promoted by the organiser, Theo, who incudes a ‘no bigots!’ stipulation on the poster – is inclusive, accommodating, and friendly. And we’ve all brought our own booze. I exchange dialogue with strangers and friends alike, and it’s incredibly relaxed. There’s a lot to be said for the fans of more extreme music – mostly that most of them are really decent people.

Duo Black Antlers are making their first appearance here and there’s no information to be found about them anywhere. Thunderous echoing beats and stray bleeps coalesce to form a dreamy but solid backdrop to emotive vocals buried in all the reverb ever. Some crisp electropop is massacred by wall of echo and murk which has an intensity when delivered at ear-shredding volume. Their singer is given to performing some form of interpretive dance when she’s not pacing and singing, and has a strong yet understated presence. It’s a stunning debut, and the warm reception is well-deserved.

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Black Antlers

Long, spacey tones, rapid bleeps and blistering noise, paired with slow bass beats and explosive sampled snare cracks dominate a dizzying, disorientating wall of digital noise that flies off in all directions. This is Early Hominids. They know all the most brutal, pain-inducing frequencies, with blistering treble and squalling feedback howling from the speakers. Bleeps, blips, twitters, wow and flutter are crushed into an excruciating wall of distortion for what feels like a torturous eternity. They endlessly dick about with swapping bits of kit and moving wires, and while this isn’t a conventional ‘rock’ performance, there is an element of deconstructed performance to something like this.

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Early Hominids

My notes become shorter as the afternoon progresses: partly because I hadn’t really considered that 7% Polish lager on an afternoon might have quite an effect, but moreover, because it becomes increasingly difficult to consider note-taking when you’ve got brutal noise blasting in your face and you’re so immersed in the experience that documenting it seems vaguely futile. Because as a fan, it’s about being present, feeling it. Process and assimilate later – if at all. And this is something you feel even more than you hear, where sound takes on a physicality.

Glasgow’s Stable serves up looping echoes, woozy synths and relentlessly thudding uptempo beats… Hints of Suicide, only nastier glitchier, treblier performed by a guy with a mask with two faces… Slightly disturbing… Harsh. Noise. Stop / Start. Brutal. Unintelligible vocals.

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Stable

Headliners PURPURA are not so harsh, but definitely crank out a noise wall. It’s punishing, and it hurts. Burrs of blistering treble break through the speaker-breaking noise.

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PURPURA

It feels far later than the hour, and my brain and ears feel they’ve been thoroughly assaulted when I leave. And it’s been great: if ever a lineup reflected the diversity of the brad umbrella of ‘noise’, while hosting a show in a great space with a great vibe, it’s this.