Posts Tagged ‘Noise’

Panurus Productions – 25th January 2019

Is it a supergroup if the members of a collective all belong to acts no-one has ever heard of? Shrimp is a project which represents the coming together of Jon O’Neill (The Smokin’ Coconuts, The Shits, Skronk et al), Chris Watson (Snakes Don’t Belong in Alaska, Forest Mourning), James Watts (Plague Rider, Lovely Wife, Lump Hammer et al),Rob Woodcock (Plate Maker, Fret!) and Ryosuke Kiyasu (Sete Star Sept, Fushitsusha, Kiyasu Orchestra et al). Initially converging to perform on the bill at a Ryosuke solo show in Gateshead, this eponymous release captures the intensity of that performance in a studio setting – at least, so they claim.

Listening to this, it’s probably a claim that’s justified: it is, indeed, intense. They promise ‘a maelstrom of clanging, shrieking guitar, relentless frenetic drum savagery and inhuman vocals’, and forewarn that ‘Shrimp, in direct contrast to the weakness implied by its moniker, is the sonic equivalent of being trapped within a chitinous storm of pincers and consists of a thirty minute studio onslaught and a live recording, featuring additional electronic noise.’

Yep. It’s brutal and harsh from the outset. A cacophony of guitar feedback and whiplash explosions of extraneous noise whirl into a tempestuous frenzy around smashing percussion. The first five minutes sound like the climactic finale of something immense. And it just keeps on going from there. On and on, notes and beats and crashing cymbals flying in all directions, slowly bringing things down only to resurge and burst into a raging sonic storm once more. Deranged shrieks lie half-buried in the mix amidst all kinds of chaos that combines stoned desert rock, psychedelia and free jazz.

Twenty-two minutes in and the speakers are melting with a blistering stream of frenetic noise, formless, atonal, punishing in its complete lack of shape or musicality. After half an hour it bleeds into second piece, ‘Light as Hell’. It’s more of the same – an ear-bleeding aural tidal wave that continuously threatens to break but never does. It’s dizzying, and difficult. And yet, supergroup or not, it is definitely super, in a wild, chaotic, insane way.

Shrimp

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Ipecac Recordings – 26th October 2018 (Lauren)

The title of Daughters’ fourth full-length is perhaps self-explanatory. It’s certainly going to not appeal to a lot of people. Most people, in fact. The first track, ‘Cities’ is a grinding dirge driven by a grimy, oppressive low-end throb and crashing percussion that’s reminiscent of early Swans and that plods along for five minutes or so before exploding into a supernova f brain-drilling noise. And then things start getting really ugly.

‘Long Road No Turns’ lurches into truly horrible discord, the atonal semi-monotone vocal pitched against a screeding metallic noise and pumping heartbeat drum that breaks into manic chaos, but somehow ends up with a gentle harpsichord strum to fade. And you’re left staring into space, tense, heartrate accelerated, wondering just what the actual fuck you just heard. This is precisely the album’s appeal. It’s spectacularly unpredictable, and spectacularly noisy, but also impressively articulate in musical terms.

By contrast, ‘Satan in the Wait’ is a mote structured and melodic affair, with picked notes and loping drums building to well-placed crescendos. It’s still a bleak noise-orientated construction, but the slanted Am Rep / T&G influenced racket is coloured with a strain of Bauhaus-like art rock. And Daughters aren’t afraid to experiment: the low-slung sleaze of ‘Less Sex’ is altogether more electronic in its persuasion, a deliberate beat underpinning a deep, dark bass oscillation and big ruptures of racket on top by way of punctuation. It’s low and slow and inches into bleak technoindustrial territory. And yet it sits remarkably comfortably within the overall shape of the album. Comfortable is of course relative.

For the most part, though, it’s a blistering frenzy of angular, guitar-driven noise that sits with the best of The Jesus Lizard, Shellac, Blacklisters with the howling mania of ‘Guest House’ proving a lurching, awkward standout. ‘Let me in!’ Alexis Marshall hollers, deranged.

‘Daughter’ is also exemplary when it comes to the band’s dark, dingy genre-straddling noise, incorporating elements of both electro-based industrial doom-disco and jagged: it’s a monster tempest of difficult noise that’s hard to place and even harder to contain or categorise. The vocals, manic, clean but with the edges fuzzed by distortion; the bass, low, dirty, distorted and thick, the drums gritty and overloading…. And so on.

‘The Reason They Hate Me’ is a thunderous, blistering standout that invited favourable comparisons to Pissed Jeans’ recent work, while the lumbering lurch of seven-and-a-half minute closer melds 90s noise rock, Pavement-inspired wonkiness, and The Fall’s bloody-minded bludgeoning of just two or three chords into oblivion for an eternity. Likewise the taut, nagging ‘Ocean Song’ that exploits not only quiet / loud dynamics to full and challenging effect, but also pushes minimal chords and maximum dissonance to achieve optimal tension and discomfort.

You Won’t Get What You Want isn’t an album that leaves you feeling satisfied. Restless, twitchy, uncomfortable, on edge, yes, drained and even ruined, but satisfied, less likely.

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Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want

Forking Paths – FP0015 – 5th October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

The title has very personal origins for Evan Davies, the man who records under the Blank Nurse / No Light moniker. A sufferer of Pure OCD – a form of OCD which manifests with no external behaviours or rituals, with the compulsions being mental rather than physical – and depression, Davies spent his teenage years tormented by the fear of HIV infection.

HIV 1994 sees Davies confront and channel the experience creatively, using what the press release describes as ‘often-overwhelming mental health issues’ to create song which are ‘like exorcisms for emotions and memories’. The context suggests that this was never going to be an ‘easy’ album, and however deftly Davies combines his wide-ranging and, in the face of it, incongruous and incompatible influences, which span ambient and neoclassical, hardcore, black metal, noise, and house, the clashing contrasts would be awkward enough without the anguish behind the compositions themselves. And so it is that on HIV 1994, Blank Nurse / No Light hauls the listener through an intense personal hell.

‘Blood Fiction’ begins with a collage of voices and extraneous noise before lilting string glissandos and a soft bass steer toward a calmer, more structured path. It provides a recurring motif, but one frequently interrupted by passing traffic and low rumbling noises. And so gentle tranquillity and ruptures of disquiet are crunched into one another before ‘Mocking of the Ghost of Crybaby Cobain’ really ratchets up the intensity with unsettling collision of styles, with pounding industrial percussion and expansive electronica that’s almost dancey providing the backdrop to the most brutal screaming vocals. It actually sounds like an exorcism. Or Prurient with more beats.

And it only gets darker, more disturbed and more disturbing from here: the lyrics are unintelligible, guttural screams of pure pain, and the tunes mangled to fuck, glitchy, twitchy anti-rhythms hammer around behind quite mellow synth washes. ‘Flu Breather’ sounds more like a demon dying of plague in a nightclub conjured in a nightmare, or, perhaps more credibly, the outpouring of indescribable, soul-shredding anguish that cannot be articulated in any coherent fashion.

There are some straight-ahead, accessible moments amidst the cacophonous chaos: ‘Outside the Clinic is a Hungry Black Void of Nothingness’ is a brooding electro-pop piece with a real groove and a narrative of sorts, and calls to minds Xiu Xiu, while ‘No Ecstasy’ goes all Wax Trax!, coming on like late 80s Revolting Cocks . But these tracks are very much the exception, as the majority of the others twist, turn, break and collapse in on themselves. Redemption and light are crushed and swept way in a succession of disconnections and claustrophobic dead-ends. It’s deeply uncomfortable from beginning to end, and much of it sounds like opposing sonic forces at war – which probably makes this a successful work, providing a deep insight into the tortured mind of the artist.

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Blank Nurse

Christopher Nosnibor

My appreciation of the debut album by Leeds noisemongers Irk is already out in the public domain, as is my admiration of their capacity as a live act. It was only fitting that they should launch their debut album at Chunk, the rehearsal space which has become the hub of the new Leeds underground / alternative scene which has begun to emerge since the Brudenell – still the best venue in the country – has become increasingly popular and catering ever more to bigger-name acts. And there’s no escaping the fact that without the tiny venues, the microscenes, the free and cheap spaces where anything goes, there’d be nowhere for the bands of the future to explore and develop ideas free from the limitations of marketability and the pressure to achieve success. Commercialism strangles creativity, and we need the obscure band who want to fuck shit up more than ever in these desperate times in the stranglehold of corrupt, constricting neoliberalist capitalism which is not-so-slowly eroding every real freedom for the ordinary person.

Chunk is so no-budget, so DIY that there’s no licence for tonight’s (free) event: its BYOB, and people file in with carrier bags containing four-packs and the atmosphere is just so laid back that my anxieties about finding the place (Chunk is hidden through a door up some steps (which I worry I may fall down on my way out) next to a car repair place in an industrial area two miles out into the arse-end of nowhere) and all of the other stuff I panic about but tend not to talk about evaporate almost immediately. There are friendly faces, faces I recognise, faces I can chat to, and it feels more like a house party than a gig.

Only, there’s a gig PA and there are bands, and Beige Palace are on first. I note that they’ve been using a quite from a review I wrote of their live debut on my only previous visit to Chunk in the summer of 2016, which says ‘Beige Palace make sparse-sounding music that’s jarring, dissonant and hints at a clash between early Pram and No Wave angularity.’ Two yeas on, it still seems a fair summary. ‘It’s not math-rock’, their diminutive and moustachioed front man, Freddy Vinehill-Clifee forewarns the audience before they begin their set. He’s right. It’s atonal, droney, repetitive noise-rock with an almost spoken word delivery. Kelly Bishop’s flat, elongated vowels are reminiscent of Mark E. Smith in the early years of The Fall. They’re bursting with nagging, awkward guitar lines and clattering percussion playing unusual time signatures, too. So, like math-rock, only not. Or something. But it’s not about labels, but the music, and while they’re still rough ‘n’ ready, their confidence and intuition has evolved a lot over the last two years, and they turn in a more than decent performance.

Beige

Beige Palace

It was the release of BRITN3Y that brought deranged Edinburgh 3-piece Britney to my attention, and I’d been itching to see them live ever since. They don’t disappoint. Comprising bass – through a fuckload of pedals; vocals – through an even bigger fuckload of pedals; – and drums, they deliver sonic riots in the form of blistering sub-two-minute noisefests. Occasionally, chuggy riffs and even grooves emerge from the screaming, spasmodic mess, albeit fleetingly. It hurts after two songs. It hurts a whole lot better after ten. The speaker a foot from my right ear is sounding like it’s fucked and they just fuck it harder with a relentless barrage of explosive, brutal hybridized noise that draws on elements of metal, hardcore, and grindcore and Final Fantasy (the victory fanfare is a recurrent feature throughout their set and closes it, too, while the infamous Tidus Laugh from FF X also features). They’re joined at the end by NALA for some screaming vocals to wrap up set appropriately culminates in an ear-splitting wall of noise, and I’m not the only one blown away.

Britney

Britney

It turns out that Jack Gordon still has the copy of The Rage Monologues from the time we exchanged books. He’s read my review of the album, and during our brief exchange, I’m reminded that so many of the people who make art that pushes extremities, in whatever way, are the most pleasant, polite, and mild-mannered people you could wish to meet. It’s their outlet, and it’s what keeps them sane. Better to make brutal art than commit mass murder. Probably. Jack – bespectacled, sporting jacket and chinos and looking like any other smart-casual office worker – is a nice guy. But with the aid of a PA, a backline, and a bottle of Buckfast, he brings the brutality.

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Irk

If the disappearance of Blacklisters from the Leeds scene following Billy Mason-Wood’s departure for Germany left a jagged, gaping hole, then Irk more than manage it fill it with their own rendition of that Jesus Lizard, Touch ‘n’ Go skewed 90s US noise-rock racket. The trio are quite a different proposition and are very much their own people, but the comparisons and local lineage are impossible to ignore. And in this enclosed space, with the volume at pulverising levels and the warmth of community and camaraderie only adding to that of the proximity of bodies, everything comes together perfectly.

Elli Records – EL07 – 13th November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Silence has long intrigued us. Variations of the philosophical question, ‘if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ have been a subject of contemplation since the 18th Century. As much as this ponderance is concerned with perception rather than the existence of silence, it does also hint at the idea that sounds are only what we hear. Does silence actually exist? In an evermore noisy world, the possibility of silence seems to have diminished beyond the vanishing point. And the more impossible its attainment becomes, the more we seek and desire it. And yet, at the same time, some people fear silence, even if only subconsciously.

In my own experience, even a moment of peace is conspicuous by its mere existence. My attempts to escape the noise of the world invariably prove futile; the babble of the office, the endless throng and thrum of traffic and people on the journeys there and back; a wife and child and general domestic noise on either side of those. Taking refuge in my office, I spend my evenings listening to music, the whirr of my laptop’s fan and the click of the hard drive a constant even when the music stops, while dogs bark outside and neighbours clatter around in their kitchens on either side. The lived experience is one of no escape, and no respite, and one which confirms the myth of silence.

Much meditation and mindfulness is concerned with seeking silence, if only internally, and musical experiments with silence have been manifold, although perhaps most famously by John Cage. It was on visiting an anechoic chamber – a room designed in such a way that the walls, ceiling and floor absorb all sounds made in the room, rather than reflecting them as echoes, and also externally sound-proofed – at Harvard University and Cage’s realisation of the impossibility of silence that prompted the composition of ‘4’33”’.

It was a similar room – this time at the Mechanical & Acoustic Research Lab LMA-CNRD in France – which not only inspired Julien Bayle to explore silence, but provided the source material for the album, captured during two hours of silence in the room. The results – as the title hints – are anything but silent.

As the text which accompanies the release explains, ‘Tiny random variations of physical electronic noises coming from the recording system itself, as uncontrolled spectres haunting the wires, have been captured and amplified, cut into tiny slices and grains, and used, both as basic sound sources feeding the Bayle’s machinery, and as modulation sources influencing pre-existing sound textures and continua performed live by the artist.’ Evoking Cage, it suggests ‘Violent Grains of Silence is the interpretation of the impossibility of silence by Julien Bayle’.

From what appears as nothing on the surface, Bayle has not only created something, but something immense. Violent Grains of Silence is not a hushed, tranquil work, but one of volume and great sonic turbulence. Violent is indeed an appropriate descriptor. Violent Grains comprises a series pieces through which whispering, grumbling, crackling, groaning, droning sounds swirl and eddy. There are crackling blasts of explosive static, grinding, electric, metal-edged abrasions – ‘Distr’ is a particularly blistering burst of coruscating noise. ‘Unpr’ buzzes and fizzes and thunders, a heavy barrage of low-end sounds creating the effect of an arrhythmic percussion.

Amplification counts for a lot, but it’s only possibly to amplify something which already exists. And so it is that Bayle has created a work which is rich in texture and tone, dynamic and at times disturbing.

This is truly the sound of silence. And the silence is at times deafening.

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Julien Bayle - Violent Grains

Hull Pair Head Out For Debut European Tour

Hull hardcore duo Parasitic Twins are set to hit the road later this month with the monstrous Boycott The Baptist! The band, who released their visceral debut EP, “All That’s Left To Do Now Is Sleep With Each Other”, on October 26th, are set to appear in Germany and Holland with BTB! Remaining dates see support from Clunge Destroyer. Full dates for the tour below:

November 30th – Thav – Hildesheim, Germany (w/ Parasitic Twins)

December 1st – The Morgue – Leeuwarden, Belgium (w/ Parasitic Twins)

December 2nd – Crowley’s – Hastings (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

December 4th – Birds Nest – London (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

December 5th – North Bar – Rhyl, Wales (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

December 6th– Paradiddles Music Café – Worcester (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

December 7th – Lounge 41 – Workington (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

December 8th – The Westgarth Social Club – Middlesbrough (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

Ripping a page from the Killing Joke school of lo-fi noise, then setting it on fire via the way of Today Is The Day and Godflesh, Hull’s scariest kids, Parasitic Twins are riding high following the release of their debut EP. Recorded live and raw, at Melrose Yard Studios in York, the hardcore duo, made up by guitarist/vocalist Max Watt (Rotting Monarchs) and drummer Dom Smith (Mary and The Ram), have performed together previously as part of Seep Away was born of a desire to create the most abrasive sound they could.

Discussing their debut single, “Massive”, Watt had this to say: “It’s about that mental sense of abandon that comes once in a while and turns our lives into ash. Temporarily, of course. Everyone’s been in that place where long term plans and prospects just become irrelevant and all you can focus on is immediate day to day shit, and one day you wake up and think “Goddamn, what was all that noise about?” At the time it’s huge but with time just becomes a notch in your past, then you gotta make the reparations, and push all that negative shit to the back.”

Hammered into the raw aggression like a nail into splintered wood is a youthful rage desperate to be heard. Taking comfortable influence from the late 90s sludge scene, the track “Flipswitch” borrows from the Raging Speedhorn school of duel vocal ferocity while “End” wraps a chain around the Biohazard-esque bouncy hardcore and throws it on the heap. Making “ATLTDNISWEO” a white-hot blast of crusty oblivion, perfect for fans of low end, aggro-punk. Listen to at wielding volume.

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Boycott

GX Jupitter-Larsen – musician best known as the founder of noise act The Haters, who feature on some 300 or so releases, performance artist, conceptual artist, film-maker, writer, and ultimate polyartist – is the epitome of ‘cult’. Widely regarded, and avidly-followed by a small but discerning fanbase, he’s forged a career of enviable – and almost unrivalled in the broader field of ‘noise’ barring Merzbow and Whitehouse – duration stretching back to the 1970s.

With The Haters’ 40th anniversary looming large on the horizon, John Wisniewski snatched a brief Q&A with GX for a progress report…

John Wisniewski: What projects are you currently involved with, GX?

GX Jupitter-Larsen: 2019 is The Haters’ 40th Anniversary, so there will be a few releases and performances to mark the occasion. Including a double 10-inch on Influencing Machine Records. That’s a decade a side! Ha!

JW: What were the first recordings of yours like? Were they noise or collage?

GX: Kind of a mix of the two.

JW: What was the ethos of The Haters. What did you want to accomplish?

GX: I was in New York in 79; in many ways, The Haters was my reaction to being in THAT city at THAT time. New York in 79 was such a celebration of entropy and decay. I just wanted to keep the celebration going.

JW: What was the audience reaction at the time?

GX: People either got it or didn’t. Those who got it didn’t need to be told what was going on. Those who didn’t get it were never going to get it. Either you didn’t need an explanation, or no explanation would do. Forty years later, nothing seems to have changed much in that regards.

JW: Any future plans for you, GX?

GX: I’ve started working on my third feature-length movie. This one takes place in a library; a library full of noisy books. Ha!

JW: Do people still seek out challenging art today?

GX: Fewer and fewer. Sadly.

GX Jupitter-Larsen is on-line here.