Posts Tagged ‘Noise’

Thrill Jockey – 29th January 2021

The sheer quantity of The Body’s output – often produced collaboratively – is little short of astounding, and since coming together some 20 years ago the duo comprising Lee Buford and Chip King have forged a reputation as masters of noise, and, as their biography attests, they’ve ‘consistently challenged assumptions and defied categorisation, redefining what it means to be a heavy band’.

There is no question that I’ve Seen All I Need To See is heavy: listening to it from beginning to end truly hurts.

It opens with crushing slabs of overloading distortion backing a monotone spoken-word piece. The juxtaposition of the blank, the bland, and the speaker-breaking blasts of bass-orientated menace is difficult to process, and that’s before the screaming demon-howl vocal begins howling its hellish anguish into the dense, murky mix of thunderous drums and bowel-churning low-end. ‘Lament’ is six minutes of pure heavyweight abrasion that tears at the guts and the soul. Every cymbal crash is an explosion, the decay distorted by deep bass detonations as it trudges doomily onwards – or down. Down. Down.

Everything simply splinters and overloads on the punishing single release, ‘Tied Up and Locked In’, which is a whole next level of heavy shit, a churning mess of overloading noise that’s utterly brain-pulping.

If the prospect of a slower song, which arrives as the album’s third track, Eschatological Imperative’, suggests some kind of respite, you’re going to be disappointed: slower, yes, but it’s a dirgy wall of noise that’s nothing short of overloading in every sense. It’s horrible, painful, but utterly perfect in fulfilling its purpose: there is no respite here, only pain, and pain articulated through brutal sound. ‘Pain of Knowing’ is so dense and dark, you could almost cry in the hope of a return to ignorance. A low, griding bass feedback noter hangs for eternity and rings a resonating pain, and the reminder that knowledge isn’t power, it’s pain.

The pain continues with the percussion-dominated slow throb of ‘The City is Shelled’, which crawls, bloodied, into the kind of territory occupied by Swans circa 1984, with crushingly slow beats and a buzzing bass that practically swallows everything. It’s a trajectory continued by on ‘They Are Coming’, a stop/start piece that’s utterly obliterative. The stops leave you hanging: the starts make your stomach lurch. There isn’t a moment’s respite or implicit kindness here. Hearing the bass drum downtune into a morass of distorted extranea and broken bass on ‘The handle The Blade’ is a most physical experience, and one that’s only heighted by the final track, ‘The Path of Failure’ which is utterly crushing. It’s megalithically, slow, and heavy, but also dark and punishing, and when noise does erupt on ‘The Path of Failure’ it does wo with a slow, brutal violence

I’ve Seen All I Need To See is a distillation of pain, and the production and mastering takes that to the max, to the point that I repeatedly found myself checking my connections and cables and even my speakers. In short, I’ve Seen All I Need To See is as brutal as anything you’ll hear, a work of total sonic overload.

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Since forming in 2013 UK label Blackbow Records has continued to release music created and appreciated by those who worship tone and riffs. Now in 2021 they are set to continue this trend with a new split LP of pure heaviness from Belfast based, sludge-juggernauts Slomatics alongside the blistering and crushing sounds of Ungraven. With 3 new tracks from each band the split is set for release on 5th March.

Formed in 2019 by Conan frontman Jon Davis and featuring Fudge Tunnel bassist David Ryley and drummer Tyler Hodges (Tuskar), Ungraven pay homage to the 90s heavy and industrial sounds of the likes of Ministry, Godflesh, Sepultura and Nailbomb. On the split with Slomatics Jon states,

‘As the world groans and creaks and crawls forward in slow motion we chose to release three tracks with our brothers in Slomatics, our first on vinyl. Ungraven was an idea that started in my head as I drove into Richmond Virginia in 2017, on tour with Conan. It was originally intended as a solo act. Blackened Gates and Onwards She Rides were initially written to be performed with a drum machine, while Defeat The Object came along during rehearsal with Tyler before we toured early March 2020, before the earth stood still. Enjoy.’

Listen to the new Ungraven track ‘Onwards She Rides To A Certain Death’ here:

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Editions Mego/Cave12  – 8th January 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s a heavy air of finality about this release, encapsulated simply and plainly and unemotively in the title. Mika Vainio, best known as one half of Pan Sonic, produced a quite remarkable body of work under various guises and through numerous noteworthy collaborations, before his death, age 53, in April 2017. Last Live is a document of his final live performance, recorded on 2 February 2017 at Cave12, in Geneva. This is by no means a cash-in release or some poor-taste milking of the vaults.

As the liner notes recount, ‘we needed time to listen to this archive again, which we did in situ in June 2020 with Cindy Van Acker. After this listening, we felt invested in having to make this archive public.’ And instead of just banging it out, Editions Mego invested in making it fit the format, with Carl Michael von Hausswolff to do the mixing, and the recording was organized in 4 movements, with Stephen O’Malley involved in the pre-edit process and the legendary. Denis Blackham doing the mastering. This was, of course, necessary, in order to fit the double-LP format, and each segment spans between ten and nineteen minutes to cover the full hour-long set, which begins as a low, oscillating hum.

The drone goes on through the duration of ‘Movement 1’: indeed, it’s almost torturous after a mere five minutes, and we’re reminded early on that Vainio’s reputation was not based on his commercial appeal. Eventually, the hum halts and is replaced by a low-level throbbing, and a softer tone, before plunging into a drone of ow-level murk that one feels more than hears.

There are breaks in the ever-shifting sonic blanket pitched forth by Vainio, and the near-silent spells don’t correspond with the lulls between tracks as you might expect – but then, on the CD, the tracks beleed together anyway, giving a true sense of the set as a continuous piece, and a performance that explores tonality and texture, as well as frequency and dynamics.

There’s no question that this performance was loud: circuits creak, wail, and scream in a bulldozering barrage of grinding earthworking sound, a nuclear wind in the middle of a construction site drilling through the mantle to the earth’s core. But Vainio also ventures effortlessly into quieter, more tranquil bywaters, as well as bringing it down into semi-ambient territory.

At times, it hurts. The density is just bewildering, and twelve minutes into ‘Movement 2’ when everything starts to overload, it’s tempting just to lie down and stare at the ceiling muttering ‘holy fuck.’ When the sound really starts to crescendo, it’s a brutal, speaker shredding wall of noise, and it’s dark, and utterly obliterative. It’s also absolutely fucking punishing. So much so, any kind of analysis or critique feels almost futile.

Even without the context of death and finality, while penning this review in a place where there has been next to no live music in ten months, listening to Last Live is an intense and moving experience. It serves as a reminder of just how physical and how transportative live music can be, how songs may be important but sometimes, all you need is a sea of sound which will carry you away. There is no destination here, just an immense flow of sonic waves. And this is all you need.

It may well have been an unintentional sign-off, but as a last, and lasting, live statement turning the light off on an illustrious career, this is an appropriate curtain close.

Dret Skivor – 11th January 2021

I had the pleasure – and it was a pleasure for me, if not necessarily the audience – to perform a couple of times with Legion of Swine. They were noisy, brutal affairs: while Dave Procter’s many musical guises span most shades of noise, with a particular leaning toward all things drone, his work as the lab coat wearing porcine purveyor of aural pain.

The audio on this release is taken from Legion of Swine’s set for the Chapel FM 24-hour Musicathon, which took place on 12th-13th December 2020, which featured forty-five acts in twenty-four hours. Performing at 6:15am on Sunday 13th, the chances are few caught the performance as it aired live, but here, a year on, is an opportunity to bask in the gnarly noise at leisure and a more socially amenable hour. Not that there’s much that’s socially amenable about this: the liner notes explain how ‘It’s “almost” Harsh Noise Wall, but not quite as some random parts of reverb tails interact with others at various stages to create the slight variations.’

So how does that translate as a listening experience? Well, as the title suggests, the noise never abates during this twenty-six-minute blast of electronic abrasion. There are no breaks, no vocals, and next o no sonic variety, although there is some – and it’s heavily textured. In fact, it would be most readily summarised that it sounds like the cover looks: grey, grainy, but woven so as to be not entirely monotone and uniform in shade.

When I find myself listening to HNW – which admittedly, isn’t that often, as I generally prefer the concept to the experience, despite the fact I do very much like my noise to be immersive, not to mention somewhat testing – I find myself hearing subtle shifts in tone and frequency. I suspect it’s the result of some auditory illusion, the aural equivalent of an optical illusion as my receptors strain to find some variety, some detail on which to pin a response of some sort, in the same way a freshly-painted wall will reveal patches that are not as well covered as others the longer you look at it. The beauty – and I use the term with extreme caution here – of this performance is that those patches do exist, and are purposefully brushed into the finish.

This is alternately the sound of a distant swarm of hornets and swimming underwater. The recording doesn’t convey the kind of extreme volume that is an element of a lot of harsh noise, although one suspects that a large proportion of the interplay between sounds is derived from the way that reverberate, resonate, and rub together and against one another, and any comparison to Merzbow is entirely appropriate. But the lack of overt volume only accentuates the sameness – or near-sameness – of the sound, and what’s more that sound is a continuous torrential churning noise that sits in the midrange, and hammers like metal rain, a relentless digital downpour. It’s ultimately oppressive in its relentlessness, and over time seems to fade into the background, as anything with such a lack of dynamics inevitably will. But this is not about stimulating the senses so much as numbing them and challenging the listener to endure. It’s a test alright, and a tough – but good – one.

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Ahead of the release of their towering new album I’ve Seen All I Need To See at the end of the month, The Body have shared a pummelling new single ‘Tied Up and Locked In’.

Capturing the astounding weight of the duo’s live sound in stunning detail, ‘Tied Up and Locked In’ is as bludgeoning and corrosive as it is ecstatic – a cathartic eruption of energy delivered with incisive measure.

I’ve Seen All I Need To See demonstrates not only The Body’s fearless spirit and vicious edge, but their intellectual musical heft through its explorations of distorted sound and the power of distorted sounds’ interplay. Composer Roger Johnson said “Noise is power, but is generally represented as negative, chaotic, dangerous, violent, when it comes… from those marginalized from power. Noise is also an expression of freedom, a ‘liberation of sound.’” The Body are sound liberators capable of mining and extracting remarkable details from the most manipulated and distorted sound sources.

I’ve Seen All I Need To See is a groundbreaking work and an ecstatic listen, whether seen as a testament to catharsis in oblivion, an opus of inexorable dread or a wholly liberating adventure.

Listen to The Body’s I’ve Seen All I Need To See single ‘Tied Up and Locked In’ here:

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Norwegian grindcore innovators Beaten to Death have just unleashed a music video for a new song off their new album “Laat maar, ik verhuis naar het bos”, now available only on vinyl. 
Titled “Melankolske Oppstøt”, this new track is also featured on the EP “Laat maar, deel vier: ik verhuis naar Endor”, the last of a series of four EPS containing different versions of album’s tracks that are now available as name your price at Bandcamp.
Watch the video here:

Cruel Nature Recordings – 29th January 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The description sets the scene and the expectation perfectly: ‘True Archweigian Improve-Free-Grind-Noise-Experimental-Avant-Jazzcore. John Coltrane quadruple booked on the same stage as Extreme Noise Terror, Swans and The Incapacitants.

It sounds horrible and utterly brain-frying, and it is. ‘Deep Pan Magna Carta’ launches the album – a whopping sixteen-track sprawl that reveals something of a fixation with wolves and goats – with a barrage of crashing, chaotic percussion, gut-churning bass, wild horns and tortured vocals that spew larva from the very bowels of hell. And they’re clearly intent on dragging you there with them, into the pit of pain, because there is absolutely no fucking let-up. This is everything all at once – and while it’s relentlessly and uncompromisingly nasty, it certainly doesn’t confide itself to any one style – and as for genre, it’s a crazed hybrid mash-up, seemingly intended to inflict maximum pain – and if this is indeed the objective, they succeed.

Most of the tracks are around the minute mark – but actually feel much longer, as they drag and dredge their way through the deepest sludge. Believe it or not, that’s not a complaint or criticism, so much as an observation on how it feels to be brutally battered from all sides at once. There is, undoubtedly, an element of endurance required here.

As the band’s name and whacky, irreverent and possibly irrelevant (it’s impossible to tell without being able to decipher the lyrics) song titles suggest, we should probably only take this so seriously. But then, as the best comedians will tell you, comedy is serious business, and so it would seem is slugging out the harshest, brutal mess of noise.

Before long, they’re in full-tilt frenzied grindcore territory: ‘Wolf Goat’ is nine seconds of snarking and blastb(l)eats, followed immediately by the thirty-six second ‘Goat Wolf’, another blast of carnage that thunders at a thousand miles an hour. There’s some black metal nastiness in the mix when the snarling vocals deliver a snarling acappella intro to ‘hash, Weed, Pills, Saurkraut’. ‘Red sausage’ is about the only phrase I can pull out of the frenetic thrash that follows.

‘Natural Born Testicle’ takes a different turn: a howling blizzard of shrieking electronics and clean shouting, it’s a wild swing into power electronics, and is more reminiscent of Whitehouse than anything else.

It’s the manic horn action that really makes Blood & Stomach Pills the experience that it is. It’s chaotic, discordant, and above all, incongruous – but then again, it calls to mind the jazz-coloured noise of GOD, as well as recent work by Sly and the Family Drone – but this is probably the grindiest permutation of such crazed free jazz I’ve encountered yet.

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Panurus Productions – 25th September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The liner notes forewarn us of ‘a relentless free form noise rock onslaught from Dwindling’ with ‘Four tracks of wild soul purging absurdity extracted from strings, sticks and throat for your unsuspecting ears.’

But no forewarning could ever be enough to prepare even the most hardened fan of wild experimental noise shit for this frenzied sonic riot. Wretch – Memento is difficult to digest, and in the moment, it’s utterly bewildering.

Dwindling is Robert Glew (Drums), Giblet Gusset (Voice/Circuits), and Michael Waters (Guitar/Mix), and it’s a discordant cacophony from beginning to end. Mostly is a mess of feedback and clearing, clamorous arrhythmic percussion It all sounds like a drunken din, three people playing five different tunes all at once, all largely buried in feedback and reverb, at a rehearsal played in someone’s garage and recorded on a condenser mic on a 90s Walkman. The vocals are shrill, shrieking, demented banshee howls, ululations and barks, inhuman, demonic. Cathartic, and no mistake, but skin-crawlingly uncomfortable and otherly, it’s a sound that’s unsettling – that experience of unheimlich that unsettles the psyche – it’s identifiable as human, but it doesn’t feel quite human, and so instils a sense of unease that’s not readily articulable. Of course it isn’t: it’s that squirming, awkward sensation in your stomach that’s actually quite unrelated to the matter at hand. The tracks on here my well be a million miles from any sense of conventionality, but ‘Wretch – Memento’ takes discomfort to another level. Everything about it, from the impenetrable, tortured vocals to the nasty treble that never stops is uncomfortable.

‘Alphas Rind, O!’ is a mass of treble, wailing and ululating vocals pitched against a churning mess of noise, the sound of a kitchen blender and some ugly bass, and things get even more intense on the thirteen-minute ‘Axed RailKnell’, which in turn bleeds in to the seventeen-minute finale, ‘GARES’, a squall of noise that actually hurts.

It’s not hard to figure out how this found a home on Panurus: this is a label that trades in noise and has few limits, and if you’re on the market for extreme, Dwindling deliver it with Wretch – Memento. So who wants some more pain?

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Human Worth- 26th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

This one’s been cropping up in my Facebook feed a fair bit lately, and I’m quite ashamed by how long it took me to get around to playing it, given the great work Human Worth do both in terms of music and charitable donations – plus the fact they’re decent guys who I’m proud to know. Shit happens, even in the midst of Lockdown 2.0 where it’s shit mostly because there’s only shit and nothing happens, and mostly it’s simply that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. In the event, it turns out the greatest loss is mine, because this album really is something else. How was I to know that this was the album I’d been looking for, that I needed in my life the last few months?

Given the pedigree of the performers who make up Cower – namely Wayne Adams (Pet Brick / Big Lad), Gareth Thomas (USA Nails / Silent Front) & Thomas Lacey (Yards / The Ghost of a Thousand) – it would be a reasonable expectation for their debut album to contain a fair bit of noise, but then equally, it would be reasonable to expect it to be a bit experimental, a bit electronic, and a bit weird. How do all of the elements brought by the component parts marry up?

The short answer is remarkably well, and Cower sound like all of the component pats simultaneously, but equally none, as they morph together to forge something truly unique, and also quite unexpected.

It begins in a pretty understated fashion, with ‘Tight Trousers and a Look of Intent’ following the path of a dense, woozy, but accessible dark electro tune. Admittedly, that pulsating bass throb is something you could drown in, but the incidentals and the vocals are quite accessible – although all hell breaks loose just halfway through and it’s wild. Initially, I was inclined to say that as an opening, it was ‘tame’, but that would be unjust: restraint isn’t an indication of weakness, but of controlling the beast. But then, when the beast breaks loose… ‘Proto-Lion-Tamer’, brings the noise, and does it in proper full-on style, a squalling, brawling mess of din – old-school noise merchants like The Jesus Lizard are in the blender with contemporaries like Daughters and Blacklisters to whip up a nasty maelstrom of noise.

Tribal drumming dominates the bleak, eerie soundscape of ‘Arise You Shimmering Nightmare’, while the downtempo mid-album slowie, ‘Saxophones by the Water’ finds them coming on like Violator-era Depeche Mode, and this trickles through into the next song, ‘Midnight Sauce’ that combined a rich, soulful vocal with some chilly synths and blasts of percussion-led noise and cinematic drama that goes fully 3D, to the extent that it gives JG Thirlwell a run for his money.

If BOYS pursues a dark, brooding, electro road as its dominant style, it’s the album’s range and diversity that is its real selling point, and the songs are all far darker than most of the titles suggest. And if much of the album feels pointed, challenging, ‘For the Boys’ is outstanding in its emotional sensitivity. Closer ‘Park Jogger’ in particular sounds like it might be light, even vaguely comedic by its title, but no: it’s a colossal electroindustrial behemoth tat packs some seriously pounding force into its short running time.

With BOYS, Cower surprise and excel: the quality of the songs is remarkable: there’s a real sense of everything having been carefully crafted for accessibility, to the extent that this is actually a pop album – making for the darkest, heaviest pop album you’re likely to hear in a long time.

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Gas Lit is the new album by the multidimensional duo Divide and Dissolve, incoming on Invada Records on 29th January, and produced by Ruban Neilson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The album is preceded today by the second single and powerful video “Denial” which encapsulates their message behind the music: to undermine and destroy the white supremacist colonial framework and to fight for Indigenous Sovereignty, Black and Indigenous Liberation, Water, Earth, and Indigenous land given back.

Divide and Dissolve’s mighty new single “Denial” is a potent blend of ominous and unsettling sax that blows wide open into colossal riffs for almost eight glorious minutes. The accompanying video was shot in Taupo, Aotearoa by notable indigenous music video director Amber Beaton at the end of the southern hemisphere’s winter.

The vibrant, unfolding colours and delicate personality of the flowers at the beginning of the film have the potential to be in contrast with the intro of the song, but it’s actually escorted by it perfectly. It’s further varied with the colossal boom signalling the arrival of the guitars and drums while visually we start to explore the thermal grumblings of the Taupo volcanic zone. We follow the Huka falls/Waikato awa (Waikato river) up stream to settle into Taupo-Nui-A-Tia moana (Lake Taupo) as the return of the sax lulls us gently after being nourished so generously by Divide and Dissolve’s signature gargantuan tone. Thanks are given to the local Iwi\tribe Ngāti Tūwharetoa, the rightful guardians of the whenua/land and to Rūaumoko the god of volcanoes, earthquakes and the seasons.

Watch ‘Denial’ here:

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Divide and Dissolve image by Billy Eyers