Posts Tagged ‘Noise’

gk rec – 18th February 2019

Gintas K’s catalogue continues to expand at a remarkable rate, and yet again, he demonstrates his deep interest in the production of theory-driven experimentation. However, the theory behind M isn’t necessarily as it may appear, as the text on his Bandcamp page for the release indicates:

Ralph Hopper: Is ‘Mimicry’ a re-imagining of the earlier ‘M’? It appears that ‘M’ is computer music and that ‘Mimicry’ is also computer music but in a live performance if I have that right and thus I’m thinking that your are ‘mimicking’ the earlier release. Maybe not?

Gintas K: well, when you said so it looks quite logical. Music inside is a bit similar. But in fact it is not. It is made using a different vst plugins. M is made from live played files, but later from them is made a collage. Mimicry is made just from real time made files, without any overdub.

In effect, M and Mimicry – released here together under the single monograph banner of M – are the product of a process played forward and then in reverse: first, the live performance collaged and generally fucked with, and second fucked-with sounds played as a live performance.

As a consequence of its modes of production, M is very much an album of two halves, a call-and response, an expostulation and reply, a working as a reworking. Comprising two album-length suites of compositions, ‘M’ and ‘Mimicry’, M was originally ‘played, composed & mastered by gintas k by computer in 2012. M (2012)’, while ‘Mimicry’ was ‘played live / real time & mastered by gintas k by computer’ some five years later in 2017.

‘M’ consists of six compositions, numbered in sequence, with the longest being the first, ‘1m’ which clocks in with just shy of 18 minutes of gurgling digital distortion, hissing static, whistles of feedback and fucked-up overloading, glitching gnarliness that sits comfortably in the bracket of extreme electronica. It’s not the frequencies which hurt: it’s the relentlessly stuttering, juddering, fracturing of sound, the jolting, the jarring the cutting out, the intermittency. By nature, the mind works to fill in gaps, and so the subconscious work required to smooth the tremolo effect of the stammering noise mess is mentally exhausting.

‘3m’ and ‘4m’ are substantial pieces, over seven minutes in duration, while the remaining three are snippety fragments of drone and hum, although they all congeal into a morass of brain-pulping pops and whizzes which crackle and creak and skitter and sizzle in erratic tides of discomfiting discord. And yet there’s something oddly compelling about this sonic sup that bubbles and froths and tugs at the nerve-endings without pity.

My synapses are fried and firing in all directions by the time I’m halfway through ‘3m’, a grinding, grating mess of clipped signals with all dials in the red which resembles ‘A Cunt Like You’ by Whitehouse, minus the ranting vocals. And then on ‘4m’… what is that? Some kind of subliminal vocal? Or is my mind just messing with me as it struggles to find orientation and points of familiarity in the stream of inhuman sound. It’s disorientating and difficult – and these are the positive attributes.

The ten ‘Mimicry’ pieces are perhaps re overtly playful – bleeps and whirs, crackles and pops, all cut back and forth so fast as to induce whiplash – not necessarily in the neck, but in the brain stem as the organ shifts into meltdown as it attempts to process the bewildering back-and-forth transmission of sonic data. Tones bounce and ripple at pace in confined spaces, and much of the sound seems to be in reverse, which adds to the dizzyingly fractured, disorientating sensation. There are dark moments, which hum and throb and drill and yammer and chew at the guts, but overall, the ‘Mimicry’ suite is less dense, less brutal, less painful.

The two sections would have worked as standalone albums, but to hear them side-by-side as contrasting and complimentary works is, ultimately, a more fulfilling experience, despite also being something of an endurance test. Its clear that as much as M challenges the listener, Gintas K is an artist intent on constantly challenging himself. And in an era when trigger warnings, entertainment and safe conformity have infiltrated and now dictate every corner of the arts, Gintas Kraptavičius’ unswerving commitment to pursuing his own interests and ends stands out more than ever.

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gintas k - M

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Neurot Recordings – 15th March 2019

James Wells

They probably started off with perfect hearing, but a couple of sessions rehearsing this cacophonous melange at infinite decibels would soon put paid to that. Monastic chorals meet Sunn O))) with the wordless vocal drones that build sinister spirituals that echo into eternity on ‘Vox Dei’, the opening piece on the colossal noise fest that is Metaprogramação by Brazilian act Deafkids. And then all hell breaks loose: ‘Alucinações de Comando’ is a blizzard of lasers, manic percussion, and messed-up vocals echoed to infinity. The overall result comes on like listening to Whitehouse duetting with Dr Mix from across the street.

Metaprogramação is an insane work. Seriously: where are their heads at? Thrumming bass bounces around on the dubby, experimental electro-ish ‘Pacto de Màscaras’, while ‘Mente Bicamerel’ packs a dirty, amped-up groove as it pounds away at a single riff motif – albeit with the occasional chord omission – for what feels like a very long time, but is actually only four and a half minutes. This isn’t to say it’s arduous, but recognises the rewards of repetition.

All of the aforementioned come together on ‘Templo de Caos’, a frenetically drum-driven riot of echoed vocals, grating bottom-end and stun guitars, while ‘Raíz Negativa (Não-Vontade)’ is a mess of murk, with everything as muddy as hell, and even more oppressive as they crank out a repetitive cyclical chord sequence on bass and guitar, while the vocals are more or less lost in the fog. Then again, ‘Vírus da Imagem do Ser’ goes full-on thrash, a hypercharges blur of crusty grind.

Ending in a short, sharp blast of white noise, there isn’t a moment to breathe here. I’ve no idea what the fuck it’s about, but it’s a sonic blitzkrieg that’s nothing like anything else going.

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Deafkids – Metaprogramação

7th January 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I like Modern Technology before I’ve even heard a note. Drummer Owen approached me through Facebook having clocked Aural Aggravation with a link to the East London duo’s debut EP. Most bands starting out want to get on the radar, and get some cash back for the hard graft they’ve put in trying to get to the point of putting music out into the public domain, especially as a physical release – and this comes in limited-to-200 clear vinyl in addition to the digital version – but they’re donating all profits between Mind and Shelter, perhaps two of the most vital charities in the age of austerity.

I may not have written much about the plight of the homeless, although the fact we have a massive problem here in Britain right now requires no qualification, but I have touched on mental health on more than one occasion here in the past. The oft-shared statistics are just statistics, but in my day-job (yes, I work for a multinational who deal in insurance and investments, because, incredibly reviewing bands no-one’s heard of and writing books no-one reads doesn’t pay the bills) I’m often required to step out of my role to help people and to listen to people. They all have trouble. They’re all stressed. They’re all anxietised. Some are depressed. I know how they feel, and they know it. It really is good to talk. No, not just good: vital. This is my daily reality. So the fact that the bulk of CD I get sent for review which I don’t choose to keep end up at my local Mind charity shop is just something I do. Because it’s important to do what you can, right?

According to their bio, Modern Technology formed through ‘a shared frustration of the post-truth society and political unrest that is currently suffocating our global conscious’. The one positive of political turbulence is the spur to creativity: it’s no coincidence that that post-punk emerged during the Thatcher era, and it’s fair to say that the parallels between then and now are strong. One major difference now, however, is that it’s practically impossible to sign on and form a band: zero-hours contracts and the benefits system mean that even looking for work is a full-time job, and the economics of making music simply don’t stack favourably. But regardless of economics, all that shit has to go somewhere. You need to process. You need to vent. Modern Technology sound like a band who are doing this not for fun, but because they need to.

The EP’s opener provides a theme tune of sorts: entitled ‘Modern Technology’, it launches with an ear-shredding blast of splintering noise, before pulverizing drums, grating bass and squalling feedback hammer out a sonic landslide of a backdrop to a hollering vocal, half-lost in an avalanche of reverb. Christ! They’ve got the savagery of early Head of David coupled with the goth-noise mania of The Birthday Party.

It certainly sets the tone and tempo: ‘Project Fear’ is two minutes of overloading, distorted fury that makes optimal use of lo-fi production values for maximum impact. It hits like a punch in the guts. Deciphering the lyrics isn’t easy and at times is pretty much impossible, but the sentiment is more than adequately conveyed by the medium. Besides, the titles speak for themselves in many respects, as they take the most mundane aspects of contemporary capitalist living and attack them with shuddering sonic barrages. Shades of psych filter through the scuzzed-up tumult of no-wave noise. And deep from within that sonic cyclone screams the painful truth: everything is fucked.

When they do slow it down, as on the grinding ‘Select Retail’, they bring out the brooding theatricality and highlight the depthlessness and superficiality of consumerism with the blank slogan / refrain ‘Select retail / reject detail’. But then they also do choppy, bass-led Shellac-tinged angularity on ‘Queue Jumper’. Closer ‘Modern Detritus’ distils every last ounce of frustration and compresses it into a dense roar of thunder.

Modern Technology are the real deal: this isn’t music being made with one eye on a commercial ticket, but music that’s born out of compulsion, the urge to purge. It’s art. It’s raw, it’s visceral, it’s painful. And in expressing the agony of frustration, it’s perfect.

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cover

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

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.