Posts Tagged ‘Power Electronics’

I know, I know, poor form, etc., etc. But hey, it’s not every day this kind of thing happens.

…(something) ruined coalesced by happy accident as a live proposition. Like so many bands, lockdown hit our progress and development hard. The ‘white noise and shouting’ worked because of a combination of factors all in the moment – extreme volume, intuition, adrenaline, the consumption of alcohol. Replicating the vibe without those factors proved to be a challenge – but, when offered the platform of the FEAST online streaming events organised by the Nim Brut label during lockdown, it felt like an opportunity to develop a new way of working and to refine that sound in a more controlled setting. Trial and error led to the creation of noise first, vocals second, and over the course of several months, thing evolved, and …(something) ruined became something more, with not only a more defined sound, but a thematic focus lyrically.

E.P. is a cohesive document, but also a document of an evolution, and the tracks are presented in the chronology in which they were created, each first aired at a FEAST event.

‘Life Is Too Short’: small frustrations simmer and boil over when presented with the stark reality that you could die tomorrow and you’ve squandered the last 10 years your waking hours being nice and pandering to utter cunts.

‘On Mute’: anthem for remote workers around the globe as we’ve watched cretins babble away merrily on video calls while no-one can hear a single word – although, frustrating as it is, it’s usually better than hearing their words.

‘Harder, Not Smarter’: another corporate classic. Time and again management promote smart working, time-saving, and economy. But for all the words, there’s only whip-cracking ultimately.

‘On Brand’: brand isn’t just slogans and advertising. It’s an ethos. You don’t just work for a company, you are the company, a walking promotion. Live the brand.

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Ventil Records – V026 – 4th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Ultimately, it’s apparent now that social media changed everything. But one thing specific was the relationship between artist and audience. Historically, the distance between the two was clear and also integral. The last, ten to fifteen years hasn’t only seen that separation eroded, but a certain expectation that the artist should engage directly with the audience via online platforms, be it social media or a blog maintained as a part of their website. As a marketing tool, it makes sense, but it’s hard not to feel that something has been lost along the way. Is it right that the artist should be made accessible, or that there should be an expectation of there being some kind of quite direct interaction? It’s not even necessarily about maintaining a persona or a degree of enigma: many artists are introverts by nature, and don’t create art to stand in the limelight in front of it. Many artists create to escape something, or simply to expel or have an outlet for that which they cannot convey by any other means.

I’m often not particularly communicative myself. I don’t want to talk about it, whatever it is – assuming I even know. I simply want to write or make ‘music’. But I did, recently post on Facebook about how I often berate myself for not being as productive as I would like to be. People were largely sympathetic, but few, it would seem, truly ‘got it.’

One artist who truly does understand that eternal restlessness is polyartist Maja Osojnik, and her quest for creativity is unstinting. Having been involved in several visual exhibitions, a live stream, and various compositions in recent months, she’s also recorded an album with collaborator Matija Schellander to deliver the debut Rdeča Raketa (Red Rocket) album.

This album is both very ‘now’ and also very much an expiration of the human condition, specifically its failings and how communication is key, but very much prone to failure.

As the liner notes outline, ‘…and cannot reach the silence deals with the current world of misunderstandings, communicating past each other, willingly and unwillingly overlooking or ignoring each other’s meanings via various fast-paced forms and platforms of communication; and, with that, the tightening of incompatible parallel “realities.” It explores forms of violence; physical and verbal, external and self-inflicted. It explores forms of power; the dangerous thin line between giving power to and giving power over oneself, and forms of subjugation and addiction on both societal and, more significantly, on interpersonal levels. “… Look at us! Beasts, bottomless pits, never to be full! To be fulfilled. Glued onto each other in sweat, a never-ending pain and evenly spread, at all times…”

They go on to ask, ‘In those dark, dystopian lyrics, full of questions, such as “What is being said and what stays unspoken? Who does it refer to? Who is protecting whom? For what reasons? Who is being addressed or what needs to be considered?” the wish, the need and the struggle for self-empowerment, honesty, love and reconciliation is exposed or, at the very least, nourished.’

All of this resonates, and deeply. Only yesterday, I had been considering how depth of conversation seems to have evaporated. People have neither the time more the attention. Conversations were often cut short or curtailed or otherwise hurried back in the days of the office, but that was nothing compared to thee standard one- or two-line text exchanges, comments shared by Skype or Teams. We – collectively – don’t really ‘talk’ anymore. We’re paranoid, time-deprived, stressed. We’re also so polarised and entrenched in our oppositional viewpoints that there is no debate, only division. And with social media, 24/7 scrolling news and infinite notifications from apps, there is no respite – ever. There is no silence, wherever you may seek it.

The three longform compositions on …and cannot reach the silence are heavy and rich with atmosphere. The first, the ten-minute ‘the night is spilling across the room…’ approaches by stealth. A low, slow, ominous drone, intercut with aberrant thuds and squelches. An artisanal, wordless voice drifts in, and it’s haunting, ghostly, otherworldly. What does it mean? The lyrics, sung in a detached tone, are stark, bleak: ‘You were unspoken / She was born already broken….’ Eventually, the words drift out into a wordless undulating hum and the world slowly disintegrates.

The disintegration continues through the lumbering lurch of counterpart composition ‘…like gasoline’. Its slow, yawning rhythmic intonations evoke the heavy grind of SWANS circa 1986, relentless, booming, droning, and it’s the perfect backdrop to Maja’s semi—spoken vocal delivery. She’s robotic, inhuman, empty, even when articulating human emotions – ‘I want to you so bad, I want you so bad,’ she repeats at one point. But is it want, or is it need? Something less about choice or desire, and more about emotional survival? ‘I am tired’ she repeats, over and over, in tones ranging from weary to frustrated, defeated to angry, and you feel it – you know it. The articulation is comparable to one of Bruin Gysin’s permutational poems: only, instead if rearranging the words, the emphasis changes in order to find different meanings of the same words. This one resonates. The tiredness saps your life and saps your soul, and you feel the differences between ‘I’m tired, please leave me be,’ and ‘I’M TIRED! FUCK OFF AND LEAVE ME ALONE!’

The third and final composition, ‘waiting it out’, is fifteen and a half minutes of ominousness. The vocals are all but submerged, a babble beneath the undulating drone and trilling. Synths crank up and head for take-off as they stray into the heavily phased world of early industrial and power electronics, a wheezing wall of wailing synths puffing and groaning and bleeping and whirring and all converging in a seething sonic mound. Towards the end, it ventures skywards in a succession of laser-guided rockets arcing into the sky.

…and cannot reach the silence is an album with an immense range, and an understated intensity – and a magnificent artistic achievement.

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Having coalesced by chance after an encounter in the virtual world, harsh noise / power electronics duo …(something) ruined had been making headway on the live circuit over a couple of years before – and this is a familiar tale – Covid and lockdown put paid to all that. Accustomed to rocking and rolling some raw noise improv, it took them some time to reconfigure their approach to collaboration, but having been invited to perform at a FEAST event online, they began to evolve a new way of working. Each subsequent outing has seen the band go from strength to strength, mining a seam of lyrics dismantling the contradictions of corporate culture paired with some of the most abrasive noise.

Once described as being ‘like Whitehouse without being edgelords’, ‘On Brand’, premiered on Sunday at FEAST 5, not only encapsulates sound and ethos of …(something) ruined, but is perhaps their most potent dispatch yet.

With a debut EP and more live shows in the pipeline, …(something) ruined are poised to fuck shit up on a wider scale.

Watch ‘On Brand’ here:

The coming together of Paul ‘Zanntone’ Tone and Christopher Nosnibor was a random one which more or less encapsulates their approach to creativity: Paul placed ashout-out on FaceBook for recommendations for a vocalist for his upcoming Foldhead show in Leeds, and Nosnibor’s name was thrown into the hat after a number of previous collaborations with noise artists that had seen his ‘Rage Monologues’ project move from the spoken word scene into the realm of ‘music’.

What happened at that show occurred more by accident than design, but it worked – and so …(something) ruined was born.

Subsequent live shows saw them really hitting their stride – and the pain threshold in terms of volume and intensity – before the COVID apocalypse swept the globe, putting paid plans for further shows and a planned live studio recording.

Nevertherless, live-stream gigs catering to fans of electronic / experimental / noise has continued to give them a platform, and they’ve continued to develop their sound and visuals. Following their brief but brutal turn at FEAST #2 hosted by Nim_Brut, they’ve released their track, ‘Life is too Short’ as a videosingle.

Of the track, Nosnibor says “the lyrics were inspired by conversations I’d been having with a friend of mine, about how if one thing the pandemic had brought into sharp relief was that life’s too short. You never know when your time’s going to be up, and we waste so much of the time we have expending energy stressing over work and trivial shit. No-one ever lay on their deathbed saying ‘I wish I’d spent more time in pointless meetings, or watching trash TV’. I recorded the vocals in one take – first take – and send the file over to Paul, who mangled them beautifully, in a way that conveys all the anxiety, anguish and rage beyond the words themselves”.

Watch the video here:

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Life is too short still

Editions Mego EMEGO292 – 6th November 2020

Nineteen years on from the release of his first audio document, Russell Haswell’s latest effort is a typically wild collection of vintage synth sounds whipped into crazy cacophonous cocktail.

The objective titles of the release echo the statement on artistic commodity made by Public Image Limited on their 1986 release, which went by the titles Album, Cassette and CD (although technically, all three formats contain the album, making the vinyl edition something of a misnomer). In the digital age, and notably in the year which has seen UK vinyl sales hit a thirty-year peak, the format is an integral part of the experience.

As the press release notes, ‘12" channels the original role of the medium with 2 tracks of beats that present themselves in unpredictable ways. 12" also features the head shattering bonus cut, Always Check Their Instagram. LP cut at 33rpm allows explorations into broader territories with deep ambience running into twisted acid and splattered shapes bouncing amongst rapid fire rhythms’. The 12” single in the 80s and 90s did very much acquire a unique position, accommodating extended mixes and longer songs, and often an additional B-side.

That the tracks on 12" are exclusive to the format and not available on the digital release may deprive many listeners of the pleasure of three Haswell classics may seem rough, but on the other, is fair play, because context counts and the medium really is the message. Moreover, while I’ve amassed a hard-drive groaning with digital audio files over the last decade for review purposes, if I’m going to buy music, I’ll still always favour a physical format, despite increasing problems when it comes to storage, and, with vinyl, my medium of choice, actually getting to play it on account of the stereo and record collection being in the living room where the TV is, which is occupied by the family pretty much every waking moment.

So, for review I have just seven tracks, namely the set which comprises LP and Digital. In digital format, naturally: I tend not to get much vinyl in the mail for review these days, funnily enough.

The dark, dank rumblings of ‘Ambient Takedown’ register low in the gut, with heavy tones like a distant jet, and the sound hovers for a time that feels significantly longer than its two-minute duration. It does nothing to prepare the listener for the polyrhythmic drum-machine frenzy that of ‘r-809’, a ten-minute riot of tinny synthesised percussion which bounces along and around in hyperspeed. There’s a thrumming bass and insistent, repetitive squelching sound and there are moments when everything goes off all at once, and it’s as if someone dropped a match in a firework factory. It’s the first of two extended workouts, the second being the album’s closer, ‘End of Eternity’. It’s a sprawling mass of squalls and tweets, a foaming froth of sine waves and howling analogue torture that wows and flutters and goes on, and on, stopping, starting, fizzing and scraping churning and stammering wildly as it scrawls and scratches its way through the terrain of Power Electronics and headlong into an aural apocalypse.

In between, the remining tracks ae fairly concise, with only ‘The Bottom Line of Safety’ running past the five-minute mark. ‘Pulsar 2’ is an overloading crackle of noise, a wibbling modulation rendred unrecognisable by being cranked up beyond distortion: it’s the kind of gnarly mess one tends to associate with Haswell, and precisely what you’d expect from an artist who’s been a member of Consumer Electronics, both live and on record in recent years. If these pieces feel fragmentary, and vaguely frustrating in their lack of a firm form or obvious trajectory, then it’s fair to say it’s entirely intentional.

Some of it may sound like so much dicking about, but Haswell’s grasp on tonal contrasts – and beats – is firm: this is very much about exploration rather than entertainment.

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No Part of It – 23rd September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Slowly raising a hand – dripping in coagulated blood and thick, sticky semen – from the swampy morass of angled noise that’s entirely representative of the contemporary dark electronic scene, where dark ambient, power electronics, and harsh noise sim in the same sewers, Sterile Garden emerge with Acidiosis. It’s pitched as ‘harsh noise for junk metal, tape recorder, and 4 track;, and while Sterile Garden is an open-ended project with countless contributors featuring on their 40+ releases in the 14 years since their inception, on this occasion, Sterile Garden is simply Jacob DeRaadt.

Acidosis contain six untitled, numbered tracks, and they segue together to create on enormous lump of churning industrial noise. Howling whines of nose like jet engines firing up power full-throttle into barrelling blasts of abrasion.

Without lyrics or any form of vocal element apart from the muffled dialogue on ‘Acidosis 6’, the album is purely a host of permutations of mangled noise which feature here with every shade of feedback and distortion imaginable assailing thee listener’s tenderised eardrums. Metallic clattering, and scrapes, barks and yelps and screeching screeds or nail-scraping, eye-watering blurting screeds or treble dominate.

So much of this overloading, speaker-splitting noise is so above the limits, so over the regular limits of noise, it hurts. But while suffering, enduring, or perhaps enjoying the pain, if you can get past the tinnitus-inducing shards of treble, the walls of mid-range that blast away like hurricane, there is detail, there is textural depth. No doubt many would disagree, and this s very much one for the noise aficionados: there no tunes, no structures, just screaming feedback and howls of painful noise, whistling feedback and manged, cacophonous noise hurtling headlong toward the crusher. Alright, it is just needless, neverending noise, but as I was out and about earlier, on a supposedly ‘quiet’ walk, I became attuned to an endless stream of noise ranging from conversations to car engines. Peace and quiet is a myth – although Acidosis is not so much anti-ambient as anti -sanity, a relentless bewildering squall of horrible noise.

Acidiosis is all the metallic clanks and scrapes. With Acidiosis, Sterile Garden have landed the crusher that will crush your soul. It’s a gut-churning, skull-compressing horrorshow that hurts, physically and psychologically – meaning a job well done.

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Panurus Productions – 25th September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Shrill, harsh, shrieking feedback noise and ear-cleansing scrapes of crunching metal collide and it’s not pretty, it’s not easy on the ear, it’s not rhythmic, melodic, or anything even approaching aesthetic. This is the sound of ‘Cardboard Schimitar’, the eleven-minute opening track on Always Check Your Mirrors, a collaboration between Mariam, Plastiglomerate, SW1n-HUNTER & Yol. It’s something of a departure for Newcastle-based tape label Panurus Productions, for whom dark, odd, and unsettling are standard, because Always Check Your Mirrors hurtles headlong into the domain of warped and outright nasty.

It’s head-shredding, and a sonic experience akin to poking a wet finger in a live socket, but the best of it is that that’s as gentle as it gets. It’s the sound of four similarly attenuated but nevertheless disparate artists pulling in all directions at once to chaotic effect.

To be fair, the liner notes do very much prepare us for the worst: ‘from frantic blasts of electrical necromancy through to sparse ominous ambience, crackling with distortion or resampled and warped. Objects clatter and strings twang over sizzling electronics and stark exclamations, as twisted and sheared sounds fold back into themselves over the course of eleven tracks.’ As the notes also explain, this album was ‘pulled from a session recorded live’, and consequently, ‘these tracks vary in intensity across the tape; from frantic blasts of electrical necromancy through to sparse ominous ambience, crackling with distortion or resampled and warped. Objects clatter and strings twang over sizzling electronics and stark exclamations, as twisted and sheared sounds fold back into themselves over the course of eleven tracks’.

And the end result is a serious fucking din. Unintelligible, maniacal shouting against screeds of impenetrable, undifferentiated noise is the order of the day for ‘Illegible Back Tattoo with Typo’: it’s a primitive stab at power electronics, and it’s this primitivism that gives it such a brutal edge. Twanging, scraping, clanking, clattering, this is truly everything thrown in including the kitchen sink, with bags of spanners, rusty nails, leaky pipes, and a hefty dose of psychosis: this is the sound, and this is the mood: wild-eyed raving and a boiling fermentation of electronic froth come together to create an uncomfortable atmosphere, like being hemmed in a small meeting room with a manager who’s losing their shit every which way, while troubling tinnitus rings in your ears. The tension hurts, and your pulse quickens with discomfort.

The vocals are stuttering, tight-chested, snarled, shouted, choking on fury to the point that thy more or less resemble a breakdown captured by microphone, stammering incohesion amidst a crackling overload of distortion. Always Check Your Mirrors straddles electronic noise and experimental weirdness: ‘Awesome Pop Off the Radio’ is a cut-up explosion with Tourette’s, a spasm smash of warped tape whiplash. Needless to say, it’s the antithesis of pop, and yet it’s probably one of the more accessible cuts by far. ‘Hoiked from Pure Air’ evokes Japanese oddity, and following the bleep, fuzz, and whirr of ‘Test Skeleton’ with its farting circuit melts, while the thirteen-minute closer, ‘Accolades as the Car Stalls Again’ dissolves in a wave of static as bleeps and crackles fly in all directions.

It’s far from soothing – by which I mean it’s borderline psychotic – and an album containing this level of fevered spleneticism should probably carry a trigger warning for the more delicately disposed in these tense times, but the catharsis imbued within each brutal blast that combined noise and words to the most powerful effect is perhaps one of the most succinct articulations of all of this fucked-up shit I’ve hears all year.

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gk rec.

Christopher Nosnibor

This makes for quite a refreshing change: it feels like about two-thirds of my reviews in recent months have been marked by a compulsion to comment on artists going into creative overdrive during lockdown and whacking out releases of new material because they’re not currently touring or working their day-jobs. But for Lithuanian electronic experimentalist Gintas Kraptavičius, it’s business as usual, with a steady flow of output over recent years, and with Amnesia being his second release of 2020.

One of the things I personally admire about Gintas as an artist is how broadly he explores the field of electronic music, with works ranging from minimal ambience to deep dives into microtonal territory, and a whole lot in between. Amnesia conforms to no genre or form, and instead spreads its myriad suggestions from across a host of conceptual spaces to create something wonderfully vague, and also vaguely wonderful.

The release comes with no information whatsoever about its concept or purpose or recording, beyond the fact that it uses drum samples by Travis D. Johnson. Those samples aren’t neatly assembled to form looped rhythm tracks and solid structural foundations for a work with an overt linear trajectory or other sense of solid form.

Amnesia contains a single track which spans a massive forty-four minutes, and begins with crackling, interweaving synths waves which crackle and fizz with distortion, while thumping clatters that sound more like shuffling, clumping footfalls than drums crash sporadically and arrhythmically.

There are some crescendos or swirling noise and shrill, trilling feedback notes that whistle and screech over churning blasts of bilious noise, violent sonic storms. There are segments of laser bleeps and skittering short, sharp toppy notes fire into a swirling morass of mid-range extranea.

A delicate piano tinkles in a nuclear storm and a stammering clanking rattles and clangs behind and alongside. This is a dominant feature of Amnesia: there is always a background and a foreground and a significant degree of contrast between the two, which is both textural and tonal. Harsh top and midrange are laced against softer, more gloopy lower spectrum sounds.

Time slips, drips, dribbles and cascades through a shifting sonic multiverse that’s often uncomfortable, at times undemanding, as the track transitions between ambience and abrasion, and towards the end it takes a turn towards synapse-collapsing early 80s power electronics.

What do you do with this? Where do you take it? What is it all about? There is no clear message, no distinct or decisive form, resulting in a longform composition that meanders and swerves in all directions but ultimately leads nowhere and articulates little – and that’s more than ok: Amnesia is not about sequence and making a bar, but about capturing a sense of vagueness and a certain lack of purpose, of point, and it does so magnificently.

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24th May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Like many artists during life in lockdown, Foldhead has been enjoying a spell of enormous creativity. Well, enjoying may not be quite the word: immersion in work for therapeutic purposes is as much a necessity as a joy, and moreover, as his recent spate of output highlights, zanntone is a highly political animal, and some recent events have sparked an ire that can only be purged through noise.

Skegdeath, released in March, served up an obliterative wall of noise against hundreds of thousands who reportedly descended on Skegness beach on Saturday 21st, the final days before official lockdown landed, against advice on social distancing. The Guardian ran a headline quoting a local dentist who said that it was ‘a disaster waiting to happen.’ It did happen, of course, and it didn’t wait long.

But that didn’t stop the government’s top advisor from doing the precise opposite of staying at home, saving lives, and protecting the NHS by driving his child, in the company of his wife who was suffering symptoms of Covid-19 some 260 miles from London to Durham to stay on his parents’ property, and taking a 60-mile round trip to Barnard Castle to check his eyesight was ok to make the journey home once they’d all recovered, despite having been barely able to walk the day before. He called it ‘reasonable’ and parental responsibility; half the country called it bullshit.

Foldhead refers to this punchy two-tracker, which would make for a neat 7” single at any other time as ‘A reaction to a piece of shit I will not sully my vocal chords by naming’, although the cover art leaves us in no doubt.

‘Carrion / Carrier’ marks one of Foldhead’s most brutal sonic assaults, five minutes of squalling, head-shredding electrical noise, with infinite layers of static and feedback and more noise on top. You can almost imagine him turning knobs so hard as to almost napping them off, and jamming down pedals and circuitry with brute force in order to channel the fury. Because nothing inspires rage like deceit and hypocrisy, apart from when that deceit and hypocrisy is so brazen and comes from a place of such self-confidence and superiority.

‘Poundshop Gollum’ is a howling, braying racket, somewhere between feedback and the anguished sounds of a dying heifer or maybe an elephant, against a backdrop of metal being crushed in a wrecker’s yard. There are fleeting moments that carry echoes of the most twisted, abstract jazz, but above all, it’s the sound of torture.

Amidst all of the outpourings of anger on social media, and even in the mainstream media, this release perhaps makes the strongest and clearest statement of all: because there are no words. The language of sound is the most articulate.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Much as I think the live stream shows that have become a thing during lockdown are a great way for bands to stay connected with their fans when tours have been cancelled, and artists and fans alike are frustrated and apart, I’ve struggled to get into them as an experience.

Discussing this with a gig-mate, I explained that I’d tried a few guitar bands doing streams from bedrooms , and found the experience of just one or two band members doing acoustic stuff and chatting a fair bit in between may create a certain sense of an intimate setting, but lacks the multisensory aspects, as well as the impact of music at gig volume.

‘I did do a couple early on’, my friend replied, adding ‘It’s not really what I want. I want to go to a gig.’

It struck me that that was it, in a nutshell. A stream is not a gig. TV, radio, YouTube, a live album… is not a gig. It’s like arguing that a Kindle is like a book. It may well be, but it isn’t, and the things it lacks are the reason it will never be a convincing or authentic sensory substitute. When it comes to live music, the cliché ‘you had to be there’ is ineffable. Yes. You do actually have to be there.

Nevertheless, with friends whose music I’m into on tonight’s lineup, I decided to invest a little more in recreating the live experience, starting with a pre-gig pint, which I texted pictures of to various people. Being a warm night, I didn’t put the heating up, but I did draw the blind and shut the door to my office, and put the display full screen (The streaming chat is irritating and detracts from both the music and the visuals, however sparse) and cranked the speakers up, and sat back to witness low rumblings and slow-decaying chimes that marked the start of Möbius’ set. The visuals consist of a dark background and shining points of yellow-white light. Wordless dual vocals ring out and resonate against one another, generating a subtle power, somewhere between Gregorian chanting and Jarboe at her most ethereal. The drones grow denser, louder, the effect of a single note sustained for an eternity increases as time passes: my body hums at the same frequency for a time, before the resonant echoes are gradually swallowed in a swell of distortion. Chances are, if played at the same volume, a recording would have the same effect, but it’s an immersive set nevertheless.

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Möbius

Between-acts, there’s some obscure noise mix streaming, and Plan Pony is up next, blasting out speaker-mangling low-end distortion. If the noise is impressive, it’s matched by polarised visuals. Manipulating blasts of harsh guitar sampled in real-time and thrashed through an immense table fill of effects, the output is a sonic blitzkrieg. The quiet passages don’t translate quite as well, partly because my neighbour’s got a mate round and they’ve got the radio on in her back yard, but some snarled-up samples and snippets of music emerge from the grumbling electronics as he twiddles knobs, before long building again to a shattering wall of harsh noise.

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Plan Pony

Zad Kokar takes things to next-level wtf, with bewilderingly nightmarish visuals that ae probably best described as max Headroom on acid, accompanying a blizzard of audio mashup that’s like early Prodigy in collision with early cabaret Voltaire. Both on acid. Diverting from the in-yer-face mental shit, we’ve got Clean Wipe, a guy in shorts stroking a doorframe while tweaking knobs on effects pedals at a circular kitchen table while the background changes colour constantly. It takes me an age to realise there must be contact mics on the door frame, and I can’t decide if I need more beer or I’ve had too much already.

It’s been a strong start, and TCH, on at number 4, take the mood and volume down a bit, but in a good way. The noise is dark and dingy, and reflects the setting in which we see a hooded figured tweaking minimal kit in a small, mildew-stained room. It’s more like watching a documentary on heroin withdrawal than a musical performance.

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TCH

I clock 61 viewers, which is probably about the capacity of CHUNK, and the nights thy host are usually BYOB, so cracking a can of ALDI’s The Hop Stepper that I fetched from downstairs between acts seems consistent with being there.

Petrine Cross is Esmé of Penance Stare doing one-woman black metal at a million decibels. The set’s an ear-shattering mess of noise and distortion and visually, it’s stark, dark and black and white. The sound is overloaded, borderline unlistenable, but that’s likely intentional, and it’s clear some effort’s gone into this. Each song has its title on-screen at the start, there’s a plug for a charity compilation (again, on-screen text means no need for awkward chat) and songs are intercut with footage of the cat. It’s belting. And her room as some nice cornice work.

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Petrine Cross

It’s a distorted dictaphone tape recording – a fractured ranted monologue about life in isolation under lockdown – that provides the material for Duncan Harrison’s set. It captures the mental tension of the moment so well, it’s uncomfortable listening. It’s followed by Energy Destroyer’s barrage of noise accompanied by video footage of him swinging either nunchucks or lengths of rubber in his back garden, and it’s the bodywarmer that makes it.

It’s disorientating watching the back of a performer’s head as they play and seeing them again on the PC monitor before them, with the whole scene framed by leaves and soundtracked by birdsong and incidental rumblings. But this is what we get from Garden Magik, whose set evolves gradually into a digital storm. At some point in the gale-force distortion, I realise my mind isn’t entirely on the set, but then, in a live setting, I would have likely enjoyed the sonic experience but found my mind wandering to maters of work and other stuff – and that’s no criticism. Under lockdown, in my office, it’s even easier to become distracted by text messages and FaceBook.

Content’s ‘If Hard Work Pay Show Me Rich Donkey’ leaps out as a feature of the between-act PA tunage before Sadistic Statistic, who give us more garden footage and a full-on Merzbow blast of obliterative sonic carnage. The images of cats are unrepresentative: the melting digitisations less so: at times, it sounds like it looks: brain-shredding, difficult, and impossible to pin down. Harsh is the new norm here: this is one of those sets that leaves you feeling utterly wrung out by the time the last sparking crackle fades.

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Sadistic Statistic

Stuart Chalmers takes us on a mesmerising tour of a cave, before Otherworld bring gloopy, cracking electronics accompanied by swirling pixelated patterns that aren’t exactly easy on the retinas. It’s low-level noise that’s centred around slow-, hypnotic pulsations. It’s pitch-black in the room now bar the screen and I’m staring fixedly at the shifting shapes as the sound ripple around me, and the experience is quite gig-like until Mrs N returns an extension lead, which isn’t quite the same as being handed a final pint before the train.

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Otherworld

In terms of lineup and performances, this was a hell of a night. It would, unquestionably, have been infinitely better to have witnessed it in person, surrounded by other people also witnessing it in person: atmosphere is interaction, but also an unspoken feeling that passes between people in a room. Virtual claps posted on a chat stream simply cannot replace real time reactions. But, while it’s the best we’ve got, it’ll have to do. What I took from tonight is that some genres seems better equipped to operate differently, and experimental electronic odd shit, with its propensity for visuals and playing in darkness, seems to have less work to do to adapt than conventional rock formats, making this the closest to the live experience I’ve yet witnessed. And yes, I had a blast. And made it home with no problems, too.