Psymon Marshall, 2019.
Sunday, 16 June 2019
Album: Llyn A Cwn
Artist: Twll Du
Label: Cold Spring
Catalogue no: CSR254CD
I can’t claim to have ever visited Snowdonia (in spite of having been born in Wales) but what I can say is that, having been brought up near the Preseli Mountains in south Wales, an equally eerie and desolate landscape even if not as spectacular, the seven snapshots in sound of lonely and isolated places invested with powers and atmospheres beyond words on Twll Du (Black Hole) ring absolutely true. Washes of texture, dark, rumbling and grainy, are about as close as you’re ever going to get to an accurate description of the genius loci of such locations.
Each of the tracks is named after a specific location within the general area of Cwm Idwal, and the tracks consist of field recordings made in and pinpointing those particular locations. The atmospherics here play on opposites, both the light and the dark: there are moments of deeply buried seismic disturbances balanced against airy whistling soaring through the heights. Here we journey into the subterranean darkness and then ascend into freezing, blindingly bright regions high above.
I have no hesitation in recommending this stark beauty of an album – best heard on headphones in a dark room whilst lying down on something extremely comfortable and with closed eyes. Magnificent.
Psymon Marshall, 2019.
Wednesday, 12 June 2019
FRAG – Controlled Coma – Cassette – Cruel Nature Records – CN107 – 2018
As my interest in FRAG was caught when Āh Burroughs contacted me via the blogs secret, well-hidden underground messaging system and I heard Disease Vector, I was immediately taken by their sound. I believe that Controlled Coma is the earlier 1994 FRAG recordings.
The sound on controlled coma is immediately bigger and more aggressive in its repetition pulling the attention through sudden shifts in that repetition, which jolts the listener back to the original sound throughout tracks. It’s different again and Disease Vector is a progression on this through stripping back. Sometimes it is the background noises that tease and command attention as the foreground sounds remain stuck in their own grove. The work is relentlessly nightmarish using drones, churning synths and rumbling noise that meditates and focusses upon itself. It is like the raw beginnings of FRAG, there are traces and traits of what would later come on Disease Vector, but this is the nastier older brother to that album. This is all good, it still doesn’t sound like anything else that I have heard - strong, mature work, great album and I recommend it.
Choppy Noodles 2019.
FRAG – Disease Vector – self Released – CDR & Download – 2019.
Frag is a project by Tunnels of Āh creator Stephen Burroughs, it was originally conceived in the early 90s and after a rocky start it was intended to be kept as a secret, unreleased project. Some old material was recently released, FRAG kicked back into action and Disease Vector is the first new FRAG material in 25 years.
I like this, it sounds fresh immediately, through its minimalism and failure or refusal to adhere to today’s common noise sounds and methods. By use of farty, vibrating sounds the work really gets focussed on its own repetition through swirling loops of the same sound for long periods of time. Sometimes elements are juxtaposed sometimes they aren’t just one will just play off itself: this focus on repetition continues as the overall sound gets more layered as the album progresses. Some of the blunt less treated tonal frequencies that underlie the work are strong. As Distortion comes in on Neural Progenitor Cell onwards, the mixing gets clever and seems keep it broken up and fractured enough so the work doesn’t lose its identity and become cliched. Despite the growth in the amount of sounds used, the minimal aspect of the work is maintained, it also has a cold playfulness to it. The work does have a lot of twinges of older Power Electronics stylings as it progresses, it has no concern for the bigger/fuller sound at all and this is refreshing. It also gets very detailed and focussed within itself.
I enjoyed Disease Vector, its stance is refreshing and makes it a standout project. I do like Cold-Minimal work and this is a solid example of that. I will investigate Stephen Burroughs other work further - Welcome back FRAG.
Choppy Noodles 2019.
Sunday, 9 June 2019
Wolvestribe – Understanding the Ecological Role – Single Sided Lathe Cut 10” – MP3 – Aaarrrgh Records – 2019 - https://aaarrrg.bandcamp.com/
I Opened Your Eyes.
Now I Have to Close them.
"Death des sometimes seem like a solution that dissolves emptiness. But noise always lures us back into it. And mumbles of rebellion seem to slip into cramps of fear. .."
I discovered Wolvestribe in the last review, it was amongst a batch of 6 tapes from the Harsh Noise London Label and Wolvestribe’s contribution to Harsh Noise London Recycled Tape ‘Series #15: Clove’ was just a 21 minute live performance, which was stunning and one of the highlights of the whole batch - there was some excellent other stuff in there. The purpose of this review is to examine Wolvestribe beyond that contribution as I’m very interested. There has been a digital album released on Fucktron Records – Mortification: Mind/Body/Spirit. I will just review Understanding the Ecological Role as a 10” at this early stage in the project demonstrates impressive commitment. The members are two identities – Kshayaath and HTV, two people or two personalities, who knows?
I Opened Your Eyes: This track really seems to go for a trebly assault, with sharp, jittering frequencies, this is a very abrasive track that radiates and pulsates. The sharp assault is impressive, the relentless repetition and consistency in the amount of noises used is good, it doesn’t suffer from death by overload, which can kill off a lot of noise that does this, it no longer becomes effective. There are vocals warped into the mix well, they are woven in tightly. Now I Have to Close Them; both titles blend in together to form one sentence. This track really pulsates into action as a cut up, distorted vocal goes off whilst sharper frequencies cut in and form a mesh of noises. The chopped vocal makes it another abstract noise so it becomes a part of the track, rather than leading it, which I like.
This whole record is very raw, roots Power Electronics, the noise angle is really emphasised in the sound and flits between layered and stripped down during the record. I feel it is way more leaning into Noise and Power Electronics with a hint of Death Industrial, both tracks are strong. This is a solid, outstanding release and I am very glad my adventures led me to Wolvestribe.
Choppy Noodles 2019.
Saturday, 8 June 2019
Harsh Noise London - Label overview.
Wednesday, 29 May 2019
DEAD NORMAL -There Is Nothing Left But The Enjoyment Of Senseless Destruction – LP – 2019 – Harbinger Sound.
Dead Normal - Live 2017 by me.
Dead Normal - There Is Nothing Left But The Enjoyment Of Senseless Destruction LP.
Back in February 2017 I went to see Sutcliffe Judgend play live in London with a four other solid acts supporting, these included: In Search of Death, Antichildleague and Black Scorpio Underground. An amazing act called Stark was meant to play on the bill, but had to cancel, Stark is Bagman and Bagman is very heavy duty and one of the best PE acts in the UK - an unsung hero. I wouldn’t have liked to have been the act that had to be the compensation for his cancellation, and I wasn’t prepared for the act that actually stepped up and did this. They were called Dead Normal; they were from Barcelona. When they came on it was that nasty brand of cold, choppy electronics with beats woven into the texture of the work. Everything was very direct, this was added to by a sharp delivery of vocals from two vocalists - Zoe and Oriel with noise by D. Forma. They were very ‘street’ and I felt I had received a sonic bollocking for 40 minutes and when they finished, I wanted more. This was one of Dead Normal’s first gigs, the bar was set high that night. For years I have been excited to see what they come up with.
The album is immediately on target, it is that live performance intensified massively and perfected over years. Oriel Rosell’s vocal has intensified, the delivery less sarcastic and more targeted and Zoe V is needle sharp, pointed and factual. The electronics provided by D. Forma (Marrio G Ferrer) are concise, stripped down only what is needed to serve the work. The delivery and urgent repetition transcribe as punk urgency, Bobby is an excellent example of this. In parts the delivery is cut up vocals that complement the choppy nature of the electronics. I don’t want to debunk the album with comparisons, but it seems to fall in with PE/noise that has clear lyrics, techno elements, sharp delivery and is amplified and intensified by lively, urgent electronics.
I often like to concentrate on how the electronics and vocals work together as one on albums and how the vocals become noise. Here they are too direct to do that, the vocals and noise become one in a different way in that they become an assaultive unit. The use of beat and looped, repetitive rhythm isn’t detrimental to the work, often beats and noise can easily fall to shit, this isn’t - it’s incorporated into the work effectively.
It’s hard to offer any criticisms about this album as it’s very strong and it easily one of my 2019 highlights of which there’s a lot of strong competition (read through my reviews). I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff that teases with techno and warped beats of which this shares parallels. This is a great debut album and I can’t praise it enough.
Choppy Noodles 2019.
Sunday, 12 May 2019
Testing Vault – Amnesia Milk. 2xcdr, 2019, Looney Tic Productions, EAFMC0191.
1. A Homage to Alan Lamb (Prelude)
2. Amnesia Milk.
4. A Friendly Light.
5. Pale Pink.
7. Contempt (A Homage to Alan Lamb).
Amnesia Milk Coda (Bonus Disc)
1. Dark Light, Dark Fire, Scared Kid.
2. Milk Amnesia, Coda Part 1.
3. Milk Amnesia Coda Part 2.
4. Fingers in the Hole. (w/ Werewolf Jerusalem)
I’ve bought most of the Testing Vault releases since the debut L'Umor Finstere in 2003. Over the years I have seen the project develop and morph many times over. There have been around 30 releases on his own Looney Tic label and other labels including Hallow Ground, BeTon and Final Muzik. It’s been good to see a large body of work spread across many formats and collaborations over the last 16 years. 2 CDs is the average span of a TV release, there have been boxes of 3-6 CDs in recent years, a single disc album is considered short by TV standards.
There have been key influences on Testing Vault, but the Angus MacLise influence has really pulled the project to the edges of its Industrial roots. Testing Vault still lies in the odd esoteric, ambient territory that it has for a long time, with odd being the ever-growing key word. These odd elements seem to grow and are highlighted as they’re dragged along the increasingly stripped down, sparse sound of the project. I’d played thebighostanimal boxset earlier today and there are elements that point towards the development towards this album, yet Amnesia Milk has a focused vision of its own. The theme of wind musician Alan Lamb crops up continuously, his use of metal instrumentation (subtly) has links to the metal scraping of TV, here it serves as an influence to shift its focus and help it pull and embed it into the sound further.
The warped, delirious vocals come in and out of the album, as if offering a brief narrative before long ambient passages play out. The even quieter ambient parts are very strong and challenge. The second disc is made of tracks not originally featured on the single disc version of the album but recorded during that period. These really expand the range of the sessions; they are all diverse and strong. Some of the drone pieces are really drawn out, becoming long meditations upon themselves. The album also features noises by Werewolf Jerusalem on the final track.
So, facts time, is this a good Testing Vault album? Yes, it’s a very good Testing Vault album, if not; an excellent one. This is another strong album to an impressive body of work. I see the project is sailing off in its own direction, it sounds way different from a few years ago. As to where it’s going, that’s always the mystery.
Choppy Noodles 2019