Sunday, 16 June 2019

Twll Du - Llyn A Cwn

Album: Llyn A Cwn

Artist: Twll Du

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.

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.

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.

Wolvestribe – Understanding the Ecological Role – Single Sided Lathe Cut 10” – MP3 – Aaarrrgh Records – 2019 -

  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. The adventures of Choppy Noodles and the epic package they sent him!

Harsh Noise London - Label overview.

Active since 2016, Harsh Noise London is a unique label, their web presence is based around their Facebook group, where they and others can post in the group about other or their own Harsh Noise releases. The label frequently does releases which are on recycled cassettes of all different sorts on which different artists from around the world are put together on a cassette, I like the massive distances in Geography between the artists on each tape. I know the recycled cassette concept was made famous by RRR, but I like it all the same. On this review I am going to look at a few of their recent releases.

Harsh Noise London Recycled Tape Series #6: Really Good.

A1. God Pussy – Untitled. (29.48)
B1. Fecal Vomit – Vomit too (15.47)
B2. A Raja’s Mesh Men – The End is Nigh. (28.48)

Brazil’s God Pussy contributes an ‘Untitled’ track, which is all hiss and crackle building up to farting deceptive walls that distort, break down and falter into assaultive noise. Sharp harsh bleeps and waves of static fight and dance around each other. The interruptions are strong and use original hum which I haven’t heard in ages, the use of wavering feedback is strong too and there are some impressive shifts in under bass that rise to the surface at times to dominate what’s happening. The temporal nature of the walls come and go in the work and allow shifts, mixtures and fights to happen between the different noises - it functions like an ever-shifting blast of sound.

Fecal Vomit is from Serbia and has been active since 2009 under the Nundata and Fecal Vomit monikers. Samples and break downs of sound build ‘Vomit’, I thought my player was mangling the cassette up or the ghost of the tapes previous recording, but it is a combination of classical and noise that gradually explodes into a sonic fight. The noise isn’t as harsh as God Pussy’s but is more nuanced which allows the contrasts with the classical work to be effective. The distortion, hum and sharp noise play together effectively as the samples periodically breath through and work in conjunction with the noise. The noise wavers, warps and pulsates a lot and seems to flip out at the end of the track to dominate and die.

Fecal Vomit begins the B side with ‘Vomit Too’, News reports and distortion fight each other, the samples shift from different aspects of TV. Genres of music shift in the background to work with and over the voice samples. The distortion is left to do the noise work, the shifts and chop in samples combine with this. I admire how the samples are left to take prominence at times and allowed to work by themselves as they playfully shift into something else. Fecal Vomit demonstrates some excellent experimental quality, Low-Fi brilliance.

A Raja’s Mesh Men is a prolific London based project. ‘The End is Nigh’, begins with a dense wall of low-end distortion. This is a bass heavy wall that crackles and demonstrates tonal shifts inside, whilst the outside remains dense. There’s some tickling sharp crackle that’s vague and peppered over the top. The bass roar is deep whilst the light crackle is more effective as it isn’t too sharp crackle reliant, which can sometimes be tedious in other walls. This is a good wall with strong shifts within, not lazy, just right.

Harsh Noise London Recycled Tape Series #8: The Shard.

B1. Hooked Talons – Prey (14:56)

Vilgoc is Sebastian Harmazy from Poland. Twierdza is a slow, low bass end wall piece which gives off a good deep crackle with soaring hisses of sound that jutt out of the wall at times. These give several layers to the work; the higher levels of crackle appear to peel off the wall and simultaneously rebuild as if constantly morphing itself. The hiss really kicks off later in the wall as if to shift the wall into two separate forms that work away at the same time. The sharper wall eventually takes the lead whilst the deeper sounds are consistent in the background. A third wall tone builds making for a group effort of sounds working with each other, to form Twierdza into a very layered sound that pulsates more as it builds up. I like the growing complexity of this piece.

Hooked Talons is a Richard Ramirez project, he is originally from Texas and now operating in Pennsylvania. Along with the Rita, Vomir, Macronymphia and many others, he is one of the key figures in today’s HNW movement. This project has been releasing since 2011, it is one of many Ramirez projects. This starts off warm, deep and low with a lot of explosive sounds cutting in, it’s fractured and deep immediately. This wall shifts a lot into more eruptions of noise, it isn’t steady, there’s a lot going off at one time. There are interesting background drones behind everything in contrast to the deep back rumble of Vilgoc’s work. At one point it seems to die off only to rebuild itself again descending into a vortex that seems to build in order to collapse in on itself and rise again. This is an immense, massive and shifting piece of work.

Overall this tape is two artists demonstrating two, strong contrasting pieces. Both at the top of their game, impressive stuff.

Harsh Noise London Recycled Tape Series #12
Fall into Dry Lungs “Antisocial Behaviour.”

      A.      Tracks 1-5.
      B.      Tracks 6 – 10

Based in Vienna, duo Fall into Dry Lungs take an original and exciting approach; their sound is improvised percussion and harsh noise and it is really refreshing to hear as the two sounds play off each other brilliantly. It’s very ‘basement’, but the raw factor adds magic to the work. I love how the drum changes rhythm at will, it sounds like the chaotic, insane drumming on early chrome records, full of character and leading and following the noise at random; they work together well. The noise, like the drums shifts and changes a lot, it doesn’t allow for things to get boring. It isn’t a noise rock type project, just two elements creating abstract rumblings. At times the voice of the work, shifts between the two elements with one taking the lead and passing it on continuously. I am unsure if the sales dialogue at the end of one side is part of the album, or what was on the tape before. This project has been very exciting to discover; it is another gem/highlight of 2019.

Harsh Noise London Recycled Tape Series #13: Brutalomania & Gen 26 “Collaboration”

A. Part 1. (18.30)
B. Part 2. (11.30)

Brutalomania is Manuel M. Cubas, based in Spain and Gen 26 is Matjaz Galicic based in Slovenia. This tape begins as a crusty wall, very crackly with a mid hiss with distortion. This is complimented by screeching echo that builds up with background tones. The noise accelerates and falters at times, for the wall to regain a different composure, a shifting, wavering one. The breakdowns become more frequent and it becomes an exciting broken wall that blasts and dies off continually. Part 1 shifts and morphs continuously, as it breaks from just being pure Wall it gets better and better.
Sharp, shifting harsh tones introduce the second side as distortion rages, slightly muted in the background. This shifts into lower level noise territory using a partial wall that morphs it’s use of distortion whilst back noises echo through this. It contrasts well to Part 1, the levels to rise and lower periodically. The distortion when it builds moves in a cascading way, rocketing and tumbling as pitches of feedback also rise and holler.
This is a good release, with strong shifts that keep things varied so they never get boring.

Harsh Noise London Recycled Tape Series #15: Clove.

Side A: 
        1)      Slay Your Boyfriend: Analog Whisperer (10:00)  
  2)      Hiroyuki Chiba: Battle Creek Blow 1            (9:12)       
        3)      Hiroyuki Chiba: Donbrako (9:12)
        4)      Hiroyuki Chiba: Battle Creek Blow 2 (9:12)

Side B:
     1)      Wolvestribe: Live @ Destroy All Artifacts 12.3.2017 (Features Thomas Holmes Speech) (21:47)   London
   2)      Dystopian Vomit Cop: It only hurts forever (10:00)  Michigan
      3)      Dystopian Vomit Cop: Hope was never an Option (10:00)

This is a larger Split with four artists contributing.  Manila City, Philippines based Slay Your Boyfriend delivers some crackling lower wall expanded with sharp and whistling pitches of noise. The interruptions of whistling noise are curious and interesting, it’s as if it is a wall that doesn’t hide its background noises at all, it lets then roam free. I like this wall, less dense and very interesting.

Noise overload in a mass of over input way defines Japans Hiroyuki Chiba, I like the merciless digital assault, it is very reminiscent of French stuff like Entre Vifs and Le Syndicate that I’ve been listening to lately. I like the relentless shifting and retuning that makes the work move so rapidly. The work moves from area to area, it doesn’t stay still for long. The overload strips back quickly to keep things interesting and allow for greater contrasts between noise elements which is good. The sound gets choppier as the tracks progress, the shifts become aggressively rapid and choppy. The sounds become slightly depraved in an abstract way, the work sounds like it is being stretched beyond coherence, the speed accelerates and drags, the work sounds like it is being tortured and warped beyond belief. It is an insane digital battering that comes with many, many faces.

I’ve never heard London’s Wolvestribe and it’s refreshing to hear some pukey drones over Death Industrial sludginess, things are down and dirty in this performance. This is very ugly, and I like it. The performance has echoes of a bad hangover, droning feedback radiates and shifts nauseously. I like this work as it isn’t just macho electronics, there is a gutter like ambient bleakness that serves as the base of the work. It’s like streetwise Death Industrial, this is horrible, it seems to reinvent ways to make the sound become sicker as it progresses – even as it dies off. The old school tinkering that pops up through beeps and tonal abuse is ace - I am keen to investigate this project further to see if there’s a new heavyweight contender on the block. This, Active Denial and Ordeal by Roses are the UK’s most exciting new PE projects that I've stumbled across this year.

Michigan’s Dystopian Cop Vomit seems determined to outdo Hiroyuki Chiba’s violence in a more repetitive streamlined manner. It uses raw repetitive echo noise to maximum effect. This is very minimal with crackles of distortion to contrast the repetition; this work is immediately strong. This is older in its stylings to, ‘It Only Hurts Forever’ it is just raw sonic noise. ‘Hope Was Never an Option’ is more wall like in its delivery but has the same relentless noise leanings in part as the other track. This is a Noise project in the rawest sense, I like that someone cares enough to perfect this form of delivery – Dystopian Cop Vomit is obscure brilliance at its best.

Harsh Noise London Recycled Tape Series #17: Paternoster.

0    1)   Guzzler (13:10)
0    2)   ReLentLess (11:18)

0    1)   Follow the Trail of Blood (25:00)

NODOLBY I like, it’s the murkiest recordings in this batch, in that they play with quieter noise, through this you’re forced to listen intently. This has a more avant-garde/experimental/ feel coupled with a bleak Industrial twinge at times going on. I feel the noise and the pull back on levels makes the work experiment a lot to avoid formulaic clichés. The noise structures build and act out for long periods of time and I think there’s a strong mastery of noise evident as the experimental use of noise can work in conjunction - the work has a dominant solidity and combined playfulness happening at the same time. As the work progresses the Bandcamp ‘Junktronics’ description becomes irrelevant, this is fine Italian noise.

Ohio’s BEGRAVD has an immediate large sound on Follow the Trail of Blood, blasts of distortion and arching overtones combine to build a massive, cold wall. Humming resonates just behind the distortion, so tightly that the two merges, as the distortion falters the hum holds things together. There is other submerged noised lurking in there. At times the wall does drop, only for everything to slowly rebuild itself, this does feel very worked, not lazy; elements can communicate with each other and take stage at times. I feel the works coldness isn’t a contrived coldness (e.g. with Black Metal aspirations), it’s just natural to the work. The density of the work increases in consistency as it progresses, giving it a full sound after breaks and falters happen earlier in the work. This is good HNW work.

Harsh Noise London #16, Vomir “Untitled for Harsh Noise London” Floppy Disc.

I feel the need to confess immediately here, no lies: when I received this, I couldn’t play the floppy disc as I have no Floppy Disc player, I had to email the label to get mp3s of it, I ripped the mp3 to disc to play on my blaster. The plot thickens, when I saw the running time on the disc, I thought it was an hour and 10 minutes, it’s one-minute and10 seconds.

So, when I played this work, it has an immediate Vomir sound, I have got somewhat lost in walls throughout the last 2 years and have begun to pick up on various traits in different works, stylings and methods. So, I recognise this as very Vomir in its fullness and takes me back to both the gigs I have seen him play live at. The depth and splatter of the distortion’s crackle is unique. What I like and find unique is how this wall repeats itself straight away, so it can be as long as you want it to be, you choose when it stops, the looping is clever it sounds like a wall faulter before the work repeats itself.

Choppy Noodles 2019. 

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Dead Normal - new, urgent stuff with a sharp aim.

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

Testing Vault – Amnesia Milk. 2xcdr, 2019, Looney Tic Productions, EAFMC0191.

Amnesia Milk.
1.    A Homage to Alan Lamb (Prelude)
2.    Amnesia Milk.
3.    Digest.
4.    A Friendly Light.
5.    Pale Pink.
6.    Blackout.
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