Sunday, 12 April 2020

Hydra - Power

Hydra – Power - CDR – Bloodlust – B!111 – 2008.

     1.   “Force.”
     2.   “Death’s Dimension.”
     3.   “Past Life Recall.”
     4.   “Gun God (Time Killer Mix)”
     5.   “Break Away.”
     6.   “Self Hatred.”
     7.   “I Don’t Exist.”
     8.   “Dead World (Excerpt)”

Greg Scott (1965-2003) is best known as one of the three members of the now classic New York Power Electronics Group Final Solution. Prior to this he was involved in the bands Beg for Eden, IDF and IDS. His work as Hydra also involved live work and mixing from his Beg for Eden bandmates Jacques Cohen and Peter Messina. Power was originally released as a cassette in 1996 on Bloodlust. This is the 2008 remastered CDR reissue. This was the projects only album, there were two split releases with Death Squad, Barrikad was also on one of them and there was a single in 2001 ‘Anal Test.’

My introduction to Scott’s work was the Final Solution recordings, I thought they were good. When I read up about them, I saw the name Hydra mentioned in related projects, so asked about them in a noise group. A friend posted some YouTube vids and I was immediately very impressed, this led me to get this album, which has been a constant part of my playlist over the months. As History has revaluated Final Solution and led to reissues and reformations, I feel people need to know about Hydra too – this led me to review this CDR from 2008. Also, one of the luxuries of blogging is that I generally review what I buy or am listening to a lot at different times.

Force seems to brood on pulsating drones and pissed off, screeching feedback. This intensifies as the bass levels increase, and Scott’s fucked off vocal begins a dialogue. This is effective as it is at first buried in the middle of the sound and gains prominence as various elements drop and it turns into shouting and screaming noise. Force is a tense build up until it explodes with rage.

Further humming bass and desolate drones form Death’s Dimension. This is a simple, yet tense play off between these two elements as they shift and resonate. A softly spoken vocal later joins the interplay, this is even more buried in the sound so that it is hard to clearly make out.

There are demonstrations of sharper, screeching electronics on Past Life Recall. This functions in a similar way to Death’s Dimension.  Two high pitched (instead of low) elements play off each other and abuse the listener. Whilst this is happening, the shouts emerge pushed right to the back of the sound, only surfacing occasionally.

A torturous use of sample repetition forms Gun God. Gunfire and explosions form an intense backing noise repeatedly repeating to create sonic warfare. I am unsure if this is a brainwashing or mocking gun culture, ‘The Gun is Good’ is the repeated message.

Tracks 5-8 were recorded live at The Red Room in New York in 1995 - a quarter of a century ago. Break Away follows through perfectly as it uses revving noise that is like the gunfire of Gun God. A High-pitched sharp feedback jumps in with the shots and intensifies as the sound moves. Vocals yell in bursts at the audience. The shouting intensifies as if focussed on someone or the self. It like the studio recordings is still partially buried in the sound and rarely shoved to the forefront, forcing concentration. The tension in this performance can be felt, even the between song banter does nothing to diffuse it.

The next live track Self-Hatred is oddly one second off the exact length of Break Away. This churns more with deep noise and broken sounds as synthesisers resonate. The vocal again screams abusively at the audience, I wonder if the live performance was as confrontational as it was tense? Self-Hatred severely abuses low frequencies for added effect.

I Don’t Exist is by far the most explosive track. The noise is faster and the vocal seems to eventually erupt with the noise to form a dual attack. Like a lot of Power’s tracks its use of noise is simple and highly effective.

Dead World is from the Spastik Soniks sessions, which I assume was the recordings done for the releases with Death Squad. This really abuses the lower frequencies; it pulsates against feedback and hum. This minimal use of noise slows the attack down and the work meditates on the coming end.

Hydra was an extremely stripped back project. The sound would really meditate on simple, minimal combinations of noise for long periods of time. Tracks tortured the listener with repetition or by hitting the listener hard with concentrated high or low frequencies. Shorter tracks are like direct hits in contrast as they are more explosive in their delivery. The vocals were pained and often buried in the noise, which makes you focus in and listen more. Even if the vocals are not fully coherent, the emotions are very clear and concise in how they are presented which this compensates for the quality of the live recordings. Powers tracks are linked well and follow through fluidly. The lyrics aren’t crass or attempts to shock, but appear to be deliveries of states of being, perhaps meditations on the self and  anticipates how particular cohorts of artists in Power Electronics would operate today, 25 years later.

Nevis Kretini 2020.

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