Sunday, 13 June 2021

Gig Review - Knifedoutofexistence, Blackcloudsummoner, Itching, Steckdose, Cites Prepare for Attack, Pale World.


Knifedoutofexistence, Blackcloudsummoner, Itching, Steckdose, Cites Prepare for Attack, Pale World.

Birmingham Centrala Space,

Friday 11th June 2021.

I’d been to Centrala previously to see Tunnels of Ah, Satori and Colosloth play over a year ago, I found it a pleasant venue and it was a good gig. This venue’s reputation as one of the key venues for creative culture in Birmingham is now intact. Centrala has an art gallery, café/bar, book shop and sells music: I was excited at the thought of visiting there again. What I didn’t expect is that this socially distanced gig (my first in well over a year) was that it was held in the upstairs gallery, which was a massive space instead of the downstairs area all acts played in last time round!

The first set was a brief one by Pale World, now this performance set the benchmark high - Joe Parkes was crouched on the floor, hitting and throwing a piece of sheet metal that was contact microphoned up and this created a loud assault. There was feedback added to this and mournful drones that came through as the metal abuse slowed down. It was a simple but incredibly effective set. I have seen a handful of sets over the years that use a minimal amount of gear to strong effect, this did that perfectly. I am a fan for sure now as I have been playing stuff off the Bandcamp since this night.

Pale World.

Steckdose was meant to play next, there were technical issues with his equipment, so Cities Prepare for Attack played second.  This was a surprise I wasn’t expecting, I knew of the name as I have met Andrew Cooke a few times and I was expecting some sort of guitar drone type work. It wasn’t like that. There was a guitar that was amped up, I am usure if there were extra pickups or contact microphones added, but the guitar would be hit with different metal instruments to make different sounds. The clanging ranged from dreamy psychedelic sounds to harsher noise reminiscent of the torture scenes in the Ipcress File film and many moods in-between. This all created complex experimental music - another highlight of the night.

Cities Prepare for Attack.

The Steckdose technical issues were sorted out by this time and his set began. I liked the minimal feel the sound started with – just a slow, pulsating hum that wavered and shifted gradually. There was a constant feeling of intense focus on the sound, the feedback that started to punctuate the sound even further concentrated and controlled. Drones emerged that cut through all of this and built up like an infected storm, the intensity to the sound was consistent as it accelerated, getting busier. There was a sense of purpose and discipline to the intricate details that cut into the storm of noise. Steckdose’s relentless, microscopic eye to detail created a constant tension that gripped the audience. This was by far the tightest set of the night, an exercise in sheer control, this artist knew what they were doing and demonstrated that perfectly.


I have reviewed Itching several times before. The project is by Henry Davies and has replaced his Nacht Und Nebel project that ran for many years. The Cello was the source for all Nacht und Nebel’s sounds, Cat Purrs are the source for all of Itching’s noise and this started the set - due to the volume of the PA, this really filled the gallery making the audience feel like they were inside a happy cat. The source sound gradually began to distort and crackle adding unease to the happiness. It became something else that became increasingly apocalyptic and fractured as the set evolved. The purr eventually came back and the distortion faded all harmony was restored. I like the continued originality of the source materials; this was a powerful set that demonstrated effective methods that truly delivered solid results.


Blackcloudsummoner followed Itching. There was a real element of performance here, the sound was immediately there was an aspect of him being the depressed DJ blasting shards of dark, chaotic weirdness at the still audience, his use of noise was immense, fractured and odd. I liked how he really seemed to get off and react his own cacophony as it grew and filled up the space. It is difficult to clearly describe what went off as the build-up and sounds were very odd (when I repeatedly use the word odd, it is meant as a compliment as there is no one else that sounds like this). Blackcloudsummoner’s set was haunted, very impressive, easily the darkest set of the night and the best performance that I have seen by the project so far - a unique one off.


I have seen Knifedoutofexistence several times in the past and reviewed much of his work – there seems to be constant progression occurring here. The set seemed to start from slow rumbles until sharper sounds began to cut in and take over, this is how the sound intensified. I am always raving about how Dean Lloyd Robinson is the master of burying his vocal behind his noise, so it is still a vocal, but also part of the noise – he did that to the full. At one point he was joined by Richard of Unyielding Love and the two as a duo was impressive. Dean’s vocal became less coherent and noisy at one point, so it was pure noise. A melody then enters the set towards the end and he appeared to sing for a time, before it all broke down to noise and shouting again, this was strong how he just did it, successfully weaving it into the set. Knifedoutofexistence alone is strong, backed by the rise of his label Outsider Art, Llloyd Robinson has surrounded himself by similar thinking Harsh Noise and Power Electronics artists old and new that forms a new chapter in the History of the movement (I am aware there are many chapter’s occurring). This set was an intense, dramatic finale to the end of the night.


Often at these sorts of busy gig line ups there will be a bad act, or someone who isn’t as good as the others – this wasn’t the case here. All six acts were different and strong in their delivery making it one of the best noise gigs that I have ever been to.

Coventry Soul 2021.

Artist Links:

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Wolvestribe Interview.


Wolvestribe are a UK Power Electronics duo that have been actively releasing since 2018, they are London based consisting of KSHAYAATH and HTV. They have released on The Harsh Noise London label and produced Lathe Cut vinyls and CDs on their own AAARRRG! I have reviewed several releases on here and feel Wolvestribe is a leading light amongst an impressive cluster of new artists exploring Power Electronics in the UK. I was fortunate enough to interview the duo by email in 2021.

NK - Introduce yourselves, what were your backgrounds in noise, I know one of you does ANIMAL MACHINE and other projects, what led you both to combine as WOLVESTRIBE.

KSHAYAATH: Electronics/Mantras & Harry HTV Westwood: Electronics

KSHAYAATH: I like to keep my projects apart from each other, I like people to feel the music and visualize the idea.  Every project has its own mood. I only keep constructing on the names appearing. Too many bastardized foetuses on the road.

I've been doing industrial music since 1997, I always had the idea of a band with industrial elements (industrial metal) too many tries and fails, difficult in finding the right people with AATMAA... So, I decided to go alone as solo a project ANIMAL MACHINE, it was basically experimental music after all (unclassified) with elements of Industrial music and gabber electronics (breakcore/speed core) that fusion became later noise.

In January 2017 I met LOU (PURE LAND) while doing noise gigs at Destroy All Artifacts. We decided to combine forces and name this new project WOLVESTRIBE. There is a live set released in recycled tape by Harsh Noise London. Louis left to join a sludge metal band.

In December 2018 I was hanging out with NEO FUNG, my crazy vampire friend from Holloway Road and I met Harry at the Headsquater Paradise.

HTV is a guy with a lot of passion for the old school analog /industrial Dada and punk. He was playing some filthy drones that evening, so we decided to fix a day to record some music.

There is a lot of chemistry between us, perhaps our brains have different directions but when we clash it's like being in the battlefield. Power electronics is more fun as a duo.

HTV: Hi and thanks for your interest in such a disposable and ephemeral phenomenon as WOLVESTRIBE.

We met as was described above: in my location, during the photo session. soon after we noticed that we just have similar ongoing interest in all sorts of subversive sounds. We are improvised formation, which allows loads of freedom. We are also very triggered by raw noise, which is not generated by PC, all sort of stark archaic machines are used in our sessions.

Your answer 'perhaps our brains have different directions but when we clash it's like being in the battlefield' is revealing as I find the sound of Wolvestribe to be combative, so this translates into the music fluidly? Do you ever discuss what you are both going to do, or does it happen?

KSHAYAATH: Not much to discuss, we try to compose a set, but it always ends on free fall.

Wolvestribe live. 

Tell me more about the themes of Wolvestribe, what are the motivations?

KSHAYAATH: WOLVESTRIBE is into ritualism, geo-politics & survivalism "Understanding the Ecological Role.”

We are aware of the mental conditioning. We keep coming back and forward to the old rituals, the old plagues, the crescent wars...  We sink and breath these paradigms of a thousand years and repeat it again and again.

Our motivation works like a mirror, the mind versus the environment, like painting thru necromancy envisioning our future... the decaying civilization.

HTV - Pretty much everything we are shaped by listed above bands and general culture from where we derive our inspirations. Films above books and music we listen to are the source of our inspiration. While WOLVESTRIBE is more visceral where vocal is more an instrument, driven thru raw noise, remaining honest and devoted to noise.

Therefore. we are out of sync, a raw chaotic outburst of unpredictability and if you listen to our “The Early Years “, you can sense that exactly.

How do you feel about the Earth, are you personally eco-friendly, what is your outlook in relation to how we treat the Earth? I ask as I am big on this in terms of recycling, reusing, using biodegradable, non-animal tested products, locally sourced as much as possible and veganism.

KSHAYAATH: I would say is the hypocrite way to brand yourself again. In fact, most of the people are not deeply preoccupated about the planet, people are concerned about their future in this planet. Mother nature can survive without us.

Respect is everything, we need to respect ourselves to start respecting each other’s and the planet. Recycling, reusing, using biodegradable, non-animal tested products, veganism is a form of respecting nature. I'm aware of my mistakes ...there are not saints these days... sometimes we have to go the way we don't want for the sake of survival.

You're from London, how does the massive, busy environment of the city affect your work? The reissue of your first recording on Harsh Noise London had a Tower Block on the cover, in my eyes this resonated Wolvestribe?

Kshayaath: London is one of the world's most amazing cities. This city has its own spirit, a living organism erected from alchemy, modern days of multi-cultural expansion and the bloody past. So, it gives us a best way for understanding the world we are living in.

Tower Block on the cover was idea of Mike Onabanjo Harsh Noise London president. He started that crazy series with glitch photography He collected from the city.

HTV: Yes, obviously this has got lots of to do from many sides.

Wolvestribe - Understanding the Ecological Role - Lathe Cut Vinyl - AAARRRG! 2019.

How many times have you played live as Wolvestribe? What has the live response to the project been like?

KSHAYAATH:: Sadly, we didn't have the opportunity to play much but people seem to like the music. We are happy we can express that way; we are not meant to be popular. It's mostly around friends... we also do not relate much to power electronics or noise scene, even if there is a furtive past.

There is too much politics and still too many taboos for free-doom, we prefer to walk dead, it sounds pretty autistic, but We feel it's the way to survive. But far off our introverted visions, we are always happy to meet new people and projects and build something together.

Yet difficult... we get fun making music, it's our hobby not a job.

HTV - Like you can sense it from this what is written, bent on very stark, archaic my fav world is amphibious sound which is a sheer outburst of unpredictability. Dada, punk art etc.

We are constantly evolving I guess our noise sounds dynamic as it is not killed by high tech innovations also that dissatisfaction derived after listening to many great acts which were previously devoted to noise and now playing music it is a big contribution to our desire as well as dissatisfaction from over performed rock music which is no more punk.

Tell me more about your phrase free-doom.

KSHAYAATH - free-doom as free fall, like start or end point. Now you can see it more easily, it's amplified around the world. As We come, we go.

You talked about sounding pretty autistic in regard to how close you keep and control Wolvestribe. Yet as a reviewer, you are part of a new now with PE a wider picture that people should be paying attention to and checking out. If people want to talk PE, like Unrest is, I am a huge advocate for now and point people your way.

Do any names of present-day PE stand out to you, do you feel you have any affinity out there with other projects or is it that centralised?

KSHAYAATH: I'm more into Old school 90's, Class 2000 Industrial stuff not necessarily Power Electronics. Some names like Brighter Death Now, Institut, Mental Destruction, Folkstorm, Karjalan Sissit, Shift ... In the U.K. I've had to dig S.T.A.B. Electronics, Messiah Complex.

Perhaps there is affinity, these projects are living their own movie.

HTV: At least from my side I want to be a laboratory and very amphibious in selections of sound. First recordings of THROBBING GRISTLE and WHITEHOUSE are big influence for me .so do CRASS and CONSUMER ELECTRONICS.

Your most recent release 'The Mind Responds to Its Environment Much Like a Body Turning Away' seems sharpened compared to the earlier material as if aiming to be more torturous and punishing, tell me more about this release and your intentions behind it.?

Kshayaath: There are not intentions, we just let it to the flow ...everything is instinctive, all recording have something special for us. We are focused on unique pieces. Most likely live improvisation and some studio releases. 'The Mind Responds to Its Environment Much Like a Body Turning Away' has a ritualistic display. It sounds more into noise; we got some nice takes from it.

Harry likes to use different machines and pedals for each recording and in this one he was a bit pissed off.

HTV: I don't know how it sounds, so far, we are meeting/jamming/recording after KSHAYAATH is doing the rest.

I'm often positively surprised by the outcome. I just do noise; I don't have much control on whole aesthetic neither. Desiring it totally.

Your recent work also seems to use noise to effectively create 'other' atmospheres as if you are channelling the environment or the earth through your work? When the noise isn't roaring or blasting what are your intentions? I ask this as you have slowly evolved as being able to use quieter noise to strong effect.

Kshayaath: The planet is a living organism, and we are just part of it... sure our mind, body and soul is being soaked in a vagina. The spirit of Earth. We are some kind of fucking microbes... viruses killing and loving each other in a cycle of death and rebirth...

I would say after the storm comes tranquillity or vice versa... It's what we have on the plate, days and nights...So there is evidence of that in our music. Music doesn't need to be necessarily noise or going extremely loud to fulfil a cause. Music is just another way of communication. The energy (vibration) is around us, so we are only casualties. We joint waves and leave the sea to tell the story.

HTV: I would like WOLVESTRIBE to be more cohesive formation in terms of message and aesthetic we convey. We will use noise as weapon more effectively in the future but like you can sense it from this what was said we just Jam and recently we do this very rarely, sadly.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Inner Demons Records #13 - The Interview.

As many of you will know by now, I am a huge Inner Demons Records fan, I have a huge collection of their 3" CDRs that they have released. I spoke with label owner and curator Dan Fox. As well as Inner Demons, Dan has many projects including Fail, If, Loss and This is What I Hear When You Talk. 


What was your intro to noise/HNW/PE?

ID: I'm not sure I had a proper introduction.  When I was a teen I started getting into punk and industrial rock and metal.  At the same time, I was starting to experiment with electronics and noise, but didn't have much money.  This was in the early/mid 1990s.  I had an Alesis SR-16, a child-sized broken bass guitar that my brother had given up on, and a small Crate practice amp that was given to me by an ex-girlfriend.  The amp was for guitar, and it had a fairly aggressive distortion that was triggered by a small switch.  I always had the distortion on.  The drum machine sounded great through the distortion, and so did the bass.  By the time I got the bass, it only had the 2 lowest strings left.  I tuned one of them down, so it was just flapping and scraping on the pickup and played simple bass lines.  I had no proper recording gear, so I used my stereo and a boom box.  I would record drums onto the boom box, put the tape into the stereo, and arrange the boom box, stereo speaker, and guitar amp so I could play the drums back while I recorded bass.  I'd place the boom box mic, stereo speaker, and amp so that the box would be able to record the stereo and amp at the same time.  And there you have broke-ass multi-tracking.

I guess the shorter answer would be that I started making it before I knew it was a thing.  i started getting into noise, pe and rhythmic noise a few years later.  I liked the sound of power electronics, but I really didn't care for the content and imagery.  At first, I thought it was just silly, or even parodic.  As I got to know some of those guys socially, I began to discover that it was not parody at all.  This was serious stuff that was being glorified by some seriously shitty people.  I soon severed my ties to those people and focused on creating and consuming projects with my own interests at heart.  Luckily, there's a ton of it to be found.

What were your motivations for starting Inner Demons Records, which I believe stretches back to 2004?

ID: I started IDR originally to release some of my own material without the potential regret I would have after working with someone abhorrent.  The first Loss and FAIL releases were on IDR I named the label after my lifelong battle with severe mental illness.  I sometimes refer to myself as "we" when referring to the label - my demons and I.  I didn't concentrate on my own material for long, as the 3rd IDR release was by a great noise project from Spain.  I put the label on hold for a long time due to some massive setbacks, and when I restarted it with a definite agenda.  I only want to work with good people from now on, and I want to release great audio by great people.  The label is very d.i.y. and transparent about any motives I may have.  IDR is a safe place to release ones art without fear of being judged for who one is, as long as one is not a scumbag.  I like as much diversity as I can get on the label.  I started by asking friends for material, but now most of the discs I release are from people that have sought me out and sent in submissions.  In order to work with the label one must agree to the (kinda lengthy) rules that I have.  I handle the art myself, keeping with a specific aesthetic.  I want great looking releases that can be skimmed through without having to skim overused pictures of naziism, WWII atrocities, rape, deadly accidents, or some dude eating poop.  It's everywhere, it's boring, and I have no room for that on my label.  I also think it's very important for new artists to have a place like IDR to get started.  I have some regrets about my past associations and made some mistakes early on, and I want to have a nice, clean, safe place for left-leaning artists to show what they can do.

Without using the themes you mentioned and adhering to the aesthetics you spoke of,, the label is still  interesting and unique, what sound wise, tends to make you give the ok to artists, what are you looking for sonically?

ID: I don't really "look" for anything.  I listen to each track of each submission, and if I like it and think the world needs to hear it, I'll release it.  It also makes a difference whether the artist has a strong connection to the material.  I like releases that were therapeutic in some nature to the person who created it, in the hope that it may help someone else down the line.

Inner Demons has a very strong visual aesthetic with the distinctive artwork and consistent 3"CDR format what were the motivations behind that?

ID: i have always liked the 3" format, and I think that's an excellent format for noise.  Personally, I tend to enjoy recorded noise in smaller doses.  Live shows are great and I rarely it's "too much", but when I'm listening, I like the harsher stuff in smaller doses.  My ears don't get as tired, and I tend to enjoy everything a little more.

As for the art, I do have a particular method.  I tried to design packaging that I could ship inexpensively, while still looking good.  I experimented with different coloured papers and painted the discs, but that became a ridiculously laborious process with a lot of steps that could ruin everything, causing me to start over.  I also had many problems regarding the quality of the paper and how well it held the toner.  I only have access to a single black laser printer, so that is why I don't print in more colours.  I try to make a product that's instantly recognizable as an IDR disc.  I start with a photo I have taken at some point, and screw with the image until it has more of a textural feel to it than a straight up image.  I don't want the focus on the art or packaging anyway.  I don't complete any part of the process without the approval of the artists.  If I don't end up with something that all involved parties are happy with then I just haven't done the right thing.

Of your own projects that I have reviewed Loss and This is What I Hear When you Talk really stood out to me. This Is What I Hear When You Talk seems to really get inside HNWalls and often deconstruct them. Can you tell me more about both projects?

ID: Well, Loss is by far the most complex and emotionally draining for me.  It's the most "serious" music I do, with every track being about something specific.  Most are about people, events, ways of thinking, and moods.  It takes an insane amount of work, but the temporary relief that comes upon completion of a track is nice.  I believe Loss is also the project one should listen to if one wants to get a peek inside my head.  It's ruthlessly emotional for me, and I believe that often comes across to the listener.  I started the project after a bad end to a long relationship, so the first Loss 3" is all about that.  Most of the Loss releases have a theme.  TIWIHWYT is entirely different.  While Loss is all multi-tracked and takes at least months to complete a song, TIWIHWYT is all done live to my DAW, with no editing.  These can be about anything or nothing.  The early tracks were just experimenting, then I decided to kind of go with my own definition of what a wall can be.  SOME of the stuff I do with the project can be classified as HNW, but I call them "Non-Interactive Texture Walls (Intense Topics)", or NITWITs.  One thing all of the tracks have in common is that once I get a setup that I like for a new track I don't touch it at all when it's recording.  Other than that, the actual style is all over the place.  I think of them as emotional walls while building them, and once I think I have a pretty good audible representation of the inside of my head at that given moment I hit record.  Lately I have been doing some ritual-type material in an attempt to help me through the grieving process after losing someone I love.

The label stretches right back to 2004 goes through to 2006, goes quiet for a decade and then in 2016 you returned with a good amount of solid releases each year, what was the story behind this?

Wow, that was a heck of a decade.  Essentially, my life was forced into a meat grinder.  I moved constantly, was usually in terrible relationships, suffered from severe mental health problems and poverty, and became disabled.  Also my house burned down.

How did the first boxes happen – Conure (2018) and Mai12 (2018) , I feel these were a massive expansion on the Inner Demons format. I was familiar with Karl of Mai 12 from previous reviews so I bought both and was amazed at having 4 discs of Mai12 and the complexity and scale of the Conure box.?

The first box set was for Nightmare Park.  I liked the material that he sent me, but I'm pretty sure there was too much for one or two 3"s.  I looked online at what I had for options, and he and I pretty much developed the box set idea together.  I always work closely with the noisicians while working on the art, so it was an easy process.

The Conure box set is nuts.  There's a ton of material in there, spanning a lot of noise genres, and it's all good.  Mark had tons of notes and specifics about most of the tracks, so it became this massive 12-disc set with a ton of information.

This is a cheeky side question that comes off question 1 - You said you started making noise before you knew what it was, I am always curious to ask anyone what were the gateway releases for you that hooked you into noise or peaked your interest?

I think the first album that really got the noise idea stuck in my head was probably Ain't It Dead Yet? by Skinny Puppy.  I know that's not a "noise" album, but they did use a lot of noise and ambience in their music, especially in intros and segues, and they usually had one track composed of chaos.  Many other albums have had major influence on me since, but that was the first one.

You have now done three Tuckfrump releases under This is What I Hear When You Talk, how do you feel now Trump is no longer the president of the USA.

I like the guy.  Did you get the impression I don't like him?

I think I just threw up a little.  I still despise him and eagerly await his death, which I hope will be painful, public, and extended.

What are your future plans for the label.

My future plans for IDR...  Well, more of the same.  I'm currently working on the next batch of releases after a long break.

Army of One 2021.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Blackcloudsummoner, Wet Mirror and Itching.

Nottingham Noise – a recent round up of works by Blackcloudsummoner and Itching.

Itching is from the same creator (Henry Davies) as the Nacht Und Nebel project and Blackcloudsummoner like Itching is a Nottingham, UK based project. There have been 17 Blackcloudsummoner releases (including splits) and four Itching releases and two compilation appearances. Both have played many live shows around the UK in recent years. All releases in this review are available in physical and digital from the links above.

Itching – Itching – Cassette/Download – Self Released – 2020.

As Nacht und Nebel came to an end, Henry started the project Itching. After a couple of compilation appearances, he has recently released Itching’s first six track cassette. It was common for Nacht und Nebel to frequently self-release cassettes as well as working with many other labels, Itching continues the self-releasing tradition.

The album begins with lone cat purrs as all the sounds are constructed from field recordings of different cats purring. This is immediately intensified through the sound treatment of the purrs and multiplication of different purrs on top of one another. As the sounds echo and resonate, they create a powerful mass which at times is cut into with other purrs or distorted to alter the core sound, allowing it to shift far from its original sound identity and become a variety of pulsating noises. At first the notion of Purrs may sound strange, but Nacht und Nebel was created from treated Cello sounds and experimental is as experimental does. This is the same methods used to continue making strong distinctive noise which is unique and very well thought out. This is pushed and used to full effect to create a wide range of varying sound pieces held together by the frequent fall back to pure purr.

I am also impressed by the noise pyrotechnics demonstrated as they rise and fall back down to a recognisable purr before warping off somewhere else. This is a strong, impressive debut release.

Itching & Blackcloudsummoner – CDR/Download – Self Released – 2020.

Itching (as Nacht und Nebel) and Blackcloudsummoner have played live together and toured the UK with Luxury Mollusc in recent years. They have also collaborated on several split releases in the past. This is the first collaboration with Henry performing as Itching. There are two twenty-minute tracks on this release they are ‘Hunks of Spoiling Flesh on Disintegrating Bones’ and ‘Setting the Body to ‘NO’’.

The sound of this release compared to the Itching tape is darker. It echoes a lot as the sounds build and multiply up from lone purrs. Feedback begins to cut into it as the storm is in full flight. The titles are negative, as are the sounds – both combined build this feeling perfectly. At times, the sound really erupts and crackles as if falling apart or in pain, even the warm rumble of Itching’s sound sources at times blasts like a roaring pit as the volume and distortion rise.

Small details become apparent whenever the sound eases off, tiny clicks and chipping sounds. The happiness of the purr comes through the darkness of the noise– all these details give it other aspects of sounds and moods. making the quieter parts of the album as important as the heavier passages, they also lighten the moods that have built up across the split. In contrast to this, play it on a lower volume and it churns a lot more darkness at you - strange that.

I like this album, both artists combine to form a perfect whole. Each of them has a strong track record that continues here to make for an exceptionally good album. Looking back this is one of my top 2020 releases but can’t say that officially as I only got it last week in April 2021.

Blackcloudsummoner – Ugly Inside – Cassette/Download – Self Released – 2020.

Ugly Inside is the 15th Blackcloudsummoner release, there has been a steady flow of releases on Tape and CDR since 2017. Blackcloudsummoner has been reviewed several times on this blog over recent years.

The album starts with a track called Rusty cage; I am keen to point this track out as it sees the quirky charm of the project shining through. The organ like loops throb whilst sounding mournful, creating a distorted, hybrid funeral soundtrack. This plays out on a bed of distortion as sounds go off in the background as if a child’s keyboard is being used as a jam instrument. This feels like early noise/PE through its’ raw production whilst being cut into through the playfulness of the keyboard sounds.

The sound seems to melt for Faceless Ghost and starts to scrape, splutter and screech. Despite this, the sound refuses to die, despite this there are glimpses of beauty that shine through via quirkiness of the noise that makes this project unique. What’s established here is a negative blast that is the sound of death and that carries through into Music Like Escaping Blood which starts as a background conversation of sounds that suddenly erupts. This too has epic rises of noise punctuated by beautiful oddness.

A display of Death Synth resonance forms Ugly Inside, this echoes and marvels at itself until punctuated by screeches and clangs of metal. The mix to this really restrains it, so it radiates a distanced ambience and more beauty flows through because of this.

This is an outstanding release.

Wet Mirror – CDR/Download – Self Released – 2021.

Wet Mirror is a new project that is a collaboration between Andrew from Blackcloudsummoner and Territorial Gobbing from Leeds. I will confess I have not heard Territorial Gobbing before.

Of the four releases this one along with Itching really stands out on it’s own. The sound sources Territorial Gobbing uses are equally unique:

Recordings of water and cycling through mud manipulated on reel-to-reel and Dictaphones, guitar, vocals, floor tom, objects (on floor tom or otherwise), synth and live manipulations of a Capitol Hill riot livestream.

The cover is from a collage made from illustrations in a 1970s prison newspaper called Nepa News, this was a short-lived prison newspaper that had articles written by prisoners. It discussed the conditions they were kept in; their treatment in prison, their rights and it ran for 18 issues from 1973 – 1975. There is a link to pdfs of each issue above, it makes for impressive reading of prison conditions of the times. This is coupled with interior art by Blackcloudsummoner, I can’t ask for more. Blackcloudsummoner does a zine called Baked Arcana that is well worthy of inspection.

The sounds on this recording are as you can imagine, interesting. A lot of it is done quietly, so sounds communicate with space and depth created by the quiet. At times it is like Small Cruel Party and Spoils and Relics nasty, distant cousin, at other times it radiates beauty. Like all of the releases in this review, it is its own thing. Even the noisier pieces go off on their own tangent.

This warped lockdown recording is very ‘out there’, an obscure gem.

Army of One 2021.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

.:.GIVING VOICE TO VELVET RAGE.:. Expressions of Queer Identity in Noise, by Thomas Boettner


Expressions of Queer Identity in Noise

by Thomas Boettner

Dedicated to the memories of Jaime Carrera, John Barber & Antonio Urdiales

Straight Panic/Monowolf Split - Liberation Not Assimalation - Black Ring Rituals Records 2015.

Part I:  Why You Never Became a Dancer

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” —Aristotle

As time goes by, the argument for representational art seems to come up more frequently as society grows more aware of intersectional struggles and forms of identity. The Gamergate and Sad Puppies scandals both grew out of reactionary movements towards diversity in the video game and science-fiction worlds, respectively. Even Vox recently ran a piece illustrating why Diego Luna‘s Mexican accent was important within the Star Wars universe. Rewind the clock back a decade, however, and representation looked far less widespread than it does today.

When I first started to bill my Fire Island, AK project as “queer noise,” I was pushing against several walls all at once. The venues in my South Carolina hometown were not used to much more than cover bands, bar rock, and nu-metal. Throwing a sexual/political identifier into the mix probably didn’t help, but at the time it felt like the best an angry fag in the South could manage; the mass amounts of Marx, Butler, Lenin, Hocquenghem, and Foucault I had ingested probably didn’t help either. By this point in my artistic development, I had already discovered, and become bored by, most punk. The Mukilteo Fairies, Huggy Bear, and Limp Wrist were good starting points, but Crass boasts more full-length albums than those three combined. The painfully earnest, disjointed pop sensibilities of Xiu Xiu hold far more sway in my mind than Elton John or Freddie Mercury. Anhoni was still performing with the Johnsons, but even their Romantic balladry felt too safe an outlet. I attempted to perform at the first ever Pride event in my hometown, but was deemed “too aggressive” to perform.

As a latecomer to noise, I was voraciously devouring what I could find. Wolf Eyes hit my radar in 2006, but it took another two years before I got led towards Whitehouse, Prurient, Sutcliffe Jügend, and Non. Unfortunately, idealism left me wanting. While power electronics, as a genre, frequents the use of sadomasochistic imagery as a means of reflecting society’s own misogyny, inherent violence, and sexual addiction back upon itself, there is also an extremely boring amount of heterosexual fantasy bundled together with the aesthetic language. Where was the harsh noise sibling to Plague Mass? Surely somewhere out there was a History of AIDS from someone who lived through the height of the epidemic.

Thanks to the social magic of MySpace, DList, and the still-young Facebook, I managed to slowly string together some contacts and names. Richard Ramirez was one of the first major queer noise artists I was able to discover, and in true noise fashion, he agreed to do a split with me simply by merit of asking. His work in the fields of HNW and harsh noise still continues to be at the forefront of what could arguably fall into the “queer noise” category; what does such a designation say, though? Is it the noise itself that is queer? In Queer Theory, then yes, since noise takes the approach towards “music” by resignifying and subverting the definition and presentation thereof. However, I want to stick with “queer” as a means of saying not heterosexual, not cisgendered. I want to look at artists that share, in a certain sense, a camaraderie beyond genre. This is not to say that such artists are willing (or able) to be pigeonholed, however.

Where I tend to view my own work as political by nature, Richard Ramirez disagrees. “I don’t see [my work] as political,” he writes, though he does affirm that his work under his name, and that of Black Leather Jesus, are “explicitly gay themed.” The same way straight men’s aesthetic language often trends toward the female form, Ramirez’s own leanings are what have informed his work’s aesthetics. “For many years […], I would see other artists use pornographic images of women. I didn’t see any of men at that time. I decided to use pornographic images of men then and continue to do so.” In a genre that so often flirts with shock tactics, there is a sincerity to his presentation which is refreshing, albeit still encoded with innuendo and symbolism that is probably lost on certain parts of the audience.

Black Leather Jesus live at Hospital Festival, New York.

Ramirez’s husband, Sean Ramirez-Matzus, takes a much more straightforward approach, however. His art and politics are intrinsically linked, regardless of whether he’s performing as Bog Queen (a duo with Ramirez, separate from their Obsession project), A Week of Kindness, Shudder of Anguish, or any of his myriad other projects (most of which fall under the HNW category). “My work is extremely political. I am extremely political,” he explains. “But the work is not always easy to read. I have a tendency to be obtuse and abstract, but it all comes from a very politically charged place. […] I’m from a rather old way of thinking, that all experimental art is inherently political. In my world, I can no more be separated from my queerness and the political struggles inherent therein than I could be without consequences separated from my arm or leg. It is me. It is at the core of who I am.” Ramirez-Matzus’s most (overtly) political work is arguably still the Pink Triangle Series:  a succession of cassette releases curated from various queer artists focused on, as he explains, “agitprop protest against the preachers and politicians of hate on the American and international stages.” While many of the Pink Triangle Series releases had different performers, and each its own subject, the aesthetic language and design was all Ramirez-Matzus’s own, thus generating a unified statement of intention and resistance.

Subtlety has a time and place, however. Each Straight Panic show I perform includes a prominently displayed pink triangle flag. Surprisingly, I get questions regarding its usage and meaning. Some audience members simply don’t recognize the symbol (frightening), while others have made accusations of Fascist politics (disheartening). I like to imagine that Nebraska’s Plack Blague receives far fewer inquiries. Decked from head to toe in studded leather, Raws’s project stands out as a one-man industrial / EBM powerhouse, mixing the energy (and draw) of a dance party with the aggression of industrial and power electronics. What the Daily Nebraskan calls “scandalous,” Raws calls “100% in-your-face homoerotic!” Moving beyond spectacle, Plack Blague is “basically forcing any audience to interact with a gay man. […] All [the] songs are about homosexual interactions, people, and personal experiences.” His willingness to mix threatening aesthetics with humor draws on the absurdist nature of noise itself, juxtaposing what is too often a staunchly serious genre against theatrical performance. “I’m a constant target for ridicule from the general public,” Raws admits, “which is a constant reminder to be more gay than ever.” 

Straight Panic

This desire to engage the audience is a driving force for many queer artists, among them Brooklyn’s Michael Foster (the New York Review of Cocksucking, the Ghost). Foster describes his own improvised/free jazz as a “conscious effort to present more overtly queer work.” The driving motivation is a mixture of a “response to the lack of queer visibility in various experimental music scenes,” as well as “a personal challenge to come to a more embodied and autonomous concept of my own queer identity and practice in relation to my work.” Foster echoes Ramirez-Matzus and Plack Blague when asked about any political nature his work may or may not have. “I think it’s impossible to make apolitical work when we live in a highly politicized society,” Foster continues, stating that “I see being queer as radical because it rejects the heteronormative concept of binary sexuality/gender/etc., in favor of something that is personal, indeterminate, fluctuating, and autonomous while (hopefully) promoting a concept of compassion, sensitivity, and community that defies basic categorization.”

Michael Foster (Photo by Peter Gannushkin)

This notion of community is what led me to connect with two “rising stars” of the contemporary scene. Forbidden Colors (Enrique Hernandez, San Francisco) and Dreamcrusher (Luwayne Glass, NYC) have both received a fairly impressive amount of coverage in their own cities in relatively short time periods; both are queer people-of-color, and both tend towards an abstraction of dance music. I’ve had the pleasure of getting both on a compilation (Trigger Warning, FMLR 2016), and Forbidden Colors is also on a double-cassette, four-way release with Richard Ramirez, Body Stress, and Straight Panic (Deviant, Moral Defeat 2016).

 Forbidden Colors, Black Leather Jesus, Straight Panic, Body Stress - Deviant. (Split Cassette Moral Defeat- 2016)

Their shared confluence of identifiers continually informs the work they create, especially in a live setting. Where Forbidden Colors sets the stage with “Santeria Candles, field recordings, and ‘found footage’-style video, […] physical interaction with the audience using empty PReP bottles,” Dreamcrusher is much more visceral on a tactile level. “I feel that because my music is so aggressive, and my stage presence is confrontational, that it makes me and what I make innately political and queer driven.” Glass explains, “No matter what, this body is under constant scrutiny and observation. Sometimes it overshadows how I express myself and why.” That level of scrutiny drives the physical confrontation that has made Dreamcrusher shows infamous, however. “When people see me setting up to perform, they have these set up stereotypes in their head—whether they have merit or not—that I know white queer noise people never have to deal with. Finding commonality with other queer folks gets grayish because of that, but other trans*/genderqueer performers I know get misgendered just as often as I do.” Hernandez is equally as conscious of the way in which audience perceptions taint ability and talent: “I feel like it’s necessary to give another narrative to the predominantly straight, white male gaze that is so common within a lot of extreme music. […] Being queer is a political stance. As a queer latinx person, I feel like my projects are another channel to vent my frustration and feelings regarding our current climate.”

As is often the case with extreme and experimental art, the confines of the physical body have long served as a source of inspiration and frustration. From Vito Acconci’s Seedbed to Chris Burden’s Shoot, to the body modification of Australia’s STELARC, the physical boundaries of the body have often served as a veritable playground for artistic expression and exploration. Transgender artists are no exception, and understandably so. Without minimizing anyone’s experience, there remains a strange postmodern element to the social/cultural understanding of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Eames Armstrong (D.C./Brooklyn) has been treading similar strange grounds with their mix of ritual harsh noise and performance art wherein they’ll “often do actions that are blatantly about gender—chest-binding, make myself a cock out of whatever, and sexuality—stick stuff in my pants or in my mouth, take off my clothes, get bound up, leak fluids. […] It’s ultimately about reinforcing the body as a process of coming together, falling apart, reconfiguring, collapsing, becoming and becoming. I came to making noise through a more body-based performance practice so it’s no surprise that my work is shaped by and against the particularities of my physical and social body.” Though Armstrong is just as wary of being labelled a “Trans* Artist”:  “There is a danger in reading work simply through perceived aspects of a person’s identity—it runs the risk of really missing what the person is doing or saying in favor of a simpler more stereotypical interpretation.” Their aversion to initially identifying as trans* was, understandably, informed by the fear that the identity “would function as an endpoint explanation of my work, even if it really was a big influence[.]”

In regards to sheer frustration, however, Sonia Dietrich (BRUT) holds nothing back, in either her work or her motivations. Though, as far as her work as BRUT is concerned, being “political” is less an aesthetic than a way of life in as much as one “can be queer but only on this spectrum, you can be an activist but only to ‘this’ point. You can fuck who you want but don’t talk about it. It’s the ‘I have a gay friend, I am cool, I am an ally’” mentality. “[M]ake people uncomfortable, you are too much,” Dietrich says. “No one wants to hear about the history of gay rights and that nothing really changes and that politics are moving backwards.” Arguably, in contemporary America, the argument she makes is difficult to dismiss. For-profit prisons, militarized police, police brutality, and rising tides of fascist activity all make for a rather bleak landscape, especially for people who already find themselves on the margins of “polite society.” While openly/primarily a project focused on women and women-identified people, BRUT stands proudly as a statement of political intent. Dietrich is pretty straightforward with the admission that she’s “just fucking angry! […] I think the accurate answer would be that there is a choice to be queer and political and dedicate life to the resistance, speak up and fight back. […] But one thing has to be clear, to them you are still different.”

Part II: Interior, Noise Show

The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representative of the oppressing class are to represent and oppress them.”—Karl Marx

The date is March 28, 2015. After much positioning, ideological arguing, and pleading, Straight Panic is finally set to perform at a queer arts’ space in Minneapolis. Despite a seemingly stacked bill in an underground space, most of the meager audience turns out to be staples in the noise scene, and hardly any of the general LGBTQ+ crowd that normally attend their themed dance parties. The space makes their money back, the hosts are pleased by how polite and accommodating the audience is, and by all accounts, the show is a success. I wonder what they were expecting otherwise. More so, I wonder where my intended demographic was.

The high profiles generated by G.L.O.S.S. and Laura-Jane Grace (Against Me!) are tentatively inspiring. Seeing a basement show packed with queer and trans* kids is a welcome change from basements of predominantly straight white men clad in black (no offense, noise bros). After G.L.O.S.S. played Minneapolis in late 2015, I noticed that more trans* people began slowly showing up in my own audiences. Once a space had been made, once people saw that they were just as welcome as anyone else in the “underground,” then they began to feel comfortable enough to venture out to shows. I won’t claim that all of them understood (or enjoyed) the shows, but a few were struck enough to talk to me afterwards, and a couple even picked up some tapes. The general consensus I was able to gather from these limited interactions was that Straight Panic was an affirming, empowering project that gave queer audience members a sense of belonging, strength, and power. As an artist, that kind of conversation is worth more than any merch sale.

Sonia Dietrich (BRUT) is not far off though, when she points out that “it’s a two-sided stick. Queers don’t come out to performances in fear of rejection or ‘persecution,’ but promoters don’t invite them, or just stick to the typical fifteen bands they have on [rotation]. And what do we get? Same festival […] in different countries of same bands promoting new albums or old once reissued.” When the acts are aggressively queer, the audience tends to follow suit; or at least logic would seem to imply as much. Perhaps, by its nature, extreme music is continuing to “queer the pitch” by being difficult and challenging. On the face, the whole notion sounds discriminatory, but the notion of “queer spaces for queer bodies” is still valid. Over the week of Mardi Gras, three transwomen of color were murdered in a 48-hour period in New Orleans; eight transwomen of color have been murdered this year alone. Mike Pence is Vice President, and queer people all over America are watching with bated breath as their newly acquired strides towards recognized social equality waver in the political breeze. Or to put a different spin on it:  Some male-oriented gay bars still have what are known as “Berlin rules,” wherein certain hours/days/rooms are only accessible to men. The issue isn’t one of misogyny, but rather one of community—a space apart from the general melting pot of society to connect, interact, or unwind.

I’m reminded of a story, relayed anecdotally to me by Dolores Dewberry. Hirsute Pursuit performed in Minneapolis, MN during PRIDE week 2013. Despite being a pretty straightforward industrial project, where the beat is very front and center, I remember the utter dejection that came with her admission that the show was under-attended, and generally ignored or maligned by the queer community (which is superficially shocking, considering how highly the Minneapolis “leather community” regards itself). What is it that makes a drag show and beer bust (weekly occurrences) more intriguing than supporting actual queer art? Safety? Predictability? Comfort?

Sean Ramirez-Matzus (A Week of Kindness, Black Leather Jesus, An Innocent Young Throat Cutter) has a similar story from his own performance history. “[Richard Ramirez] and I did an Obsession performance at a famous leather bar that was, in the eighties and nineties, a big part of the Houston industrial scene. Dream gig for us. It did not go over well. At all.” The admission seems, initially, like the expected outcome (what with it being Texas and all), but shouldn’t queer spaces be more open to queer art, regardless of its easy digestibility? Compared to Raws’s (Plack Blague’s) own performance last year at the Eagle Tavern in San Francisco, as part of the “Folsom Street Fair Pre-Party,” the case could be made that it’s less the type of bar than it is the geographic location. Raws admits that he never thought Plack Blague “would even be considered […], and it really showed that gays want interesting entertainment and more than just pop stars and boring DJs.” Or at least they do in the Bay area.

Black Leather Jesus (Live at Hospital Festival, NY)

I remain unconvinced. The Minneapolis EagleBolt liked to brag that it was a leather bar, but every time I put Slayer on the jukebox they’d skip the track. The usual music of choice?  Broadway showtunes. My own efforts to book Plack Blague, operating on the assumption that the prestige of the San Francisco Eagle would be enough to influence the Minneapolis EagleBolt, were met with the delayed, disinterested response of “we don’t really do shows.” To be fair, Minneapolis does not want for venues, but there’s a certain allure to being able to perform in a gay bar, when you’re a gay artist. Somehow the adage about leading horses to water seems, while appropriate, also inverted.

Even stranger still is the fact that almost every queer artist I know is very aware of the early influences that queer people had on electronic music, experimental music, the avant-garde, techno, etc. Kenneth Oblivion (Contact Low) has been making self-described “doom electronics” in Montana, and asserts that “[queerness has] always been a part of the scene. From Jhonn Balance and [Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson], to Richard Ramirez, we’ve always been here and we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.” COIL, Throbbing Gristle, Patrick Cowley, Merce Cunningham, even the most mainstream of all, David Bowie, were all not only innovators and influencers in their stylistic fields, but openly queer, and more than willing to play with gender roles and sexuality for the sake of their own art. So where’s the audience, and does it matter?

Contact Low - With You I Shall Fear the Light No More.

There is no real, definitive way to escape internalized bias, but each and every artist I spoke to at one point or another agreed that visibility was important, if not a driving factor. For our own sense of self-worth, for the sake of the “scene,” for our art, our sanity, our integrity. People hate “posers” and “sell-outs,” and claim to laud “authenticity,” but just as often, the case could be made that such statements are nothing more than empty value signaling, easy buzz-words to let other people know that you are, in fact, “authentic,” “legit,” “TRVE KVLT.”

Maybe the question really is one of geography. Enrique Hernandez (Forbidden Colors), based in San Francisco, seems to have “found that the queer community has been very supportive, not so much your PRIDE Inc., but [..] the punks, weirdos, faeries and drag queens, and High Femme Synth Sisters. As I stated before, I live in a very special place (the Bay Area) that lets the queer community grow; this includes a very fertile experimental and noise scene.” Granted, the Bay Area has always been known as a place for both queer people and experimental art, but even Alaskan Andrew Schmitt (MISANDR, Lord Ennui) agrees that “there is a growing support base for queerness in extreme music[.] That said, the larger opposition to queerness in extreme music has also grown much more vocal and visible in recent years.”

Angel Marcloid (Pregnant Spore, fire-toolz, and many more) points out that people are more conscious of scene diversity these days, “and not only that, they are seeing it as important to try and include queer people (and people of color for that matter).” The conflict, however, is “hyper-focused […] negatively by some, and positively by others, but we are still others. We are still special, we are still oppressed, we are still something else other than regular-ass human beings.” There aren’t any mental gymnastics required to understand the complications by being shoved to the extreme end of a spectrum. Especially in a field which is often (correctly or not) described as a “Boy’s Club.” Marcloid describes her own experience, while not wholly hostile, as one of more casual identity redefinition. “Even though I am a trans girl, and I present very femme,” she explains, “I’ve experienced more male privilege in the noise scene than I’ll ever be comfortable with. […] I can show up to a show decked out in makeup and a slutty skirt, and people will still call me ‘bro’ because they think that’s what makes me comfortable. They want to let me know they’re cool with me.” The fine line between condescension and respect blurs, but whether or not there’s malicious intent seems almost too complex an issue to define on anything but a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately, that’s not how political power works.

Angel Marcloid (Fire-Toolz)

Minus a couple of bad reviews (quality, not content), Straight Panic has had very little in the way of a negative response. My affectionately dubbed “noise bros” are mostly white, straight, cis men, and be it due to political ideology or nihilism, none have cared that I’m a self-identified faggot. Is this luck? Is my acceptance due to the fact that I “pass” as straight? That I’m butch enough? That I’m talented enough? Or am I really just an overly critical, high-strung fag, lounging in shock art? How come I never get angry street preachers, Nazi skinheads, or bona fide bigots at my shows? Am I too loud for them to bother, or am I too “underground” for them to notice? At this point, I’d be happy to perform with Brethren, if just for the potential for some genuine conflict.

Straight Panic

Luwayne Glass (Dreamcrusher) seems to share my concerns that “most harsh noise fans [don’t care if a performer is queer], which also poses a problem when it comes to misgendering and tokenism especially.” Even more troubling is the shared sense that “most queer organizations are just as bad as Urban Outfitters or Ivanka [Trump]. Placating to, being docile, submitting to, or assimilating to white straight norms just enough to sell, but still attract a queer audience to fawn over you, [for the] the sake of money and fame. Oldest story in the book.” Though, we both agree that we have our spaces, even if they aren’t as culturally visible as The Advocate or a spot on Logo:  “The queer people and organizations I fuck with are like me,” Glass admits, “in that I will never dumb down who I am or what I do. I would be in utter shock if OUT magazine asked to do a shoot with my crazy ass, but then I’d ask them to triple the check[.]” Considering how many straight, white, celebrity men have been on the cover, I’d say they could easily afford the tab.

“After I started doing more overtly queer work, there was some pushback from straighter elements of the scene, but it’s led me to seek out (or create) more open environments, communities, and avenues for my creative and curatorial work,” Michael Foster (The New York Review of Cocksucking) says. “For example, I do not book ‘straight white guy bills,’ because that’s not an environment that I want to be in socially, creatively, or promotionally, so this means I have to push myself to become acquainted with more diverse artists whose work I like. […] I’ve made some minor efforts in the past to get LGBTQ+ publications to advertise some events but never with any success.” Having said that, however, the recently established “Queer Trash” series of improvised music, free jazz, and electronics that Foster has been organizing has gained traction, as well as an audience from both inside and outside of the noise underground. After relocating from D.C. to NYC, Eames Armstrong is more than happy to relay that “I am super pleased that one of the first shows I’ve played since being here was the wonderful Queer Trash series.” Such a report is inspiring, especially when compared to an earlier event in D.C. where Armstrong “did a noise set with a friend at a queer film festival party—we did a shitty cover of a song from Les Misérables (“I Dreamed a Dream”) and we got booed and shouted at, cut off, but mostly ignored. I sort of get it; this was like a fun love-fest dance party situation and they didn’t like us screaming and making a mess […] they just wanted to dance to a recognizable beat, not be confronted with whatever the fuck we were doing, loudly.” When faced with such an audience, I say set the house P.A. to eleven.

Relevant Links to artists featured in the article.

Richard Ramirez -

Black Leather Jesus -

Straight Panic -

Plack Blague -

Michael Foster -

Forbidden Colours – Enrique Hernandez -

Dreamcrusher -

Eames Armstrong -

Sonia Dietrich (BRUT) -


Against Me – Laura – Jane Grace -

Hirsuite pursuit -

Sean Ramirez Matzus -

Angel Marcloid -

Fire-Toolz -

Contact Low -