Saturday, 7 December 2019
The RITA – Linked Arms and Touching Torsos – Obsessive Fundamental Realism – OFR CD-07 – 2019
A section of Classical music serves as an intro to Linked Arms and Touching Torsos, it brings the listener to the Ballet, you’ve arrived, and you are ready. The ballet is now a regular them in the recordings of the Rita. I’ve gone into the Walls of Vomir, Dagger HOMExINVASION and the deconstructed walls that pepper the discography of Inner Demons Records, but now I am in The Rita’s territory. Let the wall begin.
I find this (wall) movement fascinating; I know shit about who first did what and where it came from, I’ve asked and I’ve read up, but it would be a scattered inaccurate history from me. I’ve learned to submit to the wall, let it do its work so it can unravel and reveal itself. You go in, listen and pay attention.
Cut is the first sonic fact that is apparent, over the roar of the distortion a sharper distortion is chopped and cut into as hum and hiss are thrown around too. The sharper noise that is jagged into forms a lead sound, backed by the deep roar as if both converse between themselves. This functions like lead and backing, yet both communicate constantly as if in the throes of a violent symphony.
The level of cut is altered throughout the single piece and has a great impact on the sound, changing it and morphing it throughout. The intensity and drama that appears is intense as the frequency of cut is amplified by sharper sound as if screaming over the wall. When the deeper roar of distortion increases, this intensifies the sound immensely. The shift and change in the work are constant continually referencing itself as the two key sounds change prominence.
Does the music of Ballet go off in the background, is it screened during the making or somehow influence the movement of the work? Is the sharp noise backed by the roar of the wall the amplification of the self and the obsession into an amalgamation of the two into a bigger form presented on this album? I will never know.
As this album ends, it takes a while to regain my bearings. I like this.
Nevis Kretini 2019.
Album: Lost in Jail
Artist: La Décadence des Étoiles (BRTHRM + Apocalypse Sounds)
Label: Manninen Henki Records
Catalogue no: Not known
1. First day
2. Blurred Images of Could I’ve and Should I’ve
3. Last Day
BRTHRM describe themselves as an experimental noise project inaugurated in 2018, and Apocalypse Sounds is Arnaud Chatelard, one of whose recordings I reviewed some while back (Promised Land on Spain’s Hamfuggi Records) and this collaboration takes us into a hybrid darkambient/noise/experimental territory, a brooding, malignant, desolate place that appears to be perpetually shrouded in mist, where dimly-seen shapes take on sinister and dangerous significances. This is an area less-travelled, probably unmapped, and not for the faint of heart.
‘First Day’ dawns with plangent, mournful drones, united in dirge-like lamentation, and are soon joined by a rasping oscillation accompanied by even higher-pitched howls. We stand at the border of this uncharted land, the sounds emanating from those thick fogs constituting an alarm and a warning: this place isn’t one full of wonders and marvels, but of travails and disasters. There are no paths, and there’s nothing to guide us on our way. A blast of abrading wind sweeps over us just as we step over the line, to await whatever is hiding in those blankets of obscuring fog.
‘Blurred Images of Could I’ve and Should I’ve’ opens with the same slow oscillating croak, accompanied by drips and stuttering footsteps, but whether they’re ours or those of some other unseen denizens can’t be discerned. Strange keenings swirl out of hidden nooks and crevices, creating an unsettling impression that we’re being observed by mysterious eyes, and that our every move is being watched and monitored. Bells resonate from all sides, their sources indiscernible through the curtain of haze forever surrounding us. Only slight tremors and subtle breaths shift the still air, and these are only witnessed by the minute whorls and eddies breaking out in the otherwise blank, monotonous texture of the persistent mist. The oppressive lack of light, or even recognisable shapes of any terrain, combine to create a dissonance and disequilibrium that only worsens the deeper we go into this blighted, elusive land. It’s an environment in which we simultaneously feel isolated and alone, and also surrounded by beasts and figures whose intent appears to be to hinder us or to do us harm in some way. The very fact that they’re not doing anything is a psychological weapon in itself, pushing our nerves to their very limits, and could break our minds at any time. On the other hand, perhaps there is nothing and no one there at all, and the only thing that will kill us will be our own minds and imaginations.
Finally, we get to track three, ‘Last Day’. Does it hold out any hope of salvation, or rescue? Or are we destined to remain lost wanderers, unable to find our way home. Will we conquer our fears to discover the truth of this landscape that we’ve been stumbling through, or will it claim us before we step outside the boundaries of its borders? The air here does appear to be clearer, and the way more open, but it occurs to me that even if we find ourselves under blue skies the dark path behind us will have left its mark on our psyches, and that as a result we will never be the same again. Hints of those psychological shadows abound here; ghostly howls and cries, reverberating endlessly, accompany subterranean tremors that appear to stalk us as if sentient. They seem to be unwilling to let us forget them, that a part of them has been left behind buried within the deepest recesses of our minds, yet in places where we’re constantly reminded of their presences. In some respects, we have just fought an inner battle, which has left us more deeply affected and changed than we realise. Just like the soldier who returns home from an atrocious battle, an experience that has irrevocably changed him, a species of brutalisation and mental distortion which will perpetually colour his life henceforward. Now his (and by extension our) war has been internalised, and will be fought against himself.
This is a seamless collaboration, one that plays and preys on our deepest darkest fears through clever manipulation of sound and subtle use of oppressive atmospherics and textures. Full of dankness and darkness, created without veering into dirge or cliché, almost as if the unseen entities inhabiting this mythical and malignant landscape have actually been brought into manifestation and have somehow been infused into the music itself. It’s an intense experience, one that appears to seep into one’s bones, its icy fingers clutching at our hearts and minds. A mature and mesmerising work that will repay countless visits – although don’t forget to bring a map with you next time or leave markers.
Available in digital format only from:
Psymon Marshall 2019.
Artist: Tales About Digits
Label: Laughing Vines
Catalogue no: N/A
1. Bits of Tape
2. Digital Filaments
3. Voices of Vinyl and Video
Occasionally, I come across something that, at first listen, may seem obtuseness for its own sake, and that what I am listening to has nothing to commend it. Initially I, after the first run through of Audioscramble, must admit that I came away feeling bemused and somewhat disappointed. But, rather than dismiss it outright, I decided that the best way to assess this three-track release from Tales About Digits, issued by Belgrade label Laughing Vines, was to meditate upon it, which eventually led me to take an entirely different tack and approach it from a different angle. I’ll get to that later in this review.
First, however, what’s on this release? We get three tracks of equal length, all totalling up to an hour. Each track’s title enumerates a method of sonic deconstruction, specifically the source media from which the track is made. All good so far, but here’s the catch: all tracks sound exactly the same. And what you hear is a hellish conglomeration of nuclear blast and anguished voices, a thick slab of sound culled from the very depths of Hell and the blackest of nightmares. The pace is unrelenting, never letting up for the entire length of each individual track, the only relief evident being the minute gaps between each piece. Even then, the respite is all too brief.
So, you may find yourself wondering, what does it all mean? Why record and release three tracks that sound exactly the same but just differentiate them by using different titles. Okay, this is my take, but please be aware that this is just my interpretation. Your mileage may vary.
First, I get the impression that it’s all about the ubiquity of technology, and that it’s positing a technological singularity, something which has the potential to reduce the humanity and the soul of homo sapiens entirely. Let’s face it, we’re almost downing in bits and bytes (and their multiples thereof), with hardware and computers becoming so pervasive that we’re coming to the point where we consider such devices as throwaway, if we haven’t already gone past that point. We continually upgrade and replace without, it seems, any regard to what happens to our old machines once they’ve left our hands. One scenario I can foresee is vast dumps of computer cases, motherboards, printed circuits, and other gubbins stacking up in ugly eyesore heaps, with those at the bottom of society scrabbling up them looking for recyclable materials to eke out a precarious living on. That, I believe, is covered by the hellish nature of the noise blast.
Going back to the notion of a technological singularity, I think this is where this scores highly: by essentially using the same music for all three tracks but giving them different titles, it appears to suggest that with the digital age we live in all sources and media can be used to produce exactly the same audio-visual product. In other words it doesn’t really matter where the sounds used on this album originated from, in the final analysis all those sources can be manipulated to create three different pieces but all sounding exactly alike. The blurring between technologies is increasing, so that each in effect becomes indistinguishable from the other. And that is the singularity.
This is a scenario I have often pondered upon: are we actually making our lives easier (and more productive in the process)? Or are we just paving the way for our demise, mentally and physically? To some it may be farfetched (and I will grant that it does sound that way) but as the future timeline of our species is hidden from us we cannot know where this technological path will lead us. Is it a path leading to a bright new utopia, or a Yellow Brick Road leading to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz – all flash and show but no having no substance. I believe that Audioscramble, for all its initial inscrutability and obscurity, fleshes out one possible future for a technologically-based and technologically-obsessed humanity. And from my perspective, our prospects don’t look particularly good.
Available as a CD and digital album from:
Psymon Marshall 2019.
Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Artist: Akkad the Orphic Priest (A.T.O.P)
Label: Somewhere Cold Records
Catalogue no: N/A
7. Tabasheer (ft. Chad Mossholder)
Somewhere Cold Records is based out of Shelbyville, Kentucky in the US, and specialise in in the lighter end of the ambient spectrum and, considering that my most recent review was of a darkly sacral/cosmic/ritual ambient nature it appears only natural that I should continue in that vein while my mind is still on a completely different plane. And my word, this occult/drone ambient album is just the thing to sustain the mood my headspace appears to be in today, plus it stays away from any mawkish new-ageyness instead tending towards the upper reaches of the spiritual exosphere. A periapt is an object that by its very nature is magical in effect, in other words an object in the nature of an amulet or charm. Indeed, glancing at the tracklist one can easily see how the objects enumerated can be thought of as magical in nature, each one having a specific meaning to the people utilising them, with effects that differ only insofar as the user’s beliefs dictate.
The album, as can be gleamed from the song titles, tends towards the pagan side of the occult, although the treatment music-wise is anything but, rather it utilises swelling and sustained drones that hone in on those parts of the human mind and soul which are prone to thoughts and feelings of the sacred. In some respects, particularly on this album, the titles are meaningless and are probably nothing more than a way of fulfilling our need for categorisation and naming things. For me the most important aspect is the feeling that each piece evokes, and music of this nature appears to speak to me directly (as does most ambient in all its glorious subgenres). The other important facet is answering the question “Where is this going to take me?”. And this selection provides a soundtrack for an inner journey, an accompaniment to a spiritual roadtrip if you like.
Every journey has to begin with a first step, and in this case that first step is the opening track ‘Athame’ (a ritual knife for use in ceremonial magic). Organic organ chords, tinged with slight distortion, opens A.T.O.P’s account, outlining for us his approach to what in effect are gargantuan slices of spatial and spiritual concepts. Any other approach I feel would fall short of the mark. This piece, as with most of the others on here with one or two exceptions, never once touches the ground, instead wafting loftily above our heads where the air and materiality are thinner and more refined. ‘Bezoar’ (a reddish-brown stone, created from secretions in an animal’s stomachs, used as an antidote to poisons) swoops down to a lower register but still atmospheric enough to float well above the mundanity and materiality of earthly life and existence. This one shimmers like the stars do at night, accompanied by high-pitched harmonic feedback that’s as sweet as it’s possible to imagine. Imagine floating castles made entirely of light, the habitations of beings equally composed of light – that’s what this track conjures up for me. This is bliss incarnate.
‘Cauldron’, the next track, spins higher up into the sky again, layers of organ chords and harmonics, combining to create a blue sky and white cloud panorama extending as far as one can see in all directions. Those cloud banks rise ever higher, swirling and mutating, evolving constantly to assume new shapes and patterns. Perhaps the shapes we see in them are their means of communicating with us, telling us of the wonders they’ve beheld both on the ground below them and in the heavens above. The only problem is that we humans are deaf and blind to their words and visions, thinking them merely pretty superficialities meant to entertain dreamers and artists. Perhaps the cauldron referred to here is the cauldron of creation, the bottomless container of natural imagination.
‘Cloak’ envelops us next in its folds of lushly dark velvetiness, a virtual blanket of protection swirling around us. Whether it’s protection from the weather or protection from inimical forces, the intent is the same: providing a prophylactic against something we wish to avoid or keep away from us. Its intent is mostly beneficial, but cloaks can also be used for nefarious purposes, so there is a duality involved here. ‘Besom’ is a broom or a sweeping brush, used to clean floors of dust and detritus, but magically-speaking it can used as a metaphor for sweeping away negative influences, powers, and people. Of all the pieces on here, so far at least, it’s the most obviously ‘musical’, orchestral sweeps and tinkling accents, birdsong, and susurrating drones. It can almost be termed pastoral, in the sense that it elicits visions of the countryside and nature, where the latter exists in untrammelled and explosive profusion. Indeed, I felt as if I was being carried aloft myself, swooping over endless green vistas, vistas absent of any human intrusion or artifice. The endless carpet of creation below inspires relaxation and also meditation, sparking off thoughts on why we as a species seem hell-bent on destruction and defilement.
The penultimate track is ‘Madstone’, a very similar magical artefact to a bezoar which can cure humans of a deleterious illness, in this case rabies (if pressed into an animal bite). Some researchers have speculated that it’s either a type of stone, or a vegetative substance. This one feels earthy and organic, delineating a substance gleaned from the very soil itself and naturally imbued with medicinal, curative, and magical properties. Plangent, mournful tones predominate here, echoing and trailing off into a species of distortion. Finally we reach the last track, ‘Tabasheer’, which is defined as a white or translucent substance found in bamboo, used in traditional Ayurvedic, Unani, and Chinese medicine. This one is certainly the oddest track on here, sounding at times random and atonal, as well as improvised, with metallic effects that appear as if recorded through a drainpipe. It invests it with a truly alien timbre, something akin to a strange but bizarrely melodious language, one that was perhaps spoken when the world was much younger.
Very much an album placed firmly for the most part in the stratospheric heights, but also cognisant of the fact that magic can also be found here on the ground, a notion that perhaps is only explored too briefly. As I averred above in my opening paragraph, there’s none of the cloying new-age sweetness evident that some practitioners of ambient seem to employ, instead there are multiple layers of different shades of brightness (and darkness, if truth be told) that keep it from being monotonous and uninteresting (something which this definitely isn’t). This is my first encounter with Somewhere Cold Records’ output, which serves to whet my appetite to explore their catalogue of releases in deeper detail. This ticked all the right boxes for me and, whilst some might be put off by the ambient label, I can guarantee that it’s absolutely worth dipping your toes into.
Available as a digital album and stream, and also as a CD, from here:
Other releases from Somewhere Cold can be found here:
Other releases from Somewhere Cold can be found here:
Psymon Marshall 2019.
Album: Split Frequencies Vol. 1
Label: Sombre Soniks
Catalogue no: SomSon 141
1. Concrete Elemental – Embers Below Zero
2. You are at the Gate, You are the Key – Grist
As the title of this new album from UK label Sombre Soniks suggests, this is the first in a new series featuring split releases, and on this one in particular we have two long-form pieces from projects hailing from Poland and Australia. Of course, the idea isn’t new, it being something of a tradition in certain underground music circles, but nevertheless it’s a welcome move on the part of the label. In many respects I prefer this format to the anthology/compilation: the flavour of an artist’s work can be gauged more fully through longer tracks than short pieces, at least in my books.
In light of that, then, what’s the prognosis here? Embers Below Zero’s ‘Concrete Elemental’ starts off with a distant but bright figure repeated until a raw static-infused wave fades in as if some hovering behemoth is crossing the distance between the far horizon and one’s immediate viewpoint, only to be superseded by an ambient drone that takes wing and soars heavenward. Whining guitar feedback accompanies the floating ambience, seguing into an ebbing and flowing organic rasp, reminiscent of something living and breathing, a steady, perhaps ultimately malign, presence, darkening the sky and casting its baleful aura earthward. It becomes the pulse of the piece, an elemental heartbeat giving life and sustenance to whatever entity has been conjured up. Strength and energy continually pile up upon themselves, sounding an alarm, signalling its immensely overwhelming power. Whatever species of entity hangs above our heads, it isn’t benign in any way, shape, or form, and even when it gradually fades we’re still left with the noisy ghost of its presence, an afterimage of darkness left on the pale azure of the sky, as a constant reminder.
Grist’s piece (‘You are at the Gate, You are the Key’) begins with the barking of a small dog (and, for a brief moment, I really thought it was a neighbour’s animal causing havoc), which, in some peculiar manner, reminds me of a guardian dog, like one of those that stand sentinel at the gates of a Buddhist temple. The barking is relatively brief, replaced by some quietly grandiose chords and a drum, gradually swelling in strength and distortion, indicative of the powerful currents of energy swirling around the sacred structure itself, agitating and driving the very air enveloping it. One can also imagine the cloud layer above it roiling frenetically, an inverted analogue of a choppy, storm-tossed sea, animated by the energies radiating outwards and upwards. To enhance the sacred flavour of the track even further a beat sequence reminiscent of tablas emerges, perhaps an accompaniment to a ritual dance being performed to win the favour of the gods. Smoke and incense pervade the temple, demarcating the boundaries of an extra-dimensional space in which nothing profane can exist, as well as acting as a meeting place where humans and deities can gather on equal terms and communicate in mutual understanding. There’s absolutely no doubting that the distorted guitar chords and organ swells, as well as the tones themselves, speak of the sacred, as well as the harmony of the spheres, and their overall effect is to elevate and to switch on and attune one’s mind to the cosmic. Like the title implies, our entry beyond the gate and access to the temple’s grounds are entirely dependent on the realisation that we hold the keys and always have done – we cannot ask the gods outright, as we must gain their trust and favour first. Even then, the ultimate goal isn’t guaranteed.
This first entry in the series is an unqualified winner and, if subsequent entries follow the quality on display here, then the label is assured a successful venture. Both can be classified as magnificent examples of the long-form drone/ritual ambient oeuvre, but it has to be said that of the two tracks the one by Grist just has the extremely slight edge for me, wrapping itself around my brain’s pleasure centres that particularly respond to this species of sacral, cosmic music. Even so however, it has to be noted that, for a brief moment, lasting no longer than the running time of the whole album, I was swept away from this dreary reality and transported to other realms, dimensions that I can only dream about. This music is music that can be felt and experienced rather than merely being heard, providing something of an immersive environment. Personally, I ask for nothing more from music than this.
Available as a download and stream from Sombre Sonik’s Bandcamp on the link below:
Psymon Marshall 2019.
Animal Machine – Disposable Masochrist Doll. – Single sided cassette/12”vinyl – 2011 – Aargh Records/Invaginity.
Animal Machine is one of Ernesto Bohorquez’s projects, linking it to Wolvestribe and Aargh records. Disposable Masochrist Doll was originally released on single sided 12” vinyl and cassette back in 2011 and it was recorded live in 2009.
My fucking tape didn’t work, so I went to the Bandcamp to review it. It is said to be from Poland on Discogs, poor Half Polish me was very tearful about this. But then that’s the risk and excitement of recycled cassettes. My cassettes original form was Lovers- Sound Sensation from Chevron Records in 1981, it’s 28 years old, exciting stuff.
As with Wolvestribe this is an immediate heavyweight sound. It is a fast-moving work, not dissimilar to a HNW piece, it has a very sharp, cutting, loaded sound. There is rapid speed to the work, yet the changes in the overall sound are gradual over the 15 minutes of the release. The glitches in sound seem to separate the work into several passages. This is hard hitting noise from another decade that has a more abstract feel to it compared to Wolvestribe, yet this cements my interest in Animal Machine, Wolvestribe and Aargh as one of the leading lights of PE and noise in present day UK.
This is a lively, impressive release. Animal Machine is still releasing prolifically to this day check their sites for more sounds and a chance of catching those elusive Lathe Cut vinyl’s.
I ordered the vinyl of this off Discogs, supporting the scene and all.
Nevis Kretini 2019.
Monday, 2 December 2019
Album: Stolen & Contaminated Songs
Label: Cold Spring Records
Catalogue no: CSR276LP/CD
2. Original Chaostrophy
3. Who’ll Tell?
4. Omlagus Garfungiloops
6. Love’s Secret Domain (Original Mix)
8. Who’ll Fall
9. The Original Wild Garlic Memory
10. Wrim Wram Wrom
11. Corybantic Ennui
12. Her Friends the Wolves
13. Light Shining Darkly
It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that the band name Coil and the word ‘seminal’ are synonymous in many people’s eyes, including mine. I owe them a great debt of gratitude in introducing me to industrial and experimental music, along with Psychic TV, Current 93, and Nurse With Wound. The album under review, Stolen & Contaminated Songs, was originally released in 1992, showcasing outtakes and unreleased songs from the recording sessions for the album that would eventually culminate in the Love’s Secret Domain album. This is the first time it’s been issued on vinyl (see below) as well as in CD format.
What amazes me, 27 years after its release, is that the music still sounds relevant, refreshing, immediate, and up-to-date, even if there’s still something of a nineties vibe to it (which is no bad thing). Furthermore, the broad experimentalism that was a trademark of this project, ranging from the brightest of lights to the lowest depths of abyssal darknesses, is still very much in evidence, showing above all that Coil were never content in their musical musings and wanderings, refusing to let themselves be pigeonholed within any rigid definition of genre, culling influences and ideas from all and sundry. Boundaries, it appears, were things that Coil didn’t have much time for, and throughout their output they were always storming barricades and pushing into territories that lesser outfits would have feared to venture into.
Let’s dive in at the beginning, starting with ‘Futhur’, prefiguring ‘The Snow’ single (along with its numerous remixes, as seemed to be the fashion back then). Sounds, beats, and samples (including one from The Fast Show I think) trip, stutter, and cascade over each other with the appearance of chaos and randomicity, but yet ultimately cohering in the way only Jhonn Balance could engineer. The following track, ‘Original Chaostrophy’, has a tinge of the pastoral about it, at least in its initial stages (why does it remind me of Ralph Vaughan Williams?), although Coil then shift dimensions and create something unexpected. ‘Who’ll Tell’ is a spoken word effort, voice loops adding accents to the music in direct contrast to its mirror image ‘Who’ll Fall’, which appears several tracks hence.
‘Omlagus Garfungiloops’ sounds like something that Roald Dahl would come up with for one of his books, and in fact the looping voice at the beginning probably belongs in a Dahl tale. However, Coil then confound expectations by treating us to a laid-back, magical jazzy number, a warm summer night when the stars are right and the planets have all aligned. I can imagine those very same stars dripping from the sky and falling into oblivion. ‘Inkling’ attracts our attention next, a tumbling trill of tinkles accompanied by a deep drone, a shattering of delicate icicles turning into powder puffs in frigid air, precipitated by a stalking presence through a snowbound forest.
Next we’re treated to ‘Love’s Secret Domain’, a disturbed and disturbing treatise on when loves goes too far, and becomes obsessive and tainted with insanity and darkness, when it becomes twisted and, to most people, unhealthy. ‘Nasa-Arab’ comes in from a completely different angle, and is perhaps my favourite track so far, a strangely and alluringly distorted and treated voice imbued with flavours of the East, twists, swoops, and soars, leading into a sensuous and hypnotic rhythm that lulls as it simultaneously engages. It is at once elusive and allusive, bringing with it the exotic and tribalistic, the earthbound and the mystical. This is Coil at its most spiritual, freeing themselves and the listener from materialistic gravity in order to float off to etheric and Nirvanic bliss. ‘Who’ll Fall?’, the spiritual sibling of the earlier ‘Who’ll Tell?, changes emotional tack yet again, being another spoken word piece but this time featuring a lone voice, heard as if recorded on an answering machine, describing the suicide of a friend’s boyfriend against a backdrop of echoey and haunting guitar interspersed with old-style telephonic noises and blips, detailing the immediate emotions and thoughts that are bound to tumble through one’s mind on hearing such news. It’s affecting, getting right into one’s heart and soul.
Then we have some more dimension-twisting weirdness in the form of ‘The Original Wild Garlic Memory’, loops and strange utterances emanating from some alien mind, perhaps a new classical music beamed back to us from our own future. ‘Wrim Wram Wrom’ is a pulsing plane (as well as plain) of drone accompanied by blurts and fanfares. One can imagine ancient ruins dominating a vast plain of arid desert, the structures towering above all, commanding and leering, inviting yet threatening. ‘Corybantic Ennui’ (corybantic means frenzied, agitated, unrestrained), a short piece flavoured with a sense of an English pastoral idyll, again with a hint of Vaughan Williams (at least as far as a superficial appearance would suggest), before a rupturing and guttural growl disturbs the peace, a sign that all is not what it seems.
‘Her Friends the Wolves’ begins with a reprise of the growling from ‘Corybantic Ennui’, raising the hackles on the back of one’s neck in just the same way that being confronted by a wolf would do. In fact, as the track progresses the tempo lopes along as if we’re running with a pack, perhaps through that forest alluded to in ‘Inkiling’ above, only now it’s darkly shaded, with the moon only dimly shining, fleetingly and fitfully, through the canopy of branches high above our heads. Out from around the trunks and the obscure depths of the forest bizarre ghostly voices and snatches of sound emerge randomly, threatening and menacing, urging us onwards. The album ends on another short piece, ‘Light Shining Darkly’, sounding like angelic choirs as heard through a filter of spider-webs and poisonous breath.
Just like Cold Spring’s other recent ‘classic’ reissue (SPK’s Lamia Zehmanni: Songs of Byzantine Flowers – review forthcoming) Stolen & Contaminated Songs displays Jhonn Balance’s and Peter Christopherson’s musical virtuosity, especially important considering that the vast majority of music available at the time (and continuing on into the present day) had become increasingly manufactured and had shifted its focus from content to personality. Yes, I know it’s always been like that to some extent, but the emphasis appears to have become paramount. Here the accent is on music, and its ability to affect us on so many levels. It was revolutionary at the time and, all these decades later, can still hold its own. Whilst Horse Rotorvator will always be a benchmark for me on a personal level, this reissue also acts as a reminder that true artists evolve and innovate – two things of which Coil were the consummate practitioners.
The Double LP is available now (in bronze-coloured vinyl from CSR only, as well as an edition in bone-coloured vinyl, as well as traditional black vinyl) and will be available as a CD from mid-December. Purchase on the link below:
Psymon Marshall 2019.
Sunday, 24 November 2019
Mai12 - Vczcvzx – 12”vinyl/Download – 2019 – Mai 12 Bandcamp.
1. Vixmmxvi – 07.13
2. Vixmmxvii – 07.13
Mai 12 are based in Greece and have been covered on this blog a couple of times previously, I am a fan of their unique take on wall noise, it usually has a shifting, low level assault and they seem to occupy their own corner of noise. They release prolifically on limited editions through their own site and through various other labels. Their work is of a consistently high standard.
Oddly, the Mai 12 assault on Vixmmxvi is deeper and uses a more frontal assault as I listen to it on headphones (as strongly recommended), the depth of sound is warm and dense. So, you immediately have an unexpected, uncharacteristic frontal aggression as well as the characteristic warmth and depth that occupies the sound – contradictory yet powerful elements. With any Mai 12 wall, the shift is continuous, the various subtle background sounds work subconsciously, as if subtly inducing panic and nightmares. Despite effectively being a 12” single the density of each track deceptively makes it feel like an album. There are massive pulled back explosions as the track evolves, this is, shockingly a more aggressive Mai 12 than I am used to, and I like it.
The intensity doesn’t let up on Vixmmxvii, the depth is sharper and continues to resonate in an aggressive manner as the background becomes a pulsating noise barrage that forces the frontal wall of distortion to become the background. The shifts in synthesiser noise are massive and impressive and provide the Power Electronics to the sound. Side 2 is the track that changes, shifts more and is the most aggressive, nasty performance.
The cover art seems to reference the mesh that covers some of their own tapes and the fly resting on it alludes to a fly near a fluorescent bug killer, inducing a sense of anxiety akin to that of the music. Art and sounds are equally effective.
Vczcvzx is a side to Mai 12 that I had not seen before, it surprised me, and this is an excellent, unique take on the Wall. Mai 12 have delivered every time, buy this record or any of their releases.
Nevis Kretini 2019.
Sunday, 17 November 2019
Niku daruma – FUCKING NOTHING – Reel to Reel/Download/cassette – My Skin Don't Mean Much / Laura's Girls - 2019.
My appreciation of the trio that is niku daruma has been documented on here through reviews of the Goreshit split and She Gets What She Wants releases. There is live footage a plenty on YouTube and recordings on their Bandcamp to immerse yourselves in the full ND experience. The imagery of their work, tells plenty, live performances are intense, and the releases are rare, so keep on it.
This may be a 2-track release, but the stakes are high, and ND are to me, a leading light in modern Harsh Noise/PE, so fingers crossed.
FUCKING starts of as if a microphone or a sound lead is being tapped repeatedly, it goes right through you, this ensures that the dialogue continually punctuated as feedback and distortion seem to want their say too, it hasn’t kicked off and its nasty already – why did I review this on headphones, I have a headache already. I can’t follow the dialogue, then it explodes into a massive wall of distortion that is cut into by sharp, piercing noise and here we are Niku Daruma’s fuck noise is in full swing. Nasty displays of frequency abuse ensure, I am getting what I wanted. The shifts in frequency are sudden and harsh, the sharpest frequency seems to act as a lead as if taking over from the dialogue. There are several prominent shifts in the sound to ensure the delivery doesn’t get samey. The tracks end is epic. FUCKING is horrible, nasty, sound abuse and pure spontaneous delivery.
NOTHING is an immediate wall, a dense barrage of distortion. This is dense, immense and intense; more so as it is then frequently interrupted by harsh feedback that resonates as much as the wall does. I am aware of the project’s RITA appreciation, but in my view, this is impressive HNW fucked with to maximum effect. The breakdowns and drops in sound to sharper noise mass that develop are impressive and ensure a continual and gradual shift. Again, the abuse of sharper frequencies forms an impressive lead noise, the sound is pure violence.
Niku Daruma continually steps up their game, it is amazing to see the project develop and grow into something else.
Nevis Kretini 2019
Saturday, 16 November 2019
Salford Electronics – Communique No. 2 – Tesco Organisation Germany – CD/DL- Tesco 117 – 2017.
1. Neon Rain.
3. Cease to Function.
4. Broken Shadows.
5. Ritual No.6.
6. This Sickness.
7. Lost Transmission.
8. Another Place.
10. Getting the Fear.
I’ve been sat on this album for a few months, When I ordered a Grey Wolves CD, I decided to also see what Dave Padbury does now, so I got Communique No. 2 as well as a Grey Wolves album (Exit Strategy), both oddly enough tie in well together as that is the end and this is the now. This ties into my ‘now’ massively, through my interest on the blog in fractured, moder atmospheres of projects like Occulting Light and Tetsuo coupled with my personal obsession with Tower Block Flats this work appeals to me.
To trace the timeline, I must go back to The Grey Wolves, for example their contribution to the Death Odours compilation - Riddled with Cancer (as I only have little bits of GW). This is a classic example of the more ambient side of The Grey Wolves that existed, as did the more aggressive Power Electronics side. Also if you listen to the Broken Techno of Exit Strategy, you hear a rich atmosphere that also exists in the straight ambient material too, it was indeed an exit strategy, but in a way bits of the old project that were always there carried on into Salford Electronics. I needed to say that, but I also need to get back to Salford Electronics.
When I think of Salford Electronics, I think to the Twitter account that seems to post images of buildings, particularly Tower Block flats, graffiti that points towards social unrest. Most of these images are from the past, they seem to often be based in Manchester. I often wonder, does the creator of this music come from or live in Salford, perhaps live in a tower block making these sounds at 1.00am in the morning walking around at odd hours for inspiration?
The music on Communique No 2, is rich and atmospheric, not just ambient, more of a soundtrack. It’s described as Bladerunner like and futuristic, I believe the project jars the then and now of Salford, of Manchester. It’s a walk, late at night around the city, seeing the lights, the shops, the houses and remembering what was once there.
When I play this, I feel that it looks back to past events in places. I question is it best to walk around Salford in the early hours listening to this to get the full picture? I scrolled the Twitter as I played this and the images and sound just jarred off each other. As daunting as some of the images are, they are also intensely beautiful.
The electronic soundtrack element is rich, when I play this I feel like it’s midnight and I haven’t slept, I feel this music makes perfect sense during those times and fits in well with the Autumn season. The deep drones seem to resonate, as if a long urban landscape, some of the electronics resonate night activity and rain. I feel the music resonates the beauty of the past and present as if in awe of the coldness of different times and locations. I find myself lost in the work when playing it, at times I am submerged in it.
In terms of my relation to the sounds and the images, I think this is a rich album that fuels the imagination. I feel more visuals are needed with the album, but they are also out there to find. There are other Communiques on the Bandcamp for me to investigate. I may have waffled about the past and wanted to get more of it, but instead I got smacked with everything that is great about the sound of now. Get this CD before it sells out.
Nevis Kretini 2019.