Harsh Noise London – 10 CDR set – 2020
Harsh Noise London have done their most ambitious set yet, 10CDrs by different artists all housed in unique artwork with linear notes in DVD cases. Some are regulars to the labe, some are new, this is a list of the said releases.
#35 - Niks – Nihilism.
#36 – Harsh Noise Movement – Digital Cunt Ripper
#37 – Animal Machine/Clusterfuck.
#38 – James Shearman – At the Bottom of a Deep Hole.
#39 – Gen26 – Euromutation: Live
#40 – Francesco Terrini – Hell.
#41 – Grey Smoke – The Great City Is Dead Now.
#43 – Wolvestribe – The Early Years.
#44 – Mutations – One Thousand Dead Swans.
#45 – Dosis Letalis – Mon Creation.
NIKS – Nihilism – Harsh Noise London #35 – CDR – 2020
NIKS is a Tom Rushton project that has been releasing since 2016, recordings are described as having no changes and done in one take. This, due to the release order has the pleasure of being first to be reviewed. NIKS is HNW and here at 1208 North Fuller Avenue we are into that as we’ve been digging in seriously for a few years now. Nihilism is presented as Part One and Part Two.
Nihilism is immediate, when play was pressed, I was immediately in the middle of NIK’S Distortion blast. The sound is consistent in pitch and tone, yet there is movement through the wavering of the crackle. It is difficult to tell if this is repetitive or spontaneous movement. There is a warm background roar behind the crackle. Contradiction exists, the no changes, one take ethos coupled with the Nihilism title suggests a coldness, yet there is a warmth to the sound as if the distortion were flames.
Nihilism Part two has a sharper, crisp sound that seems to rhythmically falter behind the sharp distortion. There is sharper hiss within the sound, this combines to give it a more pointed crunch. Part 2 also seems to push outwards as if to resonate more. In parts the sound seems to have a scraping drag that replaces the faltering and this gives it a torturous, spikier feel and far less warmth than part 1. It ends as if it was never there.
Both Nihilism’s add up to seventy minutes, it has been a long seventy minutes. Both tracks differ from each other, this is what I would call sharper wall work with raw sound, and the power of the title to spurn the imagination as the work plays out. This is a good release.
Harsh Noise Movement – Digital Cunt Ripper - Harsh Noise London #36 – 2020
Harsh Noise Movement is one of these projects that have somehow stretch back to the early 80s in the earlier work of its creator Ade Rowe, but officially started in the 2000s sometime. I reviewed their split tape on Harsh Noise London last year.
Digital Cunt Ripper is an extreme title, the humour is bleak, but it sets a tone, this is a piece of a big jigsaw, that jigsaw is the massive discography of Harsh Noise Movement. I’ve been playing this in the car this week and I was immediately impressed by the variation and the overall badass quality of the sound. Eye for an Eye has insane shifts and rises, I am unsure if there are vocals in there, but the noise is so articulate, at times I feel I am being screamed at. This is all acted out on a wall of distortion, so it is like a wall that throws bricks out at you. You have the texture of the wall and a ton of bad attitude thrown at you.
Lip Service is echo heavy dialogue that forms a sense of mid song psychedelia. What I am beginning to see here is a project that doesn’t stop at spikey Harsh Noise, it goes off in different directions, I look at the mix of artists they have work with and realise this is an oddball project that does Harsh Noise too. Chemobrain goes off on a drone tangent, where frequencies rise and distortion crackles away in the background. The texture of the crackle shows and goes through shifting passages of contrast against the droning frequencies.
Tracks and ideas flow through each other on Digital Cunt Ripper the Lip Service Dialogue appears in the opener Eye for An Eye and Fucking George builds on the simmering of Chemobrain – here the distortion rises, and the drones have a bigger scope. Fucking George is the longest track on the album, causing a longer act out of sound to happen. There are passages of playfulness in the noise, as if the noises talk amongst themselves. These come and go quickly as you become aware of them, they are gone. This becomes creepy and ghost like, the sounds are like death.
Crazed variations of wall and Harsh noise form Cow Zone 2, the noise is just slightly submerged in the wall of distortion as if to pull your focus into the work. Hellish frequencies collide in this strange passage of murk. Chemobrain and Cow Zone 2 are really depressing, bleak passages of Harsh Noise and that vibe carries through on the second album epic Cwmbran; this takes the form of a bleak wall assault of distortion, death by bleak texture.
Sampled Dialogue forms Back Shoes as a line of tone noise backs it. This weaves back into Lip Service. The backing sounds get more playful as the work evolves (creepy, dark playful mind). Serene Fusion Serene Fusion is a fun jam with loops, noise jazz drums and saxophone that end the album nicely. A bit of Jazz at the end really works.
A unique, Great recording.
Animal Machine / Clusterfuck – Harsh Noise London #37 – 2020.
Animal Machine is an Erenesto Bohorquez project that goes back to around 2006, this is his most prolific project, he is also a part of current Heavyweights Wolvestribe who as you know keep blowing poor me away every time. Animal Machine has been reviewed several times on here before. The project is often very experimental and choppy, more manic. I tend to pay a lot of attention when Erenesto sends me something to hear.
Each title is simply dated, so the feedback kicks in and we are straight into 02.11.2017, this really embraces sharp, hissing noise and crunching distortion. It wavers as the back space (silence) seems to overtake the noise and push it to the distance before it comes back, it’s minimal as it uses the finely woven noise and silence as its’ main components until some sort of digitizer mixes over the twine to give it a machine gun rapid effect. This manic pyrotechnics of this focussed noise is a typical display of raw Animal Machine.
The second 02.11.2017 seems to up the ante on the first, the sound seems to intensify, I didn’t think that was possible, but it is. The sound gets more treated so that as the treatment intensifies, so does the sound. This never stops, it is as if this is three takes as the third 02.11.2017 manages to build on the last one, a brief massive explosion of noise outburst.
The final track shoots us back to Poland in 2009, with 15.04.2009, I like this as the intensity of 8 years later is there but he muffles it as if to cause a constant feeling of suffocation to the sound, it’s brutal as the sound tries and tries to break out of this, I am unsure if this is bad sound recording or genius? As the sound picks up and really rises, I am inclined to think genius. Animal Machine is pure discipline and thought.
Clusterfuck is interesting, it is a collaboration between Bohorquez and Jared C. Balogh. You have Jared’s drums with the noise of Animal Machine and it works! Like the jazz at the end of Harsh Noise Movement, this totally provides a massive shift of sound. It is an improvised jam as the drums are freeform and shift around a lot, so the noise has to do exactly the same. Both elements weave and shift around each other, I do really like this.
Five of the six tracks are short jams, short blasts of improvisation. The last track VI is a lengthy session at 20 minutes. This is where Balogh settles into longer patterns and the dialogue between the two has more contrast and drama, at time they are one and at others, one takes over and goes solo.
What I like is that this isn’t metal drumming as I have seen that on noise and it is stupid. I see all this Black Metal, Power Electronics mix and 99.5% of the time doesn’t work, the genres are similar, but the subtle differences are there. In my eyes having a BM side project when you are a noise musician is often dilutes itself, this is a plague to the scene. The drumming here is chaotic yet simultaneously intuitive and a perfect example of the instrument used successfully. Skullflower’s Fucked on a Pile of Corpses is the only other release I can say has ever demonstrated this to me.
I can easily write about any Erenesto Bohorquez project, but all I can now say is go forth and check any of his projects out. Excellent split.
James Shearman – At the Bottom of A Deep Hole – CDR – Harsh Noise London #38- 2020.
James Shearman has been reviewed on here as his pseudonym A Raja’s Meshmen once before in June 2019’s big Harsh Noise London review. Shearman is another prolific sound artist whose noise work seems to go back to 2013/14.
At the Bottom of a Deep Hole is one long continuous 65-minute wall track.
Crisp is a word that immediately comes to mind when thinking of the texture of this wall. There is what I would call friction laden, creaking noise in play that really pops out at you as if the sound is continually peeling itself down, remerging and breaking down continuously. There is a strong bass boom that seems to form the core of the wall, while the snap, crackle, pop shoots out at you as if in a state of constant eruption. The lead elements shift as well, sometimes peeling, scraping, or popping, the back bass consistently wavers, all of this creates a lot of movement.
I think this wins the award for the longest wall that I have ever reviewed.
Gen 26 – Euromutation: Live – CDR – Harsh Noise London - #39 – 2020.
I have never not been impressed with a Gen 26 release and I have had a lot of them over the last year, the sounds and dynamics within the work are often strong enough to come through well on the recordings of the show – Gen 26 releases many of his live recordings. This Slovenian act has become a big name on my radar, Dr. Matjaz Galicic has a clean take on Harsh Noise that allows the clarity of noise to really work whether it is simple stripped down sounds resonating or very detailed layered work that can literally scream at you when in full assault. I can’t say that I have had a bad release from Gen 26 yet.
Euromutation is four live performances from 2016, 2018 and 2 from 2019.
The first performance is from Brno Noise Fest 09/10/2016. It subtly starts from restrained sharp noise which once unleashed is like a massive screaming tantrum, the sounds are at times like screams which is parallel to the work of Harsh Noise Movement in that respect. As the screaming noises intensify, this coupled with the distortion gives the impression of rain, as if the performance is a storm of rage. This performance is an effective violent Harsh Noise outburst where the sound seems manipulated and controlled to full effect.
Full wall, textured distortion blasts out at Mrož Fest 26/10/2018 – this is very dense blast and crackle seem to form immediate depth. As the shifts in the elements begin, I feel as if I am in the core of a small planet, this is good wall work with a big roar. The wall seems focussed on the inner movement of the sound. As the wall progresses it seems to gain density in its’ sound. Gen 26s wall work is great. The performance at Hlukova Mysteria on 13 – 14/09/2019 begins with sampled dialogue, as this plays out a rain of distortion grows over it, sharp blasts of distortion join this. It becomes about the two elements forming an effective wall that contrasts that of Mrož Fest greatly by radiating a shrill, hostile harshness.
The last performance is a sad one for me, it was the last Harsh Noise London festival on 23/11/2019, other commitments meant that I could not go. This excerpt is at first, shriller than the other performances, it sounds like an electricity storm hissing and blasting severely as sounds go off in the background. This does seem to have some sort of broken melody core that is masked. The sound thickens as it accelerates towards the end forming a dense wall as sharper hiss seems to bounce on top of it.
This is a good collection of Gen26 performances, I feel as if I have happily travelled to different noise festivals around the world as I listen to these.
Francesco Terrini – Hell – Harsh Noise London #40 – 2020.
1. The Plague Exiting from the horses.
2. Fractured Sphinx.
3. Labyrinth of the chosen undead.
4. Mystical Warfare of the ancients.
5. Conjuration of Astaroth’s Seal.
This Philippines based project is Chester Masangya (Coalminer Recovery Centre) and seems to have been active since 2019. There is a wealth of material on his Bandcamp page, there have been splits with Mai12 and many other projects in the last 2 years. Hell is the first full length recording of Francesco Terrini.
Haunted is how I’d describe the first track; it uses ambient sound and noise to create The Plague Exiting from the Horses. This seems to hold back and exist in existential terror. Fractured Sphinx is slightly more aggressive, the restraint is still there, but the sound is impressive as it pulsates whilst a warped vocal begins a log dialogue, this is good Power Electronics, very impressive in fact. It is infected, disturbing, and radioactive in sound. The vocal increases its’ mania on Labyrinth of the Chosen Undead, the sound intensifies accordingly as it pulsates with nauseating loops. The vocals seem to flip out as if lost in the subject and the performance. At this point the psychedelics of the sound become very apparent and as the vocals become increasingly pained, I realise parts of this work are a nod to early Ramleh. Mystical Warfare of the Ancients pulls into further depravity and the sound has gone from a simmering Power Electronics to a murky Death Industrial, the last track is dying murk that eventually kicks off and kills the album off.
This is an excellent album, an impressive debut full length and a project to watch.
Grey Smoke – The Great City Is Dead Now – Harsh Noise London #41 – 2020
1. Night of the Death.
2. Dawn of The Insomnia.
3. Day of the Sickness.
“In the last weeks we’re living hard days. Quarantine, Isoloation, fear, contamination, viruses…. Looks like a horror movie directed by George Romero.”
Little is known about Grey Smoke, my immediate impression is that they specialise in truly aggressive head abusing noise. This like Hydra (RIP)or Dosis Letalis and others; it is obnoxious and headfucky, if you don’t get into it and pay attention, you’ll hate it. The first track Night of the Death totally replicates its’ title, antisocial repetition, and subtle shifts within it make wall noise seem pleasant and meditative. This exists to assault your ears and has a negative purpose.
Dawn of the Insomnia is nauseous Psychedelia that creates middle finger music. I have heard of people making antisocial music and I know I have used this term twice, but this really is. I like that, people making antagonistic, negative noise that lacks the security of genre cliché and hip association. In some ways the sound is like a misuse of early BBC Sci-Fi sound effects to make a confrontational soundtrack to early Sci-Fi films that were themed around disaster and the end times. Grey Smoke is Power Electronics more horrible cousin as they meditate on their antisocial repetition of sound.
The traditional Death Synth sound is abused and made into a loop for Day of Sickness. I feel like whoever is the creator of Grey Smoke, creates music for themselves and nobody else, this track really reflects that. It is as if they have looped two sounds and allow them to interact interfering occasionally. The methods and sound seem to reference Harsh Noise Wall and Power Electronics and go elsewhere with it. This focuses on itself brilliantly, it pulls itself in and radiates outwards massively.
Grey Smoke sounds unlike anything else to me, this album is great and easily makes it to my top releases that I have heard this year.
Wolvestribe – The Early Years – Harsh Noise London - #42 -2020.
Power Electronics is an odd one, how do you stand out? Which labels do you release on? How is your angle going to be original? So many barriers must be negotiated to stand out. There is always a lot going on, lots and lots. Discovering Wolvestribe was like a punch in the face to me, some oddballs from London, playing their own gigs and releasing their own albums; to me they were a lightning bolt that made its mark on me immediately.
This compilation is basically a physical release of their digital debut, The Paths to the Formation of Symptoms.
It is sharp, cutting, and brutal straight after the opening manifesto dialogue. Warped vocals wade through the sonic outbursts. The use of electronics is very raw and chaotic. I like the grinding sounds that rip across tracks as if to cut them up into separate areas of noise. However, the vocals cut through the grind to create another area of noise, this makes for a very choppy recording. The bonus track is like a plague of locusts bursting out of my stereo.
I translate this album as the last gasps of society, the continual breakdown of things and essentially the war within the self. I am thrilled this has made physical release. All I can do is marvel at this one and urge you to check out Wolvestribe’s excellent work.
Mutations – One Thousand Dead Swans – Harsh Noise London - #43 – 2020
1. Another Falling Out of Love with the World.
2. The Song Must End.
3. Ebb and Flow.
4. Toward the End.
5. Swan Song.
The slow progression of this album is impressive, it starts from clicks and tics. It builds to something that has part HNW delivery, but this is woven into other noises and is very much about the textures and sounds produced. It is done well, the sounds are interesting, and the work retains a sense of mystery. Mutations demonstrates complete control with a lot of interesting interplay going on between the sounds.
As the tracks progress the sound builds up to immense noisy distortion heavy displays, particularly on The Song Must End. In contrast Ebb and Flow plays off high pitched screeches and chimes. The Song Must End, takes on a more industrial feel to its’ sound. Mutations has an anonymous coldness to One Thousand Dead Swans, but the language and interplay of sounds is strong. Toward the End seems to accelerate into noise overdrive layering up and stripping down its’ sound repeatedly. Swan Song is by far the albums’ most violent display of sound.
This is a well textured, detailed album.
Dosis Letalis – “Mon Creation” – Harsh Noise London #44 – 2020
1. Mon Creation.
Prolific Serbian, France based project Dosis Letalis has been active for 5 years across a wide range of labels releasing many split and solo releases.
Dosis Letalis lurks at the more challenging, antisocial end of Harsh Noise, never one to please the ears. On Mon Creation he delivers a scraping wall that drags and scrapes with its’ sound. The distortion is consistently spluttery as if it is coughed out. The work seems to be barley alive as it drags itself across the length of a CDR. This is an intense recording that does not stray from Dosis Letalis’ usual, challenging ear torture. One track of what I would call a broken wall, that stays broken. The Creation does focus within itself focussed on the crackling detail of the sound. It is Harsh through its repetition and refusal to change for such a massive amount of time.
Mon Creation stays true to the challenging nature of Dosis Letalis as I would expect this was the hardest release of the batch, but also one of the best.
Euphoric Bullshit Vibe of the Sonic Deathwish Posse 2020