Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Saw The Hat City Intuitive play a classically great set on Saturday at the Warehouse Next Door. I'm biased b/c I put out one of their records and I'm pals w/all of them, but I knew their music before I knew them and if liking music is a bias, then objectivity's for chumps. The set started with double-guitar splatter-rock, swung through heavy chunks of sax & bass clarinet interlockings, a slice of meditative noise, and back to a great guitar-battle denouement. There were highs and lows and middles, and they were all awesome.

It's kinda stunning that after like a decade or more, the HCI are still so unique. I can't think of another band that plays a hybrid of jazz, rock, and noise so diversely. Everyone plays everything and does it really well, so that when one of them switches instruments, it sounds oddly fluid. Say, for example, that Thoroughly Atlaffed jumps from a high-end guitar scrape to a low-slung horn moan. The continuity of thought is so pure, it's like he's just switched from fork to spoon - either way he's still eating. Unlike other rock/jazz/noise blenders, HCI doesn't hide behind a continous wall of sound. They're fine with silence, pauses, ebbs, flows, stutters, etc. The way they can quickly turn moments that feel awkward or out of their control into a massive mix of crescendo and communication is pretty unreal. Basically everything that can happen does happen, and then the HCI reacts and something new happens. That's improv.

There are two new HCI albums out, both stellar. In a mag I write for, a writer I usually like slagged these records, and his points about them not coaslescing or having a "point" are ok, I guess. I can agree to disagree there, but his conclusion - "I fear that HCI won't get close to fulfilling their potential until they stop enjoying themselves so much" - is a fat load. Not only does that fuel the standard beef about this mag (i.e. too dry/academic/serious), but it sounds like he heard these records with weary ears. HCI are definitely always having fun, but they never do just one mood. They can be serious, somber, goofy, sloppy, precise, slow, fast, etc, all within one short blast of fire-seeking sound. Another writer (who also writes for the mag in question) agrees - not that it's a competition, you can like or dislike HCI, just don't say they do one thing too much, because anyone listening closely will see that you weren't. I'm sympathetic - this writer obviously had a massive stack of recs to plow thru - but he got these two wrong.

THE HAT CITY INTUITIVE - "Ruematic" from Narrow Miss On the Chamber Pot

Saturday, January 21, 2006


I've slept on Ultralyd since I got their Load CD last July or so, but the disc has been beckoning from my shelf, sending out a piercing red laser light that keeps burrowing into my memory-addled brain, mostly because muscle-man Kjetil Brandsdal is involved. His lurch-metal trio (of violin/bass/drums) Noxagt are unparalleled, and he's done some great solo noise too, but if i had glanced at the back of the CD before ignoring it in favor of WSOP reruns, I would've realized that horn-torturer Frode Gjerstad is also involved, making Ultralyd a potential monstrosity that I should go to hell for avoiding even for seconds, much less months.

Situation rectified, and Chromosome Gun is a behemoth - a hyper-splurting mash of free jazz, doom metal, punk rock, and sound-spectrum demolition. At times it sounds like Last Exit boxing The Thing, other times like Branca if he was a drill seargant in charge of getting Dylan Carlson in shape. The album's frantic beauty is immediate, but only when I tried to pick out the "noisiest" track to post did I fully comprehend this record's insanity. One track would sound too metal, the next too free jazz, the next too punk, then back to the metal one which suddenly sounded too jazz, while the jazz one now sounded too, uh, i don't know, country? Such is the damage that Chromosome Gun wreaks on perceptive tissues.

I finally settled on "Pink Mood," which contains most of the Ultralyd arsenal - a deboweling bass shake, Gjerstad's proto-Stooge blurps, Anders Hana's treble-wrench, and mostly, the insane drumming of Morten J. Olsen, which splatters across the record like projectiles after a competitive eating contest. turns out this is already available on Load's Ultralyd page instead here's a more hardcore explosion...but don't stop there, the entire brain-breaking record is worth losing your drool to...

ULTRALYD - "Glottality" from Chromosome Gun

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I sadly knew almost nothing about Carlos Giffoni before 2004's inaugural No Fun Fest, the coagulating 3-day marathon of high-quality, low-rent noise that Giffoni has single-handedly engineered for 3 years and counting. Giffoni's fist-pumping laptop duet there with Dylan Nyoukis was a vein-bursting highlight, and since then, the activity of this tireless Brooklyn via Miami via Venezuela monster (solo, with his trio Monotract, and in collabs with Nels Cline, Jim O'Rourke, Lee Ranaldo, etc etc) has been stellar. I stupidly missed a "boys-only" Monotract duo set at Amherst's Gladtree Fest (though my brother and I enjoyed a drunken audience with the other Monotract "boy," Roger), but the rock-trio set at last year's Noise Against Fascism anti-prez-inauguration fest more than made up for that mistake, providing a fractured corpse of broken rock and scattered noise that totally contrasted the trio's all-laptop set at No Fun #1.

Even more head-altering is Giffoni's arsenal of recordings, which fire discrete, even microscopic sounds into layers of compounded electronic crush, like bullets weaved into a quilt. He hit a peak last fall on Welcome Home, a nerve-combing mash of digital crunch, blurry waves, and chopping, squishing blasts. The album's unending attack induces a kind of aural coma, like being hypnotized through cranial acupuncture, making it my second-favorite noise record of 2005, just under Mouthus's Slow Globes.

Assassin's Faith, a new 3" CD-R on Chondritic Sound, is a kind of follow up, two 9-minute tracks of construction-site slobber that instantly drills holes in the skull. "Assassin's Faith 1" is more solid-core drone than anything on Welcome Home, as an initially quiet string of pointillist sounds become a haystack of crackling currents, even sounding Double Leopards-esque, but later collapsing into shards of debris. "Assasin's Faith 2" is even bloodier, an onrush of robotic noise-soldiers bathed in a echoing beat, then crumbling under Giffoni's relentless artillery of flesh-ripping sounds. The 141 copies of this 3" are supposedly already gone, but Carlos might have some at future shows, all the more reason to see you at the Hook in March...

CARLOS GIFFONI - "Assassin's Faith 2" from Assassin's Faith

Thursday, January 05, 2006


It's a bit crushing to think it's been 15 years since one of the most out-of-nowhere discoveries ever: Forced Exposure magazine's unearthing of Lake, a twisted double-LP masterpiece of spooky noise, splattering percussion, and psychotic yelps by a pair billed as "R!!!" and "S!!!." The R in "R!!!" stood for Richard Youngs, and in the subsequent decade and a half, he's built a towering stack of amazing records both with "S!!!" (Simon Wickham-Smith), by himself (try the dramatic minimalist classic Advent first if yer uninitiated), and with others. His oeuvre is staggeringly diverse, veering from guitar noise to piano plod to near-religious vocal meditations, but it's all connected by an haunting, center-of-the-brain intimacy.

Youngs' self-made resume is boggling enough, but he also has the distinction of being part of Jandek's first-ever backing band, along with his pal Alex Nielson. The pair had made a record before that historic surprise, and the follow-up, Partrick Rain Dance, is a stunner among stunners, a true feat that might be Youngs' best record yet. There's tons of amazing details and sounds here - scraping hiss, rolling multi-layered percussion, big fat synth chords, glitchy dot-matrix printer grinding, sheer piercing drone - but the true genius is how R. and A. make it all sound like one continous, wide-open world of sound. "Mountain" is a stunning forcefield of bowed cymbal and orbiting guitar, "Noatak Beacon" is a hypnotic seance of acapella moaning (Youngs has few peers in vocal experimentation), and "Chamber" is a nearly unprecedented noise-drum jam that sounds vaguely like Hendrix grafted siamese-twin like onto the head of Haino.

Apologies for the big file, but the mastery of Partrick Rain Dance is captured completely by the unbelievable "Music of the Last Sun," so I'm posting it below. Moving from tribal jamming with flute (?) to pure noise to gut-melting melodic chant to a rainstorm of dripping chimes, it's really unfathomable, an acheivement even Youngs himself will be hard-pressed to top.

RICHARD YOUNGS & ALEX NEILSON - "Music of the Last Sun" from Partrick Rain Dance
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