RETRO NOISE MONTHLY (MARCH EDITION)
FAXED HEAD - Uncomfortable but Free CD
Hindsight is a killer - I remember digging Faxed Head, but I had no idea until today how much the Load Records roster owes (maybe unconsciously) to this Coalinga family's slobbering stew. The "desk-metal" project of Gregg Turkington and some of his Amarillo friends (all with the last name "Head," including part-time drummer Washington D.C. Head) seemed less important at the time than the related Three Doctors and Zip Code Rapists, but had I known how non-dated Faxed Head's brain-damage would sound years later, I would've paid more attention. Their drooling combo of busted metal riffs, goofy vox, Boredoms-style shriek-out, and harsh blast certainly echoes in the laff-noise of Load-ites like Friends Forever, White Mice, and Vincebus Eruptum - even Load's new (and greatly-titled) Fat Worm of Error CD sounds kinda like Faxed Head minus the metallics. Uncomfortable but Free has much enjoyable doofus-metal (I love how the Danzig-like "Violence Gone" seems to be sung by a gagged hostage), but also some surprisingly inventive sludge-scapes, with furry production, sharp-turns, and farting mayhem all blown in pretty unique chunks. There's actual adept metal buried beneath the vomit, which, despite the Load Klan having picked up that lopsided ball and fumbled it forward, makes Faxed Head way more singular than I ever imagined.
DESCENSION - Live March 1995 CD
I'm not sure what Stefan Jaworzyn is up to now (except that he recently wrote a book about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) but in the 90's he was a kind of noise/improv anti-hero, and despite a rep as a curmudgeon, was always super cool to me, even letting me release some of his music (which, apparently, is still available). His gtr-drum duo Ascension with Tony Irving was a free-noise rocket in a collapsing Rudolph Grey/Ray Russell/Sonny Sharrock vein, generating blankly-titled and barely-designed records that still hold up mightily, especially Five Titles. Descension added Brit free improv stalwarts Simon H. Fell (double bass) and Charles Wharf (sax/clarinet) to the core duo, seemingly offering a jazzed version of Ascension's wall-of-grit, but really, they mostly sounded like Ascension doubled into a blur. The quartet played one particularly notorious 1995 gig opening for Sonic Youth whose bloody details Stefan recounts here; Live March 1995 isn't from that, but rather a 48-minute gig in Walthamstow and a 2-part, 30-minute show in Leeds. There's tons of non-stop aural pressure here, but I still prefer Ascension; Irving and Jaworzyn's super-human communication made their sound miles-thick yet permeable and even airy, whereas Descension's noise-wall is devoid of even the slightest crack. Still mind-blowing though, and the Leeds gig is an Irving masterpiece. His gunpowdered barrage pierces every surrounding sound, almost like Chris Corsano if he owned Neil Peart's kit.
OMIT - Quad 3CD
(No label cassettes, 1993; Corpus Hermeticum (CD reissue), 1997)
A little bit of a cheat to "revisit" this monster, as it should still be ringing in the head of anyone who truly heard it at the time. Still, I haven't actually checked in with this in a few years, and once again the real thing way outdoes my head-ghosts. Originally birthed as 2 C-90 sets, Bruce Russell somehow mathed this into a Corpus Hermeticum triple CD, but it's hard to imagine how any physical object(s) can contain so many sounds and ideas. Windy drones, rattling noise, audio-verite atomspheres, psych-rock sound-scapes: really, what's not on here? Actually there's not much straight-up noise per se, but otherwise, everything interesting about the last 15 years of improv/noise/abstraction/whatever shows up. Yet everything is glued by the oddly chilly touch of Omit (a/k/a New Zealand recluse Clinton Williams), which I suppose makes Quad slightly serious/arch - there's definitely no fucking around here - but with noise this paralyzing, what difference does it make if you're smiling or straight-faced as long as your muscles are frozen? I was obsessed with this for a few months when it came out, but renavigating its mind-washing river, I realize I should've never filed it next to anything except my brain. I pathetically have yet to hear the, uh, "comeback" record, and D.Keenan claims it might be better than Quad, but even if that's true, I think I'll keep my illusions in tact for a little while longer.