Sunday, May 28, 2006


Phillip B. Klingler, aka PBK, has concocted stunning streams of sonic lava for 20 years now, from his audio cave beneath the famously depressed town of Flint, Michigan. Even making average-sounding sludge in that unlikely spot would be an admirable feat, but judging by the amazing stuff on A Noise Supreme, Early Solo Works, 1986-89, a selection of cassette pieces resurrected by XDiedEnrouteY (the excellent CD-R label recently responsible for a great Dino Felipe slab), PBK's work is pretty miraculous regardless of locale.

Kinda pathetic that this is my first exposure to PBK - had seen his name for years in association with Asmus Tiechens, Aube, Wolf Eyes, Jeph Jerman, etc., but somehow never actually heard him. The 11 tracks of super-thoughtful sound crammed into this disc make that ignorance a jailable offense...I'm not sure comparisons are appropriate with PBK's deep noise, which certainly shares terrain with the above compadres, as well as the ritualistic horror-loops of Non, the aggressive sheen of Merzbow, and the echoing drones of Double Leopards. But PBK's been doing this for so long and has developed such an singular vocabulary using synths, samplers, effects, and turntables, that it'd be an insult to say he sounds like someone else and not the other way around.

Most impressive about PBK's cavernous racket, aside from how I find something new everytime I play it, is the way he uses familiar devices to produce unique results. Some pieces, like the clicking drone of "CNT Oct. 1910" and the dark pound of "Tribality," veer toward industrial bombast, but PBK melts the rhythmic stomp into his din rather than interrupting it or arbitrarily chopping it up. Others feel almost academic, but never in a bloodless way - only in the sense that you can hear all the thick thought behind PBK's sound, making his music feel more like layers of sediment excavated by a dirt-loving noise scientist than dry lab experiments with no gunk under the fingernails.

Every track here is a killer and I'd love to post them all, but instead I implore you to Paypal some $ to XDEY (and soon, mine is copy 34 of only 100)...and also check out mp3s at Soundclick and the Noiseambient myspace a nice vid of live improv from 2004...and finally enjoy "Fata Morgana," which I post below not only because it's a wall of harrowing hiss, but also because it shares a title with one of Werner Herzog's most insane films, not to mention lots of other random stuff too.

Tons more PBK to come (I'm most drooling at the 3-CD retrospective due on Russian label Waystyx), and some old stuff is again ownable now, so time to catch the hell up...

PBK - "Fata Morgana" from A Noise Supreme

Sunday, May 21, 2006


GATE - Live Boston/NYC 1994
(Poon Village, 1995)
There's really not a bad record out there by Gate (the demolishing concern of the Dead C.'s Michael Morley), but of all the ones I have, I've revisited Live Boston/NYC 1994 the least, if at all. This is due to sheer Gate volume rather than any quality issues - I've re-zoned to The Dew Line, Lounge, Golden, Monolake and even Morley solo recs like Lavender Head and Pavilion of Fools enough times that something had to get lost in the heavy plastic shuffle. This one's worth digging for, though - taken from Gate's '94 tour w/Keiji Haino and other Table of the Elements types, it has one half-hour track from Boston featuring a two-headed (w/Lee Ranaldo) Gate, plus six other short pieces from NYC w/a trio of Morley, Ranaldo, and Zeena Parkins. It's one of the few (only?) recorded examples of Morley's real-time sound-destruction, as well as his masterful ability to intertwine with other humans not named Russell or Yeats, and as such is pretty unerring stuff. The Boston cut is mostly flaming guitar battles and echoey dual-drones (plus a few sections that're too chord-y, but those are minimal). The NYC tracks are even more interesting, with a wider range of sounds and some harrowingly cave-trapped-sounding howl. Plus it's all locked in choice Poon Village screenprinted cardstock with that elastic loop holder thing, a packaging style that still stands out after 10-plus years of challengers. Though I certainly understand it, it's a shame that Mr. Morley's activity has slowed recently, as there are a lot more U.S. stages that he could be blowing people off of now than when he obviously did so in '94.

C.C.C.C. - Loud Sounds Dopa / Live in U.S.A.
(Endorphine Factory/Charnel House, 1993)
Not too much to say about this - just an unbelievably extreme noise record from one of Japan's (and Earth's) most extreme noise ensembles. I figured the years of ear-shred I've accomplished/enjoyed/endured since would make this sound softer than it did when I first hid under the table from it 13 years ago, but no chance: the two half-hour tracks here, taken from Oct 1992 shows in Oakland and Chicago, are still bone-sanding, nerve-puncturing experiences. Track one actually starts relatively mellow, but once abrasion kicks in at the three-minute mark, "relent" becomes a term that the murderous vocabulary of C.C.C.C. is painfully unfamiliary with. Sure, there's interesting stuff happening below - an infinity of turns, jolts, blasts, and even hallucinatory rhythms down there - but it's all laquered in a coat of aggressive sheen that never gets stripped away. Imagine Double Leopards if they were only allowed to play blenders and weed wackers - then imagine that you forgot your earplugs, and your way home. A pretty daunting acheivement, but my future 80-year old self is thankful for the little drops of remaining hearing that would've been long gone had I been at either of these shows. Beg me and I'll post an excerpt, but for now I'd rather protect your ear-health too.

MOSLANG / GUHL - Deep Voices
(FMP, 1977; Urthron (reissue), not sure when)
My head first got drowned by Voice Crack through their awesome collaborative LPs with heroic air-tearing trio Borbetomagus, wherein the Swiss duo of Norbert Moslang and Andy Guhl added intense audio junk using their self-described "cracked electronics" (homemade instruments like busted radios or half-alive calculators resoldered into noise-generators). Went backwards from there to 1990's Earflash, a skeleton-rattling set with drummer Knut Redmond, reissued in 1996 by the sadly short-lived O'Rourke/Grubbs label Dexter's Cigar. Then finally landed on their debut, Deep Voices, released on FMP before the duo took on the Voice Crack moniker. This is basically a jazz record, albeit an odd and often fucked-up one, especially considering it was recorded in 1977. Here Moslang plays reeds and Guhl plays bass and percussion, and though their future trash-trove is mostly absent, the lab-like devotion to mining for aural debris is firmly in place - seven tracks filled with scraping high-end (not unlike the Lacy/Parker dog-whistle battles of Chirps, also on FMP), silence-chasing restraint, and careful attention to avoiding patterns and dodging expectations. Apparently Moslang and Guhl have parted ways (there's a Moslang solo rec from a few years back that I still gotta hear), but anything with their names attached is worth sticking your head inside.

GATE - "New York 3" from Live Boston/NYC 1994
MOSLANG / GUHL - "Gut Geschliffen" from Deep Voices

Sunday, May 14, 2006


There's tons of great shit happening this decade, but my holy trinity of post-90's noise would be Sightings, Mouthus, and Double Leopards. Sightings get the Father position not from longevity (I think the Leopards win that race), but just cause they were the first I got to hear. When I caught rumblings in 2001 that Mark Morgan had a new band in NYC, I was definitely intrigued, but totally unprepared for the amazing onslaughts of Sightings (Load) and Michigan Haters (Psych-o-Path). The band's m.o. was simple enough - slobbering semi-rock "songs" with everything distorted beyond the capacity of man-made sound reproduction devices - but the sheer energy and odd unpeggability of the band's splattering sound palate gave both records a brain-destroying mania. Not to get too melodramatic, but it felt like a, uh, "new day" in noise.

Turns out it kinda was: noise and all other forms of abstract sound have steadily inclined since '01, and my own insignificant version of history sez Sightings are a (maybe even the) key. Since their first two blasts, they've found suprising nuance and dimension in their monolithic noise-walls: 2003's Absolutes added hints of dissected rhythm, leading to the chopped-up sparseness of 2004's Arrived in Gold, which proved that the band's powerful volume wasn't really about loudness, but rather unattenuated ideas and energy. Add the fact that Sightings warp brain cells live (their gig at No Fun Fest #1 was a mind-killer, particularly bassist Richard Hoffman's inhuman weight-lifting), and it's hard to think of a better band this decade.

The newest Sightings slab, End Times (Fusetron), takes four tracks from a super-limited LP (a collab with painter Daniel Richter for Italian label EN/OF) and adds five new chunks. It mixes styles from every past album - especially Morgan's drooling moans from the first two and the sharp, needle-sticking beats of John Lockie ca. Absolutes - into another mesh of overdriven beauty, and is often as harsh as the band has ever been - some parts will have you gluing in earplugs. Still, there's something uniquely, uh, human about this rec. Every song (two are available on Sightings' myspace page, and one below) seems to course with blood, and even the most desperate, brusing cuts are tinted warm red rather than cold black and blue. This might even be the best Sightings rec - I'm never gonna be objective about this band so don't trust me there - but you can trust me that, despite its ominous title, End Times proves the fertile sonic fields of Sightings are far from fully harvested.

Same goes for Mouthus, the first band since Sightings to give me such a holy-shit first-listen jolt. The two bands don't sound alike (Mouthus have a sludgier vibe, with more hypnotic, deadened (or even Dead C.-ened) drift), but it's still no big shock that they have a mutual history. In the 90's, Mouthus guitar-killer Brian Sullivan started a band with Sightings' Hoffman called Chaw Mank (they continue today with Sightings' Lockie and/or Mouthus drummer Nate Nelson), and Mouthus' in-house CD-R label, Our Mouth, has just released a thatch of Chaw Mank material called Vol. I. I've only had this a couple days and can't do it justice, but rest assured it's all you'd expect and more: dense air-tearing noise, gut-level pounding, vocals flattened into electric sheen, and the kind of wide-ranging openness to all possible sounds that Mouthus has patented. Right now I really dig the two 13-minute-plus tracks ("Days Of Air" is a funereal loop straight off of the Dead C.'s self-titled 2cd on Language), but both are too long to post, so instead here's the rec's darkest cut, a eerie crusher called "Jerk Finger"...

SIGHTINGS - "Bile Duct" from End Times
CHAW MANK - "Jerk Finger" from Vol. I

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Recently got a nice package full of hypnotic sounds from the exclt Philly label Honeymoon Music. The best band on this bubbling imprint is probably Niagara Falls, whose two CDs of slow-moving atmospheres and rattling noise debris clearly need more time than I've given them...but right now my ears are more fervently occupied by the mysterious gaggle called Peacefeather. Don't let the name scare you - maybe these guys are hippies in real life, but their music occupies the dark, spooky strain of Krautrock birthed by Can and Faust, extended by International Harvester / Parson Sound / Trad Gras Och Stenar, and recently split into a million hairs by No-Neck Blues Band, Davis Redford Triad, Acid Mothers Temple, etc.

Not that Peacefeather are just the sum of these influences, though I can't really say they are much more yet...but this self-titled CD-R is only their first release, and it's not like there's tons of bands doing this kind of thing this well anyway, so fuck it if they're not 100% distinct. They more than make up for it in range and skill - even Peacefeather's most predictable moments, like the happy, Neu-ish jam on the second half of "Cathode Ray,"or the sparkling beat and dreamy guitar figures on "On the Doppler," produce automatic rushes by turning gradual accelerations into mind-bending momentum.

The best stuff on Peacefeather needs no apologist: "Chrom" is an eerie black cloud of No-Neck like rattling rhythms, "Superluminal" conjures a thick mist of blurry wah and moaning croak recalling Davis Redford Triad's most mysterious moments, "Opening of the Future" slowly gathers moss like a sticky elephant lumbering across grassy plains, and the best track, "Peacekeeper," is a hall of sound mirrors with numerous drones and noises bouncing off each other in infinite loops. That latter song (available on the Honeymoon site, so I'm linking "Superluminal" instead - also check out the band's myspace page for more cuts) proves how abstract and noisy Krautrock can/should be - the reliance on rhythm and general jammy tone tends to make this style seem like "just" improv-rock sometimes, but there's tons of sound explorations and deconstructed textures inherent in Krautrock, and Peacefeather have a great chance to cut some new edges into this sound's well-worn saw...

PEACEFEATHER - "Superluminal" from Peacefeather
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