Saturday, July 15, 2006


In the last few years Phil Blankenship's devotion to extreme noise has been kinda staggering. His Troniks and PacRec labels have scored numerous direct lobe-hits (my fave is John Wiese's Teenage Hallucination), the most massive being the California Noise 20-band/10-LP box. The Cherry Point, Blankenship's alter noise ego, has been just as hectic, ripping out CDs, LPs, splits, and collabs with Wiese, Yellow Swans, Howard Stelzer, etc. Lots of those have been genuine factory-made releases, the kind that take money and planning and actual hassle. As much as I love CD-R's, the underground would be wormfood a bit incomplete (thanks to anonymous #1 for the re-think...) if not for labels that see noise as worthy of pressing plants and shrink-wrap machines. So Mr. B's a hero on a lot of fronts.

Unfortunately, this kind of high activity-level inevitably evokes the simplistic "it can't all be good" dig (just ask Keiji Haino, Anthony Braxton, or William Shakespeare). And I really don't know, because I haven't heard it all, but I'd happily bet that everything Blankenship-related object has something worthwhile in its festering core, because what I have heard is really fucking "good."

Two discs this year have particularly bent my femurs - first, Night of the Bloody Tapes, a compilation of tape stuff meant to conjure the demons embedded in gore-outs like Mardi Gras Massacre and Shriek of the Mutilated. A noble pursuit for sure, and Blankenship succeeds by pouring aural blood in your ears until all you can hear is your insides, as if your guts were a conch shell stiched to the side of your head. All four untitled tracks here may invite and even justify knee-jerk complaints, i.e. I could sit next to a jack hammer and get the same experience. Well of course you could, and a lot of us would if there were jack hammers everywhere - since there aren't, monsyllabic noise like Night of the Bloody Tapes needs to be kept around just in case.

If that doesn't knot your cochlea, The Cherry Point does other stuff too, which is why the new Black Witchery is my favorite slab so far. Three tracks culled from 3-inch CDs, each about 20 minutes long. Not exactly a departure from Bloody Tapes - it's still monolithic noise meant strictly for ear-assault - but there's a dark hypnotism here that produces suprisingly varied experiences over multiple listens. "Virgin Witch" is a warmup, as crackling static and rumbling echoes slowly curdle into a sprint. "Devil's Witch" starts with a rare single sound and builds a contoured map of trebly noise and windy atmosphere. But the real bell-ringer is "Season Of The Witch" (excerpt below), a kind of royal noise sampler, with nearly every kind of destructive sound - abrasive blasts, repetitive blips, cracked electronics, distant bombs, howling echoes, etc - deployed.

I also wouldn't cry if you snatched Limbs of the Fawn, a lovingly black-packaged Misanthropic Agenda CD from the Blankenship-Wiese duo LHD. Not exactly sure what distinguishes LHD from the Blankenship-Wiese duo of White Gold, but that's not important - what does matter is the 36-minute brain tumor here filled with crunchy treble and ear-pinning static. It's basically an extended version of an aural car wreck, but stretches of overtoned yell and ghostly shriek make it worth at least one sitting, if you can take it.

Years of school and/or being wrangled by editors has planted this voice in my head that sez I gotta give you a consumer guide, tell you if you'll "like" the records I talk about, if they're "better or worse" than others. I'm gonna keep resisting that demon though - the truth is that records like the Cherry Point's are so occupying that their relation to others is immaterial. When they're on, I don't think about other records or measuring sticks or modes of perception - I just think about how much noise there is. That's all anyone with grey matter should want/need to know.

THE CHERRY POINT - "Season of the Witch" (excerpt) from Black Witchery


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the underground would be wormfood if not for labels that see noise as worthy of pressing plants and shrink-wrap machines.

Such a load of crap.
A fool and his inheritance are soon parted.
The underground noise scene woud still thrive, if no one ever pressed another record or replicated another glass mastered cd.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if it weren't for the emerging class of pro-pressed noise artists, the underground noise scene would have a better chance at being less of a scene and more of a community.

1:24 AM  
Blogger MM said...

Yeah, I went overboard on that "wormfood" comment - definitely the underground would thrive w/out pressed LPs and CDs - and I'd be happy to buy nothing but tapes and CD-R's. But I still dig that someone out there's doing it the other way too - so I guess I really meant that the underground would just be a bit incomplete w/out that - thanks for the reality check.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'white gold' is actually the title of an LHD record.

10:34 AM  
Blogger uhh said...

I honestly agree with the original statement, I believe that the fact that labels like pacrec feel that their work is worthy of the extra time, care and hassle it takes to produce a professional CD is part of the reason the noise scene is thriving currently. Labels of consistently high quality who produce proper releases which are physically in no way inferior to releases in "mainstream" genres help to encourage the thought that noise is a serious and viable mode of expression, as opposed to a bunch of kids in their bedrooms churning out CDr's of crappy, effortless shit.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Graham said...

I really like CD-R's and tapes and professional CD's. But I wish there was more vinyl.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Graham said...

Some excerpts over at the Troniks page.

5:07 PM  

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