Saturday, August 26, 2006


Dove deep into my dirt-gathering 7" collection for some retro candidates this week, and found quite a few - my place is still hazy with all the dust-fog this excavation created, as are my ears...

RALPH HAXTON - "Nathicana" / "Ernesticide" 7" (Gyttja, 1993?)
I never quite got the story with Ralph Haxton, despite knowing some of the people "involved"...but I guess that was the point, with Haxton as inscrutable Pynchon/Jandek-like enigma, only with less tangible legacy to dig through for clues. So depending on who you know/what you believe/how much you care, Haxton was either the man the rhBand was created as an homage too, or he was just another pseudonym for the guys who became rhBand. Either way, the rhBand stuff was mostly excellent improv noise, and so is this - at least "Nathicana," a stretch of multi-level screech and abrasive distortion that's both textured and impenetrable (I also think my weathered needle didn't react so kindly to these aged grooves). "Ernesticide" is less interesting, a repetitive bit of edited noise and industrial clang that's vaguely like Wolf Eyes without any density or layers. I can't imagine returning to this again even now that I have it digitized - it's pretty non-committal, caught between not enough dedication to a single idea and not enough different ideas to hold repeat interest - but it didn't make me unhappy, and at least it got me pulling out my rhBand CDs...

Japan Bashing Volume Three: Stamp Out Noise 2x7" (Public Bath, 1991)
Jesus, what an all-star cast: Hijo Kaidan, Solmania, Hanatarash, and Masonna - the Mount Rushmore of Japanese hyper-destructive maniac noise. I know that even in 1991 all of these acts had a bunch of stuff out, but this is one of my first encounters w/any of them that I can remember, and thus it holds a special busted blood vessel in my withering heart, as does the label, Wisconsin(!?)-based Public Bath, which was run by an amazing married and/or divorced couple named David and Betsy, and which churned out tons of great Japanese splatter before burning out so quickly its end somehow predates the internet (just try googling it). Nothing but absolute killer sound-destruction here: Solmania's windy feedback from a brutally-raped guitar; Hijo Kaidan's unbearable firestorm of high-pitched, gut-slicing wail, from a show at which "all the audience were (sic) dead by the end"; Hanatarash's (aka Eye's) goofy crush of warped beat, reggae riff sample, and cycling din (recorded on used tapes - you can still hear the original taped-over sounds); and best of all, Masonna's ferocious (and awfully-titled, see below) air-ripping symphony of power electronics and esophagus-shredding shriek. So many of contempo noise's extremities owe debt to these four (all of whom I think are still going in some capacity), but to me no one has quite matched the combination of dense sound construction and psychotic emotional / physical / mental dumping that prime 80's/90's Japanese noise was drenched in. Maybe it's just a case of first love, but for me this kinda shit will always be the ultimate cracked, mud-caked measuring stick...

DON DIETRICH - "Chinese Root Letter" / "Tabluae Sex" (Ecstatic Peace, 1995)

Speaking of unmatched - 11 years has definitely not subtracted an iota of the power from this, Don Dietrich's lone effort outside of the confines of the skull-reshaping Borbetomagus and his other journeys with fellow massive heroes Jim Sauter and Donald Miller. I'm still so blown away by how unique this sounds - really can't think of a parallel in terms of the sheer insane tone and incomprehensibly alien texture and...uh...I don't know, it's just one of the few records I've ever heard that actually occupies a portion of the sonic spectrum completely by itself. Doubly head-fucking when you consider it was made with a freaking sax, an instrument not only limited in noise-capacity compared to electronic-based tools, but one whose farthest-out sounds should've been exhausted by freaking 1995. You're probably thinking, how can this be such a surprise if you've ever even listened to one second of annhilating Borbetomagus blare - and believe me, I've listened to a lot more than that, yet I still find this blindingly unprecedented. Sure, there's recognizable sounds here, but there are also moments (say about 3 minutes in, for example) where I just can't imagine my speakers have ever responded this way to anything else. Maybe Dietrich's pulverizing insanity has just made me woozy, but if so it's a shot I'm gonna administer myself on a regular basis, and I dare you not to do the same once you've had yr first taste.

DON DIETRICH - "Chinese Root Letter"
MASONNA - "hot licks from a cunning linguist"

Sunday, August 20, 2006


First off, a quick note of caution about the new Poor School CD-R, Dream for Mat - it's unbelievably awesome. I've blabbed about them enough already so I won't go into detail, but suffice to say that if you liked their others, or if you like vintage live Marble Sheep and the Run Down Sun's Children mixed with the rockier strains of the Dead C. and/or Valentines from Matahari-era Sun City Girls, I implore you to send the best $7 you ever spent to the Killer Tree compound...

Moving on...the prolific, brilliant Last Visible Dog label has just spewed forth another load of stellar releases, led by a massive live 3-CD set of walk-in drones by Birchville Cat Motel, rattling homemade Finnishisms from Keijo and morphing blare from his Free Players ensemble, eerie woods-noise from Eastern Fox Squirrels, and more. What's carved the deepest divots in my brain, though, is Book of Beyond, a resilient slab of spaced-out drones and whining noises from Glasgwegian sound-warrior Ben Reynolds. "Best"-known as a frequent participant in Phil Todd's tall-standing Ashtray Navigations, Reynolds has been pretty prolific on his own (he just had something on Digitalis a little bit ago, which I need badly), and a lot of his stuff has vascillated between and/or swirled together Fahey-inspired acoustic traveling and idea-heavy noise, but here he seems to have gone fully over to that second side, with 48 minutes worth of unerringly excellent results.

Some might dispute that unerring-ness claim, considering that Book of Beyond at times uses stock space sounds - whirring lasers, short-wave blips, ring-modulated oscillations - that can suggest a 60's planetarium score. Dive a little deeper, though, and you'll see/hear Reynolds wraps his galactic cliches inside so much probing, unique-sounding noise, drone, racket, and din that those previously-familiar moves are basically reinvented by their context. Besides, I'm doing him a disservice by focusing that much on the space angle - most of Book of Beyond is simply busy, inventive clouds of unheard noise, with the space stuff merely a nice bit of extra fodder for Reynold's sharp, demolishing blender.

Said blender spits out a transifixing array of fertile, constantly-growing noise: check "Remedy for the Sirs," whose combo of power electronics and free improv (thanks to inspired added clatter from Alex Nielsen) evokes HCI battling HoD, then melts into a windy tunnel of high drone; "In Yeek Stars", whose metallic, whistling chirps sound both like an gamelan-ish drone symphony and a beat-less version of early Excepter moan-fests; "We Three Theatre," which recalls the Neil Young Arc approach applied to the pre-concert tune-ups of 1000 orchestras; "Done Soggy (Constellation)," a mass of sparkling cycles and trashed percussion that reminds me of Bobby Beausoleil's Lucifer Rising peformed inside of an old car engine; and more. In fact, so much fucking more that I'm not even gonna post any of the above, but rather Book of Beyond's darkest, lowest track, "Heavy Mask," a solid chunk of rumbling noise and improv clutter that's been playing ping-pong in my brain all week.

BEN REYNOLDS - "Heavy Mask" from Book of Beyond

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Anyone who knows me is probably sick of hearing me talk about Mouthus. Ever since I bought their s/t album at Kim's a few years ago (strictly because it was on Psych-o-Path) and was immediately demolished by its hypnotic noises, metallic fogs, fractured beats, and uncannily clear-yet-murky mixes, I've been blathering non-stop about the masterful duo of Brian Sullivan and Nate Nelson. I've written something about almost every one of their releases somewhere, incl. the very first Noiseweek entry - so you'd think I too might eventually tire of talking about them. And I suppose I will someday - if they ever put anything bad out. Don't count on that - the amount of great Mouthus missives on various imprints (Important, Ecstatic Peace, Troubleman, etc) seems to be growing exponentially, and the band's in-house label Our Mouth has kicked into full gear - so get used to it or get lost (or both), I guess.

Best of the recent Our Mouth stuff is the first Sullivan and Nelson solo CD-R's. Sullivan's comes under the name Eskimo King, and Tooth-Shaped Migration is five thick, detailed chunks of sound spread over a quick 17 minutes. What I dig most about Sullivan is his wide-open outlook on what sounds are worth making. Mouthus may concoct a lot of deep, textured noise, but they also use acoustic guitar loops, dirgey metal-like stomps, polyrhtyhmic meditations, busted rock riffs, and tons more. Each track here is pretty different: "My 2nd Magnet" has the loping moan of Luxurious Bags or even a slo-mo Sebadoh or Tall Dwarfs; "Pinewood Derby" stretches out guitar chords and vocal syllables like vintage Dead C.; "Bear to Bear" is like early Sonic Youth filtered through a muffler; and "Ran From Ice" plants distant bombs behind a beatific acoustic line in a way that doesn't sound like anything else I can think of. My favorite piece is the simplest: "Take It to the Bus Line" (linked below) chips away at a wall of super-textured noise until its inner core of guitar, mouth harp (I think), and droning voice are left waving in the wind. My only complaint about Tooth-Shaped Migration is that I want more - some of these tracks sound like excerpts from longer symphonies - but restraint is just another of Sullivan's myriad strengths.

Afternoon Penis is the delightful name of Nelson's solo endeavors, which are as cerebrally-enthralling and gut-divining as Sullivan's. I'm pretty sure the title of his two-track CD-R Up All Night is meant literally, as Nelson often kills nocturnal hours in the practice space Mouthus shares with Double Leopards, prodding and massaging his hybridized acoustic/electric/etc kit until the sounds in his head and the room are indistinguishable. The result is two sides of the noise coin: "Calling SF" is a repetitive, commited stretch of echoing rattle and haunting drone that evokes a broken assembly line grinding itself into oblivion, while "Love Among the Stacks" is less cloudy, winding through lonely overlapping percussion and tribal whistle-and-tom duets before crawling into a tomb of noisy howl. It all evokes Mouthus' darker leanings on The Long Salt yet feels somewhat independent of the duo's staggering body of work as well as Sullivan's Eskimo King sketches - proof again this pair's vault of ideas will provide me with a reason to yak for a long time.

ESKIMO KING - "Take It To the Bus Line" from Tooth-Shaped Migration
AFTERNOON PENIS - "Love Among the Stacks" from Up All Night

Sunday, August 06, 2006

OF (plus PENGO)

Bit of a dilemma this week: lately, either through purchase or bequeathment, a hailstorm of great stuff has hurtled through the Noiseweek mailbox (besides the Cold 100 to the right, I'm also frantically digesting Mouthus and Panopticon Eyelids stuff on Our Mouth, tons of My Cat is An Alien slabs, the Maggoted collab on JYRK, all the new Three Lobed subscription missives, etc etc etc...). This deluge has made it hard to pick what to write about, not to mention the fact that the best thing I heard this week (if not this year) is an un-mp3-postable two-track live CD-R from Pengo entitled Cosmology of the Broken Saints on the Hippie Overdose label. Each track is super-long, plus I'd feel weird offering half of a release for free - and an excerpt would just be wrong, since my fave, "Seven Sparrows," is such a wholistic work of sound construction that it must ONLY EVER be listened to from start to finish. It starts with incredibly textured noise-drone, builds into a dilating climax of howl, then falls back into reflecting guitar chimes that evoke the Velvet Underground circa "Black Angel's Death Song" or "Hey Mr. Rain"... only to climb into another Green Monster-sized wall of storming noise. Maybe it's just my particular cortex, but every portion of this piece digs into my brain and stirs up cells that usually spend the day/week/year dormant. I beg you to find a copy - Fusetron, Volcanic Tongue, and Carbon all seem to still be holding.

Luckily there's lot of stuff this week that's almost as good - and the almost-est is a dense slab of solo stuff from Thuja/Jewelled Antler pioneer Loren Chasse, under his current nom-de-fume Of. The excellently-titled Awful Cloud is on Yellow Swans' JYRK label, and it's four head-busting pieces of noise, drone, ambience, field recordings, primitive beat, dark atmosphere, and everything else this highly-accomplished sound-maker has long proven himself capable of. I'm no Thuja expert but have loved everything I've heard (and also think their whole nature aspect gets a bit overblown in their press, since they do a LOT more than that)...and Pine Cone Temples was one of the best records/albums/objects/etc of 2005, two discs of thoughtful aural mayhem that drew on a few influences, but still had a thick, idea-heavy aura that felt blindingly unique.

The Awful Cloud doesn't offer quite that heavy a drift (and was made all with conventional instruments - no rocks or sticks here), but it's pretty fucking close. The four tracks here are all very different, but what I like most is not the overall diversity, but how in each piece Chasse fully commits to a small range of sounds, rather than trying to make each into a look-what-I-can-do roller coaster...yet in doing so he actually divines a wider range of texture, tone, and nuance than he might've otherwise. Which is just to say the guy can find more in a single cloud of sound than most can in a year's worth of passing fronts.

The concept of what's "best" here is kinda nonsensical - I pretty much equally dig the way the four-minute "Psychotic Episode" recreates internal implosion through reddened guitar attacks that ring so hard they catch fire, the way the 17-minute "Human Absence" forges a sonic black hole with echoing tones that multiply and negate each other, and the way the closing, 11-minute "Cumulus Deceased" offers both optimistic relief through rising tones, and bittersweet denouement through stoic refusal to ever reach the mountaintop it seems to futilely seek like a droning Sisyphus. Still, it's hard to beat the opening "Uglich Bell," a cluttered web of crashing drums, ear-plugging metallics, and growling din that seems to ripple through the rest of the album long after its last bit of screech has finally decayed. That might be the best way to describe The Awful Cloud: every track seems to reflect into the other, like an undending series of cast stones causing an infinite loop of watery ripples.

OF - "The Uglich Bell" from The Awful Cloud
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