Sunday, April 15, 2007


In the fog of my time away, I accumulated many great recs that have sat in sad piles, begging to be cracked open and played. Last week I finally heeded the cries of some Ecstatic Peace vinyl - mammoth sides from X.o.4, New Blockaders / Moore / O'Rourke, and Lambsbread - and they're all stunners, but the winner is Emil Beaulieau's Moonlight in Vermont. It's been so long since I checked in on Mr. B or anything RRR-related that I inexplicably thought his identity as RRR prez Ron Lessard was still a secret (was it ever?), but since about 200 sites mentioning it pop up via Google in seconds, I guess not. So, Emil=Ron, and also Emil=a noise lifer who's done enough amazing work on record and in his live, pink-shirt-and-tie guise to earn his own self-appointed mantle of "America's Greatest Noise." His sheer longevity would be enough to enshrine him, but the work has always been top shelf too.

Such is the case with Moonlight In Vermont, which I'd love to say ranks among his best stuff if I could legitimately claim to have a decent handle on his catalogue. But KFW sez so, and I don't think you want to argue with that. Apparently this album has floated around as a CD-R since 2004, and was slated to get a Hanson matrix number at some point, but instead it's Emil's Ecstatic Peace debut, complete with one-of-a-kind Emil-made covers - you can see 272 of them here. Mine (see image above) is an excellent magik-markered defacing of an album of John F. Kennedy speeches (see orignal to the right). Individual covers are always a great idea, but even cooler w/this rec because Emil certainly put as much care and craft into Moonlight in Vermont's array of sounds and sequences as he did into each of the 300 covers.

There's nothing world-changingly new about what Emil's doing here, but that's kinda what makes it great - it's just pure, workman-like noise, way less concerned with being different than being thick, detailed, textured, interesting, and basically unbeatable. Each of the eight tracks pulls a subset of sounds from Emil's array of searing strikes, depth-charge bombings, sandpaper tears, high-end screeches, and more, then lines them up into shapes and patterns that sometimes attack, sometimes drift, sometimes bounce, sometimes even swell. If you wanna get classical about it, there's both a Non tint to Emil's rhythmic cutting, and a Merzbow smell to the burning tone of the noise, but I also hear some of what Carlos Giffoni's been doing lately, at least in terms of arrangement and sequencing. It's the way both CG and EB structure their noises into vaguely song-like skeletons without getting montonous or predictable, and still hang onto the essential abrasion and urgency of their noises. Those are pretty standard comparisons, but hopefully that's less about my lack of imagination than it is about Emil's ability to make great shit out of pretty familiar sounds.

The track below is a good, succinct example: traces of feedback and distortion spin around each other in smoky rings, until a surreal sub-beat emerges through the natural waves of Emil's brain-shaking discharges. I especially dig how this track (and others on the rec) can start to sound like a locked groove, an infinite loop of the same simple noise, yet just pay a little more attention and you can hear Emil's subtle variances and organic modifications adding density and color without calling attention to themselves, like an image photocopied over and over until its repetitive shapes slowly blur into abstraction.

EMIL BEAULIEAU - (side one, track four) from Moonlight in Vermont


Anonymous Psychmetalfreak said...

Hi, 1st congrats for your excellent blog site! I hope your site will serve as future conduit for noise-heads all over the world. By the way realised you have not checked out 2 essential noise compilations released over the past 6-9 months: Various - California on Troniks/RRR & Various - Broken Flag: An Introspective 1982-1985. Grab them if you have not done so!

Lastly on Emil Beaulieau: A strong noise artist & an even stronger label head!

6:49 PM  
Blogger MM said...

thanks p.m.f. - I actually did get a chance to checkout the california box which rules - need to get that broken flag thing, thanks for the recommendation...

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It hasn't been a secret for many years that Ron = Emil. However, Ron himself told me that Emil Beaulieau was or is a real person, the former mayor of town in New Hampshire where Ron grew up.

1:43 PM  

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