Sunday, June 24, 2007


Our Cold 100 chart got electro-shocked back into health this week with a deluge of prime noise arriving via both physical and electronic means. I'd love to (and eventually will) excrete some words about the first three great psych/blurt releases on my buddy Eric's brand new Tape Drift label, or the excellent free-download live thing by Richmond behemoth Caustic Castle, or the seven-year-old drum and guitar damage of W!77!N6 (aka Willing), since all of those offer nicely varied takes on noise, drone, improv-rock, and all the oceans of gray that lie in between. But for some reason I found myself in the mood for some all-out, unrelenting capital-N Noise, and while the second track on Tape Drift's Century Plants CD certainly qualifies, the best candidate turns out to be the unexpected aural vomit of New Drunks, courtesy of a new New Jersey label with the fine hick-baiting name of Fuckallyall.

The nine tracks on Minus are all relatively standard noise fare, and I mean that as a compliment - all the blasts, scrapes, crashes, and annihlating aural assaults are nicely familiar, and consistently interesting even when they're not something you haven't heard before, which is true most of the time. Brian Wayne (the one guy behind New Drunks) was just a teenaged Alabama recluse when he concocted these multi-dubbed splatterings in the early 90's, recording only, uh, "acoustic" instruments (like forks, spoons, blenders, and fans) and then mixing the resulting tapes into overloaded infinity, without the aid of any effects or pedals. So I'd say you could forgive Brian for aping his heroes (Merzbow, Masonna, etc) since he was so young, except there's nothing here that needs forgiving - if you like constant sonic abrasion, the kind that shifts and darts like a hyperactive chimp yet has the unrelenting volume and dedication of a lumbering elephant, then I defy you to find anything to complain about on Minus.

I'd pick out some favorite tracks but really, they're all eerily on the same exact level of quality, filled with deep layers of crunching attack, impulsive semi-rhythmic blasts, distorted beyond-the-red audio maximization, and the kind of piled-high noise stacks that induce aural hallucinations. I've picked out "Meth Mouth" simply because it beats most of the others (by about 1%) in terms of uninterrupted, unleavened noise, and at five and a half minutes is just about the perfect length (I try not to bias myself against arbitrary stuff like track-lengths, but I'm just a sucker for short, succinct cuts of noise, something John Wiese is a particular master of, and something that New Drunks will hopefully continue to dole out more frequently now that Mr. Wayne is 15 years the wiser...)

NEW DRUNKS - "Meth Mouth" from Minus

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Apologies once again for the delay this week...and for a quick entry, but something's better than nothing, right? That philosophy certainly seems to apply to Peter Blasser (aka Peter B), a guy I know very little about but have been hearing about for years thanks to my various pals who are drooling afficionados of his homemade bent-circuit synths/oscillators/whatever you call them. I have no clue exactly how Peter makes his stuff or how one uses it, but I have definitely heard a lot of amazing noise come out of his unique implements when manipulated by high-level improvisers, and now thanks to Resipiscent I've gotten to hear what amazing noise comes out when the man himself is at the, uh, "controls."

Luteus is a 13-track album (plus excellent booklet w/photos of some of Mr. B's gadetry) that's oddly diverse - I expected wall-to-wall noise, but there are actual compositions here interspersed among the more abstract inventions, some of which even have repeated parts and vocals and all that kind of song type stuff. I'm not really sure what I think of those pieces - a couple, like "I'm your owl, what is your mystery" are pretty cool repetitive melodies in a way roughly reminiscent of the Books, weirdly enough - but I'll reserve judgement for now, cause the noise on Luteus is pretty great regardless. Most of it comes on tracks titled "Sin Satin S'Sudio," which according to the liner notes "is one of Nodemesnes' ancient ritual ceremonies etc. concerned with umbilical connection between temple-themed Din Datin Dudero random analog brain and T.T. Trano hierarchy ambrazier." I have less idea what that means than I do how to play one of Peter B's instruments, but I do understand that all the SSS tracks on here are filled with non-predictable sonic action that spurts, belches, growls, and annihilates all over the place.

The cool thing is how every track in this subset of pieces is so wide-ranging and exploratory - all of them have blasts of all-out noise and meditative sections of hum, often butted right up against each other. There's one called "Davie C. Jam" that really tosses noises up against the wall like balloons full of paint, slowly splattering each sound on top of the other (and has an ending oddly evocative of Mick Jagger's Invocation of My Demon Brother moog piece, which I'm a sucker for), but I'm finding myself more partial to "NON-ACTION #VII" (linked below), a really well-constructed path of warpy noise and firing din that sounds different every time I play it.

PETER B - "Sin Satin S'Sudio: NON-ACTION #VII" from Luteus

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Lately it seems I've been dropping Raymond Scott comparisons all over the place - I've done it here two times in the past few months, and I'm pretty sure I've tagged it on at least one Carlos Giffoni record somewhere - so I figured maybe I could get it out of my system by making a retro post on the man himself. If you've heard of Mr. S, chances are it's either through his stellar absurdo-jazz / cartoon-score work, or through his three volumes of legendarily bizarre, proto-techno family-help records known as Soothing Sounds For Baby. That's all excellent stuff, for sure, but it's meant that he generally is thought of as a kind of geeky electronics guy who managed to come up with some wacky sounds as a residue of his technological experiments (this is a guess - it's not like I've taken a survey or anything...)

Anyway whether or not that's true, I think it's safe to say that very few people think of R.S.'s work as noise. And I think it's kinda crucial to realize how prescient his stuff was in terms of treating every sound as worth exploring regardless of how "musical" it might be, and, even more importantly, in terms of how fun and funny noise can be. When I hear blurps and farts in Jessica Rylan's stuff or wheezes and honks in Giffoni's, well, I laugh, and I think a lot of non-believers in noise assume it's all supposed to be serious or scary or intimidating, which just couldn't be more wrong. Maybe I'm not really making my point too well - all I'm saying is that Raymond Scott's noise was both excitingly experimental and totally hilarious, and I think it makes him a pretty important touchstone for those of us who think the best noise has a lot of fucking moods, happiness and humor and absurdity and surrealness firmly among them.

Lots of the Scott stuff available is not really noisy enough to make that case, but luckily a few years back the fine archivists at Basta offered a glimpse into Scott's noisier tendencies by unearthing the many shades of sonic experimentalism he stirred up in his Manhattan Research, Inc. labs. If you haven't heard this stuff, I think you really need to - I bet it'll steer you to what I'm not so eloquently talking about above, if you don't agree already. I've posted 3 quick clips below, all excellent examples of Scott's ability to find humor and freedom in experimental noise - instead of always trying to harness melodies or punch lines out of his gadgetry, Scott sometimes let the transistors guide him, and the results were noisy, funny, and pretty much always spellbinding. I've purposely picked the ones that sound most like today's noise just to show how much of a prophet the guy was, but check out the whole thing and you'll find stuff that combines noise, structure, melody, and fucking advertising in a way that still really blows me away.

RAYMOND SCOTT - "Auto-Lite (Sta-Ful)," "Gmgm 1a," and "Take Me to Your Violin Teacher," all from Manhattan Research Inc.

Monday, June 04, 2007


OK, so I know my concept of what constitutes a "week" is starting to drift a bit, but I'll realign my compass soon, I promise. At least this time around I have a semi-substantial amount to say about a daunting Euro-improv all-star ensemble known as the Signal Quintet. I'd read about Jason Kahn's graphical score "Timelines" a while back, and how he had put this five-piece together specifically for it, and then how they'd decided to stay together and do other stuff because, well, shit - the lineup is really too good to be stopped: Kahn, Tomas Korber, Gunter Muller, Christian Weber, and my particular fave, one-time Voice Crack genius Norbert Moslang. I'd read, but I hadn't heard, and luckily the kind folks (actually, Mr. Kahn, I believe) at Swiss label Cut sent us a copy, part of a two-fer package with Sean Meehan's latest (a nice duo effort with Ellen Fullman that I suggest you order, as long as yer ordering this one, right?)

The disc is called Yamaguchi, and it contains three exclt improv-noise environments recorded in Japan during a tour there last year. Now, not to be regionally prejudiced or anything, but since this is quite distinctly a European affair, one might - if one were as lazy and unfair as me - expect it to have a certain, uh, "reserve" often found in the improvised noise of that fine assemblage of countries. And the pieces here do have points that could be called "restrained" or even "mellow" (they also have points of fiery all-out noise most Americans would be lucky to match), but the catch is that even Signal Quintet's quietest moments have a tension, creepiness and just plain scarily thick atmosphere that makes the whole record seem as sinister as any all-out screech fest.

Now that all my stupid biases and even stupider surprises at said biases being overturned are outta the way, here's what Yamaguchi has: rumbling low tones, scratchy surfaces, pregnant negative spaces, thick slabs of dissonance, crunching distortions, and lots of other sounds one might not expect from percussion, synths, guitar, electronics, and good ol' contrabass. Each piece manages to sound both like an aggressive aural confrontation and a lulling, picture-less mood-film, often at the same time. I think the first of the rec's three untitled pieces mixes those semi-warring/semi-brotherly factions best, and is also the best at building its sounds into arcs that are natural and stunningly organic, as if the participants were following some kind of unspoken treasure map to get to an bottomless chest of sparkling sonic rewards. (My metaphors still need help - send any spare ones to the address on the right).

SIGNAL QUINTET - (track one) from Yamaguchi
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