Saturday, 13 November 2010

Vomir - Indecente (2009)

I'd mentioned Vomir in some of the blogs so far, here and there, but oddly, no Vomir had been posted yet - time to right that wrong.

My stance on HNW may be clear - provided it is done right, I absolutely fucking love it. Since the scene is, in fact, brimming with talent, one - quite fortunately - need not look very far to find some excellent material. Artists such as Die Reitenden Leichen, Svartvit, Bachir Gemayel, Richard Ramirez (in any of his guises) and Skönhet, among many others, and labels such as Masonry, AnarchoFreaksProduction, HarshFuckedForLife and Absence, among as many others, have all provided HNW enthusiasts with some of the most compelling releases in the recent noise scene at large. Of course, nowadays, Vomir is in fact probably the major player in the scene, with other initial key figures - such as The Rita - focusing increasingly less on HNW alone. Remarkably, Vomir's output has - to date - been as prolific as it has been good, and amidst the slew of releases courtesy of Romain 'Roro' Perrot one may pick any random release and will find that it is solid at its very least, and quite possibly fucking incredible.

Indecente was released through the excellent Zvukovina label, based out of Sarajevo, who have released works by such brilliant artists as Gomeisa, Bachir Gemayel, Fukte and Flesh Coffin. It is a brutal track that, at just over half an hour, will quite clearly beat the fucking pulp out of you. With a distinct Vomir-like texture (quite a fast-paced grainy undercurrent with sharp static crackle on top), it is another excellent edition to Perrot's oeuvre, showcasing exactly what Perrot is so incredible at: laying down walls that are absolutely crushing, unforgiving, deafening. Full-spectrum wall assault at its finest, drowning out the world and leaving nothing but pure, hypnotic crunch.

Indecente (77m)

Die Reitenden Leichen - Bedem (2009)

Admittedly, due to inattention and an obscenely busy schedule on my side, this is probably one of the most poorly updated of noise etc. blogs out there, but yeah. Then again, all quality - can't argue with that, fuckers. November - seems time for an update. Here we go.

So yes, the HNW scene. It's been long since any strand within noise has so divided folk; long since any strand within noise has been so ridiculed and shit upon by people who you'd expect, reasonably, to be open-minded, but I guess that's all relative. The two main issues people have with the genre, it seems, are 1, that it claims a sound as its own that is by no means exclusive to the genre, nor was invented by its prime exponents, and 2, that it is a scene void of originality, concerned only with putting out derivative giallo-obsessed tapes in painfully limited quantities. Fortunately for us fans, neither holds true. While HNW certainly has sonic precedent, true walls, as they were slapped to tape first by McKinlay and the likes, where undeniably an innovation. Walls of noise - the type of full-spectrum barrage of screech and white noise such as much of the wonderful output of Incapacitants - had been around for a good while, but the unmoving static wall of crackle was decidedly fresh.

As for the second argument, this is only still put forward by those with the littlest of interest in the genre, and the tiniest scrap of knowledge of it. HNW has been branching out in every direction; while releases with limited quantity are still the rule, the scene has spawned many an innovative artist (TFT/Fragile, Bachir Gemayel/Insurgent), has numerous manifests dedicated to it (notably, among others, are any and all by Romain Perrot (Vomir), Matthias Mützlitz (Die Reitenden Leichen) and Kevin Jansen (Svartvit/Un)), has decidedly not limited itself to derivative giallo-crackle. Subject matter has seen artists drawing upon politics, nihilism, satanism, women, sex, etc., to quite generally name just a few - one only needs to consider such different artists as Vomir, Griz+Zlor and Insurgent to get some idea of the genre's diversity. Soundwise there have equally well been major developments, with different approaches to crackle and full-spectrum walls of sound having yielded fascinatingly different results (contrast, for instance, Un's tapes from the WallWhores 3xCS box set (HFFL) and The Rita's Thousands of Dead Gods).

Arguably, the scene, since its advent, has become primarily concerned with itself. Trades and sales mainly happen between a core group of dedicated fans, with only a small group of artists sparking, quite unfortunately, any sort of interest beyond the HNW addicts. Recent developments, however, suggest HNW is slowly but surely crawling outside its strict confines; HNW fests are taking place everywhere and anywhere; webzine MusiqueMachine reviews a steady stream of HNW releases and has, to date, interviewed a good number of HNW artists; A View From Nihil has received some unexpected mainstream coverage; Vomir was the subject of an excellent article in The Wire and has had two releases put out in relatively huge quantities, Renonce and Proanomie. On the verge of breakthrough? Who knows. What I do know is that the genre has offered and still offers some of the most captivating noise in recent years. Releases such as Bachir Gemayel's St. Charbel, Die Reitenden Leichen's Blutgericht and The Cherry Point's Night of the Bloody Tapes are some of the most exciting noise works released this side of 2000.

Today's post features another Die Reitenden Leichen release. It goes without saying that Die Reitenden Leichen is one of my favourite HNW-projects out there, if not my single favourite; Matthias has the most amazing talent for textures, and his distinct combination of thick bass rumbling, crushing crunch and violent crackle is simply perfect. Bedem is a recent release that was put out in an edition of 15 and has, unfortunately, sold out already; a true shame, since it is, again, bloody excellent. Presented as a yellow C20 in a yellow case with trademark brilliant artwork from Matthias himself, a trained graphic designer - and it shows - it is another venture in relentless, brutal wall-making, and it is, again, insanely great and bloody perfect. Remarkably refined textures in two devestating tracks that, despite the compositions being definite walls, allow room for minute changes and developments, which only make Bedem all the more compelling.

Bedem (128k version, updating soon with better quality)

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Outermost - Beware of This and That (2001)

Outermost is/was Kei Yokota of Japan, who released a steady stream of releases throughout the late 90s and early 00s, mainly under the moniker of Outermost, but also as Scab and Deadly Verity. Very spastic, energetic, kinetic harsh noise that alternates between white noise bursts, high screeches, low rumbles, and everything in between. Has a classic sort of Japanoise feel to it. This was released through Dom Fernow's Hospital back in 2001 on a 3" CDr in an edition of 25. Couldn't find a picture of this little fucker on the web so you'll have to make do without it until I find time to scan it. Likewise, you'll have to make do with this rather brief post, but I'll make sure and update it with some hopefully interesting stuff to read soon. In the meantime, enjoy the noise!

Lo! (36 megs)

Edit 1: Updated with cover art.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sword Heaven - Live at Little Brothers (2007)

For some reason, tribal elements have over the years come to gain quite some currency in noise and general experimental music, and have been readily adopted by, to name a couple, William Bennett and Eye Yamatsuka, and so, so many more. Sword Heaven likewise are, in a very real sense, tribal, but go beyond employing tribalism as a stylistic device; instead, their sound is base, primal, more evocative of anything tribal than 77 drummers or imaginary befriended noisicians from the Dark Continent.

Like Machinefabriek's Zink, Live at Little Brothers was released on Cut Hands, and it was another excellent addition to their catalog. Luck has it live shows are exactly what capture Sword Heaven at their very best, with all the sweat and the bodies and the monstrosity and the filth. So what do we have here? Well, Sword Heaven is the duo of Aaron and Mark, who respectively play percussion and noises, and both of them are also prone to screaming their lungs out a bit. Performances (and tracks) typically play like immense crescendos, building up from a single smash on a drum, a distant, muted scream, a hiss and a squeak, to gradually grow and grow and grow, eventually erupting, turning into complete chaos, cymbals crumbling into dust, drum kit breaking down, vocal chords straining, the crunch whiteing out.

Live at Little Brothers features exactly two such cuts; Intro - Tongues, and Faceless Nameless (the latter of which would later appear in some sort of definite version on Entrance, released through Load), both of which are exactly that: a cleansing sort of experience, orgasmic, madness creeping in, insanity, and then a blinding white light and you lose it all. Of course, a live recording is nothing like a live experience, and Sword Heaven live recordings tend to sound slightly muddy maybe, slightly less vibrant, and there's less ringing of the ears (well, you can turn the volume up though), no smell of sweat (unless you romp about yourself a bit), no pale bodies stumbling over each other, falling on stage and joining in with the band (on Faceless Nameless, some ten people join Aaron in smashing his kit), but I can't really mind. It's so energetic, so incredible, so destructive; it can only be loved.

Live at Little Brothers, of course, is sold out from Cut Hands, but you can get a copy for virtually nothing from Discogs still. Just give this thing a shot and see if you think it's worth it. Pretty much anything from their catalog is worth it, with their best release probably being the Piles 7" on BloodLust!, which features a couple of minutes from a 2006 live show; arguably their very best moment. In any case, enjoy!


Machinefabriek - Zink (2007)

Those who picked up on (or at least read about) Machinefabriek a couple of weeks ago already know that there are many different sides to this project. Rutger Zuydervelt has (quite successfully) explored anything from quite relentless noise to highly diverse but also very musical albums filled with sketches of songs (such as Manchester, but also Huis, for instance) and largely drone-based works. Zink falls, more or less, into that last category.

Zink was one of the first releases (one of the first batch of three, along with Cahier and Oubliette) on the relatively new Dutch Cut Hands label, which has so far released excellent recordings by such established artists such as Suishou no Fune, Sachiko M, Astro and Sword Heaven. They got off on the right foot, too, though; Zink is easily one of the highlights in Zuydervelt's discography, both sound- and lookswise. It came in a small 3" CD case with a small zinc plate glued to the front and a smaller plate with the word zink engraved in it glued on top. A small transparent insert on the inside provides us with all the further information we need.

Zink was edited down from a live session at Club Babel in Utrecht recorded on December 30, 2006; the only gear Zuydervelt used were a guitar, a mixing deck and effect pedals. The track starts out fairly subtly, softly and transparently, with some slight, soft tapping sounds; some minutes later, humming, guitar-based drones gradually start building up, layering and layering to create the most beautiful drones; lush, spacious, slightly unsettling, bitter sweet. They roll on deliberately but softly, just below the grain of distortion, only dipping into it occasionally. Ultimately, the drones fade out to make way for those remnants of soft sounds, the lingering memory of the drones; a finger softly touching a guitar string, a tap, a click. A minimal reprise of drones near the very end wraps up the track beautifully.

Zink was released in an edition of 75 and has long been sold out, unfortunately, for those who would like to get their hands on an actual copy. My best advice is to keep track of Discogs, though I'm not sure when and if a copy'll pop up. Besides, older Machinefabriek releases sometimes go for the most outrageous prices. Meanwhile, just enjoy this rip.

Lo! (34 megs)

Kiyoshi Mizutani - Scenery of the Border (2005)

Much like probably everyone, my interest in Kiyoshi Mizutani's solo works was originally sparked by a voyeuristic sort of curiosity. Mizutani, of course, was originally part of Merzbow from the early 80s, a noise outfit that needs little - if any - introduction. Yet the first Mizutani album I stumbled over (in a now unfortunately defunct Dutch experimental music store called V2) was Yokosawa-iri - a collection of (mixed) field recordings. I picked it up then, if not simply to have it, to spin it maybe once just for the sake of it (at the time, I hadn't come to love field recordings yet) - but even upon first hearing, Yokosawa-iri revealed itself to be a work of immense beauty. And so, I fell in love with field recordings.

While Yokosawa-iri was (and is still) a beautiful record, a wonderful achievement, the absolute highlight in Mizutani's output (field recordings or no), and my absolute favourite field recordings album ever, is 2005's Scenery of the Border: Environment and Folklore of the Tanzawa Mountains. Released through the absolutely brilliant and/OAR (who also released beautiful works from the likes of Sawako, Francisco López and Dale Lloyd, among others), this double album attempts to capture the beauty and essence of the Tanzawa Mountains (a mountain range in the Kanto region) in 24 choice cuts - and it succeeds wonderfully.

Capturing beauty or any essential quality is as much the goal as the ultimate challenge in recording environments. Managing to record not only what is symbolic and evocative but also quintessential and true requires skill; taking any given environment as it exists, a virtual infinity of sound in space and time, and framing it, cropping, cutting it down to a captivating and essential still image. This is exactly what Scenery does; in those two dozen scenes, it paints a startling and insightful picture of the Tanzawa Mountains. Ranging, as per the title, from purely natural sounds to sounds more human, the recordings conjure up visions of striking, unseen beauty.

What Mizutani achieves in sound is perhaps most interesting of all; while the album also features cuts filled with more familiar sounds (such as the fairly straightforward bird song on Birds at Yozuku Path), elsewhere we hear stranger, unheard things. Among the highlights are, for instance, the recording of the Ohdana waterfall, which is almost - but not quite - an endless stream of white noise, so arriving at what loud sounds Mizutani originally arrived at artificially in Merzbow, naturally. Similarly beautiful are the tracks on which we hear human interference, both directly (like on Yabusame of Murou Shrine in Rain) or indirectly (Kurokura Power Plant). Most strikingly, there, is how these sounds, even if familiar, still come across as sounds wholly natural; Mizutani never emphasizes human aspects, or communicative aspects of human elements, instead choosing to lay them down objectively, as parts of the natural world rather than anything apart from it.

Scenery of the Border came in a little cardboard foldout in a plastic sleeve, the artwork featuring some photos of the Tanzawa Mountains made by Mizutani himself. An enhanced portion of CD2 also included a map of the area and reference points for where all the tracks were recorded, and an additional batch of similarly beautiful photos. Unfortunately the album is sold out from and/OAR, but if you're lucky you can still find a copy from Discogs or the like. Well worth it!

Lo! (274 megs)

A huge thanks to Nanoko for letting me host this file on MF; thanks!