BaaL, Selections for Biblical Studies and Multiple Orgasms (Troniks, 2000)
[originally posted 22Mar2000]
The first three months of the year 2000 have seen a slew of above-average releases, leading me to wonder if anyone’s saving anything for the rest of the year. If anyone is, it’s most likely BaaL; Selections… is the first part of a three-part series (one album, one cassette, one CD, each coming out on a different label), an album limited to eighty copies– most of which were sold in preorder, so if you want this one (and you need it to have the whole collection, of course), get it fast.
The first thing that needs said about Selections… is the quality of craftsmanship that went into this release. This is HEAVY vinyl and heavy packaging; this thing is built to last. Also, the quality of the recording itself is above average, not only for BaaL, but for the genre in general. The recording is exceptionally clear and well-done (no idea whether John or Phil, or both, is responsible for this, but kudos to whomever).
As for the music… it’s noise. It’s ugly noise. It snaps and whirls and screeches and does all those things noise does, but it doesn’t usually do them all on the same album. Dixon was experimenting with a number of different kinds of sound waves here, I think, and the whole mess mixes into a catalog of discord that needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated. High-pitched feedback whines degenrate into mid-level static bursts, bad porn music is attacked and destroyed by sub-bass rumbling, keyboards are tortured until they scream for mercy. (The equipment used to record this album has been sold; the material will never be reproduced again. Your loss if you missed it.) Underlying the whole thing is a panoply of samples and loops from femdom videos, an interesting change in a traditionally male-dominated and often misogynist scene.
Feminist noise? I dunno. But it sounds good, and if the other two pieces of the trilogy sound as good, this thing’s going to be a collector’s item after the whole lot is released. ****
[ed. note 2013: history has shown that I was way off in my conclusions in the last paragraph.]