Various Artists, An Anthology of Noise volume I (Fusion Audio, 2000)
[originally posted 19Jun2000]
The newest anthology and eleventh overall release from Fusion Audio Recordings is about as inexpensive as it gets on the commercial CD-r market today—ten bucks postpaid directly from the seller. This one is limited to seventy-five, and given that one of the bands there is already a heavy-hitter in the major-label wars, one is on his way up extremely quickly, and another three are players on a scene that’s about to start making collective waves, I suggest you pick this bad boy up as fast as humanly possible. It’ll be gone fast.
Disc one opens with two tracks by Cornucopia, longer and more relaxed than what I’ve heard from them previously. Nice stuff, one track with high-register warbling and one that heads more ot the low-end… probably the best word I can come up with for the sound of these two tracks is “sedate.” Definitely not preparing the listener for what’s coming up next… heh heh heh.
The first disc rolls on with three tracks from good old XTerminal, “Muslims for White Supremacy,” “…and so it begins…,” and “Crushed by Water Pressure (Catchews Plastic Mix).” Barry weighs in on the side of those who like the rhythmic XTerm work better it would seem… I’m utterly amazed at how good these sound. Incredible what can be done by someone who actually knows how to mix stuff. “Muslims…” is mixed and treated Gregorian Chant with a low-key electronic African percussion line; “…asib…” is… well, I’m not terribly sure what to call it; a high-register phased tone and a 240-bpm drum line (dance, you losers! dance!); the new mix of “CbWP” segments the original mix’s static into an almost beat-oriented, edgy feel. Music to experience facial tics to. (All three of these, BTW, are unreleased anywhere else and have never been heard by the rest of the world before…)
After XTerminal comes Converter, a new project from Scott Sturgis, the guy behind the harsh indudstrial-aggro band Pain Station, whose Agony CD should be required listening for anyone who thinks this silly dance-orented stuff you hear nowadays is “industrial” music. The single Converter track here, “Corrosion,” is very much not what I was expecting from Mr. Sturgis; cold, spacious, minimal, almost nonmoving. Subklinik at a slightly higher register.
Four short, nasty tracks from a band I’ve never heard of before called Worldhate… “Letter from a Friend” gets things kicked off nicely with a wall-of-noise approach to manipulating static, then “Random Dance (Socio-Ritual)” adds a drum line to the mix. Maybe Enrique Iglesias should add a couple of noise chaps to his set…? Nah, guess not. I do like the rhythmic-noise thing, though, and were I DJing at an industrial/goth club I’m sure I could find a place to fit this track into a set, very catchy and rumpshaking. “Ekstrimis” starts off nice and chilly for a bit (you feel you wandered into the chillout room of that club) before suddenly hitting you full in the face with a statcked-up guitar-sounding note, than back to chillin’… “Prophecy of Bloodshed and Massacre” just drifted straight through, nice outro to the other three…
…and then I got stomped—hard—by Stolen Light vs. Goose’s “Here I Draw the Line.” Harsh, ugly noises broken with periods of silence. I feel like I just had my head bitten off… and I’m only halfway through.
Disc two opens with three tracks by Grimes, which are nice and noisy, albeit low volume. Standard effects-pedal noises, never gets too high-register, nice and easy… and then you’re hit with Lefthandeddecision’s “Disintegration Through Ambivalence,” which is mixed LOUD LOUD LOUD and is somewhat reminiscent of a kick in the teeth while sitting in the dentist’s chair. Phil Blankenship wants to hurt your ears, and a wonderfully fine job he does of it. The dentist-chair stuff fades into the background for a while, then comes back at the end… I can almost believe he actually wired contact mics to his skull and recorded this at the dentist’s office (and honestly I wouldn’t put it past him). My LHD exposure has been in fits and starts, granted, but this may be the finest work I’ve ever heard from him.
The nasty assault continues on with Laced’s “Medical Grade Biguanide Enzyme,” with less motion than the LHD track, but still a nice, easy way to short-circuit any number of synapses in your skull. And then…
The Joysticks, also known as The Joysticks Battle the Feedscan Relay into Your Skull. I’m not a fan, I’ve never been a fan, and I’m not ever planning on becoming a fan (which shouldn’t be too hard, as the band are on their last tour before permanently disbanding). And here’s fifteen minutes of prime Joysticks, which mostly consists of snatches of other people’s music woven in and out of lo-fi noise. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with sampling, but I’d at least like to see some relevance, or some coherence, or something other than “let’s grab some cassette players and insert random tapes and see if it sounds good, and release it whether it does or not.” Like, for example… some thought, some idea that more than the time it took to record the track was spent thinking about its construction. Okay, enough of that… onto the last two pieces, from one of my all-time favorite live bands, Noumena… Noumena’s stuff is intensely visual, and sometimes that doesn’t translate over well to recordings (okay, almost all the time), but Noumena still have a history of putting out above-average material. The first track here, “Weaving a Rope of Sand,” is the first recorded piece I’ve heard by them that gets away from the old-style Noumena guitar-drone-noise and into the more recent performance stuff they do; high-pitched main sounds with distortion and noise with fluttery kinda stuff underneath… I can’t help but think this is a recording of a section of one of the November ’99 “Mike plays with a 250-in-1 Heathkit while Aaron irons his pants” shows. This all segues quite nicely into the album’s final track, “The Hateful Whiteness of a Hospital, the Numbered Divisibility of a Jail, and the General Appearance of a Bordello,” which takes us back into the world of guitar-noise, but combines it with howled vocals (Aaron’s trademark “mikes? we don’ need no steenking mikes!”) and other high-register things guaranteed to send your cats into epileptic fits.
Hard to believe a two-disc set with over two full hours of noise by this many different acts can have this kind of quality. Hats off to Barry Scheffel yet again. ****
Missed it when it came out (it was limited to 75)? Get one here!