Industrial Electronic Noise
Desperate Spirits – August 1, 2017
Jeanne Vomit-Terror is the cofounder of Lexington’s Resonant Hole collective and has been making and releasing music for the last six or seven years. Among other things, she released a pair of singles in 2010, put out the very catchy “The Seat of Same” with Ed Sunspot in 2013, and has had a track on each of the two Desperate Spirits Compilations – Lady Parts! and White Power is for Dummies. This release, The Quixotrix Tapes, Vol. 1, listens much like a continuous live set of improvisatory industrial electronic music, straying in atmosphere from Jeanne’s previous releases.
The album opens with “Intestinal Waltz,” albeit a thick, dissonant waltz at the pace of a dirge – for much of the track you feel the time in the overblown first and third beat of each measure. The time in “Brank’d” is held steady by a rumblingly low synthesizer, but the distorted percussion falls right around it, disorienting the listener as Jeanne places a repeated six-note motif throughout the mix at random. The track elides into “Silken Scourge,” where a keyboard plays a shrill ascending scale atop a mix of electronics that shimmer and thud simultaneously. The darkly catchy “At the Mirror School” grooves with a quick intensity, and features the album’s only lyrics, making reference to a previous JVT track. “The Interior Eye” closes the album – it’s among the lengthiest tracks of this release, and is arguably the harshest and least anchored to a tempo among them.
This is not the nearly-danceable electronic pop you may have heard previously from Jeanne Vomit-Terror – if anything, it most resembles the recently released “Youth Infection.” That said, this isn’t random noise, either – Jeanne is thoughtful in the way she picks the melodic, rhythmic, and textural motifs, incorporating them into each track with intention. Combined with the distortion, dissonance, and heft of industrial electronic percussion and synthesizers, The Quixotrix Tapes, Vol. 1 is a disorienting album whose atmosphere engulfs and transports the listener out of reality.
Tracks I Liked: Intestinal Waltz!, Brank’d!!, Silken Scourge!!, At the Mirror School!!!, The Interior Eye!
Ben Southworth – July 30, 2017 – Post Road
Intense Experimental Noise
Gubbey Records – March 18, 2017
Over the weekend, Louisville’s Black Kaspar – comprised of members (past and present) of bands like The Belgian Waffles, Sick City Four, Tropical Trash, and Suspected Terrorist – released their new cassette, Year of the Centipede. The release is nearly unrelentingly noisy from start to finish.
“Enemy of the State” is droney and mostly arhythmic, save for the glissed bass that gives some structure, and pushes the track forward. It subsides suddenly, giving way to “Glitchfest,” which is all built around an electronic beat. The drums randomly count the rest of the band into washes of sound – when their interjections subside, the digital beat keeps moving along, perfectly in time. “Dark Nexus” is composed mostly of the synthesizer and guitar equivalent of white noise with guitar overtones howling across the background – by the end, the track has grown into something massive.
The title “Dislocation Machine” fits the next track well: it’s equipped with a bassline that rumbles unstoppably, repetitively at the bottom of the texture. Horns fade in and out of the song’s texture, sometimes allowing the guitar to take the forefront (maybe there’s some distorted synthesizers or an organ in there, too??). The first section on “Escape!” feels like its submerged underwater: dripping guitars and synths, even the drums come in bursts like waves crashing on the beach. Eventually, the track locks into a driving tempo with guitars screeching on top – the song somehow feels like it perpetually moves upward, both in pitch and intensity, before suddenly giving way to an echoey ending. “March of the Centipede” is just that – a march, with a dissonant guitar heartbeat providing a constant tempo while the remaining band members orchestrate chaos around it.
The latter side of the tape is fully occupied by “Landing Party,” a twenty-eight minute track that begins with droning guitars and a low, humming synth. By minute four, jazz drums have added some rhythm and structure, with a synthesizer (maybe its a theremin?) wailing on top; seven minutes in, bass and distorted bells define the groove and texture. Around the middle of the track, there’s a quiet break – a welcome relief from the constant intensity that preceded. A very long, slow, controlled escalation follows that – it happens so gradually, you almost don’t notice it happening. The track ends suddenly, but despite being nearly half an hour long, things never seem to stall out – the band manages to feel like its headed somewhere, toward something at all times.
Black Kaspar is a band that clearly knows how to play this sort of music – a group of experienced, technically proficient musicians that build subtle structures for their chaotic music to fit into, making the arrival points that much more intense and powerful. As a whole, Year of the Centipede is so overpowering that it becomes almost meditative and relaxing to listen to (or at least it was for me).
Tracks I Liked: Enemy of the State!, Dark Nexus!, Dislocation Machine!!, Escape!(!!), March of the Centipede!!!, Landing Party!!
Ben Southworth – March 20, 2017 – Kenwick Place
February 6th, 2013 – Type Records
Genre: Terrifying industrial noise
I’ve been given a lot of noise music since becoming the “Local Music Director” at WRFL, but the grandaddy of Lexington noise music has got to be Hair Police. Revered as pioneers of the American underground noise scene, this group – made up of Mike Connelly, Robert Beatty, and Trevor Tremaine – is one of the most important players in the genre. So, having remained pretty quiet since 2008, it came as a large surprise to Lexington and the rest of the noise-music-loving world when they suddenly released a record at the beginning of February. While I generally regard myself as pretty thick skinned to most music, upon my first listen I found myself mentally uncomfortable with what I was hearing. The group does not rely on loudness to create this feeling of weight and dread, but instead combines their sounds into a mass of some of the most ominous and foreboding sounds you’ll ever hear. And at the same time, though it’s made up almost entirely of electronic sounds, the album retains a sort of “acoustic” sound to it, and plays as if you’re hearing them play through this stuff live. Everything about this album is harsh – from the inhuman vocals to the titles of the tracks themselves – but there’s something mesmerizing to it all. Give this a listen if you’re feeling brave; it’s one of the most challenging and striking listens I’ve had in a long time.
Tracks I Liked: The Crevice!, Thief’s Spring!!, Dilate and Inhabit!, Dusk Misplaced!, Scythed Wide!!
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– Ben Southworth