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