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REVIEWS: noise (Underground USA, Incapacitants)

Jason Kushnir yu117440 at yorku.ca
Sun Feb 23 15:13:17 EST 1997

While the world of noise continues to agonize over delays on the next
Hijokaidan testament, we may as well fill the void with harshead.
Some of the more brilliant noiseworks I've heard have been piling up
unheralded for months now. I offer these few comments more out of
guilt than the more usual perverse need to spite my vent.

Underground USA - V/A  C90 (MSNP)
Somewhere deep in the States noise rumbles on. Actually, all over
the States it's been rumbling on for-ever. We need not count
ourselves among the fortunate every time Momma Savage extends her
heartwarming ogle to the fertile bowels of the earth, peaks beneath
the rug and, with only the barest hint of piety, compiles a wide
variety of good bits on tape. On the other hand, where would the
auricular repairment industry be without her? In these dark times of
economic uncertainty, someone at least is doing her part to ensure
lasting stability and fortune; albeit in rather specialized sectors.
     Most of the good bits include several noiseheads you probably
haven't heard of before, and several more you - and your flayed-raw
follicular receptors - will probably wish you'd never heard of.
That's the whole point, you see. Underground USA aims to breed
familiarity and renown amongst the deserving ranks of America's more
promising unknown. Unknown such as Michigan disciplinarian Strict,
Shaolin Temple priestess Jennifer Wolski and Cleveland infirmitoid
     Well, two out of three ain't bad. The Prince of Pestilence may 
be the sickest bastard ever to invade the scene, but Underground?
Nah. Which doesn't make his "Deterioration of the Host," 7.5-minutes
worth of salacious, downtrodden stool, any the less virulent.
Bacillus always prospers where more self-consciously overland scabs
fail. It has a lot to do with his method. Not content to layer on
the cannibalistic deathcrunch and let the carcasses fall where they
may, the Prince opens wide the pulpitated Host and works down.
Condemned at first to full-bodied, foundation-shaking absession, the
overgrown festering mould will inevitably find itself at the mercy of
quite maliciously-inclined microdiodes. Each chooses its own path to
transcendence and starts breaking down the whole frozen cake of
continuous self-immolation, sparing nary a follicle or flagella. For
those with heart conditions, bladder problems, or otherwise tell-tale
signs of fragile constitution, I would recommend terminating your
read NOW. Just because one regularly abuses his earholes to the
abusive sounds of decomposed subway railgrind does not necessitate
glazed-over eyeballs. I've always preferred shellac.
    Several thousand carcasses down the celeb factor, Jennifer Wolski
let the good times roll in "Crazy Cooter's House of Blues." But don't
let the title fool you. However overstuffed and suffocating, this 
House of Blues is subject to some pretty mean-spirited, thickly
controlled, heavily moulded and modulated grate. Jennifer reign in 
the outlying micros and lays it on with the heavy-handed Macros.
Vague ambience shrouds disgruntled topspin and disenfranchised
bloodcurdle almost as an afterthought. The thought always counts,
though. We appreciate it: finally, someone who knows exactly what
they're doing and isn't afraid to show it.
    Significantly less subtly rendered, Strict's "Slut Kill" speaks
for itself. One thing I like about these upstart comps is the
pleasant surprises and discoveries one makes along the way. I have
to say I'm pleasantly surprised with this particular discovery:
absolutely ferocious fisting, unequivicably powerful slobbering, and
a great deal of spasmodic hacking and slashing. Brontosaurus abattoir
with all the trimmings. Grating, creaking protest, unbridled rage.
Ingenious articulation. If Mauthausan Orchestra ever got their act
together, started looking at agency - instead of passive necronerdity
and cool titles - they might have managed to sound like this. But I
doubt it. Look out for these guys. Strict show loads of promise and
serious mindfuck potential.
    No strangers to the art of brainbugger, Woe is Me dish out a
thoroughly aggravating "Disorient Express." Getting past the "who the
fuck are these people and what gives them the right to record such
grunthappy shite?" stage is tough enough. Actually sitting through
continuous raids on soundeffects libraries and portable pachinko
arcades spells murder for the untreated sanity and significantly ups
the stress factor. Which isn't as bad as it sounds. Where else can
one receive the pointy end of a humorously-shaped cablecar pulled
through a preferred orifice while getting buzzed by lowflying,
propeller-driven cropdusters in more ways than two?
    Likewords may be spoken of New York poopshoot pedagogue Orifice
Training. "Nubile Tenderness" addresses the contemporary issue of
intra-youth violence with brokendown amps, overworked sphincters and
a steady commitment to styrofoam freejack. The resulting old-style
whine 'n drone power electronics get bilgepiped through studious
flackjacket accumulation of plasticaster airbomb and then released
into tweeter-unfriendly frequencies that successfully negotiate the
blindside of a dilapidated scrapyard hearse doing 120 on the
Disorient Express. It's not as easy as it looks.
    Armenia, a southern American pervert who has slowly but surely
evolved into someone worthy of notice, makes a real case on
"Obsessive Panty Collector, Blood Sniffer, and Ripe-crotch Sex Addict
(Interrogatorio Cientifico)." Yeah, a real case all right. Give the
man some credit: if nothing, his heart is in the right place. Beyond
the heart, dislocated, hierarchical cut-ups repeatedly saw away at
bulging analog filters, sometimes blistering, sometimes bludgeoning
themselves into near nonfidelity with what sound like forlorn,
overdriven moosehorns caught in a rabid chihuahuas gagging yap.
     Side B abandons the closed world of pure, powerloadedtronics.
Before one can reach that conclusion though, A.S.M. will doubtless
lull the unwary noisehead into a false sense of security. Outtaken
from the infinitely ambient 'Pure Electronics' sessions (Self Abuse),
"Pure Electronics" very quietly mediates an intimate altercation
between vague, borderline overkill and subtle, minimalist soundscape
psychedelia. If you aren't the noise type, but you're still not
satisfied with ridiculously spacious and 'ominous' darkambient,
complete with Hollywood special effects, A.S.M. might be your thing:
low-end 'power' electronics at one-tenth voltage, surrounded by the
deeply suggestive whisper of cold, waffling, hydro field atmospheres.
    Dave Gilden restores harshass integrity with a selection from his
latest pseudonym, Depress/Regress. "Two Packets of Dope" continues to
explore Dave's only subject of interest, but this time effects a
considerably nastier disposition. D/R scrapes the bong of noise to
find a new buzz in its resin: rougher, higher, less acoustic, more
dynamic. The cut-up chunkiness sounds familiar: cascading teflon
sheets slither and shriek their rustproof agony and protest against
the inevitable Macronymphonic riptide. And for once, not entirely in
vain: the whole squealing slaughterhouse succumbs to dull, crumbling,
overloaded bludgeon, but nevertheless, through frozen wastelands of
electronic interference, cracks of metallic daylight repeatedly, and
at last successfully, insert their chirpy, coughing grind.
    Not Breathing appear to assuage the perpetually outraged Harshead
by "Swallowing Dry Sand." Crystallized granules of desperate,
spontaneously combustible iron shavings and muddy lead encasings 
force their way down demucoused esophogai accompanied by jagged 
shards of impure amethyst. Pressure eases off in the stomach and 
liver, mostly because the hopeless bastards are still vainly trying 
to force oxygen into gravelpacked lungs: blistering harshead insignia
relinquishes its rights to the compacting crunch of overload soup. 
Down to the intestines, and all semblance of necessity has 
disappeared: lazy, meandering oscillators snake their way around 
flustered squeegee backwaters. At long lazy-ass last, the light at 
the end: cracks of Daylight approacheth and several layers of long,
stringy, drawn-out drones, flushed with spottycheeked joy; into the
ambient spaciousness of septic heaven.
    It's hard to read the follow-up by Daylight Savings Time as
coincidence. "demo #1" takes The New Blockaders, and their quality
assortment of rustcovered scrapmetal, for a brutal trip through
bitchy, kitschy, prissbutt, turbulence. Overstarved tape heads
consume vast quantities of delectable magnetic ribbon, failing
against all odds to consume any sense of fidelity. Yes, the tape deck
is indeed functioning within normal parameters. DST like to fuck with
you that way. I guess they've earned the right. The Harshead is
definitely pleased.
    Not for long. In the follow-up, "Miyazu - 1, 2, 3, ...", Bob
Marinelli sings the ABC's according to Maso. This particular
submission was apparently excerpted from a larger work that aims to
educate preschool children in a more user-friendly way. If only
everyone learned their ABC's this way, the dropout rate would surely
diminish. Something seems to get lost in the translation, though,
because we only get to D before Mother Savage, in her infinite wisdom
and compassion, puts the annoying fuck out of his misery. Coming soon
to a kindergarten near you.
    Thankfully, a return to form compliments of Corprolith chief
executive Turbulence. The esteemed Mr. Stanton turns out "Spectre of
Dismemberment." Subdued, soothing, fatass drones and some
hollowed-out, overcooked, nasty-ass shishkabob serve up exactly what
you need; and serve similarly to demonstrate MSNP's uncanny gift for
misrepresentation. As it stands, the net results kick ass in the best
way: slow, undulating masses of pure grit cut in, cut out, expand
from end to end, then rise brutally up to the steady slaver of crass,
pinwheeling, rollerderby sleighride. Eventually, metal skis burn
through the tile and shred it into fibreglass noodle leaving a broken
trail of grumbling, paraplegic reindeer amputees and crackling,
freshly-waxed floorboard. Presumably, they at least got the title
    Underground USA came in to fuck you over, as they say, but it
goes out through and through with a Bang. A big one. To say "Inside
the Burnt Wreckage" speaks for itself does not do the genius and
creator that is Persn credit. Words rarely achieve anything beyond
space filler and spleen-ventilation, but I'll try by throwing out
'monster harshass killer track thing.' Charred raw, scorched
earholes. Hot hot hot. Yum.
   You can see how this is getting us nowhere. If you can't
experience the analogy first hand, it just does not work. Might as
well cut out the middle man, stop reading this spew, hop in a burnt
wreckage yourself.

COMING SOON: Underground Canada

Incapacitants - New Movements in CMPD  CD (Alchemy)
I've never read or given a poor review of the Incapacitants. And
I'm not about to start. For good reason: Mikawa and pal, for all
their flaws, have never once strayed from the Path. They defined it,
they improved it, they perfected it. You too can be perfect if first
you take the necessary coffee break to define what perfection is.
     At 70+ minutes, CMPD represents just another chapter in the
continuing history of noise perfection. Am I exaggerating? Hardly.
The Undynamic Duo have been filling hungry earholes like mine to
capacity - and beyond - since before Noise was born. Their sound
consistently achieves a certain unparalleled dual quality: on the one
hand, it washes over at a perfect, frozen, standstill; on the other,
it rushes about at an infinitely, impossibly, fast rate. Continuous
dynamic fluctuation happens way beneath the surface; or it doesn't
happen at all.
     No one else has ever come close to achieving the same effect.
And if so, with nowhere near the same degree of consistency. Noise is 
all about consistency.
     Ironically, as part of what may be Incapacitants' best work ever, 
their first track fails to produce the abovementioned totalizing 
effect. The title itself speaks to us all: "20 Years of Corporate."
Yeah, fucken tell me about it. Unusually fragmented and stripped 
down, "20 Years" throws both high-end scathe and low-end rumble into
the background, and foregrounds the concrete sources: voice, shithawk
screeching, single unprocessed feedback waves, unidentifiable
crumbling brick structures, and other crackling intrusions. Harsh
is in your face; not an impermeable wall, but a constant, obnoxious
reminder. I suspect Mikawa's been taking pointers from Borbetomagus.
     "High Yield Cult" sounds fucking amazing on a high-quality
system. Elsewhere, it'll sound pretty minimal. Like other recent
Incapacitants, this one equalizes the high/low-end relationship
and attempts to simulate the sound of speakers getting shredded
by overblown, maxed-out, shriekfest. It's a sound all noiseheads
are all-too-familiar with. Crackling overamped blisterscorch makes a
concerted effort at shredding its way through overindulged layers of 
cannibalistic low-end compression. Now Mikawa's been taking lessons 
from the American noise contingent: total deep shelter holocaust, 
confused railing infidels, and a surplus of black 'n decker 
drillmongers. Voices are again unusually clear and whiny, matching
simple undriven feedback tone-for-tone; and probably constitute the
low-point of the track.
     Which leaves us with the final supplication: an unbelievably
blissful 30-minuter that poses the question "PT Team, what's that?"
First, the usual highly dramatic introduction: whining voices crown
the surface and set the bleechbath tone before the beast awakens,
burbles to life and roars into a furious rage. (Can you blame it?)
Ultra high-end, brutally beatific delirium unloads layer upon layer
upon layer of what amounts to some of the most amazing blowout ever
recorded. Who has Mikawa been taking his cues from this time? Odd as 
it may sound, "PT Team" is probably the closest they've ever come to
paralleling CCCC. Kosakai seems to be getting some room to manoeuvre
for once, throwing in shimmering, multilayerd midrange whitewash 
while Mikawa provides an intensely brutal high-end perimeter. The 
results are astounding. The sound is inescapable; it is truly 
overwhelming, massive, and of course exceedingly 'harsh.' Can one 
ask for anything more?
     Sure: more of the same. Please.

c/o Joseph Roemer
1180 Colgate Drive
Monroeville, PA  15146 USA

e-mail: lf01+ at andrew.cmu.edu

1-15-9-507 Nishi-Shinsaibashi


"I will be under control of The Mikawa,
 Anybody helps me, now!"
               -- T. Mikawa (T.Sakaguchi)

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