Posts Tagged ‘noise’

Recording in progress!

November 19, 2015

Last year, I purchased an old Tascam Portastudio 414 on a whim. One of the DJs at the station had got it from a pawn shop, intending to record their shows– enthusiastic, but probably not the best tool for the job. Seeing it, I was filled with fun ideas– I generally enjoy working with physical media, but tape will always be special to me. With a vacation from work in mid-swing, I decided it was finally time to get some tape rolling.

So far, a lot of my ideas are working out. I’m remembering some of the ins and outs of working with tape, and having fun with the various eccentricities of the medium. I’m also taking my good sweet time, so don’t get too excited at these little snippets– there’s a fair chance that none of this will make the cut. This is also recorded directly to my phone, via a set of headphones off the Portastudio, so forgive the fidelity. Enjoy!

“The way that is forward seems to lead backward”

November 16, 2015

From the backlog of interesting things, here’s a set that concluded Swampfest 2014. It features Nick Yeck-Stauffer, Tom Vasilj, Brandon Beachum, and a guest appearance (for the last 15 minutes or so) from yours truly. To say that this was very informal hardly covers it– I didn’t expect to do anything but listen to bands that evening, but was quickly invited to help out once I’d arrived. I ended up with a single microphone, and a non-functioning amplifier, so I decided to see if I could bore a hole in the side of the amp with the mic– a little action inspired by The Haters, most certainly! For my efforts: a healthy pile of sawdust, a cleared room, and a newly-whittled microphone. Enjoy!

Liveblogging! “Music For Swimmers” 4/22/12

April 22, 2012

It’s just one day until my birthday, which is turning out to be a combination of “I forgot,” and “I’m broke.” If you listened to “Music For Swimmers” today, at least take the time to tell a friend about the show– 5-6pm CST, every Sunday evening on WDBX-FM. Thanks!

Here’s your fine playlist:

KK Null, Scumearth — Time-Quake (from “K.K. Null + Scumearth,”on Phage Tapes)
American Band — Out Nurture (from “Low Fiction,” on Hot Releases)
Guillaume Coutu Dumont — Arianne Secret (from “Cache 2001” on CEC)
Matt Weston — This October, All Octobers (from “Seasick Blackout,” on 7272 Music)
Stefan Udell — Ollie Noseblunt To Backside Tailslide (from “Cache 2001,” on CEC)
Violet — In Capacitated By The Sun (on “Sonic Circuits: District of Noise vol. 4,”)
Tom Hamilton — Crimson Sterling Mvt I (from “Pieces for Kohn/Formal & Informal Music,” on Kvist)
Yannick Dauby — Raud 07.06.03 Saaropera (from “Lind, Raud, Aastaajad,” on Invisible Birds)
Ophibre – Untitled #2 (from “Puzzle Pieces,” on Oph Sound Recordings)
Ironing — Your Oxen Have Drowned (from GayBomb/Ironing split LP on Hymns)
If, Bwana; Trio Scordatura — Cicada 4AA (from “E (and sometimes why),” on Pogus)
Noah Creshevsky — La Sonnambula (from “Rounded With A Sleep,” on Pogus)

Liveblogging! “It’s Too Damn Early,” 3/17/12

March 17, 2012

Tom Hamilton, id M Theft Able & if, Bwana — Megawhat Skot (from “MegaWHAT? Live at The Stone” on Ilse)
Z’ev, Bob Bellerue — Felt, If Not Seen (from “Felt, If Not Seen,” on Phage Tapes)
Brandkommando — Reform (from split, double-cassette release with Brandkommando, Seth Ryan, Fear Konstruktor, and Disgust on Phage Tapes)
Brandkommando — Fighter
Minotaur — The Hunger In Her Womb (from “Obsession,” on Phage Tapes)
A Death Cinematic — The New World (from “The New World,” on Simple Box Construction)
Pregnant Spore — You Can Have Whatever It Is You Want pt.1 (from split, double cassette release Pregnant Spore/Baculum, on Phage Tapes)
Pregnant Spore — You Can Have Whatever It Is You Want pt.2
Hiss Nausea — Pyramid Glue (from “Hiss Nausea/Nolls” split cassette on Hyster)

“It’s Too Damn Early,” 3/3/12

March 3, 2012

Tom Hamilton, id M Theft Able & if, Bwana — Megawho (from “MegaWHAT? Live at The Stone” on Ilse)
Tom Hamilton, id M Theft Able & if, Bwana — Megawhen
Warm Climate — Lost Teeth/Organ Donor (from “Edible Homes” cassette on Stunned)
Warm Climate — Cave In
Warm Climate — Edible Homes & Gardens/Synth Pads For Homeless
RP Collier, Eloine — Tonic Spanner (from “Anchor Studies,” on Triple Bath)
RP Collier, Eloine — Smog Index
Violet — Incapacitated By The Sun (this, and next five, from “Sonic Circuits, District of Noise vol.4“)
TL0741, Anthony Pirog — Busy Bees
Nine Strings Trio — Sacred Crow Scared Cow
Stylus — Combine.Monogram
Insect Factory — Slow Bloom
Janel Leppin — Music for a Film, The Recipe
Blue Sausage Infant — Negative Space (from “Negative Space,” on Zeromoon)
Blue Sausage Infant — Subferal
Abortus Fever — Untitled (from “Recycled” cassette on RRRecords)
Yannick Dauby, John Grzinich — Kevad (from “Lind, Raud, Aastaajad,” on Invisible Birds)
Yannick Dauby, Murmer — Suvi

Liveblogging! “It’s Too Damn Early,” 1/1/11

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! I’m celebrating the occasion with a mix of hyper-futurism, and the best of 2010– I haven’t got my official Top 12 Best Happy Neat-O List completely squared away, but you can bet that a lot of today’s broadcast will be making the cut. I’ve also brought in my vuvuzela, which is my friendly alternative to the gunfire I heard earlier this morning. It’s also way more fun– it sounds like a cross between a failing boat horn and a giant bumblebee!

But before we get to the playlist, let me tell you a bit about the future we’ve tuned into this morning. Connected as it is to this very moment (where generations of the future’s students who furiously sniffed insta-learn crystals in all night cram sessions will happily tell you is the moment where we collectively decided that theirs was the future we actually wanted) one can certainly understand our interest.

I’m sorry to say that direct knowledge of the future would melt your brain, as it is lacking the extra quantum mer-lobe that future generations will evolve during our time living in the sea during the Tri-Glacial Period. But I can get you close.

1) Put your right arm behind your head until it goes to sleep.
2) Rapidly inhale one tablespoon of cocoa powder through a thousand-dollar bill.
3) Listen to the following playlist:

RP Collier — Exegesis
Fat Worm of Error — Wipeless Two (from “Ambivalence and the Beaker,” on Resipiscent)
Fat Worm of Error — Return of the Thin White Dook
Fat Worm of Error — Mashed Potentate
KK Null — Tokyo August 15 (from Zelphabet, volume “K”)
Ava Mendoza — Don’t Pity Me (Up In Flames) [from “Shadow Stories,” on Resipiscent)
Ava Mendoza — The Furious Harpy Who Followed Me Everywhere
Gen Ken Montgomery — Birds & Machines (machine suite) [from “Birds + Machines,” on Pogus Productions)
Gen Ken Montgomery — Birds & Machines (Bird Suite)
The Painful Leg Injuries — The Third Anomaly (Failure) [from “The Anomaly That Had Gotten the Better of Me,” on OKS Records of North America]
The Painful Leg Injuries — Phosphorus! Of Course For Us!
The Painful Leg Injuries — The Confused Clone’s Mirror Moment
The Painful Leg Injuries — The Fourth Anomaly
The Painful Leg Injuries — Tropical Sabbaticals Traveled Subatomical
My Fun — Churning Surf (from “Camaraderie,” on The Land Of)
My Fun — Dunes
My Fun — Still Pointing, Recording Nothing
My Fun — Gasp
@c — Composition #77, pts. 6-8 (from “0°-100°,” on Monochrome Vision)
RP Collier — Detector Dreams
RP Collier — Plaxplex

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 12/11/10

December 11, 2010

I wanted to do an all-noise show tonight, and since I’m feeling particularly scummy, I’m fully getting it on with some very random releases. And now that I’m in this rather unique headspace, I figured I’d put out a call for similarly scummy tapes and CDRs. I’m looking for your most ill-advised recordings, stuff that basically should never have seen the civilized light of day. Think Rubbish, Trash Ant, Crank Sturgeon, etc. If you found it in the garbage, recorded over it, and now it sucks audibly– I want to hear it. Here’s the address:

WDBX c/o DaveX
224 N. Washington St.
Carbondale IL 62901 USA

Damn, this live Merzbow (Henie Onstad Art Center, on Prisma) is amazing. This has got to be one of my most favorite Merzbow releases in a long time.

Bestial Earthhammer — Organe Magic of the Black Sun Cult (from “Satanic Pigfuck Armageddon,” on Lunar Blasphemy)
Ritualistic School of Errors — Pancakes Soaked, Started Bucking (from “Sweat-stained Fancy Heaps for First-Rate Ladies,” on Resipiscent)
Ritualistic School of Errors — Leaking Fancy Fanny, Ladies Laugh
Kenji Siratori, Torturing Nurse — Massacre Gene (from “Mad Blockhead’s Tale,” on Roil Noise)
Kenji Siratori, Torturing Nurse — Mutant Hell
Kenji Siratori, Torturing Nurse — Abolition Body
Absolute Null Punkt — Absolute Magnitude 1 (from “Absolute Magnitude,” on Blossoming Noise)
Haunted Vawmitt — Spiritual Entrails (from “Spiritual Entrails,” double-3″)
Rubbish — untitled track 1 (from untitled 3″, on Roil Noise)
Rubbish — untitled track 2
Merzbow — Live at Henie Onstad Art Center, 10/11/09 (on Prisma)
The Eternal Om — The Eternal Om
Evil Moisture — Blood Picnic (from “E” volume of the incredible “Zelphabet” series)
The Adjective Noun — Mask Up You! Black Bloccader (parts 1-4, on album of the same name, via USA Surpasses All Nazi Genocide Records)
Plasmic Formations — untitled (from split cassette 064 w/Zemekky, on Epicene Sound)

DaveX, Live at the Circuit Benders’ Ball

December 1, 2010

And hey, be sure to check out some of the other videos from the Circuit Benders’ Ball as well– nearly everyone has more stage presence than I do, haha.

Liveblogging! Playlist and commentary for “ITDE” 11/13/10

November 13, 2010

I’m tipping towards the noise end of things on today’s show– too much clarity this week, so here’s an aural kick to the head as a way of shaking things up. This “Species Traitor” disc from The Adjective Noun is doing the trick! It’s anybody’s guess how many of these are left out of the run of 37, but my money says you can still get a copy if you try. I’m recommending it– “Species Traitor” isn’t 100% perfect, but when it does come together, it’s well worth hearing.

I’m playing from “Musick For Two Machines” by Barry Chabala and Phil Hargreaves now. This is a double-disc release where both CDs are intended to be played simultaneously, with both players in shuffle mode. Kinetix did this for their album “Gestaltsystem 01: Possible Forms,” for the Monochrome Vision label, but the resulting albums are so remarkably different that I find I’ve enjoyed each very much on their own terms.

Nerfbau — Cochlear Phantasmagoria (from “Error Swarms,” on Resipiscent)
Nerfbau — Mechanical Camel Toes (Smell It My DNA)
Nerfbau — First Amoeba
Nerfbau — Arc of the West
Nerfbau — Specimen
The Adjective Noun — Species Traitor, pt.2 (from “Species Traitor,” on U.S.A. Surpasses All Nazi Genocide Records)
The Adjective Noun — Rebelyon Esklav, pt. 1 (from “Rebelyon Esklav,” also on U.S.A. Surpasses All Nazi Genocide Records)
The Adjective Noun — Rebelyon Esklav, pt.2
Barry Chabala, Phil Hargreaves — Musick for Two Machines (from album of the same name, on Whi Music)
Lois Laplace — Awake (from “Fine Sediment,” on Cycling 74)
Lois Laplace — Light and Shape
Lois Laplace — Forward Cathedral
Lois Laplace — Elevator Light
Lois Laplace — Erable
Eddie the Rat — My Little Red Stungun (from “Out Behind the 8-Ball,” on Edgetone)
Eddie the Rat — Lela, My Familiar
Eddie the Rat — The Closet People
Eddie the Rat — Out Behind the 8-Ball

At home, with Yamantaka Eye

September 27, 2010

Update: There’s some doubt that the person accompanying Yamantaka Eye in this video is actually Masami Akita, mostly spread by one dedicated commenter with a raging hard-on for finding mistakes made at STARTLING MONIKER. If you know the true identity of our Masami lookalike, let me know. But if you’re just going to fling your poo at bloggers, I’ll keep deleting your stupidity.

Update 2: Apparently, this commenter was so moved by the possible mis-identification of the interviewer that he has started his own YouTube account for the sole purpose of commenting on the video at that site.

Update 3: Comments are closed. If you want to help me correct mistakes on STARTLING MONIKER, that’s cool– just don’t start by calling me various names.

He’s being interviewed by Merzbow, too! This is some of the funniest shit I’ve seen all week. Absolutely hilarious to see Masami Akita so relaxed and being silly. Bonus points for Eye yelling at the propane heater thing.

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 7/31/10

July 31, 2010

I’ve got a lot of good stuff to share on today’s show, notably some recordings from Isoundercore that had a bit of a torturous path to the airwaves. Let’s just say that someone opened someone else’s mail and leave it at that, shall we? I

n other business, WDBX is hosting a DJ Spin Party on August 5th, from 4-8pm. I thought it was a great idea until I realized that it was in Turley Park, and open to the public. Let that sink in– it’s basically a last-hurrah for this year’s Sunset Concert Series. Granted, I’m all in favor of the end of the Sunset Concerts, but I doubt this will be the ironic coup de grâce I’ve got in mind.

It’s anyone’s guess as to whether I’ll attend, but you’d better believe I’m taking my turn at the controls if I do, all requests for “danceable” music aside. Way to be inclusive, there. I bet “Light On the Law” will be keeping one end of the gym bleachers warm along with The Bioneers. But seriously, it might be fun, and Carbondale will survive– after all, who’ll hear it? Alcohol isn’t allowed!

But hey, let’s talk about performances I’m actually interested in: on the 6th and 7th of August, there’s Swampfest. In truth, I have no idea what it’s called, but that’s not the point. It’s two days worth of music at The Swamp! Unfortunately, this occasion actually DOES mark the end of their underground music series. Coincidentally, I’ll also be there, performing on the 7th around 7-ish. I have something interesting worked up, so I hope you’ll be able to make it.

US Maple — Missouri Twist (from “Sang Phat Editor” on Skin Graft)
US Maple — Through With Six Six Six
Blue Sausage Infant — Gezundheit! (from “Flight of the Solstice Queens” on Zero Moon)
Alio Die — The Way of Fire (from “The Way of Fire” 7-inch on Drone Records)
Blue Sausage Infant — Why You Hate Salamanders
Blue Sausage Infant — Ashtray Man
Justice Yeldham — Shanghai (from the J-volume of “Zelphabet” series)
Aemae — Walking Along Edges (from “The Helical World,” on Isoundercore)
Aemae — 41667
Aemae — Translucent Tongues
Arastoo — Three (from “Three” side B, also on Isoundercore)
Virtual Cortex — Anxiety (from “Viral Cartography,” more info here and here.)
Virtual Cortex — Chant
Virtual Cortex — Clusters
Ville Moskiitto — Kanjonikostaja (from “Kupariluostari,” on Harha-Askel)
Robert Ashley — Atalanta (Acts of God), Volume 2, “Empire” (on Lovely Music)

Took the words right outta my mouth!

August 19, 2008

Maurice Garland (XXL mag writer, hip-hop blogger @ The Rezidue) laid out what’s been running through my head for the past week or so– something I wasn’t expecting from his blog, by any means.

To continue, simply substitute “noise artist” every time Garland has written “rapper”.

“We need more dentists. We need more doctors. We need more economists. More truck drivers. More chefs. More store owners. I need a teacher for my unborn child. A rapper? No, I don’t need or want another one of those.

Of course, to some, rapping is merely a hobby. Some people paint, some people build model cars, some people rap. Cool. If thats how you pass your time, do your thing and keep it just that a hobby. But as far as more cats trying to “get on” no, please stop the madness.

Its almost as if rapping has become its own language. Its damn near equivalent to speaking English…because everybody does it. Its like rapping is the 6th Sense. Seeing, Hearing, Touching, Tasting, Smelling….Rapping.

I probably should have set if off in there last night now that I think about it. Giving someone a low score probably didn’t contribute to starting the Rapper Cut-Off Line. Hell, that shit probably got interpreted as “hating.” And you know niggas do with their haters! Make them their motivators, cause they on the grind, son!!!!!

From now on, I think I’m either gonna start throwing shit on stage or come to these showcases with stacks of various job applications. Maybe a couple school applications too. Something to show cats that there are other things that they could be doing and striving for.”

Read Garland’s full entry here.

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 8/16/08

August 16, 2008

I didn’t have a tremendous amount to say on this week’s show, at least not verbally. For those of you who tuned in, I did a lot of source-mixing which I think turned out very well. Please note the inclusion of my good friend Tony Youngblood in the playlist– his new album is finally out; I encourage you dig on it later today.

I got into a mood earlier today to hear Ernesto Diaz-Infante after reviewing an old 3″ cdr he collaborated on with Mike Khoury. The review isn’t live until Sunday, but duh– I like it a lot. Anyway, that’s why EDI is all over this playlist.

Warm Climate — 19th Century Blessings
Warm Climate — Can’t Forget To Know You
Tony Youngblood — On the Parking Lot
Brainiac — Juicy (On a Cadillac)
Mike Hallenbeck — 2 Turntables and a Microwave
Mike Hallenbeck — Elephant
David Rosenboom — Portable Gold and Philosophers’ Stones
Asher — Intervals (1-3)
Tom Hamilton — London Fix (excerpt)
GRKZGL — Antitulé
Ian Yeager — Music For Guitar + Computer
Mike Hallenbeck — Leaves Pressed Around a Microphone
EKV — Purification
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — Antithesis
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — Untitled track 1 (from pr90259)
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — from Henry who just wrote
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — Untitled track 3 (from pr90259)
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — Untitled track 4 (from pr90259)
Preston Ari Swirnoff — For A Room Full of Organs
Maurizio Bianchi — Sretsulkyz
Lx Rudis, Andre Custodio, Ernesto Diaz-Infante — Crashing the Russian Renaissance, Live @ Luggage Store Gallery, 6/27/02
Livestock — Lawndrop
Coin Gutter — Lift With the Knees

Zbigniew Karkowski, Damion Romero – “9 Before 9”

August 15, 2008

Zbigniew Karkowski and Damion Romero do a great job of winnowing out potential listeners with “9 Before 9,” a sort of low-end endurance test aimed at the unlikely combination of underground noise enthusiasts with the coin necessary for possessing not only high-end equipment to reproduce subsonic audio, but also for purchasing an album where nearly two-thirds of the material is just not that interesting.

But first, let me say some nice things, because both Karkowski and Romero are well worth our attention. For starters, this is a well-produced set of recordings. Simply being able to put these sounds to disc undoubtably required serious effort, as evidenced in the liner notes, where the credits noteably mention both mastering and re-mastering. This album probably would not be possible on vinyl– my guess is that you’d sooner cut holes through the record before achieving these results.

“9 Before 9” also benefits from a significant care taken in the compositions– while there ultimately isn’t enough to engage me fully within the first two tracks, there are at least a few moments where I know Karkowski and Romero were at least doing more than letting the low-end simmer while having some lunch. I suppose it’s the same problem I have with Sachiko M– I really want to like the material, but despite my sympathy, there’s just not enough to connect with.

I hate to be a one-note reviewer this week, but the hyperbole surrounding most noise releases has got to stop. While it’s entertaining to read a writeup with yet another reviewer enduring some sort of self-inflicted torture in our stead while listening to the latest album, how truthful is it? I listened to “9 Before 9” straight through a couple times on headphones, and had given it my initial listen on some decent monitors at the radio station. I wasn’t feeling like anything particularly evil occurred, and I survived without incident. I ate a banana during “Part 3” and didn’t once feel like throwing up, or that my head had been made into a kick-drum for the gods.

If anything, it’s more interesting to wonder why these sort of reviews exist? Is it lazy writing, or is there some underexplored psychological need to witness harm on others that reviewers unwittingly fulfill? I think these are questions outside the scope of this review, but certainly very interesting.

Back to the disc in question– and let’s skip straight to “Part 3”. After all, the first 36 minutes of the disc don’t get interesting until just a couple minutes before “Part 3” cuts them off anyway… The last 18 minutes are decent. That’s right, decent. Nothing mindblowing happens, but if I’m willing to wholeheartedly enjoy Phill Niblock, I’m not going to lie to you and suggest I need constant action in my music. Karkowski and Romero get some beating waveforms together; a good portion of this section sounds like very large (and very physical) objects crowded into a small area. It’s a good reminder of the more corporeal aspects of sound, and provides a welcome and fleshy contrast to the more ethereal portions filling the bulk of the disc.

My recommendation? Avoid it unless you have the capacity, equipment-wise, to really give the disc a chance to shine. Neither Karkowski or Romero are artists to sniff at, but the combined attack of speaker shortcomings and a somewhat minimal disc are too great an obstacle for all but the most committed listener.

“9 Before 9” is available on Blossoming Noise as release bn035.

Don’t believe DaveX? Here’s another review!

GRKZGL – “C’est de la Marde”

August 11, 2008

I suppose the title should stand. It is shit– just three tracks of “harsh” noise indistinguishable from practically anyone else toiling in the increasingly narrow confines of the genre. GRKZGL is loud, busy, and wading about in deleriously distorted sounds– but for anyone who remembers his earlier release “Esque” on the Angle Rec label, “C’est de la Marde” is just the noise made by GRKZGL setting the bar a bit low.

Although I fully recognize that the sheer number of available recordings is one aspect of noise, (it’s just another type of volume, see?) this definitely isn’t where I’d want a new listener to start with this artist. For all of releasing label Brise-Cul’s hype that “C’est de la Marde” is “so harsh that it is ridiculous,” and “so meticulously recorded and mastered” the noise genre remains a game of limits, not unlike speed metal. These bold statements invite listeners to make comparisons, with the result that “C’est de la Marde” doesn’t stand in any such category.

Brise-Cul, having over 100 releases, should know better. Like DJs, the folks who run labels get a birds-eye view of music the public isn’t afforded– turning out some old spray-painted CDR that sticks to its cheap plastic slipcase and turns over no new ground is an abuse of the buyers’ goodwill, and hardly serves to do anything but falsely inflate the artist and leave much of the label’s catalog suspect as well.

It’s bad enough that experimental artists relying on CDR labels will have tremendous amounts of product spread across innumerable imprints and still receive little more than a handful of copies to sell on tour, but when these labels neglect their responsibility to help positively shape the music they love, we all lose something.

GRKZGL’s “C’est de la Marde” isn’t the only example of this, and by no means is Brise-Cul the worst offending label. Still, we’d deserve whatever we get if these sorts of things weren’t pointed out.

“C’est de la Marde” is available as the sixth installment of Brise-Cul Records‘ “Red Series.”

Hong Chulki – “Without Cartridge, With Cartridge”

August 10, 2008

Fantastic turntable work from the Balloon & Needle label boss Hong Chulki, who has lately joined my personal pantheon of favorite turntable improvisors. One of these days; he can join Otomo Yoshihide, Christian Marclay, and Martin Tétreault for a box set and I can die happy.

Until that day, there’s “Without Cartridge, With Cartridge,” which surely goes about as far as one can with a turntable. Packaged uniquely on either side of a cardboard disc, this double 3″ CDR keeps the “haves” and “have-nots” separated– very nice for those of us who like to contrast the two.

Starting “Without Cartridge,” Hong still manages to generate a surprising variety of sound. As Hong’s full approach for both discs is to play without records, I’m assuming these are all produced from dragging the tonearm remains across the turntable itself in some fashion… though in the end, I’m unable to fully understand how many of these sounds arise. Regardless, it is a much more full sound than I would have guessed– in some ways, even more interesting than the “With Cartridge” half!

Track two goes a long way toward explaining why– these electronic shrieking noises are incredible! Filled out with ringing tones, like bowed glass at high volume, this is a torturous ride. The third track is equally absurd; at some point, listeners just have to sit back and let Hong skullfuck both earholes.

For the “With Cartridge” disc, a more usual gamut of possible sounds are explored– needle drops, slipmat scrapes, fingers against the needle, even electrical problems become “opportunities!” There’s also a good range of more unexpected noises– the intense blasts of screeching metal-on-metal sounds near the end of the second track, for instance. At times, I wonder if Hong is employing anything but the tonearm itself, as the circular looping nature of the turntable seems to vanish. Perhaps Hong has liberated it for play on other surfaces?

“Without Cartridge, With Cartridge” is a surprisingly vital set, not only due to Hong’s instrumental prowess, but for the quality of the improvisation itself. What could have been a cold documentation of the technical limits of the turntable-as-sound-source is instead a well-structured work in its own right, and worthy of more than listeners’ simple curiosity.

“Without Cartridge, With Cartridge” is available from Balloon & Needle as release bnn18.

Various – Zelphabet; volumes A, B, & C

August 6, 2008

Zelphabet A, B, and C are the first three compilations of challenging and strange music in GX Jupitter-Larsen’s 27-part subscription CD series. “Twenty-seven,” you ask? Yep, there’s an extra letter that Jupitter-Larsen has appended to the common alphabet, specifically for this series– naturally, it’s only available to those who subscribe to the full series, rather than purchasing individual discs. At $200, this works out to something like $7 a disc– not a bad deal, especially for our overseas friends recently enjoying kick-ass purchasing power. Perhaps some fine Englishman will share his economic fortune with a poor reviewer?

All money aside, the Zelphabet series is a great idea. As a noise scene pioneer, Jupitter-Larsen has an opportunity to play elder statesman, and present a handful of worthwhile artists with each disc. It’s like the “Rrrecycled” tapes, but done with some class, and considerable more attention to quality.

Straight out the gate, Zelphabet “A” gives listeners two things that have defined each disc thus far– something new, and something that you’re astounded to find on a compilation. For “A,” I’m getting my first aural encounters with Achim Wollscheid, who has done a great number of fascinating sound and light installations throughout the world. A good compilation not only gathers music of similar intent or style, but it will inform listeners as well. Wollscheid’s “3 Transformations for Xylophone” is not the foot I was expecting a member of The Haters to put forward first, but it’s useful and sets the tone nicely.

As for the “astounding” portion, how about a recording each from Arcane Device and Asmus Tietchens? Either one of these artists would have been enough to seal the deal! For his contribution, David Lee Myers turns over a remix of unreleased Arcane Device material created from 1987 to 1993, the fruits of which would be realized more recently in Toshimaru Nakamura‘s no-input mixing board work. Quiet music fans, behold the noise from which you have sprung!

Let’s move on to Zelphabet “B”– Jupitter-Larsen covers one big base of this four-way split with a cut from Bob Bellerue (AKA, Redglaer), previous head at LA’s infamous “Il Corral” space. For his portion, “Fridge Tower,” Bellerue presents a richly-detailed soundscape of humming and cracking motor-whine noises. It’s easily my favorite of the bunch, though Blackhumour‘s “and do what/control” gets points for sheer audacity… nearly 19 minutes of verbal fragments endlessly repeating, with little more than stereo pans to change things up! If there’s a concept for this track, I’m not finding it. On a more positive note, I’ve finally had a chance to hear 16 Bitch Pile-Up, and I’m glad to say that it was worth the wait. “No Burden, No Guilt” is a bit more along the lines of what I was initially expecting from these compilations– rough, ear-chewing noise– and totally makes the “B” disc worth a listen, along with the Bellerue material.

(Totally off-track: As I write this, I’m managing a humorous thread at BlogCatalog entitled “I Will Say Horrible Non-Constructive Things About Your Blog,” as a means to generate new readers for STARTLING MONIKER. It’s getting increasingly hard to shift between the mode of “objective reviewer” and “ridiculous insult machine.” The things I do for you!)

Zelphabet “C” starts off strong with an 11-minute extract from a 1974 Charlemagne Palestine performance. Palestine is one of the last people I’d expect to find on a noise compilation, but I’m seeing again and again that my concept of what this series “should be” is being challenged, and this process has been interesting. I suppose I find myself listening to Palestine in much the same way, seeking the neglected detail in a larger sea; but I don’t get as much of a sense of helplessness for eventually understanding the totality of it that I get from something more noisy.

After the 11 minutes are up, “C” drops listeners into Chop Shop’s swirling noise-storm of metallic grinding and overdriven generator bursts, “Retrofit.” Scott Konzelmann’s speakers definitely get a workout here, taking up nearly half the disc. But this is really the kind of stuff I want to hear– veteran noise artists with some thought and experience behind what they’re doing, capable of pulling off an extended and detailed piece without relying so much on effect-pedal kitsch. “Retrofit” reminds me alternately of a low-key Daniel Menche, John Hudak, or Francisco Lopez… definitely good company, in my esteem. Be sure to click through on the Chop Shop link; Generator Sound Art is Konzelmann and Gen Ken Montgomery’s label, so there’s a load of great recordings to be had there.

A 15-minute synth bloop-fest closes out “C,” maybe a bit longish for my taste, but somewhat interesting. Personally, I could have gone for more of Contagious Orgasm‘s “Heart Station,” a surreal blend of Japanese culture reportage and disorienting noises.

So far, the Zelphabet series is really exciting stuff, and well-worth the investment for any noise fan serious about getting to know the previous generation or two of artists. Jupitter-Larsen’s apt curatorship beats file-sharing any day, so I’m highly recommending that you get in on this set before its gone.

The Zelphabet series is available through GX Jupitter-Larsen directly, at the Zelphabet site.

Hong Chulki, Choi Joonyong – “Hum and Rattle”

August 4, 2008

From the Seoul-based Balloon & Needle label, “Hum and Rattle” features some of label head Hong Chulki and Choi Joonyong’s phenomenal turntable and opened CD player compositions. Advantageous use of noise bursts that could make Merzbow flinch, contrasted with periods of near (or total) silence make this an ideal album for headphone listening– especially in regards to the delicacy of Choi’s contributions, which comprise everything from the the faintest digital seek-sound, to full-blown read error exploding into unlikely patterns of bitrate-lacework.

For his end; Hong’s turntable tends toward the lower frequency (and possibly sans vinyl) approach to noisemaking. It’s DJ Q-Bert’s nightmare– needle drops, empty platters spinning against the tonearm, skipping one groove and proceeding to practically lathe-cut the next.

Fortunately, both Hong and Choi evidence a strong ability to not only play off one another’s sounds, but an enthusiasm for allowing both sounds and each other room to breathe. Openness is what sets “Hum and Rattle” apart from many other discs splashing about in similar waters. This approach is most easily heard on the second track, “u a”, something like an 11-minute act of digital call-and-response where one player is a void.

The album closes with a live recording made during a Relay free improvisation meeting. Although it naturally lacks the stereo dynamic that helps make the previous tracks as compelling, it’s nice to hear evidence that Hong and Choi do not rely on studio tricks for the generation of their sound. Rather, the turntables and CD players are treated as instruments in their own right, a much-mouthed but rarely-heard acclamation.

“Hum and Rattle” is attractively packaged in a simple folded-card sleeve, and is available from Balloon & Needle.

The Master Retarder

July 7, 2008

I got a cheap giggle during a visit to Galesburg’s annual Railroad Days. At the non-stop urging of my three-year-old train fanatic, I was coerced into boarding an hour-long bus tour of the rail yard and surrounding area. It ended up being much more interesting than I would have guessed– but then again, if you combine my rampant curiousity with some sort of massive object, I will usually find it interesting.

Original photography by DaveX

There was a lot of nice graffiti, but this was my favorite.

It was also more than a little curious to find myself once again on a schoolbus, retracing a large portion of my old high-school bus route. Bizarre!

But I digress. You want to know about my aforementioned “cheap giggle.” Well, picture me on a schoolbus, with my knees jammed up against the seat in front of me– and then the tour guide says something like: “over there is the master retard”!

Uh….

Sure, I knew he was talking about the giant air brake that slows trains being humped (heh heh, humped) in the yard. It prevents rail cars from smacking into one another at inappropriate speeds. It also makes a great noise, which I’ve heard many times before– just never up close. Here’s some video, so you can dig the good sounds as well. Enjoy!

And hey, check this out while you’re at it– more train stuff, and more sound art as well. Not the usual combination!

Cristopher Cichocki – “Elemental Shift”

April 30, 2008

It’s not even May yet; but I’m tempted to call it early– “Elemental Shift,” the opening DVD-R volley from new label Table of Contents, may very well be the best noise release of the year. Unfortunately limited to 250, I’ve begun treating my promo copy with kid gloves, thankful it had somehow arrived safely through the mail with only a thin cardboard shield to protect it.

I’m not usually anywhere near this finicky.

What’s got me so worked up is Cichocki’s seamless blending of video and sound. Although it would be a stretch to define me as a visually-oriented person, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to suggest that “Elemental Shift” is a work that not only would be lessened greatly by the absence of picture or sound, but would be fundamentally transformed through either loss. I can also say that this is certainly not an hour-long music video– in fact, it is exceptionally difficult to determine which sounds or visuals may have preceded, as they inform and shape each other throughout.

I’m not certain I possess the visual vocabulary to describe “Elemental Shift” adequately, but I have to try! For starters, there are a lot of extremely quick cuts fashioned into loops. I don’t know if these have been constructed from individual film frames or photographs, but the results rely heavily on our persistence of vision, creating pulsing layers of eye-blinding activity. Initially, Cichocki seems to go no further than quickly revealing one image after another, but he has a real talent for selecting images that reflect the tone of the accompanying electronic scree and clearly is not operating in a random manner. In this sense, the visuals follow the music, providing a harmonious optical quality, if extraordinarily frenetic.

For me, one highlight was the use of a Wal-Mart shopping cart in a portion of the video. Viewed entirely through the hexagonal mesh of the basket, Cichocki takes us on a hyper-speed tour of the store, enhancing that tunnel vision attention-deficit state so encouraged by the bombardment of corporate messages upon store patrons.

However, where Cichocki really gets going is when the visuals encourage the sound itself. Having always found noise art to be a somewhat “rooted” music, I was thrilled to see how Cichocki’s use of successive frames (and even motive-based iconography such as traffic arrows) could impart a tactile sense of movement to the sounds. Whereas previously something I might have perceived something like “wall sound” as an immobile block, now I could imagine it as having purpose and direction. It’s interesting, to say the least, and will definitely have me re-examining many aspects of noise.

I took dozens of screen captures from the DVD, none of which come close to providing an accurate representation of “Elemental Shift” any more than a drawing of a rose might conjure its scent. If you try looking at all of them at once, you might get close. Those familiar with the accompanying videos for Merzbow performances will be surprised to find Masami Akita’s work a mere jumping-off point for “Elemental Shift,” and far less detail-oriented as well.

Finally, I should add that I don’t recommend this DVD-R to epileptics. Table of Contents seems somewhat aware of this in their press release, but I think it should be mentioned in a serious manner. If you’re prone to this sort of thing, stay far away!

For the rest of you, however, I can’t recommend “Elemental Shift” more highly.