12/01/19: New Arrival from The Helen Scarsdale Agency
ten cassettes housed in a handmade wooden box, complete with reproductions of the corroded photography by jim haynes of some of the artists in the box, a booklet including liner notes from emily pothast, drew daniel, donna stonecipher, and jim haynes.
if anything, ‘on corrosion’ is a monumental project – a 10 cassette anthology housed in a handcrafted wooden box and featuring full albums from kleistwahr, neutral, pinkcourtesyphone, alice kemp, she spread sorrow, g*park, relay for death, francisco meirino, fossil aerosol mining project, and himukalt. the collection also stands as the 50th release for the helen scarsdale agency, an imprint founded in 2003 and dedicated to post-industrial research, recombinant noise, surrealist demolition, existential vacancy and then some.
the overarching theme of this compilation refers to that of jim haynes, the agency’s founder and the curator for ‘on corrosion.’ entropy. disintegration. collapse. decay. yet, from the beginning of the boxset’s production, the focus was directed elsewhere, with other artists invited to present their ideas, aesthetics, concepts, and strategies upon the theme at hand.
ten albums housed in a wooden box with a near seven hour running time, with texts provided by drew daniel, emily pothast, donna stonecipher, and jim haynes, and audio mastering by james plotkin.
neutral is the no wave / anti-rock duo of dan johansson (sewer election, ättestupa, amateur hour, etc.) and sofie herner (leda, enhet för fri musik), both with deep connections to the swedish noise scene. as neutral, the two smear voice, guitar, organ, and smoldering noise into narcoleptic songs that rewire the strategies of dome by way of gate and mars.
‘lågliv’ translates to ‘lowlife,’ an apt metaphor for neutral’s subterranean murk and shambolic discontent that they languidly manifest as a punk dourness emptied of all rock ’n’ roll theatrics. desperate, demolished, and dejected.
kleistwahr is the solo project of gary mundy, the legendary power electronic and noise-rock musician who is a founding member of ramleh and runs the highly influential broken flag label.
solemn drones and elegiac long-form passages gird kleistwahr’s ‘winter,’ which often chimes, glistens, and glows through a unhurried constructs for organ, synth, guitar, and electronics. yet mundy pivots throughout with triumphant explosions of shrill noise, redlined overload, and harrowingly anguished vocals from the great unknown. quintessential kleistwahr.
pinkcourtesyphone is the pseudonym for the los angeles based minimalist richard chartier. under this moniker, chartier indulges in an emotional torpor through his hauntological compositions for forgotten dreams with an opiated grandeur and subtle application of certain nostalgic camp.
‘shouting at nuance’ glances back to chartier’s earliest works that were recorded onto tape, with allusions to decay as an unrecognizable reconstruction of past works, whereby his ghostly ambience becomes a dub of itself, echoing back a dispersion of drift and drone into a feedback loop of disintegrated memory.
francisco meirino is an swiss experimental musician and polymath, exploring the tension between programmable material and the potential for its failure. such investigations take place through modular synths, tape manipulation, emf detection / disruption, field recordings, and various home-made electronics.
‘a collection of damaged reel tape loops’ culls those eponymous loops from a found set of reel-to-reel tape which meirino systematically mangled (buried, crumpled, soaked in water, scratched, etc.) and worked into composition. accretions of surface noise, textural sibilance, and muffled distortion pile into dense masses of sound amidst the elliptical repetitions of the ghostly song fragments that broadcast from the original tapes.
alice kemp is a british artist articulating a broken and illogical syntax of the subconscious through trance states and as she puts it, “erotic mourning.” she has performed extensively, occasionally as an associate to the schimpfluch-gruppe of swiss extreme aktionists.
it is a rarified violence that the kemp invokes on her ‘9 dreams in erotic mourning.’ something disfigured. something fucked. something left behind. the subject matter of her investigations are deliberately inscrutable as she grotesquely amplifies a moment of terror, or fear, of sadness through pockets of piano melodies broken by psychoacoustic noise, razor-cut silence, ghastly vocalizations, crushed acts of physical aggression, and buckets of high-pressure suspense.
at the onset of fossil aerosol mining project’s ‘hydration disequilibrium,’ a detuned fragment of a sickly sweet disco-muzak melody broadcasts from the past as an ugly reminder that not all things from previous decades should be treasured. upon this necessary reminder, fossil aerosol continues their case for chronicling the residues from disintegrated media and the utterances of a zombified past.
since the mid-1980s, fossil aerosol mining project has excavated the refuse from the late 20th century wasteland of america. moldering audio tape, cracked vhs cartridges, and damaged 35mm film have proven to be a rich source material for their hauntological suites of deconstructed media samples and gauzy hypnosis, often reminiscent of their occasional collaborators :zoviet*france:.
she spread sorrow is the work of italian industrialist alice kundalini. in her sparse and grimly atmospheric applications of noise, tone, and electronic sequencing, she spread sorrow expresses a volatile emotional core that speaks to abuse and repression with an unblinking candidness.
kundalini’s signature whispered vocals once again beckons her audience closer on ‘orchid seeds.’ kundalini states that the album, “is about 5 different women of my family. each track is about one of them with their difficult story and strengths. my family is totally destroyed now, no relation between anyone, but in the past there was a strong tradition of women with interesting personalities” this sibilant allegorical history comes into focus amidst a claustrophobic and cinematic pall of dark ambient blight and death industrial torpor.
g*park is the long standing schimpfluch member marc zeier, whose cryptic assemblages manifest through technically precise yet psychologically strenuous strategies of musique concrete and controlled noise.
‘nosode’ follows his impeccable ‘gour,’ ‘sub,’ and ‘reuters’ albums with a dislocation of source material from human voice, piano, and field recordings into disfigured utterances, uncomfortable passages of creaking wood, bone, metal, etc., and whipcrack punctuations of sonic violence. zeier locates these razor-cut activities against deathray drones and blackened shadow.
relay for death is the noise project for the twin sisters roxann and rachal spikula. their hermetic works consistently reflect a bleak nihilism, all the while carving an autonomous space for survival as the rest of the existence crumbles. previous works have been published by hanson, no rent, and rrrecords.
‘mutual consuming’ is a dire piece of isolationist thrum, spectral caterwaul, and heavy gloom through an oblique and abstracted coupling of electronics, noise, and ominous field recordings. as immersive as thomas köner’s haunting ambience but fully entrenched in the industrial meditations of mb.
himukalt’s ‘torn asunder: the half girl’ was born of tragedy in the wake a relationship that failed. just as she manifests the amplifications of desire, rage, anxiety, and despair from her previous works, himukalt’s ester kärkkäinen navigates the territory of spurned love through a demonstratively personal if explosively detrimental take on power electronics and heavy industrial electronics.
the nevada based artist began himukalt in 2016 as a vehicle for her noise constructs and crude programming that found references to puce mary, anenzephalia, and atrax morgue’s mörder machine. since then, she has maintained a manic schedule with releases for malignant, found remains, total black, no rent and now this return to helen scarsdale who published her first cassette.
Incoming titles from Angst, Deadline, Fourth Dimension, Hospital, Receiving Vault, Total Black, Unrest, Urashima White Centipede Noise