Cyess Afxzs is a relatively new harsh noise project from Belfast-born, Swiss-based artist, Stuart McCune. Over the past year, McCune has released a string of highly acclaimed tapes and CDs on many of the most vital noise labels currently active, including Rural Isolation Project, Satatuhatta, Abhorrent A.D., and White Centipede Noise. Much has been made of McCune’s use of sounds and structural elements not commonly associated with contemporary harsh noise, and the project’s conceptual alignment with abstract art (most obviously through releases directly referencing Max Ernst, Antoni Tàpies, Alfred Kubin, and Daniel Richter). While it is true that contemporary harsh noise has mostly shied away from overt art world influence (with some obvious exceptions), it is worth remembering that noise has a long and existential relationship with abstract art, Merzbow being perhaps the most obvious and literal example. And, although occupying a very different sonic terrain, the likes of P16.D4, Achim Wollscheid, and Rudolf Eb.er, to name just a few examples, all have long histories of incorporating conceptual or abstract art practices in their work. All that is to say that there is nothing that warms my cockles quite as much as when this lowly genre called “noise” that we love so dearly (with all its inherent contradictions) reaches out of the gutter and pulls influence from otherwise “respectable” art forms. Whether that elevates noise or debases art is open to interpretation.
No Bull One Left Behind was recorded between August and October 2022 and expands upon techniques explored in previous releases, offering perhaps the widest palette of sounds and compositional approaches to date. The album opens with what my grandmother, as a lifelong harsh noise aficionado, would have described as an absolute banger, a roaring behemoth of joyous blasting, before subtly shifting gear to more experimental ground. There is a very singular musical quality to each of the tracks, each containing its own distinctive character. And while the album as a whole certainly falls within the harsh noise realm, the lines between noise and musicality are continuously blurred.