KNURL – Initial Shock CD/DVD


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Short version

CD – Reissue of Knurl’s debut 1994 tape “Initial Shock” with 3 bonus tracks, all mastered for CD in 2020. Approximately 1 hour of material.

DVD – Footage from 9 shows circa 1995-1999 including the debut Knurl performance. A 1996 Quebec television interview completes the package. Approximately 3 hours of material.

Long version

Knurl sits among a very small handful of Canadian harsh noise acts to debut in the 90s and remain active to this day. Among the likes of Ryan Bloomer (Flatline Construct), Sam McKinlay (The Rita) and Pierre-Marc Tremblay (Âmes Sanglantes), Alan Bloor was the first. Coming off of playing in hardcore punk band Binge of Violence, Alan “found” noise by accident while doing performance art, but it had always been a source of interest for him: “While I was working in welding shops I used to love the sound of the grinders and the radial arm saw as it ripped through metal. […] I’ve always been influenced by the environments I’ve worked in. I’ve always loved the sounds of banging, scraping, grinding. […] I used to think it would be great to form a band that could play as loud and fast as a grinder grinding metal. That, of course, never materialized so I took matters into my own hands.”

Blasting his way onto the scene with the aptly-titled Initial Shock in 1994, Alan established contact with Joe Roemer and his infamous Mother Savage Noise Productions label early on. In 1995 Knurl appeared on MSNP’s seminal “Americanoise” compilation featuring many of the harsh noise heavyweights of the day. Knurl also appeared on the “United States of Terrorism” compilation via Richard Ramirez’s Deadline Recordings that same year. This track was originally found on a second, untitled edition of Initial Shock released by La Bande Magnétique in 1994 alongside two other tracks, and all three are are compiled here for an additional half-hour of material. These high-profile and genre-defining compilations helped expose Knurl to the greater harsh noise audience of the mid-90s, but it was with Initial Shock that Alan announced and immediately solidified his tenure in the pantheon of North American harsh noise. The textures and dynamism explored in the tape’s half-hour runtime feel, as Stefan said, ahead of their time. One can get lost in those churning rotor blades of abrasion again and again.

In addition to the hour’s worth of formidable audio, this release contains three hours of crucial live footage from 1995-1999. Most of the shows were captured by Alan’s wife, Dominique, who continues to film Knurl to this day. Complete sets were used where available with the exception of (3) which was truncated for length and visual clarity. Some clips have minor cuts when camera shut off while obtaining a better vantage point (for example). This is frequent in (7), but the show is still included for historical purposes. There are occasional tape flaws, the worst of which being a complete drop near the end of (1) and tracking issues throughout (10). Overall, these issues are inconsequential and, in fact, add character and patina to this trove of rare quality. The ever-increasing precision, focus, and occasional pandemonium make for a highly enjoyable viewing experience. Home-made metalworks and other objects of infamy can be seen making appearances: “I used to smash a toaster at almost every performance. I loved the sound of the wires and insulation breaking up as I ground two iron rods into it. By the end of the performance I would just beat the crap out of it. Just waylay on it as if I was chopping wood. Bits and pieces flying everywhere.” One show, unfortunately not included, “consisted of jamming a five-foot metal rod into a typewriter and eventually beating the shit out of it. I was so wrapped up in beating the piss out of this thing that I lost total track of time. After I got off stage, someone told me I played for just over a minute. Most of the early shows were pretty intense.”

The selected shows are all highlights in their own right, but the following notes can provide further context: (1) Debut performance. (5) Shared bill with Jojo Hiroshige and Junko (Hijokaidan) and Thurston Moore, hosted by the Nihilist Spasm Band. (6) Hosted by Joe Roemer. (8) Shared bill with MSBR, Government Alpha and TADM. (9) Shared bill with Merzbow. One can even see noise luminaries such as Patrick O’Neil (Skin Crime), and of course Ron Lessard himself, in attendance at the RRRecords gig (7).

Working on this project with Alan and going through all of the old footage has helped me to establish a greater sense of relevance and respect with regards to Knurl’s work in the 90s through to the present day. There has never been any compromise of vision. Never a want for any sort of recognition, though it is undoubtedly deserved. The sounds began for himself and they remain as such. With releases on noteworthy labels throughout the years such as Alien8, Audio Dissection, Banned Production, Deadline, New Forces, Oxen, Phage, Self Abuse, Skeleton Dust, Troniks / PACrec, Xerxes and his own Panta Rhei Recordings, among others, there is no shortage of Knurl material. He shows no signs of stopping any time soon and we are all the better for it. Even just on his own accord he still churns out material purely for pleasure’s sake. In the early days he was creating personal noise tapes to listen to on his Sony Walkman, now there is the beauty of the internet and online platforms through which others can continue to experience his wealth of sound and vision when not immersing themselves in the study of his physically-released works.

2019 and 2020 mark the 25th anniversaries of Knurl with Initial Shock being released on November 28, 1994 and the debut performance at L’Oblique Records in Montreal occurring on January 21, 1995. Both of which, I am happy to say, are included in herein. Thanks to Stefan Aune, Pentti Dassum, Sasha Pozzolo, Art Pratten, Joseph Roemer, Pierre-Marc Tremblay and Gary Worsley for their varying levels of assistance with this project. Of course this release would not be possible without the help, patience and archives of Alan Bloor. Thank you for the continuing sounds and enthusiasm, and for being a beacon of longevity.

The world of harsh, mechanized sound is nothing less than Alan’s passion. As my ears are numb after revisiting Initial Shock yet again for this write up I can only echo what others have said: Listen loud and listen often. Knurl is essential.

Release details

Standard edition of 225 CD+DVDs housed in standard jewel cases with double trays. Includes 4-panel double-sided gatefold booklet and insert.

Limited edition of 25 housed in custom sandpaper sleeves. Includes Knurl pin set. Only available from on Sunday, October 4, 2020.

Digital download includes all 10 tracks and PDF booklet. DVD content is not included with the download.

All pieces produced and composed by Alan Bloor in 1994. All pieces were recorded live and very loud to be played very loud. No computers or synthesizers were used on this recording.

Remastered by Pentti Dassum, February 2020.

Original artwork reproduced inside.

Additional liner notes from Joe Roemer (Macronympha/MSNP) and Stefan Aune (New Forces).

Additional information

Weight 0.11 kg
Dimensions 14 × 12.5 × 1 cm