Approaching a The Rita release provides the exposed with a lurid glimpse into a realm of endlessly focusing obsession. The glint of a tooth in a wash of spray, the slashing of a blade followed in moments by a surge, the shine dancing up a stiletto following lines to a stockinged thigh, but it’s rarely the full story, usually a snapshot of that instance of focus, meticulous descriptions, or just a title and image, a few frenzied minutes, or hours of consideration over every thread – all shreds of the evidence. To have three of these frustratingly scarce documents brought together displays parallels throughout works and also underlines fascinating differences between each release.
Anna Christie (2005): Timeless stoic beauty of the past, feminine grace and the coldest soft faces – there can be a disconnect between the images of silent beauties and hyper-violent noise, if one follows expected routes of justification, but if accepting it as the sound of the pure frenzy of adoration, poet with a blade in a lung bleeding out, then the ultra-blasted out noise onslaught is all that makes sense with sensual contours to the low end along with very precise changes at key moments of tension. Titled after Sam’s second favorite Greta Garbo film – her first talkie – though his top film of hers is Romance, and frequently cited as a favorite among listeners (alongside Flapper Influence From French Prostitutes – another masterpiece of 1920’s feminine style worship) this statement on adoration and devotion to the beauty of Greta Garbo – originally released as a 3”CDR – grows scarcer as time goes on with nobody willing to part with a copy.
The Tortured Ghosts Of Creeks And Rivers (2006): Conceptually this is focused on the stripped down and aesthetically powerful world of pre-code horror comics and violent controversial 70s comic magazines, paralleled with 60s Mexican gothic horror films, and then further focused in on themes of water based horror and eroticism through illustration and cinema. Stark contrast up-close, unforgiving focus on horrific details, that’s how this entire LP sounds. Exhibiting absolute precision in tension building and maintenance Sam somehow makes totally saturated exploding surging harsh noise sound more hard and extreme as each side proceeds. Watery fury and intensity, an endless close up on a face in shock right before it’s pulled under. Originally a now rare LP, with this reissue more listeners can study the absolute signal understanding and fearlessness in using sustained noise intensity to create structure.
Albert Kogler (2006): Any time The Rita unleashes another meditation on the human and shark dialogue, I’m fascinated. This was one of those impossible to find Troniks one-sided LPs, no info besides the stark image, like a 1950s Broken Flag – shark attack aftermath – beach party is over. The pieces namesake was the victim of a Great White Shark at Baker Beach in San Francisco, California on May 7, 1959. Sam going deeper in his search for resonance has even travelled to the exact site where the famous cover photo was originally taken. Providing grisly detail even closer to the moment of focus, Sam gives these quotations, underlining that once man comes in contact with the out-scaled power of a shark, there’s really little of substance to be done if the strike was brutal enough in those brief instances of extreme-force on human flesh.
“Shirley reached Albert and seized his hand, “but when I pulled, I could see that his arm was just hanging by a thread.” She slipped her arm around him and began to swim for the beach. When she was near enough, a fisherman threw her a line. After they were on the sand, Shirley, a Roman Catholic, scooped up some sea water and let it run over the head of her friend (who had never been baptized and belonged to no specific faith). ”
The shark attack theme is articulated by the unrelentingly turbulent blast of persisting density. The full and present midrange allows granular focus on the wide-angle cellular structure of surges in crackles, presenting the listener with an enveloping environment at maximized volumes. The unfurling washes of texture-focus immortalize in duration what – the overloaded moments of absolute terror and impact – being ripped apart and drowned must be like.
As maximized in impenetrability as The Rita harsh noise minimalism is, there is always a sense that there’s something more complex below the violent surfaces, the hidden that animates the ranges of textures and environments possible within such strict parameters. Each release is like a snapshot in a dossier, piecing together the motives – details unraveling into darker mysteries that reveal paths connecting other releases. These recordings sonically expose tensions and balances, manipulations of layers – the staggering changes between slight twists tighter, the phantom geometries unique to each listener as you release any expectation of narrative and pursue an experience of variance in the constant immediate density of sound structure. Sam McKinlay through his legendary The Rita project and Phage Tapes bring together three rare, monolithic and relentlessly powerful documents of harsh noise brutality onto one digital Compact Disc edition that true noise listeners will need in their archives.
-Nick Henry (NYC – MMXX)