Reviews and comments on Absurd Exposition titles past and present.

Last update September 19, 2023.
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BARSTOOL MOUNTAIN – Tightrope Walker LP (2023)

Bandcamp user Walter Campbell

Easily a best of 2023, simply outstanding release that took a few listens for me to appreciate, let alone enjoy. Unpredictable enough to keep you guessing, but even better when you’re familiar enough to anticipate its playful creativity and understated greatness.

TED BYRNES – All Hands CS (2020)

NOISE NOW PLAYING Facebook user Erik Nystrand (April 8, 2021)

Percussive hands-only noise! I’ve never tried it, but I can’t imagine it would be easy. Ted Byrnes is great at it though. A jazzy quality to it. Like a percussion piece by Art Ensemble Of Chicago played way too loud on a boombox.

TED BYRNES – Double Negative CS (2019)

Noise Not Music (March 13, 2019)

As I sit down to write about Ted Byrnes’ new tape Double Negative, I realize that there is really nothing I could bring up or praise that Sam McKinlay hasn’t already acknowledged in his beautiful piece about the album. So instead I will reprint it below (full credit to Mr. McKinlay, who makes his own music as The Rita and with Byrnes as CACKLE CAR, and the Absurd Exposition page) and do my best to continue the discussion

“One of the most interesting aspects of Ted Byrnes’ C16 work Double Negative is the fact that it is presented by Absurd Exposition, which is very much an analogue electronics based label that is most commonly concerned with ‘harsh noise’ and ‘power electronics’. The exciting aspect of Ted’s percussive work versus the electronics is its incredibly common means to an end. After years and years of my delving into the world of silicon and germanium fuzz circuits with various colleagues, contemplating the electronic processing of source into rough textures can really make someone question the various apparatuses conceptually, especially when you experience raw comparable sound via internal combustion, or in Ted’s case – percussion. ‘Striking something’ for a conceptualized sound acts as a pinnacle of deconstructed sound technique, especially when making a career out of creating seemingly percussive rough textures via electronics, can make the artist doubt their practice and its analogue gear avenues that may simply be (in extreme terms) a ‘waste of time’ when compared to straight well conceived percussion. Again, presented within the world of harsh noise specifics, Ted Byrnes’ rapid fire washes, lines and layers of shifting percussively created textures very much converse in the language of harsh noise with a vicious truth that analogue electronics may never be able to replicate. Every year I think about ditching my electronic gear and just having some ‘percussive’ setup like strips of aluminum that are lined up to make ‘slapping / snapping / crack’ noises, but then I’m constantly reminded of Ted’s work and the fact that I’m just purely jealous and should just stick to what I know.” 

As McKinlay says, improvised music and especially abstract percussion shares a great deal of qualities with ‘noise,’ an observation immediately apparent from the squealing abrasions and endlessly pummeling walls employed on Double Negative. It’s a, if not the, culmination of Byrnes’ visceral approach that he’s taken on recent releases such as Materialism and Source, and leads me to question the often ambiguous dividing lines between noise and other abstract musics. It’s easy to fall into a bottomless pit of semantic runarounds in discussions of genre, but in this case it comes down to what definition we give ‘noise’; while an archetypal artist in this area would use tabletop electronics such as effects pedals and contact microphones, if the sound produced is viewed as an isolated entity, the breadth of ‘noise’ grows tenfold. I by no means intend to completely abandon the attachment of methodology to the sound it creates, because the actions behind the sound and the relationship between the two are often just as important. Instead, with this hypothetical redefinition, I argue for a less restrictive view of noise music, one that doesn’t exclude atypical approaches. This ultimately allows me to articulate what is so magnetic about Double Negative: that it doesn’t hide its direct physicality behind curtains of effects and manipulation, yet still fills the same void as more conventional harsh noise works do, a dual identity that cannot, and should not, be ignored. So when McKinlay resolves to “stick to what [he] know[s],” I couldn’t agree more; the best noise is made when the artist uses the arsenal with which they are familiar, reaching that clamorous catharsis in entirely their own way—which, certainly, is what Byrnes accomplishes with Double Negative.

NOISE NOW PLAYING Facebook user Jack Williams (February 24, 2021)

Brooding acoustic percussion from a modern day master. The mix pierces your ears as electronics would yet you still know he’s just playing an acoustic kit cranked to fucking over 9000.

CASA DI CACCIA – Grand Totàl CS (2023)

Noise Not Music (July 30, 2023) –

Matteo Castro is a name that may not be known to many, but to the few for whom it is familiar, you likely don’t need to read any more of this review to be confident that the latest Casa di Caccia material is absolutely superb. With both the inimitable Second Sleep label and his own diverse projects—Kam Hassah, Endless Sea, Drug Age with Francesco Tignola, Mercury Hall, Primorje with Giovanni Donadini, and of course Lettera 22 with Riccardo Mazza—Castro has always stood tall at the intersection of many different realms of experimental sound, bringing the same level of detail and commitment to quality in any context. That’s definitely true for Grand Totàl; it’s one of those tapes that obliterates from the very first seconds, the lush full-stereo intensity blazing throughout both ten-minute sides even as classic pedal-chain kinks like distortion panning and tension-filled brief bouts of silence keep things interesting. Any fellow fans of Negative Tongue or Lack of Attention will feel right at home for the duration of this jam-packed C21 (in almost direct contrast length-wise to the previous CdC release, one of two massive eight-cassette box sets released by Second Sleep earlier this year). At least in terms of my own retrospective thinking, harsh noise more so than most other genres/traditions in the avant-garde sphere grows and evolves regionally, and while the 90s may have belonged to the Japanese and the aughts to the North Americans, figures like Castro make a convincing case for the Europeans being the ones leading the charge post-2010.

What’s also great is that Grand Totàl is just one of a hefty handful of killer new tapes from Absurd Exposition; don’t miss Wasauksing Sniper, Discordia, or especially Moody Brooding.

DODGE JONES RAGE – West Coast Power Outage V CD (2023)

1208 North Fuller Ave Apt 1 (March 4, 2023)

This trio release each of their albums as differently numbered West Coast Power Outages since 2022. So far there have been 5 of them including this one. The trio are linked to a multitude of projects and labels, but as you will see, the uniqueness of this work deserves to be the focus of the review.

The album begins with a blast of what I would deem to be Hellish Wall. Melody seems to play in the centre of it but it is masked by the blast of the distortion. I like the overall, short effect of Conundrum. Luxury in comparison feels tropical and warped, noised and samples swirl around, the shift in tactic is impressive. Absolute is immediately darker as it farts into action. Churning drones and cut up distortion form a dance of noises as a supporting cast of quirky noises fall into the rhythm and rhyme. Veiled melody plays in the cacophony and it works well. As the piece reaches full flow it truly makes an impressive racket.

Juddered electronic sounds send a fractured signal to form Bizarre which uses discordant keyboard notes amongst the sonic chatter. When they keep doing that, it works very well! Power: Disaster is the longest track on the album and begins with wailing noise, backed by chaotic shifts between electronic clunking and distortive waves blasting over it. This feels as if a moog is used in the distance of the sound, the listeners focus can zone in and out of the different elements presented on Disaster. The sound is dark and unique as the elements of sound gradually intensify, screaming and wailing utter bleakness.

This is a brilliant album that sounds like nothing else that I have heard before.

FLATGREY – Tombs CS (2017)

Noise Widow #2 (June, 2018)

Ah, another straight-forward HN tape. Fine by me. You’ll be happy to hear that it sounds like a noise flame thrower. Conjures up images of Kurt Russell in The Thing. Or – if you’ll indulge me here – making the four hour drive to visit my grandpa at the height of summer, never having cars with AC growing up, so every window is open and hot wind is assaulting my face, my hair is whipping into my eyes, I’m squished between my two older brothers, my father refuses to drive in the HOV lane… Yep, this tape sounds like a hellish summer drive on the Long Island Expressway to visit an elderly relative, sandwiched between your enemies. Slight undulations make for dynamic waves of sound, setting this baby a bit apart from your average harsh noise tape. Nice and crackly, too. Side B is a lot more mechanical. A jigsaw running in the basement (more childhood memories).
Verdict: Cohesive and effortless. The artwork looks like the sonogram of a fetus that’s not doing too hot. Or maybe it’s just clouds. No labels but the A and B sides are marked on the cassette shell, at least.

GRIEFER – Communication Denial CS (2020)

Noise Receptor (November 18, 2020)

Griefer, a Canadian power electronics / death industrial project have been releasing material since 2004. Although this new 2020 cassette is the fourth album releases, it functions as my introduction to the project.

Of immediately note is the relatively clean sonic tone of the overall sound, which perhaps reflective of or at least aligns with the technological slant of the lyrical focus. Sound wise it features revving tones, looped metallic textures, wailing ‘air raid siren’ sounds, and echoed field recordings, which have been chopped and hewn into a series of compositional structures. Select tracks have a more focused power electronics bent, yet others contain a more ominous death industrial core, based on deeply echoed soundscapes, caustic noise and slow thudding beats. On the tracks which are based on looped structures, this gives a rhythmic aspect to the sound, yet this is not of the rhythmically driven type generated through programmed beats. Vocally, this also functions to set the material apart as they feature as a gruff yell with minimal treatment and which are balanced within the mix.

Seven tracks in all feature, with a total run time of around 35 minutes, which demonstrates Griefer to have both individualism in sound and sonic skill to back it up. Despite its adherence to a power electronics / death industrial sound there is a quite surprising degree of sonic and stylistic variety within this framework, making for varied and far from one dimensional listening.

WCN Maniac’s Circle Discord user Capers (March 22, 2023)

God damn. Didn’t see this coming. Power tools, sterile synths, occasional excellent tape fuckery and commanding Mangled Clit style vocals in a crisp production. Themes not a million miles away from your usual PE, but delivered from some place else (corporate cowardice, getting sacked, cyber security etc) Heaps of personality. I’m not best friends with the synthesizers, and I’m not sure this will survive the next-next collection purge, but I’m definitely not done with it yet. This is very cool.

GRIEFER – Egress Report CS (2017)

Existence Establishment (September 8, 2017)

I like song structures. Griefer‘s tape is a power electronics tape is full of actual songs with a theme that is as evidently intelligible as it is challenging.

Of the five songs featured, two contain vocals with the rest featuring impressive instrumental barrages. Griefer chooses to use, sparingly, looped samples along very cranky synths. The vocals on here are the most remarkable thing because they are not only intelligible, but Griefer‘s cadence is more akin to an older chain lord with deliberate acts of rhythm than some skinny guy screaming through 5 distortion VST plug-in pedals. “Quantum” in particular really goes no holds barred in a furious nod to Con-Dom‘s Hatred album and (sonically only) Slave State atop tin cookie box dropped from a high rise building type percussion. Rapid fire beats, when they do kick in, really amp things up as needed. It’s something I don’t hear often well-employed.

The strange crypto-economics/strategic analysis/cyber espionage concepts here are up my alley. I think it’s a very unique approach and certainly a chilling reminder that your porn habits and bank account numbers are not safe. The mix of different kinds of sounds offers a wide berth for Griefer to balance vocals and instrumental parts. I would have liked to hear more angry vocals because I think it conveys a sense of urgency that so few PE artists are unwilling to put forth with such a creative, non-shock value theme.

Looking forward to hearing more of this entity…Egress Report is probably one of my favorite PE releases in a while. Again, the song structure of this album make it memorable, filler burned off the motherboard for the most part. Absurd Exposition, based out of Montreal is the credited party for the release of this c30. Perhaps you can find it state-side. Get your head redboxed with this ASAP.

KNURL – H2T CD (2023)

Scream & Writhe Forum user Happiness, forever (February 20, 2023)

Hell Yeah! Like a Freight Train crashing blistered frequencies through my house against rip-roaring distortion tearing apart the air and house tumbling down feedback rumble drone attack as the train just keeps plowing through. Fuck yeah, Train!! Lots of movement, never static, but not fast, giving time for really absorbing and enjoying the destruction of sounds. Bonus points for an awesome cover, I rlly dig the cover art.

1208 North Fuller Ave Apt 1 (March 4, 2023)

Knurl is a Canadian noise project operated by Alan Bloor that has been active since 1994. Hotel2 Tango is a recording and performance venue that is run by the Godspeedyoublackemporer folk in Montreal, Quebec. This recording was recorded there on July 7th, 2001. Knurl has released on many labels including RRR and Obscurica, who are a personal favourite old label of mine, RIP. Bloor has also played live with members of Sonic Youth.

The sound has an immediate acceleration as if moving at high speed. Layers of noise and distorted roar overlay on Piece 1. Once everything is in full mass, things pulsate and throb, whilst higher pitched distortion screeches over and through the entire sound. At different points it feels as if the sound is trying to slow down, but moves at such a high speed, this creates an abrasive friction that rubs alongside the main mass of noise. This is very, expertly put together and delivered.

Effective restraints control the flow of Piece 2, which isn’t so out of control. Bloor uses a minimal array of sounds here and allows different sounds into the forefront at different times – stop, start, stop, start. High-pitched feedback ends up dominating the work in its’ final stages. The squealing noise continues into the 3rd Piece leading other elements of sound to join in the movement. A deeper bass roar is intermittent and adds a thicker depth to the sound and is pulled away like a tablecloth at times to let the sharper sounds cream where there was a roar. The thickness of the sound increases as the bass deepens; this gives a good texture to the work. The texture of the sound changes gradually whilst the elements move quickly, it is like a steady undercurrent to the work that gives structure to the abstraction like the background colour on a painting whilst the lines and drips interact over the work. For example the cloudy mist in the background of a Lydia Dona painting whilst the diagrammatic drawings and lines interact with degrees of detail and colour. This is the longest Piece and allows for a longer, gradual shift in sound that can adjust speed where it is appropriate. Like the first track this reaches a high speed and trying to affect this speed gives off pulsations of friction that squeeze the sound and accelerate it further when released.

The fourth piece demonstrates some excellent Death Drones that dominate making the screech a background element every time it rears up. The sharper tones make a comeback and take the lead whilst the hum of the drone controls the thickness of the sound. The die out of the sound allows background noise and feedback to play off each other. The sound rebuilds itself for the final work, Piece 5. This track pushes the under drone and the wailing noise together to sharpen the focus point of the piece. The lower end feels like it is punching the sound in the stomach whilst the higher tones go for the head, a double barrelled assault. The deeper hum on this track is very strong and really bellows when it is allowed to. The track drops into a scattered no mans land of intermittent noises, it is as if Knurl kills the underlying structure to allow the work to fall into chaos. This passage only lasts for a short time until a finely honed precision takes hold to the work’s end.

This was my introduction to Knurl, despite hearing the name mentioned for years and I very much enjoyed it.

KNURL – Intial Shock CD+DVD (2020)

Special Interests user TordonLjud (November 2, 2020)

I wondered fairly recently where all the Knurl reissues are and suddenly here is one and what a reissue it is! I have yet to listen to the DVD: 3 hours, so that is a solid weekend project. But having listened to the CD my immediate thoughts are maybe less about the actual material on this CD (impressive physical harsh noise, of course) and instead how consistently impressive Knurl has been (and still manages to be). There are not many projects which epitomizes the tag “long running harsh noise project, consistently high quality, but severely underrated” quite as well as Knurl. (Obviously you have to mention Government Alpha and perhaps Guilty Connector in the same breath.) I do have quite a bit of Knurl releases in my shelves but there are really no good reasons not to get more. Lastly, a mention for the label and those involved for the effort going into materializing this reissue.

Vital Weekly #1259 (November 17, 2020)

It makes perfect sense for a remastered CD reissue of Knurl’s first cassette, one that’s accompanied by three different breathless testimonials to the artist’s impact 25 years on, to include a DVD. In fact, I prefer to think of this as a DVD with accompanying CD rather than the reverse. Knurl’s albums have always had a sculptural aspect to them, often implied by the physicality of his sound if not stated outright or depicted in the artwork. Alan Bloor, a former welder, aimed to reproduce the harsh metal-on-metal grinding noise of factories with his music. Like GX Jupitter-Larsen, he came from a background of early 80s punk/hardcore and performance art but wanted to take the noisy aspect of that music farther than song forms would allow. From the beginning, the Knurl sound came from metal junk and sculptures that he amplified, bowed, sawed, pummeled, struck and ran through electronic effects. Who wouldn’t want to watch how he does that? I’ve been curious for years, but haven’t had the opportunity until now since I don’t live near anywhere he’s performed.

The DVD is as generous as can be: more than 3 hours of live performance footage shot from 1994 to 1999, plus a 1996 television interview (in French and English). Hearing the sound on CD is one thing, but it’s the DVD that, for me, really puts the artist’s work in perfective. What I gather after viewing it is pretty much what I’d always suspected from hearing the recordings: Bloor’s noise really is as physical and performative as I imagined. We get to see him shaking metal junk, rapidly cycling between attacks on pipes, springs, metal plates… a blur of anxious energy, controlled and purposeful within the ceaseless shriek. His body is frequently seen affecting the sound when he alters his distance from the metal instruments, standing up taller to wring out more feedback, shifting his weight and taking loud tones with him… the interaction is evidence of Bloor’s live-wire act of careful control that might (but doesn’t) derail with one wrong move. A discernible marriage of process and sound isn’t always necessary to appreciate an artist’s work, but viewing Knurl in his natural environment adds to my enjoyment of the music. I see someone who’s thought as much about the visual/spatial component of a performance as to the audible result, of how his presence is integral (both in regards the sound and to the gestalt impact) to what he does.

“Initial Shock” first appeared as a cassette in 1994. Of course, it’s not Knurl’s best album. How could it be? He wouldn’t be much of an artist if he peaked at his very first tape and then spent 25 years trying to live up to his debut. Bloor got better as he went on, refined his sound, improved his production quality and grew more confident in his performance. If you want to hear the best Knurl albums, try “Thioarbamide”, “A Hail of Blades” or “Risk of Entrapment”. But taken on it’s own terms, “Initial Shock” is a fun ride. The sounds seem to be more electronic than metallic, lots of feedback waves and clouds of dirt interrupted by microphone overload, line hum and other nasty crude artifacts. All ten tracks are in perpetual motion. Even the relatively drone-like “Itradem” is a cascade of crude shattering and circuit fizz that crashes into itself over and over again. “Ridzt” is just a punctuation, half a minute of static interference, but I liked it. “Abjective Singe” retains the raw impatience of a young guy furiously bashing on boxes in his bedroom, a patina of amp hum coating the explosion in ugly filth. The album closes with “Sehnt”, in which the smack of metal on metal is clearly legible through a mess of fidgety gear-shifting and electronic squeal. After viewing the DVD, I can’t hear “Initial Shock” without imagining how it might have been created. I can picture Bloor in his workshop, yanking scree from the guts of springs and sharp scraps, vigorously crunching down on cords and leaning in to continually adjust and shift direction. That’s the best part of this set: it doesn’t simply reissue an out-of-print cassette, but uses the cassette in order to provide a bigger picture of who Knurl is and what he does. After hearing this and viewing the DVD, you’ll want to go back and check out more of his catalog or dip into it for the first time. (HS)

NOISE NOW PLAYING Facebook user Erik Nystrand (October 23, 2021)

What a superb reissue this is. Great liner notes and what I presume is a great remaster job, no fuzz packaging and layout. And Knurl! Labels are busy reissuing the big names these days (I’m ”guilty” as well), and while Knurl is a name everyone knows, I can’t imagine sales reflect that. Anyway. Early Knurl is mostly unchartered territory for me. I have Nervescrap of course, and a few old compilations he was on, but that’s it. This 1994 (debut?) album is by far the wildest Knurl I’ve heard. Restless and redhot throughout, but with the signature BIG sound in place already. Scary how he started out with a fully realized sound of his own, right from the start, and just built from there.

MASS MARRIAGE – Nothing Underneath CS (2012)

Weird Canada (May 30, 2015)

From the spirit warehouse of Chris Taggesell:

Melissa Paget‘s unique brand of sonic experimentation projects audial filth filled with frequencies that will shatter your windows and scare the neighbour’s dog. Obscured behind a suffocating wall of fuzz and titanic warehouse percussion, Nothing Underneath screams with a mouthful of broken glass. Ghostly reverb-soaked mantras permeate the noise with a powerful feminine voice that cannot be ignored amidst the mechanical cacophony of sizzling feedback and cavernous discord. Mass Marriage embodies the fraught, confused relationship with technology that typifies our modern world – this is a dark and beautiful musical protest that spits blood from the shadows to remind us of things we prefer to ignore.

MERZBOW – Aqua Necromancer (Expanded) 2LP (2022)

Bandcamp user MERZILLA

Incendiary rhythm prog rock disarray somewhat resembling pureed scraps from Can, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Faust & Soft Machine in a feral panorama. Juicy electro-aquatic love!

MET GLAS – Moody Brooding CS (2023)

Special Interests user FreakAnimalFinland (August 17, 2023)

I can’t really articulate why exactly, but this tape ended up to be one of the most played harsh texture tapes of recent times. Can’t explain why this, over multiple possibilities. Maybe the cover? Maybe the packaging including surprising object. Maybe it is just notch better than many texture focused harsh tapes? I am not only imagining, since talked to other guy who mentioned this among highlights of recent Absurd Exposition tapes.

Special Interests user Fistfuck Masonanie (replying to above) (August 18, 2023)

Been getting a lot of plays over here as well. I LOVE the packaging. I already knew the artist and each release was really good but this one pushes it over the edge for some reason. Soundscape itself is not exploring new territory per se, but done with an energy and exuberance that is not matched easily. Really top-notch release and love everything by the project so far. 40-minute length makes you think maybe this will get tiring but it doesn’t.

The whole new Scream and Writhe batch is good. I already wrote a review on the ZK tape which deserves more attention as well.

MO*TE – Throw a Stone CD (2021)

NOISE NOW PLAYING Facebook user Howard D Stelzer (May 8, 2021)

hot take: this is his best album. Psychedelic and way more colorful than the art might suggest. When you’re a longtime fan of an artist, it’s a thrill to find that they keep getting better, not resting on their (obscure) laurels. “Throw a Stone” is not an assault, it’s not even terribly abrasive… instead, it’s thick, gooey, slow-moving, massive & monstrous… something to sink into, not a torrent to withstand. Mote is making some exciting-as-hell noise right now and this damn thing is glorious.

MOT – Savage CS (2020)

Bandcamp user Guillermo Pizarro (September 4, 2020)

One of my favorite things in life are short, live set length noise tapes. MOT knocks it out out of the park with this one.

MOT & VIOLENT SHOGUN – Mangle CS (2022)

NOISE NOW PLAYING Facebook user Erik Nystrand (May 26, 2022)

To me, this is timeless industrial noise. Intricate pieces where loops are the backbone, and acoustic sounds, tape-mangling and blasts of tarmacish textures being the flesh. Had the fidelity been a bit less crisp, more hissy, it could just as well have been some obscure 1980’s title, or, at least parts of it, a Hatband tape from around the turn of the milennium. And with industrial noise, the emphasis here is on the structured industrial side. It does get rough and more loose at times, but it never spillls over into all-out noise. It’s easy to fall for the temptation and crank out the real crunch, but these two show some healthy restraint. Another thing that strikes me is how seamless this collaboration is. Mot and Violent Shogun have their differences, but their likenesses and how the tracks are sequenced makes for a natural flow from Mot’s tape-based methods to Violent Shogun’s discreetly musical approach. Ending the tape with V.S. solo is a great move, letting in just a bit more clarity and air for the closure.
Great looking package, too. Love the red on monochrome black and white. Someone ought to make an LP out of this.

MUNITION – Gaze/Gauze CS (2019)

Raised By Cassettes (April 8, 2019)

Deep, distorted electronics come through like waves and then it just turns into this blurry, jumbled sound of static.   It gets so loud and it feels like we’re going to find ourselves easily lost within it.   Some sharper songs sneak through, like car horns in traffic, but that feeling of distortion washing over us all remains.   It feels a bit like there is feedback from a guitar but there is also a powerful force in here like a thunderstorm.

It can grow quieter, minimal, and just embrace that winding synth like something which always seems to remind me of an old VHS tape for some reason.   There are a few haunted noises within this as well, a darkness.   That echoing sound like Jason Voorhees can also be heard at one point. 

A mechanical rhythm now, like robots marching.    This seems to blur into where it sounds like an airplane taking off, only if you were underneath it rather than inside of it.    It feels like we’re screeching to halt– if you’re inside the inner workings of this airplane it seems to have something wrong with it and perhaps it is unfit to fly.   Then it just kind of tapers off and ends.

KFJC (January 22, 2020)

Munition is the alias of Dexter Outhit, a noise artist from Toronto. This cassette is his second release, and KFJC’s second library addition from Montreal-based label Absurd Exposition. Gaze/Gauze would stand well alongside the first Absurd Exposition release that we recently added, the excellent Base Waters LP by Rusalka; both works draw the sound of ocean waves into enveloping expanses of composed noise. This Munition version has an anxious, suspenseful feel, as deep pulses surface and mobilize into martial rhythms. The marching beats summon visions of ancient voyages, hunts on the high seas, naval warfare. One ~15 minute piece that repeats on Side B of the tape.

ANDREW NOLAN – Background Music CS (2018)

Terminal Escape (August 3, 2019)

It’s like the sound that’s happening all around you as you live your life….if your life is a complete fucking nightmare. This 2018 offering from ANDREW NOLAN is a meditation on reality, a brooding realization that develops before your ears and inside your psyche over 29 excruciating minutes. It’s at once peaceful and dreadful…but that’s our existence if we’re doing it right. Escaping the reality just long enough to be shocked by it. Heavy electronics meld with found sounds on Background Music – it should come as no surprise to the attentive amongst us that Nolan’s offering delivers (INTENSIVE CARE, COLUMN OF HEAVEN, EBOLA, THE ENDLESS BLOCKADE, SHANK, WINDSCALE, SAWN OFF, DEATH AGONIES are among the skeletons in his closet), though I was impressed nonetheless with this release. Not for nothing, it also led me to the world of Absurd Exposition, which is a very dangerous world to visit…if these sounds suit you.

ANDREW NOLAN – Museum Etiquette CS (2020)

Noise Receptor (September 2, 2020) Being completely unfamiliar with this Canadian experimental noise artist, I have to take this new tape from this on face value – which certainly provides a good first impression. Amorphous and elastic in form, each side of the tape features an untitled 16-minute track. But rather than displaying a singular idea or sound, it is more of an amalgam of segments which are seamlessly interconnected. Element of musique concrete and urban focused field recordings are blended with dank experimental noise soundscapes making for engaging listening.

Side A opening with deeply echoed field recordings which have been composed into buzzing and vaguely looped drones mixed with metallic toned and loosely rhythmic structures. With the first section gives way to a field-recordings of an individual ranting in public, later segments cover electric drones, periodic bass tones and undercurrent of field-recordings (vocal chatter, train sounds, crossing alarm bells etc.). Sonically it arcs back and forth from intense to calm, but retaining a general melancholic edge throughout, even including a short mid track passage of maudlin orchestral strings. Side B brings a similar approach, with scrabbling metallic textures, slow plodding and deeply echoed death industrial thuds, arcing electric drones, and further partially abstracted field recording elements (aka train-yard noise). Again relying on an ebb and flow approach, it rises to elevated sonic peaks and recedes to minimalist tonal valleys, while towards the end of the track it gives a clear nod to the tape’s title, as it concludes with a segment of what sounds like a museum tour lecture.

Sonically this is rather artistic in approach but also rooted in a darkly underground tone, Museum Etiquette is a varied and very enjoyable experimental noise tape.

Bandcamp user Jiri B

Skillfully crafted electronic drones and soundscapes blended with urban field recordings. This recording could be perceived as both meditative and disturbing, depending on personal preference and current state of mind.

PHOLDE – To Favour the Occurrence CD (2023)

Scream & Writhe Forum user Happiness, forever (February 20, 2023)

this is what I put on at night cuz it’s relaxing to me until my wife wakes me up asking me to turn it off cuz it’s disturbing underground night noise & it’s fucking with her sleep. Close-up metal sounds in claustrophobically dark tunnels with side rooms full of breaking down furnace pipes… creepy. Sorry, honey.
Another rad cover too from Paul van Trigt, who at this point is like the Pushead or Winston Smith or Raymond Pettibon of noise rekkid covers.

1208 North Fuller Ave Apt 1 (March 4, 2023)

Pholde is a project of Alan Bloor of Knurl; there have been Pholde releases since 2001.

To Favour the Occurrence is an interesting album as it explores low level noise that seems to be sourced from contact microphones and metal scrapings. It isn’t Ambient or Dark Ambient in what it does due the obvious physicality of the sounds and there is a strong exploration of a quieter use of noise and its inner workings. The noise cuts into the silence gently as if to slightly disturb the layer of tranquillity and the sound is incredibly subtle in its’ workings. The titles Pholde uses seem to imply personal context as if relating to the artists life or events around his life. This contrasts to the Piece numbers of his work in Knurl greatly.

In recent reviews, I am starting to see a lot of use of quieter sounds used in work that I am sent. This often uses the slight disturbance of silence or minimal use of noise used to create bigger holes in between sounds. There are what I’d see as leaders where the subtle disruption of the quiet using sound is particularly strong, those are Small Cruel Party and Spoils and Relics, but I would add this project to that equation too.

To Favour the Occurrence has served as my introduction to Pholde and I am very impressed by the work that I have heard.

PRIMITIVE ISOLATION TACTICS – Deconstructing a Purpose CS (White Centipede Noise, 2020)

Special Interests user Baglady (January 12, 2021)

A thick, warm, odorous, humming and vibrating tone wriggles around throughout, expanding into crunch and warble at times. Other sounds try their best to stay on top – angry stabs of feedback, some terrified person yelling – only to be swallowed. Excellent restrained slow-burning muck that reminds me of Vårtgård while still being something rather different. Flip the tape and things get more shaky. It’s still a hungry pool of boiling tar, but it has receded slightly, with ripping textures and acoustic sounds revealing themselves. A great tape that ends far too soon. Hard not to play it again straight away. Lovely stuff! Haven’t heard anything by PIT prior to this, and I think I need more.


Scream & Writhe Forum user Capers (March 27, 2022)

My only previous sonic encounter with PIT was the tape on WCN, Deconstructing A Purpose, a slow and arduous mudcrawl. A great tape! Received this cassette last spring through trade, but it coincided with the birth of my child and had been collecting dust until this morning. What a noise, and what a pace! Did Taylor mislabel some other artist’s tape? Nope. A reference then? Well, the man said it himself a couple of posts up. MSBR – Ultimate Ambience, Intensification and Destructive Locomotion. PIT’s Dirty Prophesies echoes the former above all, with it’s single-minded and stripped down approach. But the stern steel feel of Intensification is here as well, as are the massive blowtorch flames of Locomotion. What differs from Koji Tano’s masterpieces is that Taylor lets those very high-pitched electric nails shine on their own to a much greater extent, and the twists and turns are fewer. A perhaps unintended yet none the less refreshing take on a classic sound suprisingly rarely replicated. A very fine tape!

PRIMITIVE ISOLATION TACTICS – Past Spheres and Present Circles CS (2018)

Bandcamp user metalm8200000

For someone not at all accustomed to or well versed in the world of noise music, this was an incredible experience. One of the darkest experiences of my life, not only music, but in general. Instantly sparks your interest with a brooding, but not overly intense, wave of bottom-ended noise that sucks you in, and only gets louder from there. Incredible. Simple as that.

THE RITA – Her Shell, The Chute CS (2022)

Scream & Writhe Forum user htp_systems (December 4, 2022)

This tape is a high point for me within the more recent The Rita output. There’s more movement present on this tape than some of the other straight geiger-counter style crackling featured on others and there’s a shifting velocity of this sound throughout the release which makes it difficult to find sure footing. It really throws the pattern-seeking brain for a loop. At times there’s a subtle pin-pricking high tone that steadily punches through the rolling cracks and crevices. Almost like the wind piercing the ears of a skier who has misjudged a turn and whose fate now rests in the hands of the mountain, rolling down the side.
This tape is a personal favorite among the recent output by The Rita. The sounds are writhing on this release, twisting and churning, different lines swirl and intermingle with one another. Completely mesmerizing.

RUSALKA – Base Waters LP (2019)

1208 North Fuller Ave Apt 1 (December 8, 2019)

RUSALKA, is the Vancouver Canada based project of Kate Rissiek and has been active since 2007.

The album’s first track Sinking Blood Deep begins with a massive, deep distortion that has noise going off over the top of it. The intensity of the distortion is impressive; even on its own. The sounds on top seem to repeat themselves for a period until the main distortion seems to explode and take prominence and shift. It is as if the sound destroys itself in order to move on, in some ways this organic process occurs throughout the album.

I have frequently spoken about Noise Wall a lot on this blog and keep going to the term ‘Deconstructed Noise Wall’, this track in parts has those features, in that it builds up to thick density whilst allowing individual elements to still have clarity. This then leads to the breakdowns that allow minimal elements to thrive for periods of time to play off each other until the work builds up again. There are cycles like this continually woven into the work.

Water flows and splashes to Reflection Underneath Waves until it is eclipsed by what I would call strained humming that dominates like the mass of distortion did on Sinking Blood. As the drones strain to their breaking point and begin to distort the drama is high, only to be added to as hissing noise plays over this. Reflection rises in intensity gradually and confidently, sometimes the tracks sonic language is very minimal. Shifts and interruptions play with the listener as if to keep your attention focussed – the work is in control of you.

Cutty noise that takes the form of broken high frequencies and chopped distortion begins to lead the work midway through the second track as if forming a more violent passage of sound that builds and ends for the water to return and bring an end to the album.

I don’t see this as a continual session, there seem to be individual passages of noise worked into each other to form the bigger picture of each track. This has been very well thought out and conceptualised, it ties in very well with the water ties to the character of Rusalka. The deep emotion shifts and with the rapid changes in sound and delivery, nothing stays still for too long -this is an amazing album.

I was meant to see this project with MK9 and ANTIchildLEAGUE, sadly the show got cancelled. The slightest thought on what the show might have been like just blows my mind away. I have discovered several what I would call outstanding ‘Alpha Female’ noise projects this year, this is one is as great example of that – thanks for this Noise Karma, I am very grateful for this day.

Nevis Kretini 2019.

KFJC (January 8, 2020)

Rusalka is the project of Vancouver noise artist Kate Rissek. Her work over the past decade includes several solo cassettes and split releases (with MK9 and The Rita, among others), and now in 2019 her first full-length LP washes onto KFJC shores. On Base Waters, Rusalka uses a theremin and electronic effects to harness the power of the seas on two sidelong pieces. A sunken ship ascends back to the ocean surface on “Sinking Blood Deep” (T1). The vessel’s weathered hull – massive walls of corroded noise – rises from the depths; its horns sound, lights flare, and engines roar once again. On “Reflection Underneath Waves” (T2), field recordings of waves transform into massive columns of noise standing amid powerful swells of sound, a raw expression of the creative and destructive forces of the sea. Beautiful, compelling work, released on Montreal label Absurd Exposition.

Special Interests user Baglady (January 15, 2020)

Epic harsh noise. I always come to think of Aube when I listen to Rusalka, even though it doesn’t quite sound like him. I think it comes down to how much care and effort they put into their work, and well, how vast it always sounds.

NOISE NOW PLAYING Facebook user Erik Nystrand (January 23, 2020) –

A submarine at full speed towards unkown pitch black depths in the middle of the ocean. Sort of a soundtrack to that story by Poe, Descent into the Maelström, perhaps. This doesn’t sound like anything else. Well, maybe it does (early Aube for example), but damn, the execution, pacing, timing and tension here… I imagine the tools and sounds used were few but well chosen, and their potential exploited to their fullest. This is epic nautical horror.

NOISE NOW PLAYING Facebook user Luke Tandy (February 5, 2020)

Rusalka marks a defining moment in the project with her first full-length vinyl release courtesy of Canada’s Absurd Exposition label. Kate’s brand of noise has always been powerful and hypnotic to me, and I feel honored to have been able to share live stages with her a handful of times over the years. On “Base Waters”, Rusalka creates an incredibly well-composed piece of throbbing industrial noise that flows seamlessly from beginning to end, channeling all the best qualities of the project into a perfect storm of noise. Highly recommended!

RUSALKA – Blood Comes Anyway CS (2013)

NOISE NOW PLAYING Facebook user Joel Shanahan (November 30, 2022)

How fucking good is Rusalka? Not only is this tape absolutely crushing, but the sounds are oceanic and constantly in motion. It’s complete immersion—it fucks with your head and all the subtle artifacts within the blasts make you hear all kinds of shit that isn’t really there—or IS it?

TOANCHE DWELLING – Hyleidos CS (2022)

NOISE NOW PLAYING Facebook user Nigel Munroe (January 4, 2023)

I’ve given this a couple of spins since the year began and while it doesn’t blow me away from start to finish I’m definitely digging the way this has been put together. It’s extremely lofi, hiss drenched, junky noise that feels like much more of an ‘ambient and in the room’ affair that some all out assault. I saw a few pics/vids of this project in action and it looks to be crafted to some degree from objects and home made instruments made from scrappy metal. All the nicer then that the artist is swerving the satisfying but ubiquitous ‘junk metal’ noise thing. There’s a quality to it that reminds me of some of the first real noise I ever encountered which shared this kind of musically shorn, brutalist approach whilst remaining low in dynamics and fidelity. The final track is notable for being the most lively and fucked up sounding and it’s an absolute killer, I really love it. Channels something of the Haters at their most cheap and tinny sounding with odd little features bubbling in and out of focus. I’ve been listening to this on bandcamp […] and am interested in what comes next from this artist. Would love to know if there are any recommendations that mine similar veins whether old or new.

K.M. TOEPFER – Undercut CS (2019)

Raised By Cassettes (March 27, 2019)

There is this ringing.  It sounds kind of like a phone, but it also has this distorted static within it which makes me feel like it’s coming through some other way.   Sharpness comes through as well, causing it to be somewhat harsh and then it’s full blown wind.    That sharpness persists through the rippling wind.   The intensity can seemingly cut out from one side to another and it plays tricks on my ears.   Lots of static now.   Lots of wind.    It creates this harsh noise drone.

The static begins to start and stop.   Alien frequencies come through and as it gets harsher it reminds me a bit more of someone like Waves Crashing Piano Chords.    There is a definite modem vibe behind this static march.    The way this crackles though, just the way the static is manipulated is what makes it so special, so unique and why you must really listen to it, as it feels like the siren of a war raid is going on behind it as well.   Those alien frequencies channel in and out.

It can begin to change those frequencies, higher and higher in pitch, as the static crackles like a giant fire, growing and growing.    Through that static the sharp ringing can almost feel like the howling of a wolf.    For some reason, I am reminded of the film “Cabin Fever”.     Ringing through more and more, this begins to sound like a metal detector or sonar.   Full tilt now, into video game glitch and then robotic sounds like Wall-E.     Stronger now, it can feel like a lightsaber cutting through.    Scrape, scrape, scrape, we slowly scrape through the static.

The static pushes through now, mechanical, on the flip side.   Starting and stopping, ringing and fading, this is a full on assault of the ears.    Through the skipping it somehow manages to create this distorted trill now.    The sharpness brings out a feeling of a helicopter blade turning and then there are crashes into destruction, doom, like bombs being dropped from the sky.     It’s a lot of static and ringing in sharpness now.     While it cuts in and out, it also maintains a certain steadiness, which I know sounds like it contradicts itself but it really does work like that somehow. 

The loudness, the constantness of this cassette while having breaks and becoming sharp is what creates the magic within it.    By the end, it just seems like a free-for-all of static and no one will survive.

NOISE NOW PLAYING Facebook user Erik Nystrand (April 21, 2021)

I vaguely remember hearing some Toepfer five or six years ago, but it sounded nothing like this. Two names cross my mind here; The New Sadism and Joe Colley. Yeah, it’s weird. And excellent! Feedback that sounds really old, enhanced by gritty textures and brain-tickling twists and turns. Caught me off guard, and I should have paid more attention to where Toepfer apparently was headed. If the rest of his later output is this good, I have some shopping to do.

WCN Maniac’s Circle Discord user Capers (August 9, 2023)

If I were to list the five best noise releases of the last ten years (I wont), this would make it. Every time I play this thing it leaves me out of breath and mentally shaken. The reins are firmly held here, as always with Toepfer, but it is an unsually violent recording. With few means, Toepfer opens up a highly charged sonic crevice – a huge gash in your brain, that is – and let beams shoot and sparks fly. He’s incredibly skilled at making room for himself, sonic room, in which he can let loose, set his hazardous mechanics aspin, and still leave space for loaded silences. Masterpiece. I’m gonne throw on Hijo’s Windom to calm the fuck down now.

Special Interests user Baglady (August 12, 2023)

Undercut C30 (Absurd Exposition, 2019)
Interrupt C40 (Narcolepsia, 2019)
Supplant C30 (Lead Lozenges, 2020)

I’ve been revisiting this triple by the severely overlooked K.M. Toepfer the last few days, and I think I hold his work even higher than before now.  His box of tools is sparse but he knows exactly how to use it. Razor sharp sounds in razor sharp execution, without sounding too edited (on the contrary it sounds more like just a very seasoned artist letting it flow). I come to think of Joe Colley’s work under his own name – their sounds in themselves and their surgical way of playing have much in common – but converted into something far more violently menacing. There’s so much room and energy around Toepfer’s sonic beams. Highly charged noise. Hazardous even. It spans from quiet to loud as hell, from subterranean to lunar, yet always with such force to it. And it’s obvious he’s still holding back for the sake of tension even at his harshest, always keeping you on your toes. It’s as if one’s walking through some giant high risk automated factory of malign purpose.
Out of these three, Undercut is the one that always leaves me mentally drained just from being so incredibly good. But damn if both Interrupt and Supplant aren’t catching up over time. The latter is alot like his phenomenal CD album Retrace No Steps, released by WCN two years ago.
I wrote that he’s severely overlooked, because I hope that is the case. The alternative – that people just don’t get or like what he’s doing – is just unthinkable to me.

VIOLENT SHOGUN – The Possibility of Life’s Destruction CS (2020)
TED BYRNES – All Hands CS (2020)
B.P. – Zhiishiibi-Zhiibiing CS (2020)

Vital Weekly #1250 (September 15, 2020)

The resurgence of the cassette was I suppose to be expected after the likes of HMV got the resurgence of vinyl thing. These three releases of pro produced limited edition tapes being a good example. As are the Bandcamp tags “experimental harsh noise power electronics”. The tags related to genres of between 70 to 30 years ago. The cassette a product of the Dutch company Phillips, which first appeared this month 57 years ago, its heyday being the 70s and 80s mainly due to car stereos. However, unlike Vinyl and the CD, a cassette from the get-go was recordable without expensive mastering and the need to press minimum quantities. Thus, until the CDR and Internet sites, it became the obvious option for small scale releases. Added to this was the then availability of cheap photocopies and you have the technical background to what became the tag genres. I will discuss the tracks, but this is also not as Vital was first produced as all three are available on Bandcamp to hear, and the cassettes come with digital download. I’m reminded of Art magazines in which gallery installations are described and wonder why, when one could simply video the show and upload to youtube, why spend paragraphs of description. Of course, the answer is, ‘that is what is expected’. I attach no value judgement to this, whereas the ‘origin’ of the art/music review, cassette with crude photocopy was necessitated by technical/financial criteria, now it is produced as an emulation of that process. Given the digital download, one doesn’t need to play the physical object, one doesn’t even need a player. The point is that now with these three releases we have a radical ‘inversion’. The mistake then would be to apply criteria that one might once have done to this ‘inversion’. By which, for instance, someone might say that there is nothing ‘new’ here, or as Mark Fisher said, ‘everything now is retro’. However, this is not a criticism, but a description of contemporary culture, one in which the openness to what this is in sonic terms becomes ‘Art’. The Possibility of Life’s Destruction’s theme is given in the title of both side A and B, disintegrated mechanical harsh white noise, crashes, deep rumbles and static. Side B begins with a short loop of what could be very distorted music, metal clanking which builds to slow rumbling and collapsing metallic/static sounds. The achievement here, and I mean this, is the re-production of the original difficulties and limitations of analogue technology, in which the blurb gives the description ‘nuclear inferno’ – again a retrospective paranoia. All hands are ‘solo acoustic percussion’ (sic) – “The Latin adverb sic inserted after a quoted word or passage indicates that the quoted matter has been transcribed or translated exactly as found in the source text” but here relates to sound not text, and my point about creative emulation being made again. Outrageous metallic percussion, it is not to say radically new, because obviously, that is not the case, but the radicality is the creation as a re-creative act. It re-defines, and so defines percussion, which is to “state or describe exactly” and “mark out the boundary or limits” an activity in which a craft becomes an art. Zhiishiibi?-?Zhiibiing translates from the Native American to “Duck River” in Manitoba where field recordings were taken as the basis for the 7 tracks. A basis which yields to what appears at times heavy processing, at others not, turned into panned loops and noise, at times placid at others ambient, at others a wall of static. I.E. the possibilities and potentialities of field recording. Field Recording as a source is nothing new, can be dated to Musique concrète of the 1940s and before, or in the case of Messiaen sans recorder. As in the other pieces the work, therefore, must exist in history, and here in its diversity IMO does so as an achievement explicitly. Mark Fisher thought the appropriation of previous genres if not bad, something he personally could not tolerate. I disagree, art has not only been ever inventive in its development, from Roman art through to the Renaissance it has re-appropriated its past. Art which aims at more than mere entertainment reveals the world as it is, with its history, ‘warts and all’, and these three releases are excellent technical and aesthetic examples of that process. (jliat)

ZENTA SUSTAINED – Serpent Track Patterns 12″ (2022)

WCN Maniac’s Circle Discord user Capers (February 25, 2023)

Having not heard any earlier Zenta Sustained, this was not what I expected at all. McKinlay and Bloomer, motorbikes and legs, gotta be loud and wild I thought. And it is, but not the way I imagined. Two-layered attack of aggressive pops and some feverish bass-heavy raking, all very minimal, very very dry. In a way it reminds me of the first Zone Nord record, the last Regim cassette, Vårtgård et al, but driven to extremes. Like frying old cigarette butts in a dry pan at full heat. Seriously rewarding, obviously. And my initial surprise is soon replaced by a “but ofcourse…” – McKinlay has done plenty in this vein (it’s just that I don’t have any of it), and Bloomer has stripped things bare before (certain parts/blocks of his excellent tape Bully Hiss come to mind). Listen closely in headphones and this strangled electronic drippage becomes incredibly loud – sonic water torture. Listen in speakers at proper volume and it sounds like a rain of rocks and dirt on a coffin lid. Badass record.

Adverse Effect Magazine (March 15, 2023)

A Black To Comm side-project by a Canadian duo who include the guy also responsible for The Rita. As you might suspect, if familiar with the work of either of those, the two pieces which make up this 12″ are not designed to be easy listening. Rather, they both take us through a course of gnarled digital popping and spitting partly designed to recreate the audio experience of the soldiers under attack in the Vietnam war. Without, thankfully, ever having undergone that or wishing to experience anything like it I cannot say how this compares, either. To me, it simply sounds akin to imploding circuitry on a soundboard which I can chew over whilst casually enjoying a coffee. But what do I know? (RJ)

Millstone Vinyl (September 2023)

An extremely dry and minimal snap and crackle-fest from Sam McKinlay (The Rita) and Ryan Bloomer – the sound of someone rubbing a piece of lego over a soon dead microphone. No development, no harsh noise – only concept. Calling it a recording of some alien lifeform trying to make contact through the ether would be stretching it. I applaud the endurance of the players – and the patience of the eventual listener. Something Aphex Twin would record and release just to piss people off – i’m sure they could write an essay around the proceedings, but to me the end result is just tedious and forgettable.

ZK – Discordia CS (2023)

Special Interests user Fistfuck Masonanie (August 4, 2023)

Choked out frequencies. Maximalist thrashing strangled and shaped by the lack of peak limiters. Sounds fight to the surface and struggle to survive. Dense but the constant dropouts and broken sounds really give it character. Can’t recommend it enough.

WCN Maniac’s Circle Discord user (August 5, 2023)

What a strong follow up to “Isilo” I wondered if there would ever be new material from ZK and I was overjoyed to see this release announced. I have no idea what is happening on this tape! Junk noise potentially? But that almost feels too reductive. These tracks almost have a woozy feeling about them, the way sounds are interacting feels different somehow. There’s a lot of distortion and crunching elements but it’s also clear where everything is at and you can pick out and latch onto specific elements. If I have to wait 5 more years for another ZK release it would be just as worth it as it was for this tape.

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