Thursday, October 01, 2009

Crucial Blast on BloodLust!

It is always nice when a store or mail-order source takes the time to listen to a release and write their own blurb about it, rather than just copy and paste from a label's one-sheet. I always appreciate Aaron Dilloway's personalized descriptions in the Hanson catalog, and Aquarius Records always goes above and beyond the call of duty. Crucial Blast is another great outlet that takes the time and makes an effort... Here are a few examples:

CULVER Sugar Tip CD
Guitarist and dronemaker Lee Stokoe has been a member of the new Skullflower lineup for awhile now, appearing on some of the newer studio and live recordings and performing live with Matt Bower, and his addition to the band has probably been a big factor in the 'Flower's evolution into the furious blackened dronerock behemoth. Also a member of the UK sludge band Marzuraan, this guy keeps pretty busy, and on top of all of this he's still able to crank out new material from his longrunning solo project Culver, which I'm always stoked to hear. Sugar Tip is one of Culver's latest slabs of crushing metallic amp-trance, released on the Chicago industrial label Bloodlust! and packged with Stokoe's signature style of brightly colored and surreal collage art.
The first track "Suicide Crypt" is roaring pit of blacknoise rumble, endless walls of buzzing, grinding, raging distorted drone like a massed Chatham-like army of doom metal guitarists all playing the same single chord behind a cascade of roiling low-end rumble and threads of humming high-end drone that almost sound like orchestral strings distended from massive gravitations pull. For more than twenty-one minutes this piece stretches out, a massive wall of roaring distorted dronebuzz, a purely ambient noisewall that undergoes only the most subtle chordal shifts.
At just two minutes, the middle track "I Know You're Alone" is just an interlude between the two other larger tracks, a swirl of muted low-end thrum and murky cosmic winds obscuring a vague melodic pulse, droning and dark kosmiche drift that leads straight into the final distorto-drone epic...
"Suicide Witch", like the first track, is both minimal and massive, a single feedback drone writhing serpentine through cosmic clouds of warbling high-end shimmer and thick metallic buzz, a mighty blackened raga buzzing through the void, Sunroof-style. As this goes on, the soft smears of ambient hum and metallic resonance that float around this roaring static raga-drone undergo slight shifts, forming into eerie fragments of melody that evolve ever so slightly over the track's twenty-three minutes, winding down at the end as the drones are stripped down layer by layer until all that remains is a throbbing electrical hum at the end.
Fans of Sunroof, Vulture Club, Ajilsvga, Birchville Cat Motel, RST, To Blacken The Pages, and other guitar-centric heavy psychedelic drone outfits, here's another crushing psychdrone archtitect for you to zone out to!

ENVENOMIST Hidden CD
A re-issue of an extremely limited cassette released in 2006, Hidden is another excellent slab of ultra-heavy, pitch black drone from Envenomist. The differences between Envenomist and dronesculptor David Reed's other project Luasa Raelon are subtle, as both projects produce intense pieces of desolate, bottom-heavy black ambience that is heavily influenced by the early Lustmord albums. Where Luasa Raelon uses a variety of instruments and sound sources to create it's monstrous industrial doomscapes, Envenomist uses only synthesizers to build these minimal sheets of black industrial drone. The seven tracks on Hidden suggest a much heavier Maurizio Bianchi, the sound is definitely similiar to Bianchi's icy, inhuman electronics, and the ongoing influence of German kosmiche music from the 70's is also felt on the deep reverberant washes of analogue drift and black hole drone. Vast waves of black shimmering whirr and deep doomy low end float through an endless void, the sound cold and threatening and bleak, a metallic black drone that changes shape with each track but never loses it's massive buzzing malevolence. Equal parts Klaus Schulze and Lustmord and Bianchi, with song titles and cover art that evoke a suffocating sense of urban dread.

KRIMINAALISET METSANHALTIJAT Anarkkia, Kaaos, Maailmanloppu! CD
I love Finnish hardcore and black metal, but I've hardly heard any Finnish industrial music. Most of what I have been exposed to has come out on the Kaos Kontrol label, which specializes in grating, psychedelic old-school industrial, and if you told me that this album from the Finnish band Kriminaaliset Metsänhaltijat was in fact a Kaos Kontrol release, I wouldn't doubt it. It's actually on the American power electronics/industrial label Bloodlust!, however, and is a reissue of a super-limited cassette that came out on Triangle Records in 2008. The band has been around since the 90's but is only now beginning to get some exposure over here in the States, a good thing, too, as this disc points towards a very cool and heavy form of apocalyptic machine music.
The six tracks on Anarkkia, Kaaos, Maailmanloppu! have an obvious old-school Throbbing Gristle/S.P.K. influence with lots of clanging metal rhythms, buzzing distorted bass-tones, looped feedback, dense clusters of dubby percussion, blasts of pure white noise, warning sirens, radar pings, but also incorporating some really menacing and doomy synth-bass lines and creepy melted samples that make this a heavier, more evil sounding version of classic industrial. One of the things that really set these guys apart are their vocals, which are snarled and distorted and are all over these songs. The band not only cites early Japanese noise and classic Industrial as primary influences on their thick, cacophonous industrial dirge sound, but also the ferocity of Finnish hardcore, a strange sounding mix at first, but when you actually hear Kriminaaliset Metsänhaltijat it makes sense, a fierce and furious sheet-metal attack with intensely psychedelic noise, howling hardcore vocals and dub effects swirling around the dark, nihilistic atmoshere, all set to an extremely raw and hissy recording that makes this sound like it was recorded in the hallways of an old abandoned mental hospital. Kind of like a heavier, angrier, more PE-influenced Wolf Eyes.

BRUCE LAMONT + RIGHT EYE RITA + MARK SOLOTROFF self-titled CD
This disc documents an almost twenty-minute live piece that was performed in September of 2008 by an improvisational group made up of Chicago artists Bruce Lamont, Mark Solotroff, and Right-Eye Rita, which took place at the Chicago art space AV Aerie. Lamont, of course, is well known 'round here as the frontman and sax-blower for avant-metallists Yakuza, whose albums have long been faves of ours. Mark Solotroff is also a known quantity from his work in the Chi-town power electronic/industrial groups Bloodyminded, The Fortieth Day, Intrinsic Action, and for running the excellent Bloodlust! label which released this slab of strangeness. On the other hand, I had only heard the name Right-Eye Rita in passing before and wasn't familiar with any of her music. It's kind of a moot point though, as the sum result of this particular live set is so dense and layered that I can only occasionally pick out individual pieces that I can attribute to one of these folks. The performance consisted of the three musicians taking their voices and building a powerful wall of sound using both treated and natural vocal sounds, and they manage to construct a chilling soundscape that frequently sounds totally alien and unlike anything from the human throat. The piece starts off with a vocal sound loop turned into a clanking quasi-rhythm and Rita's eerie, speaking-in-tongues gibberish floating through a sea of reverb, and this is gradually joined by Lamont's deep chanting tones that are reminiscent of throat-singing and which I've heard him use before in Yakuza. As the performance continues, additional layers of vocals are piled on, some sounds manipulated into inhuman electronic textures and drones, while some of the voices are layered into haunting harmonies. The first half is pretty calm going, but by the halfway point, they begin to warp the sounds into strains of aggressive feedback and waves of blackened hiss, turning the sound from dreamy and surreal into something much more dark and nightmarish. The cavernous space of AV Aerie is used to create a huge billowing ocean of reverb that the vocalists ride on, looping their wailing, chanting vocals over an increasingly threatening atmosphere, until the last few minutes when the sound slowly begins to die down, leaving stray bits of reverb-soaked squeal and anguished wailing and infinite streaks of silvery feedback to rot away into silence. This performance is pretty cool, I don't get very many experimental vocal recordings around here since that sort of stuff generally doesn't fit in with the scope of Crucial Blast, but when the label cites Abruptum, Coil and Diamanda Galas as reference points for the strange nightmare chant-ritual that these folks have summoned here, I'm all over it. And those references do give you a fair idea of what's going on here - the sound, at it's most intense, does channel the washed-out, corroded vibe of early Industrial, while tracing creepy signatures with the wailing, increasingly deranged vocals that towards the end does indeed remind me of some of Abruptum's most abstract and atmospheric freakouts.