Boy, are things frustrating me lately. Maybe I just need a half of minim…mind you there is nothing like starting off a crisp autumn morning with some twisted and alienated guitar noise, and that’s exactly what is on offer from Clifford Torus, a three-piece whose self-titled cassette (DRID MACHINE RECORDS DMR4) in a lurid orange dayglo cover was sent to us on 19 October 2012. I felt much better after immersing my bonce in these rich metallic shrieks for 30 mins. The guitarist Horacio Pollard has made his electric-shock presence felt to us on at least one CDR of his scalding and bittersome electric noise, but here he’s opting for a slightly more traditional avant-garde rock setup. For this activity he’s aided by two of the best like-minded players a man could hope for: the bassist Kjetil Brandsdal from Noxagt, and Anders Hana who drums for MoHa! That’s a dream team in anyone’s book. Just six tunes on this little power-pack, but it’s enough to recharge the flagging batteries of any jaded nightclubber as they stagger back from Vauxhall on any given Sunday morning. This trio’s particular take on the excessive amplified doom-noise thing meets many of our exacting standards: monotonous, flailing energy, mumbled half-screamed vocals when they appear, and a continual sense of teeth-grinding alienation underpinning every moment of luscious grind. Kjetil is an asset, rarely departing from a single root note for most of th’ tunes; he almost hammers his bass like a percussionist. Although only guitar, bass and drums appear in the instrument credit roster, there are occasional burstings of strange and unidentifiable screech which somehow leak into the sounding-box, at times resembling a mangled saxophone or a crushed synthesizer. Maybe Pollard is just very well-equipped with hideous FX pedals purchased from planet Jupiter. Only sometimes does the energy level droop a little, and I wished they coulda sustained that power for a few more minutes (especially on the crunch-worthy opening number) but when these three lads get into their “groove”, it’s obvious they are mesmerised by a higher power from the dreadful zones, and nothing short of a steamshovel will ever dislocate them. When this tape was sent, it seems the threesome were about to play a free gig at Bohemia in Hackney. True to form, this blog is a year late with the hot news!
Here’s another fine cassette, also realised by a trio, but this time the players weave a somewhat more abstracted and dynamic form of electronic noise. Destruction Des Animaux Nuisibles #1 (ALTERACION ALT01) features our good friend Xedh (i.e. Miguel A. García), the Prince of Spanish experimental music who has proven himself a nonpareil when it comes to realising fatalistic nightmares and uncanny experiences in sound, often with a grim caste. Here he is joined by Enrique Zaccagnini, the two of them forming an eerie backdrop of sinister electronic purring and grisly loud noise, tempered by the unsettling vocalising of Marta Sainz. I suppose it is she providing the strange whimpering sounds on side one, a ghastly sobbing effect which arouses our empathy as much as it sends tremors of terror running up and down our spinal columns. We could be hearing the voice of an exiled ghost, doomed to replay the same traumatic moment in her life for all eternity. Enrique and Xedh produce an accomplished tapestry of complicated noise for this after-life symphony, where the startling eruptions into ear-splitting volume are reined in and controlled, forming part of a fascinating and constantly-changing slow-motion whirlwind of textured sound. The B side feels a tad more pedestrian somehow, not as “composed”, and emerging as a jumble of clatter and screech which is heaped up into a pile rather than arranged in a garden by architects using rakes and blueprints. Even so it doesn’t stint on serving up the manic energy that noise-freaks go for. Marta’s excessive vocals make it clear she’s aiming for a gold medal in next year’s Junko-soundalike contest, to be held in 2014 in Budokan. Lastly we have the grisly cover image of ten dead rats caught in traps and apparently pinned up for display in a shop window in France. Since the title of this release translates into “destruction of harmful animals”, evidently we’re supposed to use this cassette as a cheap alternative to mousetraps or cockroach poison 1.
We’ve also been sent four cassettes in a box from André Foisy in Chicago. As well as playing in Locrian, it is he I suppose who masterminds the Land Of Decay label and blog, specialising in doomy rock and noise that inculcates decrepitude and ruin. Cultus Sabbati – another trio – have about five albums released at time of writing, not to mention a few video works whose titles betray an interest in the written works of Poe and Lovecraft. This anonymous band conceal their work in a fog of mysticism and cast about references to ritual trance magick, witchcraft, and Norse mythology, revealing little of their musical methodology as they foregather in unknown locations to emit strange dark ambient drones. Thanks to Sunn O))), pretty soon every metal band in the world will end up sitting in a circle in a lonely forest wearing cowls. To some extent all of this does cover ground already well-worn by many other projects in this and related genres, but The Hagiography Of Baba Yaga (LOD 039) does evince some powerful moments of doom and horror in among the general murk and turgidity of its throbbing drones. Echo and reverb effects are used with scant regard for good taste, and evidently Cultus Sabbati believe in saturating every other musical utterance with as much artificial enhancement as they can generate from their small black boxes of evil, undercutting the swampy sludge with whispered chanting vocals and crazed guitar solos so acidic you could use them to unclog a kitchen sink. Track titles like ‘The Attestation Of Vasilissa’ or ‘Koschei The Deathless’ are like the titles to lost Lord Dunsany stories, and when raging at full stretch, the threesome can produce music that will either instil a deep supernatural fear in the listener, or suffocate us within the writhing coils of a deathly inescapable curse. Nice typography on the cover with its saturated golden-brown autumnal colours, images of forests and deadly mushrooms, overprinted with runes and magic circles. From 17 October 2012.
- Savage Pencil also used this trope in the 1990s for the noise band Ultrasonic Attack Wave Pestrepeller. ↩