The Electrocutioner

Latest release from Reg Bloor of New York is Sensory Irritation Chamber (SYSTEMS NEUTRALIZERS 06) another mind-slashing slice of treated guitar action which requires a strong constitution and heavy armour to survive, particularly the blistering opening cuts ‘Hilarity Ensues’, ‘Sensory Irritation Chamber’, and ‘Projectile Bleeding’. Not a pleasant noise – Lee Rittenour fans are guaranteed to throw up on hearing such effusions – but they are executed with conviction and passion, creating effects and sounds that it ought not to be possible to produce on the guitar. This is not simply about amplification and distortion pedals, though I’m sure they are part of the package, but mostly about Reg Bloor’s unique performing style. It gives one the sense of powerful arm movements, the human body engaged in callisthenics or other athletic endeavours, reaching the physical spots which few guitar players can scale, even with the help of metal pitons. So far, so exhausting; these opening tracks are mostly around the three minute mark, but even playing like that for 30 seconds would exhaust most musicians. You need a lot of stamina to keep up with Reg Bloor, and she isn’t the kind of person to show any mercy as she trots vigourously up the steps of the NYC public library in bare feet, leaving 20 panting joggers behind her…

By the time of Tk 04, ‘Present Dystopia’, we can perhaps discern the influence of Glenn Branca (d. 2018, her long-standing partner and fellow musician) lurking in these carefully structured and mercilessly delivered dissonant stabs. By now there’s almost a metallic taste left in the mouth by these semi-human shrieks…and the ultra-loud mastering of this CDR doesn’t give you much room to maneuver. ‘Present Dystopia’ is like one of Branca’s symphonies compressed into about four minutes of hyper-hell…enriched with vitamins and muscular power. After Tk 05’s ‘A Little Pinch’, an alarming freakout which exudes sheer hysteria and panic, we have the very interesting ‘122 Zeros (And Then A1)’, a title which might be alluding to the number systems often present in Branca’s tuning systems and compositional schemes. Here we have an extended howl of droning pain noise produced by subtle chopping motions, actions informed by hardcore punk rage and New Wave-isms direct from the classic New York schools of Mars, DNA, and The Contortions. But the playing is pressed into service to create a seven-minute avant-garde on-the-spot composition using repetition and drone effects, in an ever-escalating sequence of notes and a steadily-tightening circle of steel around the listener’s neck and head. I see it was created using the Diddley bow, which gains extra points for experimental boldness. This monster alone should demand your immediate purchase of the release…it shows Russian pretenders Mars-96 where they can get off the trolley (much as we like them too).

Remainder of album is a remorseless sequence of short punchy belters offering further doses of nauseating overamped tones and shrill frequencies battling it out in the studio ether. We can’t help using violent metaphors for this music, especially when there are titles such as ‘Dessicated Survivor’, ‘Heads On Pikes’, ‘Molotov Cocktail’ and ‘The Wrath of That’ all apparently feeding the flames of hatred and tension. But a cathartic cleansing is the ultimate outcome, and it’s worth stressing that this is no mere empty axe-shredding exercise; Reg Bloor has a clear grasp of compositional methods and controlled dynamics that informs every moment of her playing. Yet every recording is impassioned and free. It takes a rare talent to balance these competing forces in one’s creative efforts, and here is one woman who can do it. Last noted with her solo record Theme From An Imaginary Slasher; this new item ups the ante in terms of violent imagery and taut, nervous-energy fuelled performances, and dispenses with the “frills” such as drumming and singing, in favour of 100% wild guitar action all the way. Essential! From 5th March 2018.