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Kevin Drumm & Daniel Menche, "Gauntlet"

cover imageDaniel Menche is one of the most prolific and diverse noise artists currently active in the United States.  Never being one to stick with a single theme or style, he has always been apt to try new instrumentation or approaches, and the output can either be scorchingly violent explosions, or subtle, meditative works.  Kevin Drumm may not be quite as notorious, but has been steadily carving out his own niche in avant and improvisational circles, often based around his unique playing style on tabletop guitar.  So the concept of these two working together is a daunting, yet satisfying one.


Editions Mego

Drumm is credited with "guitar and noise" while Menche gets the honor of "organ and noise."  And, of course, "noise" is the key word here.  Over the span of the single 29 minute track, the two abuse whtever distortion boxes they happened to have handy, but go beyond just the expected "wall of sound" and instead create work that has its own subtle nuances.  Within the first 10 minutes there is a fuzzed out wall of guitar noise that rivals the middle part of "You Made Me Realise" or the entire discography of Skullflower!, yet a closer listen reveals a subtle, almost hidden percussive element deep in the mix before Menche’s heavily processed organ makes its presence known.

Two thirds of the way through the wall of guitar noise is gone, replaced by hypnotic, psychedelic tones that may be organ, may be guitar, or may be any other noise creation device these two were using.  The disc closes on a crunchy old school industrial/power electronics vibe, undulating distorted rhythmic loops and just a hint of musicality.

As a whole, Gauntlet comes on harsh and never lets up for the ride, yet shows the subtleties and nuances often associated with a more compositional type work.  Sure, it can probably damage speakers and shoo small rodents out of any building, but slapping on the headphones leads to an entirely different, even more pleasurable experience.



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Review of the Day

Eric Malmberg, "Den gåtfulla människan"
As much as I love the Hammond organ, there are few contexts in which I can enjoy it. The instrument is so singular, its timbre so unique and powerful, that I find it only works in positions of dominance, where the music's other parts are either entirely supplemental in nature or barely there at all. Eric Malmberg's first group, the late Sagor & Swing, featured his Hammond as a foundation instrument in their pop-length pastoral motifs, but I could never gain the access to the band's music that I wanted.
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