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irr. app. (ext.), "Aspiring to an Empty Gesture, Volume 1"

cover imageDespite Matt Waldron describing at least one of the performances as a "live disaster," this is an excellent collection of splendid music performed with various line ups of his ongoing surrealist project. This compilation documents shows from 2005-2007 and features not only Waldron but also the not inconsiderable talents of Steven Stapleton, Jim Haynes and others.

 
Errata in Excelsus

Although some of this material is instantly recognizable, the live sound of irr. app. (ext.) is quite different to how Waldron makes it sound in the studio. There is a much more playful vibe here compared to the more finely structured versions on the studio albums. Looking at the photos in the sleeve while listening to Aspiring to an Empty Gesture, the irr. app. (ext.) live experience looks like a real hoot. "Some Scottish Toasts" (from the original Brainwaves) and "Invocation of Loplop in the Cathedral of Erotic Misery" both are utterly gleeful, the humor here more obvious (but not less effective) than usual.

Waldron's ability to creep me out is also present in significant amounts. "The Dreadful Vagrant" is as unsettling here as it is on Perekluchenie. The narration sounds more natural here than in its original form on record; the cuts in the audio are less evident and it allows the tale to have a stronger effect. The calm, almost too calm, nature of this piece in stark contrast to "Wisecrack;" "Who can find you sexy, empty human bits, your perfume is filthy to my senses." It is difficult to feel comfortable when that is being screamed through your stereo!

What originally drew me to Waldron's wonderful irr. app. (ext.) project was his remix of Nurse With Wound's Angry Eelectric Finger sessions. Since then he has become more and more active within Steven Stapleton's world and Stapleton has intruded (pleasantly) into Waldron's music too. A few of the tracks here feature Stapleton on percussion and odd sounds. One of these is an awesome cover of NWW's "Two Golden Microphones," the song sounds extremely intense as a guitar violently explodes through the manic percussion. Also included is a real live Nurse song from their show in Porto last year. David Tibet was unable to join them that night so Waldron took over the microphone duties for "Dead Side of the Moon" and he does a bloody good job of it.

What is best about this CD is that even though it is a compilation, it flows perfectly and sounds like an unedited live performance (even if the band changes completely from irr. app. (ext.) to NWW at one point!). This is fast becoming one of my favourite albums by Waldron (and friends) which is no small feat considering I enjoy his work immensely as it is. Now just to get him to play on this side of the Atlantic and put together a second volume of Aspiring to an Empty Gesture.

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Review of the Day

"Carbon"
Mirex
After three years of eclectic 7" singles and a couple of Fanny CDs, my favorite Ant-Zen sublabel Mirex presents its first-ever compilation. Many people seem to worship the Hymen sister label yet neglect this high-quality breakcore imprint, although this intense collection will surely attract new converts to join the ranks of the already respectable number of devotees. Carbon marks its unique place in the Ant-Zen tradition by screaming Top 40 song lyrics at the top of its lungs, pissing blood all over the rug, and boasting a roster of familiar established names as well as rising underground scene stars. Here, breakcore displays its many hideous and goofy faces in true schizophrenic fashion, and while industrial purists may revel in the brutality of Hecate and recent signing Subskan, many will be tempted to cringe over the subversive mash-up experiments of Ove-Naxx and Donna Summer. Those who resist the knee-jerk anti-pop reflex and stay open-minded will be aurally rewarded for their efforts. Representative of the style off his full-length From Zero, Enduser's "Basement" creatively fuses a somber Tori Amos piano riff and ragga MC toasting with crunchy junglist and hip hop loops. Drop The Lime makes an appearance here with "Chump Killers," a DSP-fucked blend of spastic electro-funk and hyperactive broken beats akin to his work for the likeminded Tigerbeat6 label. "Kiss Me On The Dancefloor," the phenomenal selection from Sickboy, throws together a maddeningly delicious, yet undeniably aggressive, update of old school rave. Mirex would do well to snatch up more of this guy's work for a CD release immediately. Atypical to this release, Line 47's "Taken Away" offers an unusual yet gratifying moment where the noise and mischief are somewhat toned down in favor of melancholy and melody. From Blaerg's Hitchcockian beginnings to End's Morricone-inspired closer, these twenty tracks continually pummel the speakers and delight the ears. Though notably lacking any presence of the notoriously prolific Venetian Snares, arguably the biggest name in the subgenre today, Carbon comes out stronger than any breakcore compilation I've heard to date, including those that do include the Snares Man. While I am tempted to call Mirex "a label to watch," people should have have honestly caught on before now. Jump on the bandwagon now and perhaps the rest of us will accept you... in time. 

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