Quitter/Canady, "Psychological Morphology"

This is anPsychological Morphology odd collaboration in multiple ways. Andrew Quitter (Suburbia Melting, Regosphere) and Jonathan Canady (Deathpile, Dead World) is not the noise excursion I would have expected based on the artists involved. Instead, it is more of a deconstructed sludgy rock/metal album, with production as influenced by noise as it is cinematic sound design.

Malsonus/Dumpster Score

The genesis of Psychological Morphology is another collaborative project never manifested. Canady started a noise rock project called Diamond Cult that involved one performance and a few releases, existing only between 2009 and 2011. The raw material he provides on here (guitars, synths) was intended for a collaboration that never occurred. These sessions (recorded with James Plotkin) were pulled out of storage a decade-ish later and handed over to Quitter, who took these bits and constructed a full-fledged record out of them.

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781 Hits

Robert Poss, "Drones, Songs and Fairy Dust"

Drones, Songs and Fairy DustAcross the 16 songs that make up this album, the title makes perfect sense: a myriad of abstract, expansive pieces, full-fledged songs, and odd little miniatures. All of them are linked together with Robert Poss's infinite love for the electric guitar, however, and as a whole, it encapsulates much of the sound he has cultivated throughout his entire career.

Trace Elements

Poss is best known for his tenure as guitarist/co-vocalist of Band of Susans, a band that often seems relegated to a footnote in discussions of noisy, unconventional guitar-based rock music, or for a number of years just cited as Page Hamilton's pre-Helmet band. Which is, of course, a disservice given how they expertly bridged the late 1980s "college rock" sound and the avant garde together. This style that he pioneered with bassist/vocalist Susan Stenger is never far on this new album, either.

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1184 Hits

Organum Electronics, "Quietude", "Darcknes"

QuietudeAs the first two installments of a seven-part subscription series on Die Stadt, David Jackman (as Organum Electronics) has fashioned two new long-form pieces that are seemingly sparse in their formation, but like the entirety of his lengthy discography, result in something with so much more depth. Material utilized in other recent works from him are building blocks in these two discs, but compared to the quiet and understated recent material, these align much more closely with his earlier, noisier material, and continues to demonstrate his compositions are as fascinating as ever.

Die Stadt

Quietude is the noisier and overall more forceful of the two albums. It beings with an immediate blast of dense buzzing noise that approximates a jet engine very well, but multilayered and treated to give an amazing sense of depth and nuance. At times it almost seems as if it is a basic sound being utilized, such as the hum of a florescent lightbulb, blown out to massive proportions. The sound is sprawling, with intersecting passages shifting focus throughout. Shimmering engine sounds cascade over a continual buzz, with occasionally bassy churning sounds bubbling to the surface. Layers eventually relent alongside what sounds like rattling, scraping chains, leading to a jarring ending.

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1435 Hits

Concepción Huerta, "The Earth Has Memory"

The Earth Has MemoryOn her first solo vinyl release, Mexico's Concepción Huerta largely employs the use of Buchla and Nord synths, recorded in residence at EMS Stockholm. Further tape manipulation is then used to create a record that sits somewhere between atmospheric space and intense noise. Textures and distortion sprawl outward, but occasionally relent to allow some gentle elements to slip in, resulting in a record that sounds rooted not just in the Earth, but also expands far into outer space.

Elevator Bath

The opener of the first side, "Emerges from the Deep" (featuring co-production with Olivia Block) is a perfect summary of how the piece sounds. Opening with muffled tones rising from a deep ocean trench, Huerta crafts a subtle melody that soon transitions into crunchy resonating low frequency sounds, adding a subaquatic heaviness. Eventually the low-end subsides as the piece gently floats off into the distance. Huerta follows with "The Crack Is Illuminated," where sweeping shimmering synths glisten a gentle floating passage, accented by some pleasant buoyant distortion.

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989 Hits

Matt Weston, "This is Broken"

This is BrokenBarely six months after his last double album Embrace This Twilight, Matt Weston has just released another record of idiosyncratic compositions. Consisting of two side-long pieces, Weston balances two notable different approaches to composition, with the first side being the more spacious and sustained, and the other dense and sprawling in approach, linking disparate sounds in an incredible manner.

7272Music

"You Have to Question the Validity of your Sneer," comprising the first side of the record, features Weston exercising restraint into what sounds he works with. In the simplest terms, what resembles a ghostly, inhuman howl opens the piece, with a heavily processed chime/bell/gong/something metallic punctuation throughout. Through the entirety of the piece there are groans and squeals making for an uncomfortable, unsettling lurch. As the piece progresses, he incorporates rumbling, what sounds like war trumpets, and evil screeching birds to the already sinister proceedings. The vibe is darker and more unsettling than a lot of his work, but it is still excellent.

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805 Hits

Robert Piotrowicz, "Afterlife"

AfterlifeHaving dabbled in other styles and methods of instrumentation in recent years, Afterlife finds Polish composer Robert Piotrowicz returning to modular synthesis, the mainstay of his career thus far. Rather than using that complex array of modules and patch cables to generate bizarre, idiosyncratic sound effects, as many do, he instead intentionally utilizes it to emulate traditional, physical instrumentation, with the pipe organ being the most utilized. Combined with harmonic structures that the physical instrument would be unable to replicate, the result is familiar, yet alien, and is a wonderful demonstration of the psychoacoustic properties of electronic sound.

Penultimate Press

"Rozpylenie (Overdusting)" leads off the disc with a massive church organ like swell of sound, although there is a hint of modular squeal to be heard peppered throughout. Overall, though, the layers of massive shifting, enveloping sound are almost overwhelming at times, sounding both like it could have been captured in a medieval church as much as a state of the art recording studio. The forceful dynamic he utilizes throughout makes the abrupt conclusion all the more jarring.

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1190 Hits

Mark Solotroff, "Today the Infinite, Tomorrow Zero"

Today the Infinite, Tomorrow ZeroAn artist who always has something in progress or forthcoming, Mark Solotroff's has been most prolific under his own name as of late. Different from the frenetic, yet organized chaos of BLOODYMINDED, the doomy bombast of Anatomy of Habit, or the murky improvisations of The Fortieth Day (and those are only a few examples), his solo material in recent years has been more introspective and meditative, at times drifting into almost ambient territories. Following 2020's You May Be Holding Back and 2021's Not Everybody Make It, Today the Infinite, Tomorrow Zero continues his focus on using analog synths alone with a four track, but creating a depth and variance of sound that belies its rather Spartan origins. Compared to these recent albums though (and the Return to Oneself compilation of digital singles), the depth is even greater and further realized, and the sound has expanded to one that is almost musical, without ignoring any of the intensity expected from Solotroff.

self-released

From a structural standpoint, Today the Infinite features shorter pieces than the previous two, with You May Be Holding being a pair of 30-minute pieces, and Not Everybody Makes It's six, ten-minute segments. He once again imposes that rigid hour-long duration on the album, but in smaller, six-minute increments this time. Because of this, the sound and style differ more notably from song to song than it did on those previous albums, emphasizing both noise and melody throughout.

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1174 Hits

Techno Animal, "Re-Entry"

Re-EntryOut of print soon after its initial release in 1995 and on vinyl for the first time, the second collaboration between Justin Broadrick (Godflesh) and Kevin Martin (The Bug) has always been considered a high point in their lengthy collaborative discography. A sprawling two-and-a-half-hour masterwork of heavy beats and rich ambience, it is just as captivating today as it was nearly 30 years ago. Reissued and repackaged with care from all involved, it is a masterpiece that is deserving of the attention it is receiving.

Relapse

Any time some sort of social media prompt of "favorite albums of all time" or the like pops up, Re-Entry is one of the first titles that comes to mind for me. I still have vivid memories of purchasing the original CD set. It was a bit after its release, so roughly late 1995 or maybe early 1996, when I managed to get a special order (one of the few options in a pre-Internet ordering world) from Blockbuster Music in Brandon, Florida as an import. I had become a fan of Godflesh the year before, around the Merciless EP, and started tracking down some of Broadrick's numerous side projects, with this one being among the most hyped at the time. To say it was an influential release for me is an understatement: It fundamentally changed the way I perceived music, and electronic music specifically.

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2193 Hits

Choke Chain, "Mortality"

MortalityAs evident from many of my reviews at the time, I was (and remain) a big fan of the noise to EBM pipeline of genre overlap that was popular a few years back. Representing my two most momentous musical preferences during high school, hearing the two alongside each other was a perfect paring. Choke Chain, the solo project of Milwaukee's Mark Trueman is keeping this tradition alive, with a new album that leans more towards the rhythmic, rather than harsh end of this spectrum. Synth heavy, yet with aggressive vocals and production, it makes for an appropriate, fully realized album.

Phage Tapes

Mortality is the first full length from Trueman's project, following a handful of EPs and stray songs. Fittingly, it is the most definitive refinement of his approach to date. The components are consistent from what came before: pummeling drum machines; grimy/aggressive FM bass synths; and simultaneously angry/pained screaming vocals. The aforementioned noise influence is more notable on the unconventional production and the aggressive vocals that could almost be lifted from a power electronics record. The overall feel/aesthetic leans more in to the black and white austerity of the noise world, as opposed to the more cliché goth industrial world.

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1437 Hits

Rick Reed, "The Symmetry of Telemetry"

The Symmetry of TelemetryAustin's Rick Reed has been an active composer and performer of electronic music for over 30 years, but The Symmetry of Telemetry represents his first release since 2018. Using synthesizers, organs, vocoders, and found radio noises, Reed's compositional approach of developing smaller, disparate segments that are then later strung together in a collage is perfect for this material, juxtaposing different sounds and moods across the album's three lengthy compositions in a way that is dynamic, yet still coherent and cohesive as a whole.

Sedimental / Elevator Bath

The 20-plus minute "Dysania" is immediately a work of weird, wet electronics. Coded transmissions beep and bleep through what sounds like synth bass and stuttering machinery. At times the more modular qualities of the synthesizers pierce through constantly evolving idiosyncratic bursts. Reed eventually steers the work into old school sci-fi soundtrack territories, but just as quickly introduced luxurious, glossy tones. The dynamic nature of the piece is what makes it most captivating, as Reed jumps from different sounds, moods, and dynamics effortlessly, while still retaining the cohesion of a composed work. Symphonic loops, humming machinery, and crunchy wobbles all appear at some point, making for an almost disorienting pace and development.

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1593 Hits

Jonathan Canady, "Suffering and Defiance"

Suffering and DefianceWell known for his time in Dead World, as a member of synth trio Nightmares, and his deactivated power electronics project Deathpile, Jonathan Canady has long been a pillar of the American noise world. Now working under his own name, he has recently entered the world of soundtracks and participated in an extremely limited collaboration with legendary artist John Duncan. Suffering and Defiance is his latest purely solo, purely audio work, and it loses none of the harshness he is known for, yet makes it clear his work is anything but harshness for the sake of harshness.

Old Europa Café

There is no question what the album is going to be like from the opening moments of "Suffering and Defiance Part I": woozy, overdriven noise loops appear immediately, pushing the whole mix into the red. However, there is much more going on beyond just noise. The second part of the title piece appears later on the CD, a rumbling crunch with sustained, sizzling buzz that demonstrates an excellent use of layering and audio textures.

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1911 Hits

Grey Windowpane, "Barnie Bewail: A Film Soundtrack"

Barnie Bewail: A Film SoundtrackThis is a weird one. Billed as a film soundtrack—although I cannot seem to find any evidence of the film actually existing—this tape from enigmatic UK artist Grey Windowpane is all over the place as far as styles go. Free improvisation electronics, bedroom pop numbers, and random interludes are all scattered about this cassette. The lo-fi sound and production serve as a unifying factor on these 11 songs, giving an slight sense of continuity within the chaos.

Half-a-Million Records

Loose, drifting noises are a constant from piece to piece: they underscore the crusty organ of "C.E. Last Hurry CUF," the precursor to the churning loops of "Manny Soaked My Arm in There," and as part of the open space and random voices of "Jubilee." There are other, more chaotic pieces, such as the clattering thumping collage of the aforementioned "Manny" feature hints of musical tones and melody, but never quite get there.

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1614 Hits

Merzbow, "CATalysis"

CATalysisOne of the reasons I had to investigate this latest album from the always prolific Masami Akita is that I was surprised it took him this long to make a cat themed album. A staunch animal rights activists and composer of many animal themed albums (Chickens! Bears! Dolphins! A whole bunch of other birds!), it took well over 40 years into his career to produce something in respect of the venerable house feline. How much this applies beyond the title and beautiful photography used as packaging is of course questionable, but musically it is Akita at his most diverse.

Elevator Bath

It has been ages since I have listened to new Merzbow material, but I found myself rather surprised at the diversity of sounds on CATalysis. My interest started to wane once he went full laptop, and I always preferred his earlier tape/loop based works, so the fact that this in many ways feels like a hybrid of the two is a wonderful thing. Right from the opening "CATalysis No. 1," this combination is notable: metallic chain rattles over an electronic windstorm as everything is swept into an intense, collapsing overdrive. Harsh loops and shrill feedback make for some multifaceted pairings, and some great stereo effects add further depth.

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2136 Hits

Matt Weston, "Embrace This Twilight"

Embrace This TwilightLike 2021's Four Lies in the Eavesdrop Business, composer/multi-instrumentalist Matt Weston's latest work is a lengthy double record. However, this time he specifically utilizes the format to create four side-long and expansive pieces that constantly develop, bringing in a multitude of different sounds and elements. The result is a series of intense, dense compositions that can be hard to keep up with at first, but eventually reveal a deep sense of complexity in their structures.

7272Music

"The Drunken Dance with the Telegrapher" is the first (and longest) of the four works. It clocks in at over 17 minutes and is always shifting and evolving through that entire duration. Opening with oddly processed, mangled sounds that resemble a pained monster, Weston adds sporadic, intense drumming and a creepy, droning ambience. He introduces high pitched noises and metallic pulses, the piece goes into shrill, harsh spaces at times, but the captivating bent tapes and layered tones keep it from being anything but an endurance test. Percussive thuds, drill-like electronic tones, and tumbling drums all appear at different times, making for a dizzying piece.

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1810 Hits

Colin Andrew Sheffield, "Don't Ever Let Me Know," "Images"

Don't Ever Let Me KnowReleasing two full length albums mere months from each other, Colin Andrew Sheffield has been especially active in 2023. Considering his previous Repair Me Now dates back to 2018, it is a veritable flurry of activity. However, this is not a case where Don't Ever Let Me Know and Images seem like a double album split into two separate works, but both are thematically and structurally different from one another, even if both clearly showcase his approach of mangling samples and recordings into entirely different creations.

Aufabwegen / Elevator Bath

Simply looking at the song lists, the difference between these two records is clear: Don't Ever Let Me Know is two side-long pieces, while Images is a suite of eight more conventionally timed songs. The underlying models are different, also, with the former specifically drawing from recordings from or about his (and his father's) hometown of El Paso, Texas, and the latter exclusively sourced from jazz records. As expected, none of these recordings are at all apparent, but there seems to be a sense of nostalgia imbued into the album conveyed abstractly.

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1619 Hits

Zizia, "Genera"

The latest cassette from the enigmatic duo Zizia (astrologer Amber Wolfe and natural scientist Jarrod Fowler) is intentionally ambiguous just from its presentation. No information presented within the tape itself, its neon green case covers a blurry photo of the Zizia flower and an intricately printed abstract image on the cassette shell, without a single bit of text included on either. A quick search online finds a website that offers details, listings of insects, plants, and artists that serve only to confound more than clarify. The self-identified concept of anti-musicology is apparent, however, and results in a complex and diverse suite of two lengthy noise works.

self-released

Split into two 18-minute segments, each covering half of the tape, the first immediately explodes with an intense blast of noise that quickly recedes to allow sustained tones and metallic rattling to fade in. Wolfe and Fowler utilize consistent sonic building blocks throughout, but layer them in what seems to be superficially sounds like chaotic and erratic structures, but extremely complex. Digital stuttering and metallic pinging noises appear throughout, the use of cymbals being the only easily identifiable element from the list provided via the release's website. Noise surges and drops, with insect and field recordings cast atop murky textures.

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1661 Hits

Seah, "Conduits of the Hydrosphere," "Clouds and Spectres"

Conduits of the HydrosphereThese two albums from Seah, also known as multimedia artist and philosopher Chelsea Heikes, seemingly draw from different elemental categories, which ends up setting the foundation for the sounds contained within. The first, Conduits of the Hydrosphere, clearly draws from water while Clouds and Spectres is appropriately expansive, vapor-like, and ghostly at times. Released separately, they feel like complementary works that act as variations on sonic exploration.

Somnimage

All five pieces that make up Conduits feature either direct or indirect references to water, which is unsurprising given the title. Seah makes this immediately apparent from the opening "Asteroidal Origin of Water," with multiple layers of water recordings, filtered differently and stacked atop one another to create a wall of liquid sound. She utilizes space well, as echoing, warped noises and rattling shrieks all vie for the focus. Aquatic field recordings also obscure a subtle tone beneath on "Songs Stones Sing to the Sea," which remains understated amidst scraping noises and a deep, lo-fi digital rumble.

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1918 Hits

Illusion of Safety & Z'EV

Illusion of Safety & Z'EVFinally seeing the light of day after two years of production related delays, with the recordings dating back even longer than that, this collaboration between Daniel Burke (IOS) and the late Stefan Weisser (Z'EV) could almost be a time capsule, except the sound of it is entirely timeless. Recorded and mixed between 2008 and 2012, the two lengthy pieces that make up this self-titled album clearly bear the mark of both individuals, but mesh together beautifully in the very different sounding sides of the record.

Feast of Hate and Fear / Cipher Productions / Oxidation / Korm Plastics / Drone / Personal Archives / Public Eyesore / Tribe Tapes / Liquid Death / No Part of It

Although a mail-based collaboration, Z'EV and IOS's work complement each other perfectly, with the acoustic percussion from the former weaved into the electronics and field recordings of the latter, and both artists having a hand in further mixing and processing afterwards. These elements are clear on both side-long pieces that make up the album, but structurally the two halves differ rather notably.

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1965 Hits

Contrastate, "35 Project"

35 ProjectA 10" record rigidly divided into four different pieces (each mostly around four minutes in length), this new work from the enigmatic sounding, long-standing UK project is mostly centered around the same authoritarian lyrical elements, but each differs significantly in their compositional approach. A complex mix of styles define each piece, neither of which are too similar to another, but are unquestionably Contrastate, and showcases all of the unique sounds they are known for.

Black Rose Records

The aforementioned lyrical elements are quite dystopian "You do not have the right to be free/ you do not have the right to shelter and food/You do not have the right to love/You do not have the right to work" are just a few examples and appear in various stages of processing throughout. The first of the four untitled pieces is classic Contrastate: bursts of noise, sustained digital sounds, fragments of voice, and a significant number of loops layered atop one another. Lush synth passages and bits of conversation are consistent with the trio's previous works. For the second, the use of loops continues, but with hints of melody and cut up percussion pervade, making for a more spacious and restrained feel in comparison.

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1789 Hits

Anatomy of Habit, "Black Openings"

Black OpeningsWritten and recorded immediately following 2021's Even if it Takes a Lifetime, Chicago's Anatomy of Habit's newest album is sonically similar, however it does not sound like the second half of a double album. Instead, Black Openings is a stand-alone work that features the same sense of consistency but overall sees the band further refining and expanding their sound, and in this case returning to the bleakness that pervaded their earlier works so brilliantly.

self-released

Listening to Black Openings, I realized that the closest band similar to Anatomy of Habit was the short-lived God, helmed by Kevin Martin.  Both are "supergroups" (in the sense that they featured members from various bands from different, yet complimentary genres) and both balanced intensity and complexity perfectly.  The most significant distinction here is that while both bands draw heavily from various shades of rock, avant garde, electronic, and noise music, AoH forego the jazz component and delve more into electronic music.  The driving force behind AoH's sound is defacto band leader and vocalist Mark Solotroff (Bloodyminded, Intrinsic Action, and a multitude of other projects): his commanding voice is always identifiable and makes for a commanding presence in all three of the album's songs.

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1981 Hits