Intermittent D.I.Y. music / art / life writing projects.

Month: March, 2012

Regosphere – Like Surgical Steel C30 (Husk Records)


This recording is from 2010, also. I had it on repeat for a month or so just after I got it, because I was impressed with the skill and care put into composing the captivating atmosphere of the mix. Andrew Quitter has been recording for more than 14 years, and it shows. He runs a label called Dumpsterscore, which has put out a lot of dark industrial electronics and noise recordings since its inception in 2003. From the limited amount of recordings I’ve heard of his Regosphere project and what he has posted on Bandcamp under his own name I can see that he has a great intuition about putting sounds together thoughtfully to evoke what he intends to evoke. The atmosphere of this tape is akin to some recordings I have from an artist by the name of Minoy, who was prolific in the 80’s cassette scene. Fantastic stuff. On this tape there is an abundance of wobbling white noise, field recordings of metals, what sounds like flanger feedback (but could also be synthesizer), and in the notes vocals are mentioned but I never could distinguish any voice out of the din. Andrew likes pedals. Sometimes a voice heavily effected with pedals can produce odd sounds that by other means would not happen. The clanking metals with a natural reverb from the site where the field recordings were taken work well, adding to the mood rather than sounding superfluous. On a couple of these pieces there are unnerving low or high end alarm-like synthesizer sounds, which work alternately to add detail to the 3-dimensional vibrations of The Fear, or paranoia, or The Grim Absence of Hope. The sounds are varied and the mix is always changing, which makes this recording expressive and interesting to listen to.

The darkness and texture of ‘industrial electronics’ on this tape articulate for me the bitterness incurred by being subject to the many symptoms of the crumbling societies of this Earth. This kind of feeling is what catapulted me head first into a much deeper appreciation of industrial music at first listen to Throbbing Gristle’s live performance at Veteran’s Auditorium, Los Angeles, May 22nd 1981. About 7 minutes into the set, with a rhythm and a bed of noises, Genesis begins a repeating vocal line that sounds like “wuh-buh-buh-buh”. The distortion of the vocals is brain bending. The inanity is horrifying and revelatory. It said to me, “Yes, this world is in fact as screwed up as you’ve thought, and way more…” – but somehow it was sort of beautiful. It made me see more details, feel more depth, show me totally new angles, which from an early age was what I thought the word ‘psychedelic’ was supposed to mean. I find a fair portion of industrial music to be more psychedelic than a lot of music popularly regarded as psychedelic. Maybe this perspective is largely product of growing up in the time that I grew up.

There’s a movie that came out a few years ago, called “Sunshine”, which at its ending depicts a character in a giant chamber which is covered on all surfaces with atomic bombs. The bombs go off as the ship containing the chamber is crashing into the sun. The character watches in awe as the flames and explosions happen all around him. With the music of this scene (too sweet…too sentimental…) removed I would make a bit of a comparison of the feelings evoked by these images to the feelings Throbbing Gristle evoked in me. It’s horrible chaos, but it’s unthinkably just-as-it-must-be.

Industrial culture has a lot of touchpoints, and I believe that a lot of them, especially in the more sample-laden music, are like disco mirror balls that reflect many other touchpoints. Of course what I’ve taken from ‘Like Surgical Steel’ is not certain to be what Andrew intended or what anybody else got from it. Having experienced a lot of the dark feelings typified by industrial music myself, I identify with this music at times perhaps more strongly than I would like to. I have more of an idealistic nature and often wish for things to be much more hopeful than they actually are. Often, though, I find a comfort in identifying with bleaker aesthetics such as this tape to vindicate anger. Other times I just like the sounds and textures. Regosphere is aptly skilled to satisfy both of these needs.

Hobbledeions -Capisce C-45 (No Kings)

This is an older release, dating back a couple of years, but because I’ve enjoyed it so much I wanted to say some things about it anyway. This Capisce is a creative gem of vacuum packed enthusiasm and sparks. Emphasis on drums. There is a lot of precise energetic drumming, set with visceral textures (guitars & other tonemakers) on this album that reminds me of This Heat or Brice-Glace, but it has a post-2000 stylistic twist. I guess that would be what you might call “math rock” leanings, though I think the style is pretty unique and easily possesses innate cleverness sufficient to avoid pigeonholing. The intelligent rhythms are sometimes in odd time signatures. I do find the rhythm construction and performance to be very intelligent, but a very important thing to mention is that the intelligence does not come at the cost of the natural or passionate feeling of the music. Semi-tangential exercises with sampling and sound manipulation are placed amidst the less abstract pieces centered on hypnotic rhythms, which makes for a feeling of playful experimentation that never becomes masturbatory or mindlessly meandering. This is an exceptional piece of home recorded art that stands far out beyond the endlessly heavy flow of cassette releases. It’s great to find a creator in this realm that does something so different yet stays aligned with much of the aesthetics that the cassette/d.i.y. culture deals in. Lots of noise and texture present, with a low fidelity presentation that is grimy and coolly rocking.

Windmill – Waterwheel – Waterwheel – Windmill C40 (Notice Recordings)


These varied pieces of moody atmosphere were recorded in 1997. It’s clear that the involved musicians/engineers, Mr. Kirk Marrison and Mr. Charlie Nash, were at this time highly skilled listener-performers. My understanding, which is provided by Notice’s writeup of the recording, is that Charlie Nash is an inventive guitarist from NYC who has worked with Arsenal/Rhys Chatham, and his contribution to these recordings is primarily guitar based, while Kirk Marrison covers a larger portion of the processing and other sounds. For some time, Rhys Chatham’s music has been included on my extremely-huge-and-rapidly-growing list of artists to become familiar with. I’ve always enjoyed Glenn Branca’s music, so Chatham’s reputation as another guitar-orchestra composer tempts me with stimulating scents.

From the high quality of this Waterwheel I was especially inspired to seek out related recordings by Kirk Marrison’s projects Kiln and Fibreforms. I found Kiln’s website, which has a great, artsy-earthy minimalist appearance akin to the artwork on releases by one of my all time favorite artists, MAIN, and listened to samples from their discography, which spans from 1998 ish to 2007. I found Kiln to be very enjoyable. It’s electronic/ambient music with its own unique angle. A bit similar to some music made by Seefeel or Monolake, which I enjoy quite a bit. I wasn’t able to find anything to listen to of Fibreforms, but I imagine it to be a bit different and similarly enjoyable.

This Waterwheel – Windmill – Windmill – Waterwheel cassette emphasizes texture, which causes thick pleasures for me. There are clear divisions between the pieces on this tape, enunciated either by silence or by transformation from one distinctive aura to another. Side A has 5 titles, all being of effective durations and each being its own world of feeling and audio-tactile stimulation. Side B, having one title, “Heavywater (D2O)”, to me carries almost the same type of flow as the first side; having what seem to be clear divisions between different movements/vignettes of sound and/or composed music of guitars, vague electronics?, and percussion.

The performances of guitar and percussion on the recording (where guitars are not disguised by reverbs or other expansions, and percussion is not looped) are tight and clean. The usage of acoustic instruments periodically is spiced with carefully placed, carefully mixed atmospheric tones and field recordings which deepen the mood and complexity of the pieces. I was very glad that there were some pieces utilizing rhythm and more deliberate structures mixed among the abstract sound pieces. The mix of approaches to composition makes this tape a pleasure to listen to on repeat. It is well paced/well sequenced. This is a great success of a recording; intellectually and emotionally stimulating to listen to, and I am very glad to have come across it.

Angelo Harmsworth – Untitled C-30 (Bathetic)


I enjoy guitar based recordings quite a bit, so this isn’t hard to like for me. It’s evident that there has been plenty of effort expended in the search for interesting sounds. Mr. Harmsworth is not content to use typical presets and standard sounding effects. Interesting usage of reversed reverbs, non-reversed reverbs, chorus effects, field recordings, layered/looped guitars, and other looped sound sources. The guitars are effected, but for the most part not drenched enough to hide the identity of the instrument. Low fidelity hissing is frequently present and pleasant. Guitars are colored by what sounds like (so many ways to manipulate…) cassette warbling and fizz, which is carefully restrained to maximize the cozy, intimate feelings brought about by the sound of a well used tape. The 6 pieces on this Untitled are invitingly exploratory and varied. The simplicity and occasionally playful experiments on this recording are easy to enjoy listening to on repeat for extended periods of time, such as I have for the last 5 hours while doing various things within clear earshot. The music goes quite more than surface deep in thoughtful ways without becoming an emotional drag. Along with the guitar texture based nature of this recording, the artwork was a draw for me. The j-card is of a special handmade wildflower seed paper which is delicate, beautiful to touch, and germinatable. Bury it beneath soil, water it properly, read Tukaram to the seeds gently in a quiet voice several times a day, and some flowers should grow for you. The artwork printed upon it is charmingly minimal and earthy. This type of packaging was something that attracted me to the No Kings label, with their specially printed artwork, often on papers of amusing texture, color, and thickness. This is surely one of my favorite finds of the last year.