Chris Dodge

Apathy is a Bitch (Review: To The Point, Success in Failure 2012)

Lack of Interest 2.0 aka To The Point surge along that Chris Dodge Midas touch (Spazz, Despise You and Low Threat Profile to name but a few) and bankrupt the value of powerviolence gold by offering what has to be the most laconic yet steadfast powerviolence vintage to date. Success In Failure the second installment to the bands  rip-roaring plunder of one sided 7"s is a good arms reach better than the first, not for better songwriting to which they are en par, but the frictionless dynamic between tracks and passages escalates quickly into one of the most big souled and inviting musical muck-a-rounds out there. In a one part booze to another part youthful ambition with no comprehension of self-restraint, they go head-charging in to some of the most gratifying and frisky bpm abuse out there.

Hitting the ground running with what now is the greatest powerviolence sing along and tribute to ye olde faithful, Alcohol, opening track No Friend of Bill W, sets a cast iron bond between listener and music, yanking you into their fast paced world of adrenaline and back alley venues. This scamper is then followed by a duo of scene lecturing, In It For Life bashes all those scuttling rats to whom hardcore was just a phase they exploited for image and following track Free Ride vents against all those leeches who harass bands for free stuff on some perverse moral illusion that the bands owe you shit. Both rip forth in a great detonation of energy grooving in a strapping character as they glide those mushroom clouds of decibels, ending on a funky twirl before jumping back in with the regime of mosh to the sounds of Socially Inept Network. Following track Infected doesn't stray from the game plan, but offers a solid stomp around no less, but its chaser Decisions I Immediately Regret maddens itself into a state of bitter hostilities and sees those caveman howls reach climactic zeniths in their true environment. J Randellesque end note Faces of Meth see the band ending on a high note and you turning the needle back for another listen, a process which repeats itself at least a dozen times. 

The Achilles heel to this release is flagrantly its lack of length, something the band need not address alone, there is no shortage of bands and virgin material out there that could of filled the other half, sure only a handful of bands could offer something on a similar level quality wise, and perhaps fewer still offer something that plays around in the same general scope of activity, but as they say the more the merrier. However quality always trumps quantity, and the quality on offer here is legendary, completely worthy of its Slap a Ham patrimony. 

Deep Six Records

To The Point

Merzuary (Review: ACTUARY/Merzbow, Freak Hallucinations 2012)

ACTUARY / MERZBOW - Freak Hallucination

Now this bastard gave me a static electric shock whilst taking it out of the sleeve almost causing me to drop it in the process, at first I thought nothing of it, but in retrospect it may have been a physical "pulse demon" sent by Merzbow to transpose his noise magnifica outside the sound spectrum.

I have no clue how Masami Akita makes such elaborately jagged meanders of noise, for all I can tell he could just be changing any non-musical files file extension to an mp3 and pass it off as custom made mangle of noise; an unlikely scenario, but one that could go a long way into explaining how the man is so proficient at creating the largest discography known to man. Well whatever the method behind his madness it pays off, because no one intensifies the noise experience like he does.   

His half is a continuous arch of distortion taloned by a perplexing mass of acute logarithmic hisses and digital scathes, as if being plugged into a lengthy cycle of the matrix, complete with the binary manifestations of an embellished soundscape that exits beyond the restraints of understanding as provided for by the mind, leaving the listener equally perplexed and awed with its seemingly alien construction. As we have come to expect from Merzbow, the music (and I use the term loosely) is not designed with the express idea of belonging to any specific form or to appease the listener, it’s purely a complete experiment in pushing the boundaries of mankind’s command of sound and as such appeals to those of inquisitive mind sets for whom satisfaction is not derived directly from the listening, but in the attempt to unravel its inner workings and abstract meanings of this enigma of digital manipulation. Ultimately it is an endless task with no conclusion, yet a realisation that fails to shake the determination of the listener from repeating the process in the hopes of being that one step closer to the answer. Such is the beauty of Merzbow. 

For those of you who have stuck around Grind to Death long enough you will well know my intense infatuation with demiurgic noise engineers ACTUARY, yet each and every explanation I give of the band vary from the last. This is not a blunder on my part, but a testament to their explorative nature both thematically and in their handling of both the analogue and digital sources of their noise crafting; very befitting that their band logo is that of a hydra, because much like the hydra there are many faces to ACTUARY.

ACTUARY’s side for Freak Hallucinations is one that could be identified as befitting a psychological horror film, a more abrasive and unsettling noise counterpart to Mike Stitches Frankenstein grind works. Throughout the release a constant stain of mind is placed through a slithering eeriness at first accompanied by a disconcerting vocal dialogue between an impish squawking and a more blood curdling diabolic monstrosity, but as the release progresses the experience becomes more intense placing a greater emphasis on rugged noise afflictions who bring the intimidating vibe of the release to the forefront, given more effect by the sprawling shimmers of disorientation. From there a minimalist drone is played, a moment of relative calm amongst a sea of horrors, yet as it unravels it becomes increasingly more sinister with distorted screams and proclamations being bastardised in the haze of the dark noise, amongst a bed of sound snakes, snapping screeches and abstruse contortions all of which bite from beyond the bleak haze of the sonic veil.

And our journey ends there.

Purchase

ACTUARY

Merzbow

Atavism (Review: ACTUARY/Wake The Machines, Dehumanization of Species 2012)

If the contents of books are representative of the internal workings of their authors, then if we hold the same to be true for the soundscapes and atmospheres that musician/noisicians create, then I have to confess I am stuck in a sense of morbid curiosity as to what saturnine fantasies are looming around in the heteroclitic minds behind the ACTUARY / Wake the Machines split.

ACTUARY seem more organic than ever before, pouring a delicate concoction of dishevelling noise and  mid paced  musical crawls for a collective clouded vibrancy, yet one subjected to the shudders of the acute radial blur and edginess born of the coarser moments of contact between the abstract and the systematic, respectively played by noise and rhythmic music.  Each track typically has a set pattern of instrumentation, with little if any deviation from its set standard of rhythms, and deceptively serve as the friendly point of entry between listener and record, however this is just the lure to entice the listener into a musical comfort zone, before a creeping fog dawns staining the soundscape in a series of seemingly unconnected yet profound oscillating riddles, industrial hums and voltaic chirps.

They repeat this pattern of trust abuse across all 5 of their bastardised miasmic tracks, each trap and execution differing from the last, yet stained with the same outcome: the listener being caught in a whimsical snare so subtly constructed around you, yet the vividness of detail is there for those who brave to delve deeper down the rabbit hole.

Wake the Machines mechanise for an all guns blazing blitzkrieg approach to sensory punishment, through an unstoppable pincer movement headed on the one flank by a heavy set grindcore colossus and on the other by a slithering and profound constriction of noise. It exhumes this unfastidious brutality that bites deep and hard and refuses to let go, instantly bringing a flight or fight response from the listener, adrenaline pouring in, increased heart rate and muscular tension gripping you throughout their grind schwerpunkt. The reaction from their moments of noise is less antagonising, but by no means less intense bringing this uncomfortable fidgetiness and anticipation for when they will lash out again. Where Actuary used charm and allure, Wake the Machines just endlessly assert audio dominance upon you in the most abrasive of fashions.

The release titled Dehumanization of  Species is a very fitting title because instincts kick in listening to this music, it’s a reductionist agenda to remove your understandings of complex and abstract concepts of music and instead to see them fundamentally as a stimuli to certain hard wired evolutionary responses ranging from cautious curiosity, fear, unknowing, panic and exasperation.  

As a release not only do I highly commend it as an outstanding piece of work, but given its alloyed expressions of noise and music I feel it is ideal for those as yet unswayed either by the intricacies of noise or the efficacy of grind.

ACTUARY

Wake The Machines