Sounds From The Outer Reaches #6
Secam Kino – Dilettante Recital
It’d be interesting to consider the notion that a place so deferentially estimated as a halcyon of fame and fulfilment has a direct parallel universe; a Stygian underbelly as the inverse fallout. A rule of thumb based on a cruel equilibrium; rot and mire to pristine veneer. Whether the associations and qualities of LA can be dramatically estimated in such an oppositional way I’m not sure. Its probably a varied, chaotic mix of the two.
But if it unequivocally could be thought of along such polar lines, I’d like to think that the imagined soundtrack to ‘the pits’ would be something close to the disfigured, puce-toned, festering machine-fluid of LA’s Secam Kino and their latest release to come out of the Michigan-come-LA cassette label, Chrondritic Sound.
There are droves of projects like this, melding distorted shriek and drub; industrial and damaged techno. Presently the ascendancy of such a beaten and sharp sound is increasingly less side-lined and familiar, but there’s still something fresh and convincing about the vertiginous, wiry character of this that marks it out as a cut above. Everything’s like a clenched fist, grinded teeth, on the edge of full assault but not quite engaged in a loss of control. The growls, burrs and blusters that predominate have a peculiar restraint even amidst potent irritations. A steadily tempestuous burst, pre-rile and pre-storm but impossible to turn away from.
secam-kino.tumblr.com (main image for the article also taken from here).
IX Tab – The Sweet Track (from the R.O.C. LP)
Back within the confines of these shores, the West Country to be loosely exact, Saxon Roach aka IX Tab has already debuted this particular moniker with ‘Spindle & The Bregnut Tree’, but greater prominence came under the guise with his offering on 2013’s revered Outer Church compilation, compiled by Joseph Stannard and released on the Front & Follow label. The effort in that instance, titled ‘The Burned Wretch’, mixed vocal samples drunk on staggered malfunction, and piled layers of echo and sci-fi flash into something almost childlike in its naïve, stargazing wonderment. The fact that it was so charged with defective flights pointed to other threads within the sometimes infantile tone.
It sounded close to the haunting splendour and innocence of some of Broadcast’s earlier works combined with their later propensity for stranger forays with The Focus Group.
The latter tendency is more keenly indulged here than in the aforementioned cut. Fragments of chopped vocal samples continue, this time an identifiable Karlheinz Stockhausen quote surfaces as do less clearly discernible incantations. Yet there’s still a sense of a beautifully rapt state in the courtly plucks which intermittently blossom between a slowly bourgeoning cyclone of swirling wash, circuit-croaks and data-bleeps. Sweet, but only between disruptive, fragmentary junctures, which make it all the more interesting.
Lucrecia Dalt – Esotro
To something a little more recently and significantly ‘hyped’, as it were, by no less than Boiler Room and Nicolas Jaar, who’s Other People imprint are to release the EP from which this is taken next week.
I’m late on the uptake due to the involvement of said parties, something about their dual convergence was unnerving; a confederacy of the painfully hip. Considering Other People’s run of releases haven’t exactly set pulses racing (from what I can tell) and Boiler Room now showcases as much forgettable fare as it does essential*, this patronage didn’t enthuse, at least in the case of a well-worn cynic. Expectations were a little low in spite of the quality of her previous material.
This turned out to be a foolish presumption, as this sounds just as strong as any of the refined uncanniness of her earlier work (‘Syzygy’ & ‘Commotus’ are two to check, if you haven’t already) yet more direct, less of a haunting stream of wind as before, more readily emergent, engaged in a weightier creep. Since ‘Syzygy’ – when she apparently worked early in the AM to avoid the nearby reverberation of the Barcelona metro line – there’s been a concertedly heavy use of bass to drive and strengthen her sound, in this instance there’s more power in the foreground too. Together with profuse high-hiss and hum, it’s almost like the synth stabs of the ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ theme slightly disintegrated and split by touches of musique concrete.
Dalt has recently revealed the unusual creative process she adopted in the production of this EP and a forthcoming LP, basically; overload by her surrounding environment and various stimulants, in particular the experimental German cinema of Oscar Fischinger, Hans Richter and others. Whatever the effect that approach has, so far, it works.
(*Powell’s set at the Lies x Diagonal session is a recent one to watch, there’s probably innumerable other examples which fall into less favourable categories)
Ulwhednar – Kättarens dom (from 1520)
A Viking burial mound gracing the cover, the involvement of the producer Varg (translates as ‘Wolf’) and a deep sense of primordial shadow defines this latest release on Northern Electronics, a label helmed by Abdulla Rashim, who with Varg, completes the duo.
This, their second LP, outlines the kind of primal, occultist fascinations that Black Metal so often focalizes. Not in any clearly explicit way, as the case may be with much of the vocal-based examples of that form. Plainly enough, this is purely instrumental, as you’d expect from those involved, but the minimal elements on ‘Kättarens dom’ (roughly translates as ‘Heretic Judgement’) – a prevailing pattern of spartan drums, half-militaristic, half-sacrificial and
deep, squeaking emissions – have just as much power of evocation as any vocalized elicitation of hellish rites. Admittedly such territories of dark histrionics can feel more ‘Warhammer’ than Aleisteir Crowley, but this keeps any of the more overbearing indulgencies in check, favouring something more measured, almost akin to Demdike Stare in its austere, offbeat incessancy; a horror therefore more effective.
Inryo-Fuen – Uncompromising (from Early Works 1980 -1982)
A Japanese trio inspired by Surrealism and Automatic Writing, Inryo-Fuen comprised Jun Harada (drums), Naoyuki Masuda (guitar), and Masamichi Oyama (keyboard) This is the opening to their ‘Early Works’, and by my reckoning, their best. Belligerently repeating severe, anti-progressive brutalism, it somehow steers clear of tedium, despite the domination of a motif which lasts a few seconds. In a way, its redolent of the Les Rallizes Denudes classic, ‘Night of The Assassins’ and the persistent, gutter-snarl fervency of their refashioning of Little Peggy March. Although that’s similarly rough, sheathed in noise as it is, there is tunefulness within their coarseness, which might be where the similarities in sound with Inryo-Fuen end, who have more atonality to them, a quality perhaps nearer in its execution to Glenn Branca and Ike Yard.
After such minimalist hammering the accusatory diatribe that is launched into towards its final third gives a biting impetus. It’s twisted slightly by tape effects which make the invective all the more uncompromising. It practically browbeats you into submissive listening.