Marie Davidson – Exces De Vitesse (Speeding Ticket) (Holodeck Records)
This track seems to have been kicking around for a while now, with footage of Davidson performing this particular cut at Mutek 2014. In that brief snippet of intense live performance the version didn’t differ much to what has eventually made it onto ‘Un Autre Voyage’ (‘Another Voyage’) – Davidson’s third solo record - and there’s a sense that the decision to leave it unaltered has paid off. Its viciousness and furnace-like heat seems born out of a heaving live environment. There’s something illicit about its sensuality too, with the strident sound of blades being unsheathed and the contrasting vivacity of Davidson’s vocals (sung in French) combining with the kind of impervious analogue-angst that bristles within the work of DAF and Liaisons Dangereuses. Yet Davidson – without debilitating an ounce of pulverising impact - measures those influences with a contemporary gloss, something that also comes through elsewhere on the LP, where a dreamier, kosmische-horror strain of mood defines things.
According to the obligatory blurb, all the songs of ‘Another Voyage’ were based on true events, but the title hints at something far more banal than the lethal, leather-and-lace joyride evoked here. SFTOR’s Track of The Year (So Far).
Kudos too goes to the artwork, which reimagines Wim Wenders blood-red typography for ‘The American Friend’ for a surrealistic encounter in some Lynchian late-bar.
Rose Alliance – Understanding and Appreciation: International Reforms in Sex (Posh Isolation)
In the last SFTOR, there was a passing remark about Posh Isolation; how I wasn’t completely won over by their releases to date. Somehow their output had felt like a self-conscious dilution of noise; their aesthetic packaging of it all and their artist’s rendering of its marginal, violent beauty a little too varnished, as if trying to trimly appeal to those concerned with style and hype with a filtering of its coarser contours. It’s great to be wrong. Although the artwork and design is prudently considered, the labels latest output, most notably this cassette from Rose Alliance – now available digitally - shows that any kind of style-over-substance detraction was vastly misplaced. One of many alias’ of Hannes Norrvide – the founding member of Lust For Youth – Rose Alliance shares its name with a Swedish Sex Workers rights organisation. Considering the thesis-like title this doesn’t seem to be mere coincidence. There’s a corporeal gurgle that vitalizes and texturizes the entirety of the two sides, with Side A unloading a cursive gnarl of layered noise, roughly graceful like a sea of undulating scrap metal, after an introductory passage of sub-aquatic error-frequencies. It’s as full and cemented as a lot of noise music but has a peculiar accessibility about it, retaining fissures of light despite its opaque-sounding structure. Side B meanwhile has an unsettling dereliction to it; the sound of damaged, barely functioning communication signals going endlessly unanswered until an ambient mass expands and plunges it all into a similarly gorgeous dusk of drone.
It not only derails my former reservations but further establishes the sense of a label convincingly flying the flag for noise and drone in 2015 through the developments of a wide, localised (mainly Scandinavian) crop of young artists*
*Check Damien Dubrovnik, Puce Mary and F.E. Denning on the same label for more in this vein.
Guerre Froide – S/T (Born Bad)
Guerre Froide – ‘Cold War’ – were one of many European coldwave outfits active around the early 80s. Like their stylistic compatriots, theirs is an astringent, stiff interplay between the hard-edged froth of drum machines, repetitious keys which colour outside the lines in warped, rudimental harshness and submerged bass very much situated in the school of Peter Hook. Despite their conformity with now familiar rules of thumb, this untitled 12’’ – now reissued by French imprint Born Bad - has some intriguing departures from the formula, with ‘Mauve’ and some of its guitar work positioning it closer to an idyllically fried 60s psych more than the monochromatic romanticism of coldwave and its various denominations. ‘Demain Berlin’ (‘Tomorrow Berlin’) – their veritable classic – is similarly laced with subversions to fastidious frameworks. The key work is like some overhauled, sleeker translation of Question Mark and The Mysterians, pitched less for a lysergic-esque happening and more for a grey-scale disco, one of bombed-out eyes and straight-edged poise. That is, until an eruptive guitar-scuzz derails it wonderfully. It’s the same negotiation of pre-programmed foundations and elemental, untamed squall that makes restored cult propositions like The 39 Clocks so thrillingly transgressive, albeit a thrill which is now more memory than reality. Still it’s a memory which has proved enduring.
Madteo – Raveyard Shifts (Latency Recordings)
Matteo Ruzzon outlays a characteristically skewwhiff sound, with the few elements that often constitute his work frequently shifted around, screwed with and accented in a series of unpredictable permutations. Like his productions to date, this latest release for French outlet Latency features little in the sense of a defining moment. ‘Irreconcilable Indifferences’ sets a circuitous passage of slightly distorted, fumbling, detuned strums to gently insistent micro-techno, with ambient, crystalline glows and shimmers occasionally leaking through. It’s like a hypnotic motorway journey undertaken with a reliable old banger, shuffling along on a flat tyre, the disruptions to its progress more of an interesting, divergent series of lapses and irregularities than a debilitating halt to its perseverance. The official video echoes this sentiment with an upturned, neon-soaked car journey through streets which have the mesmeric quality of a parallel world.
‘Hoodshedding’ meanwhile is beefed up with bass-bin quakes which suggest a sound system at full tilt. On Ruzzon’s ‘Noi No’ LP, he displayed a flair for sample assemblage, chopping vocal fragments to engaging and often amusing effect. Here it’s a little too meticulously diced to decipher anything yet the taste of the sound and the effect is the same, as they drive the track down a bizarre and heady avenue, one where you imagine a subtly deranged block party is taking place. ‘Discomfort Zone’ is more of a disturbing, patchwork vignette, all skeletal signals and disembodied rave residue; an obliquely engaging conclusion.
Altogether it’s an exciting release, not only for its content, as it continues the work of Latency who’s previous material – especially their Joey Anderson release – indicates a promisingly original and ascendant label. It also (hopefully) represents a full scale return for Ruzzon who’s studio productions have been less forthcoming than his more prolific ventures in 2012/2013. Club music needs this kind of unsound kick up the rear more often.
Allegory Chapel Ltd - GNOSIS: Themes for Rituals Sacred & Profane (Nostilevo)
‘YOU ARE NOT A MACHINE’
So begins this esoteric missive from Allegory Chapel Ltd. An advertorial authoritarian voice seemingly lifted from some 50s self-help video announces itself amongst the juddering gloop of new age, albeit a nefarious strain which is twisted into mind-wracking ruination. ‘Sephiroth/Enochian Calls’ is especially threatening to the nerves, a scaly buzz of gut-churning, writhing, slime-encrusted simmer; a slow, beatless kind of barbarity but one which is so richly realised that its terror is difficult to turn away from. When there is a pulse in the crud, it becomes even more arresting, as on ‘Solar Rite [For Suspension]’ which suggests an emaciated acid house reduced to a pulpous mash.
Bay Area Based Elden M – apparently the guy at the helm – has been releasing under this alias since the mid-80s and has collaborated with Monte Cazzaza and toured with Merzbow, so it’s not a startling new discovery. But for anyone who hasn’t heard the likes of this before it’s a fine, heinous, ominously ritualistic thing to come across. It’s this kind of developed sound and mystical intensity that new acts like Marshstepper are taking lessons from.
The label, Nostilevo - based out of LA - seems to have close ties with Chondritic Sound and the Ascetic House imprints, but judged by this convincing escapade in misfit industrial and droning evisceration, they’re another necessary source to keep close tabs on amidst the deluge of similarly minded endeavours.