Review: JSH / Körperlich Split (Tribe Tapes, Jan 29)

Slabs of textural harsh noise come in many forms, and as listeners the quality we are most often drawn to first is what we perceive the sound’s origin to be; some artists’ noise seems to fall pitter-patter from the sky like rain, others’ gives the impression that it’s bubbling up from the ground beneath us, and sometimes there’s not really an illusion of direction at all, cases where the noise just simply, well, exists. None of the previous categories describe JSH’s track “Pieces” though, which howls into squalling existence from some indiscernable source point at the back of our heads, an undammed jet of heavy static that occasionally lashes against its mono-imprisonment and flits into stereo. That quality is also what makes the nearly half-hour piece remain engaging throughout its duration; this is no wall, so the artist is constantly constricting and contorting the mass of noise, but that vicious forward velocity is never extricated from the music, even in its most reserved moments. Towards the end of “Pieces” is where its strength truly becomes apparent, as squeals of screeching feedback and mangled vocal additions sew discord in the already collapsing cacophony. If we continue discussing motion, Körperlich’s “Afflicted” acts as a slight counterpoint to the chaotic sonic barreling on the preceding side, the paths of its more classic palette distortion pedal and radio adopting more of a lateral trajectory across the stereo field. The radio grabs are overused and even detrimental throughout the first half of the track, but it regains its footing with a well-executed progression from a stretch of fragmented clatter into the muck that acts as a conclusion.

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