Review: E.M. Digital Spazz Unit – To Sterilize Music (Black Ring Rituals, Jun 19)

Brandon Wald’s Black Ring Rituals label has come a long way from its humble origins. Originally a DIY outlet for Fargo, North Dakota’s burgeoning pedal harsh and power electronics scene, BRR has grown into an imprint showcasing some of the most forward-thinking noise music available today. Just this year has seen excellent releases from irreverent cut-up connoisseur Appliancide, 8-bit Famicom emulation wall from Bitcrusher, and many others. What is ostensibly E.M. Digital Spazz Unit’s debut cassette is somewhere between those former two examples, making use of both frenzied hyperactivity and motherboard mayhem for its punishing presence. To Sterilize Music accomplishes its titular goal through intense sound curation; there’s not a single element on this album that is not an abrasive, deformed, caustic extract from some condemned digital underbelly, even the vocal samples that are used on “Sponsored Cell Line.” The Spazz Unit is not at all concerned with conventionality, or even with demonstrating the death of conventionality by proudly exhibiting its broken bloody remnants that have been mercilessly ripped apart. It’s simply nowhere to be found in this contorted mass of synthetic, detached, yet always viscerally affecting artificiality.