Review: Hair Clinic – Early Music (self-released, Jul 22)

Since March, when I first encountered Max Nordile’s Hair Clinic project and reviewed its inaugural release Mirror in a Bag, the Oakland-based multimedia artist has churned out seven more albums of varying sizes, including the full-length “Jim’s Place” tape on the always-excellent Regional Bears label. Since the archetypal “non-music” improvisations of its debut, Hair Clinic has evolved to encompass a much wider variety of subversive sonic practice. In his interview with Thomas DeAngelo for Mutually Assured Marginality, Regional Bears head Louis Golding described the character of the project as both “careless” and “nicely done,” a “fun kind of no technique field recordings… harvested field recordings.” Such a summation is especially applicable to recent documents such as Early Music, which encompasses a multitude of aspects of the mundane everyday such as snatches of radio broadcasts, distant traffic, conversations, gusts of wind, and other less identifiable elements. I’ve written about the way in which a distortion or obscuration of intentionality is an important aspect of non-music, something that reaches a punk-rock zenith in the case of Nordile’s single-microphone “lens,” which treats semblances of musicality, accidents, annoyances, and even acknowledgements of the presence of a recording device with equal attention. The line between the artist’s eponymous releases and his work as Hair Clinic increasingly blurs as this aggressively democratic approach becomes more established and the separations between his musical and anti-musical predilections steadily dissipate.