Review: Gemengung – E.O.T.F. (Black Artifact, Jan 8)

Anyone with even a little knowledge of my taste probably knows that I have thing for music that sounds lifeless; i.e. lazy, superfluous, vestigial, just-sort-of-there, etc., but artfully so. This can obviously adopt many forms, and while I mainly value the harsh noise genre for its visceral immediacy and assaulting abrasion, there’s a particular atmosphere that’s evoked by artists like Blod, Manure Movers of of America, and others (see my Psychedelic Slabs mix) who conjure swamps of feedback and distortion that are better metaphorized as sooty smoke or distant, murky junkyard bustle rather than the sharp, violent images brought to mind by more traditionally vicious music. Gemengung’s E.O.T.F., one of three tapes in the inaugural batch from new Texas label Black Artifact, is savage and searing on paper, and the noise itself is certainly quite caustic, but the overall presence of the sound is more reminiscent of a homogeneous dead-air FM transmission, giving it an essence of subtle but ignorable passivity. This is in large part due to the central concept of the release: each track is the result of a crudely granular dissection and then successive reassemblage of each of the nine songs on Suffocation’s landmark LP Effigy of the Forgotten. Once one is aware of this it’s not difficult to hear the battered remnants of the originals—mostly fragments of the unmistakable sounds of pig squeal vocals. Much like Dave Phillips’s work of haphazard sonic surgery Hermeneutics of Fear of God, the dismantling and disembodying of the source material both malforms and depletes its extremity; E.O.T.F. is an especially compelling case because of how comprehensively malformed that extremity is.