Review: HAHN – Handed All He Needs (Zazen Tapes, Mar 5)

For those of you whose desert-island harsh noise classic is the Blod Red Light Companion box set, look no further for some fresh slabs to cut your buckteeth on. On Handed All He Needs, the first in a series of acronym-extrapolated titles to see a physical release, New Jersey artist N.E. Hertzberg puts on a clinic for one-minute blasts, of which there are 40 in total—a nice symmetry for something of this length, like Commercial Album and others whose conspicuously neat track durations and quantities elicit a necessary second look. In some sense this tape is similar; the vivid, meaning-rich titles were simply jotted down stream-of-consciousness–style in a fleeting fit of inspiration, while Hertzberg explicitly encourages shuffle-play, both of which seem to be qualities that undermine the completeness and intentionality we expect from finished albums. But the music itself is another story. Each cut is its own inferno of delirious chaos, with enough ornamentation around the main course of skull-rattling pedal crunch to keep every chunk of the LP-length run time engaging: mangled screams, bleep-blooping glitch cycles, melodies caked and baked in distortion, delirious center-channel obfuscation. Hertzberg’s versatility is on full display whether one plays through the provided track order or makes their own; at times he waxes psychedelic with descents into hallucinatory murk and climbs to somewhere near C.C.C.C. sheet-metal-squall bliss; and at others he keeps things muscular and immediate, often reaching that elusive state in which the electronics seem to control the noisemaker rather than the other way around.