Review: Josef Swindell – thelma arnold (self-released, Mar 26)

a1558547991_10It’s a nice coincidence that I mentioned fals.ch and i.d in yesterday’s review, because the first thought in my mind when I heard Josef Swindell’s newest release was that I hadn’t heard such a harsh, uncompromising raw data release since my initial encounter with d4ta corruption. Though most of us have probably received a reaction similar to Swindell’s dad’s—”is it supposed to sound like this”—when showing someone music we created or simply enjoy, it doesn’t get much more esoteric than the piercing blasts of static and wounded glitches of thelma arnold. Even when things cool down a bit, as in “google man, take what you can” when a drop in intensity allows for some tendrils that just barely flirt with tonality to creep in, there’s almost always a consistent undercurrent of caustic digital violence, whether it comes in pounding waves like at the end of that track or in merciless, dizzying cut-ups that build to all-out mayhem on the following “Be Free, My Harajuku Girls!” The “computer being brutally murdered” metaphor is low-hanging fruit for this type of stuff, but I can’t think of anything else for which it would be a better fit. This is something in which fans of both extreme electronic music and harsh noise, as well as anyone who wants to get away from any sort of conscious thought for about 25 minutes, will find plenty to love.

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