Review: Ugogg – 涛涛 (self-released, May 23)

a2251945516_10In noise music, well-executed tributes, whether explicitly identified or arbitrarily ascribed, tend to be applauded and appreciated at a much higher rate, perhaps higher than any other genre with a similar breadth of history. From my view there’s an easy explanation for this: because the tradition is so distinct from conventional and even other unconventional musical approaches in its stripped-down, confrontational viscerality, it often flips the usual script of sound 🡲 emotion, supplanting the instantaneous impact of its extreme volume, presence, and timbre over any other more complex point of analysis one might make—thus creating the very immediate “you like it or you don’t” quality. This happens occasionally with specific songs or albums in any genre, but it’s significantly more consistent in noise, and allows for fans new and old to hear recent acts like Wolf Creek or Berserk and be swept in right away, heads nodding and eyes scrunched up before any thoughts of “hey, this is definitely in the vein of older stuff,” and by that time one is ready to finish that sentence with “…and that’s okay.” This discussion is quite relevant to Yamagata artist Ugogg’s new release 涛涛 (pronounced tao tao), which not only takes plenty of cues from classic Japanese pedal stalwarts in the music itself but is also tagged with the “japanoise” descriptor. Much of the succinct release has that merciless high end that seems to grind and screech at the same time as masses of electronics flash, flicker, and fracture in the lower ranges. “壺壺” starts out violently loud and only grows more intense as massive sonic caverns open below the caustic crackle, shifting with tremendous weight like tectonic plates made of dark matter; “線線” is like the searing metallic squeal when the dentist goes overboard with the drill (and the pain that comes along with it); “礬礬” and “拷拷” both feature ruthless virtuosity and buried vocals that make me want to hear it blaring at an unhealthy volume from speakers in some cramped back room and with my own eyes watch this merciless mangler bring silence to its knees.

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