Review: No Artist – Dear Master, […] (Chained Library, Apr 15)

Like many of the arcane electronic-based sound art projects given a platform by the elusive Chained Library imprint, this anonymous cassette release, based in the nebulous darkness of Emily Dickinson’s infamous “Master” letters, has a conceptual fabric that is perceptible yet obscure, bursting at the seams with palpable meaning that itself is impossible to ever fully pin down. Embarking on diverse textural excursions through seething noise, fractured recitation both artificial and organic, and deconstructed lexical null-scapes along the lines of Porcje Rosołowe and Łukasz Podgórni’s previously peerless Skanowanie balu collaboration, this sonic reimagining of Dickinson’s alluringly cryptic, genre-defying shadow correspondence is literary in its own right, the poet’s trademark em-dash onslaughts and epistolary subversion transposed to stuttering glitches and a total abandonment of the conventionally musical. Of note are the centerpiece track “Oh – did I offend it” (titled after one of the best-known phrases from the letters), a swirling micro-apocalypse of circuit-board industrial and barely intelligible, constantly shifting speech; and closer “If you saw a bullet,” which seems to be composed of a single utterance fed through a complex effects loop. Though it isn’t crucial to be familiar with the “source” material to enjoy Dear Master, […], I highly recommend you check it out regardless.

Buy the tape via Chained Library’s website or stream all seven tracks on their Soundcloud.

Review: Gorgeous Gorgeous – The Expressionless Fear (Brachliegen Tapes, Apr 1)

In a way somewhat similar to Cheerleader, Jun Konagaya’s newest release as Grim, the rhythmic presence of The Expressionless Fear is ephemeral and unreliable despite its abrasive heaviness, as if it were just as likely to have been created as an accidental byproduct of forcing far too much gain through a low-end speaker system as by artistic intention. I would hope, at least, that the truth is somewhere in between, but regardless of what went on behind the scenes, Busan producer Gorgeous Gorgeous has delivered a beautiful heap of still-sputtering industrial wreckage with this new tape on Brachliegen. Bitcrushed almost to oblivion and mastered so loudly that it’ll shake the very plastic of your headphones, opener “Ankle Lock” wastes no time bulldozing a trampled, charred path for the rest of the rusted machines to stumble down, crafting a kind of shellshock hypnosis with the oscillations between piercing screeches of feedback and hydraulic-press bass hits. “Throwing Knife” is even more trance-inducing, whether due to the intoxicating 3/4 plod or the dangerously high volume; “Fetterer” almost approaches psychedelia with its wounded loops; and “Grotto” is essentially a power electronics track that trades vocal elements for—get this—more noise. Whether this thing scares you shitless or reinvigorates your existence, or both, it will invariably get your blood pumping.

Mix: Out There

I hesitate to label this elusive subgenre with the “outsider” descriptor, because I’d bet that most, if not all, of these artists are extremely well-versed in the very conventions they subvert. Some I’d call “deconstructed,” others “detached,” a few “disconcerting.” But all of them transpose the key components of hip-hop music into an approach much more abstract and textural, without ever leaving the beat behind completely.

00:00. Model Home – “Night Breaks” from Both Feet En Th Infinite (Don Giovanni, 2021)

05:30. Zeroh – “Saddlelight” from awfulalterations (self-released, 2011)

08:06. al.divino – “Abu Simbel” from Monumentality (self-released, 2018)

10:31. MC Trachiotomy – “ANOTHER Cigarette” from Robot Alien or Ghost (Skin Graft, 1998)

12:36. 9$ – “Honest Expression” from Court Side Demo (County Tapes, 2020)

15:42. Davis – “Salu Henbane” from Davis (Leaving, 2016)

18:36. Sensational & Kouhei Matsunaga – “417” from Sensational Meets Koyxeи (Skam, 2010)

21:43. Jurmainson – “Eye Twitch” from Boom! (self-released, 2021)

23:31. Coin Locker Kid – “Where the Angels Lie in Wait” from Traumnouvelle (self-released, 2012)

27:44. The Koreatown Oddity – “The Gov Got $$$” from No Health Insurance (self-released, 2013)

30:21. Earl Sweatshirt – Solace [excerpt] (self-released, 2015)

33:36. Pacific Yew – “(((( magazine ))))” from Lamest Days (Hot Record, 2017)