Review: Nac/Hut Report – Wszystko Jeszcze Jest (Crunchy Human Children, Mar 16)

So, somehow, Wszystko Jeszcze Jest is the first album I have heard from Polish avant-pop group Nac/Hut Report. Considering how much I enjoyed it, it will be far from the last. The duo utilizes an eclectic array of noisemaking devices, ranging from electronics and effects to guitars and their own voices, to sow vibrant gardens of effervescent, colorful sound from which sublime structures slowly sprout. The frequent use of high-speed oscillators and broken guitar chords, and the careful panning of each, creates a feeling of lushness but one with plenty of unpredictability. Though at any given time on Wszystko Jeszcze Jest there are probably a good amount of sounds assaulting your ears at once, they’re always spaced out with fragments of space and silence, introducing the faintest ghosts of rhythmic structure with their pulsing occurrence yet disappearing as quickly and unceremoniously as they materialized. Within this bubbling volatility is where the two artist’s ear for melody is apparent; they not only know how to make the simple but gorgeous loops of vocals and erratic guitar harmonies complement the more abstract elements, but also when to let them flourish and when to let go and allow that fragile semblance of conventionality to melt back into the mangled beauty of its womb.

Review: Hans Castrup – Heterogeneous Cell Information (Karlrecords, Mar 15)

German sound artist Hans Castrup is no stranger to working with unconventional sound sources, having been releasing recordings in various realms of experimental electronic music since 1981, whether as a solo performer or contributing tape and synth sounds to his band Poison Dwarfs. But his past three solo records on Karlrecords, including the recently released Heterogeneous Cell Informationinvolve a much more intense and subversive approach to music-making, coming across as uncanny, immersive symphonies of sounds natural, unnatural, and everything in between. Every other track on Heterogeneous Cell Information features the vocal talents of Carla Worgull, whose haunting, droning overtones cast Castrup’s much less recognizably human compositions into a new light. But the interplay between his dense overlays of simmering synths, murky magnetic tape manipulations, and unidentifiable recorded excerpts and Worgull’s vocalizations is only the most immediate example of the contradictory relationships that make the album such an elusive, alien experience. With these Castrup demonstrates his versatility in varying approaches, by both seamlessly interweaving electronic and organic sound sources and allowing both organic and controlled dynamic behavior in his induced interactions—with the latter I mainly refer to the convincingly natural motion of opening track “Cell Information,” which contrasts sharply with the disarming stop-starts of “Plain Cutting Edges.” Even when Worgull is not present the pieces are just as otherworldly, giving Heterogeneous Cell Information consistency but not homogeneity, a quality quite faithful to the album’s title.

Review: Akasha – Canticles of the Sepulchral Deity (Grey Matter Productions, Mar 15)

If you’re not careful, the sheer intensity of the infernal heat that radiates from Canticles of the Sepulchral Deity will scorch you. Even ‘radiates’ seems like too neutral of a word for the menacing presence this album possesses; singing flames and gouging claws are born with a fury from the relentless, thrashing, sooty blasts, waves of scathing sound snaking from the chaos in a manner much too confrontational to be described by such passive diction. The hellish dimensions created in each song are inexplicably crafted by only one musician, the sole member of Akasha known only as Leech, who is somehow able to propel the music forth with the strength expected of an entire ensemble. The production style isn’t entirely crystal-clear, but lets each and every element cut through, giving the crunching guitars the overwhelming power they need on barn-burners like “Vibratory Waves Collapsed” yet allowing the tightly controlled rhythm section to shine on “Psychic Fog, Draconian Paroxysm.” While firmly rooted in its black metal sensibilities, Canticles of the Sepulchral Deity dips its talons into a range of other styles to fuel its aggression, embarking on full-throttle punk gallops at times and venturing into nightmarish death breakdowns on tracks like “Enthroned in Catacombs.” If you think this one can’t live up its cover, think again.

Review: Rural Tourniquet – Let the Animals Scatter the Remains (Anti-Everything, Mar 15)

Rural Tourniquet, a trio on whom information is sparse other than that it appears to share members with Indiana outsider collective Crazy Doberman, conjure uncanny, apocalyptic soundscapes with their atmosphere-focused approach to improvisation on Let the Animals Scatter the RemainsThe group stitches together grating violin abuse, shifting electronic textures, piercing feedback, gurgling mouth sounds, and a host of other gleefully plundered sonorities, weaving a lush but broken tapestry of waste and desolation. In my review of Timothée Quost and Jaka Berger’s collaboration, I discussed collective improvisation as offering a possibility for a sonic result that’s less of a parsable conversation and more of a single cacophony from multiple sources. That couldn’t ring more true here; despite Rural Tourniquet being comprised of three members, it moves its pieces along with the focus and harmony of a lone entity, whipping skin-crawling textures into frenzied tornadoes, bolstering strings as harrowing as Penderecki’s with menacing hums and unsettlingly organic textures, bringing the whole thing to an unlikely close in an acid cloud of reverb and restless scrapes.

Mix: New Metalcore

Reviewing that Nostromo EP yesterday really reminded me how much I am loving this endlessly bountiful resurgence in metallic hardcore. So many creative new bands are emerging with unique takes on a sound that, for me, really never gets old, and harkens back to bands near and dear to me such as Disembodied and Acme. Sharing occasional commonalities such as genre-mixing, high pitched wah pedal breakdowns, and an overall emphasis on bone-crushing rhythm, this new generation of bands is something for which I’m very happy to be alive to see.

Palm

00:00. Vein – “Broken Glass Complexion” from Errorzone (Closed Casket Activities, 2018)

02:27. Revolve – “Trepidation” from Dragged Into Extinction (Trial by Fire, 2019)

05:22. Problem of Pain – “The Rust in My Veins” from I Will Always Want to Let Go (Blood & Ink, 2018)

09:32. Tourniquet – “Lilith” from I Hate the Way This Makes Me Feel (Contraband Goods, 2018)

11:26. Wristmeetrazor – “XOXO (Love Letter from a Loaded Gun)” from Misery Never Forgets (Prosthetic, 2019)

13:12. Wolf King – “Further” from Loyal to the Soil (Prosthetic, 2018)

16:11. Palm – “Blood Clot of Pain” from To Live Is to Die, to Die Is to Live (Deliver B, 2018)

20:02. Joy – “Bleak Home” from No Light Below (self-released, 2018)

22:19. Nostromo – “Uraeus” from Uraeus (self-released, 2018)

27:17. Castor’s Hollow – “Court of Dragons” from Shape and Void (self-released, 2019)

29:36. Pupil Slicer – “Spectral” from split with Sense Offender (self-released, 2019)

32:24. Ithaca – “Impulse Crush” from The Language of Injury (Holy Roar, 2019)

35:35. Seeyouspacecowboy… – “Absolutely Absolute Absolution” from Fashion Statements of the Socially Aware (Dog Knights, 2017)

Review: Nostromo – Narrenschiff (self-released, Mar 8)

If the new Daughters album last year wasn’t enough to sate your appetite for unlikely comebacks in heavy music, Swiss hardcore outfit Nostromo has you covered. Almost exactly one year ago they released two individual tracks, “Uraeus” and “Corrosion”, their first recorded output since 2004’s Hysteron – Proteron. Unlike that album though, which presented a quite unexpected stylistic departure from the previous two records in the form of progressive, all-acoustic guitar compositions, the thrashing metalcore is back on Narrenschiff, and sounds just as fresh almost fifteen years later. The production is much more full and muscular than the stabbing angularity of Ecce Lex (which, to clarify, is also fantastic), giving crushing weight to every instrument. The dense guitar arrangements don’t lose any of their clarity though, and every note hits with its own force even as they collectively form formidable, nearly impenetrable walls of dissonance and distortion. Penultimate track “Septentrion” might be the most epic the band has ever penned, its patient atmosphere-building and evolving riffs showing a promising inclination toward longer songs—it and “Uraeus” are already the lengthiest they’ve ever released. “Das Narrenschiff” ends things on a satisfyingly fucked-up note, capably wrapping up this superb return to form. Welcome back!

Review: Dirac Sea – Negative to the Power of Infinity (Perpetual Abjection, Mar 8)

When the Bandcamp description for Negative to the Power of Infinity states that it is “a great one to sit back and explore,” it could not be any more of an understatement. Peter Keller’s newest project as Dirac Sea (other aliases include Condo Horro and Bacillus, the latter of which released the crushing and terrifying Serial Infector last year) embarks further into the cosmos with its immersive blend of shifting crackles and spacey ambience. The attention to detail in each of the three extended pieces is nothing short of astonishing; sputtering textures like the restless underpinnings of an unchecked blaze form the basis for drones that float off into emptiness in “Interstellar Waves at 1019eV,” creating a soundscape that is simultaneously physical and elusively celestial. Keller harnesses his sounds with the patience necessary for wall composition, but also with an ear for subtle development, allowing the two facets of this dual sonic environment to breathe in and out in harmony with each other. For this reason it would be criminal to jump ship on any of these tracks before their full duration; in doing so you’d miss the gorgeous tones that occasionally emerge amidst the reticent cacophony of “Interstellar Waves,” or the evolution of the hulking hums and laser blasts that underlie the tense “Negative Charged Muon Courting a Negative Charge Pion,” or the motion of “Probing the Void” that seems to both speed up and stay the same. Negative to the Power of Infinity is a masterpiece of the contemporary wall noise renaissance, developing its ambitious ideas with admirable skill.

Note: the image used here is cropped from the one used on Bandcamp. Each CDr copy is individually spray painted and therefore unique.