Somnaphon – Sarasota

Sarasota, the latest release from Somnaphon, comes with the disclaimer that elements of the album are “disturbances” recorded in an active haunted house. Whether this claim is true, or simply great marketing, remains unknown, but the end result is a collection of tracks that certainly live up to that hype. Broken clips of melody, clanging metal and found sounds all contribute to a disturbing and haunting atmosphere that is rife with tension and creepiness.

While the tracks tend to run a little shorter than I would have liked, the overall effort is certainly worth noting. Even without the benefit of long progressive elements, the atmosphere attained is perfect for staring blankly out the window, watching those last stubborn leaves lose out to nature and tumble slowly to the ground.


Khate – Therapy

At the risk of engaging in a little nepotism (all the more apparent by the fact that one of these tracks contains a sample of, and is named for, my children), I feel compelled to review the latest from my dear friend, and sexiest noise lady I know, Khate.

Therapy is a bold endeavor from an artist known for a level of creative perfectionism that borders on the manic and obsessive. Encapsulating the array of styles for which she is renowned, Khate has severed the bonds of possession and let slip a daunting invitation into the domains over which she reigns. Less a cohesive snapshot of a particular mood, and more a cross-section of the work that leads us to this release, Therapy delivers the gamut of experimental music: from arrhythmic and atonal soft noise to synthesized, glitchy minimal IDM. All of this accomplished with her trademark ensemble of circuit-bent instruments and accoutrements.

The audacity of Khate’s abandon can be felt throughout the album and, at an unprecedented 17 tracks, any fan of the genre can find something to enjoy in this release.


910 Noise Presents: Douceur Violente

It’s been four years since I last lived within the boundaries of an area code which boasted its own noise collective, and while the gulf of time has brought many changes, one thing remains constant: the quality of noise coming from North Carolina. Seemingly unlikely, most of us considering it a state of NASCAR fans with hick accents, North Carolina has emerged as a haven for the experimentally minded sound-crafter. 910 Noise is a collective based out of southern North Carolina, an area probably more well-known for its history and humidity than for its embrace of the less traditional aural styles presented on this release.

Douceur Violente opens on the right foot, with a brutally crushed set of digitally-artifacted noise from Cumean Cybil, entitled “That Hurt My Feeling.” Shifting abruptly, the second track expands more on the wealth of diversity in this community with the almost-melodic ambient piece “A State of Mind” by Jason Ward. Donovan Quixote highlights the opening of the album with a haunting and eerie cacophony of squawks, thumping and swelling in “Trouble At The Old Mill.”

Food World’s “In The Basement” brings the album around full circle to the brutality of a vocal-inflected wall of processed noise, conjuring memories of some of the better basements I’ve graced. Next the compilation offers us the luxury of a breather, with the short and simple “Impulse Beacon” a track that is either without author, or performed by someone named Authorless (which, in this writer’s opinion, is a fucking awesome name), before moving into the atmospherically glitchy “Eye Calypso” from Somnaphon – an artist who has been featured on a handful of compilation projects.

In another show of the diversity of this compilation, and the collective it represents, Khnum delivers the dark “Zizzard”, a track that echoes vague IDM qualities, hidden beneath swirling layers of synth chaos. “Don’t Be Afraid of Us” becomes something of a sinister directive within the context of the piercing and organic noise of this The Billie Ocean track. Carl Kruger follows with the distinction of having a track whose title takes longer to type than the track’s run time. “John Stanton, Cammeron Batanides, the Super Kiiids” may be one of the shortest tracks on the album, but it holds its own with a creepy gurgling like the dying gasps of a drowning man.

Caucasians add another level of complexity to the depth of this release with their noise rock performance “Scorching Treats”. Then the album takes a turn for the traditional, with the electronica of Subterrene’s “Villian”. As a cranky and haughty purist, I felt this track was a bit more out of place than some of the other excursions into melody or rhythm present on the release. Technoetry spits a blistering diatribe over meandering guitar jams in “April 4 2010 (live)”, providing a strangely psychedelic tangent before moving into the distinctly hypnotic synth and vocal treatment of “Smile It’s Only War” by Steph. Dig It (editor’s note: Best Song Title Ever™)

The album closes with another artist familiar to the faithful compilation crowd: Mr. Stoneciper. “The Kissing Machine” starts off with a beautiful and subtle drone, that slowly swells as the backdrop for sampled chanting. The pressure of the drone builds until it becomes the focal point of the piece, and then fades back down, becoming a sublime denouement for the album.

Douceur Violente shapes up to be a fantastic compilation, serving well not only the community it showcases, but also the diversity of a region often overlooked by the cosmopolitan crowd. All of this packaged neatly under some of the best cover art I’ve seen in a long time. And while the picture above doesn’t do it nearly the justice it deserves, you can see the full piece here.


V/A – Calida Construccio

Floating effortlessly through a labyrinth, all claustrophobic walls and ground-clinging fog, harangued by evanescing whispers disembodied from their ancient source; accosted by the hissing and the clanking and the crashing: this is how the listener experiences Càlida Construcció. Compiled by artists from around the globe (specifically, France, China, Argentina and Catalonia), the release is a study in electroacoustic and acousmatic production. Slow to start, with a plodding march of minimalism from Jeanne Clerc-Renaud, the study picks up some energy with the resolution of the second track, by Xu Hualing. “La chambre en spirale”, by Santiago T. Diez Fischer, bursts into the fray, at times with relative bombast, to maintain that level of energy, if only momentarily, before giving way to the album’s closing by Joan Bagés i Rubi–whose final moments may be the finest of the release.

As a study in electroacoustic and acousmatic, it is near textbook; employing classic sounds such as clanging metal, field recordings and tape manipulation. The production, across the board, is exquisite, highlighting the dynamic range of the source material without homogenizing the disparate efforts of the artists involved. Despite this, on a personal level I felt that it lacked that je ne sais quoi to really bring it all together to form that sort of remarkable listening experience that bears repetition.

Great, but not quite really great.

Turmoil – The Living End

The Living End documents the early musings of Turmoil, the flagship act of Amduscias Records. A homogenized collection of tracks, The Living End is an exposition of found sound collage and minimal tone, employing tasteful layers of field recorded material that invoke a sense of chaos without falling into cacophony. This culminates in “Sloe Decay”, a hauntingly soporific dirge of minimal drone.