By Adam Lehrer
Life has taken on a disconcerting aura of unreality during this pandemic. No one is really sure whether these lockdowns or wearing these masks are doing a thing to protect us. Dr. Anthony Fauci seems to pass whatever he read in the oligarch propaganda rag the NY Times that morning as his considered, scientific opinion in his press briefings. Our leaders, from Trump to Andrew Cuomo, have publicly admitted that they don’t trust the Covid death toll numbers all that much. Meanwhile, the world’s most powerful billionaires (Bezos, Gates, Buffet, etc..) have added trillions to their wealth despite half the world being out of work. And the conspiracy theories around “The Great Reset” affirm the most nightmarishly paranoiac thoughts about what we’re experiencing: are we being protected, or are we simply the victims of a mass scam that will usher in a new global order for the post-neoliberal era? Even daily life – in all its banality, albeit further alienated and disconnected – feels like a strangely mundane dream. Every achievement and setback I’ve experienced since March has transpired while in my apartment, in front of my computer. It’s surreal.
This feels an appropriate place to usher in the return of Genre is Obsolete in the more thematically appropriate location of Mute Presence. John Doran, the editor of The Quietus who fired me over accusations of my alleged crypto-fascism, didn’t quite understand what this column was trying to do. Or maybe The Quietus just wasn’t a good location for this kind of writing. What I’ve been trying to do with GiO is expound upon the concepts of noise and “genrelessness” that Ray Brassier laid forth in his essay of the same name on noise terrorist icons To Live and Shave in LA and Runzelstirn and Gurgelstøck. The essay defines noise as “any form of sonic experimentation deemed to subvert established genre” and a name “for what refused to be subsumed by genre.” But I am of the opinion that this essential quality of noise, its genrelessness, has a broader metaphorical meaning at this moment in our history. Philosopher Zygmunt Bauman has said that the primary motivating factor behind societal fear is two-fold: 1. that we have no idea what will come next and 2. that even if we did know we also know we’d be powerless to stop it. Bauman uses the image of a plane going down while the passengers are told to keep calm by a non-distinct voice over the intercom only to open the cockpit and find that the plane is being automated. No one is in control. These are the conditions that we inhabit in liquid modernity; we are ruled by faceless, unknowable power structures that have subsumed and liquidated all of our nation states. We know we’re being ruled, but not by what or whom, and it doesn’t even matter because we’re powerless to change a thing. This is why I believe noise is such a potent art form as we enter 2021. We don’t recognize noise by its melodies or hooks. We don’t sing along to its catchy choruses. We know it best by its unknowability. To give yourself over to noise is to open yourself up to the cosmic unknown. The power of noise mimics political economic power in liquid modernity: impenetrable, unknowable, and totalizing. Noise embodies the spectral omnipotence of power itself; you can barely recognize it, or even remember that it’s there, but it is there, recognizable only in its enigmatic formlessness.
The text above was written some months ago, so I’d like to add some brief comments as a kind of prologue. My faith in noise as an art form that can fluidly evade neoliberal commodification has been shaken. There are countless artists now, heavily branded beneath an ocean of empty identity signifiers, that have called themselves noise, and quite a few labels that have tried to make noise a marketable aesthetic. So henceforth, Genre is Obsolete won’t just be a celebration of noise’s liquidity and formlessness, but a repudiation of the forces that seek to turn experimentalism into a brand. They are enemies of us all.
Alfarmania Delirium Tremens (Styggelse Tapes)
As I mentioned above, something about the explosion of Brooklyn-based, Antifa-sympathizing, pseudo-noise acts that have risen to prominence lately has gotten me a bit down. But counteracting that is my, admittedly a bit late, discovery of the work of Swedish noise maker and visual artist Kristian Olsson. Olsson records solo music under other aliases like Ghoulbog and his own name and is a member of bands including Survival Unit and the revived power electronics unit Blood Ov Thee Christ. Alfarmania, his PE duo with Mats Alm, appears to be at least one of his primary vehicles. Though ostensibly PE, the music is slow, hypnotic, and pulsating with a transcendental connection to a terrible abyss that lies beyond the limits of nature. There’s a delightfully reactionary quality to Olsson’s music. Aside from a couple of small edition printed zines, it’s damn near impossible to find any interviews with him. He appears committed to the subterranean and to the occult. His genius remains hidden and sealed away from the prying eyes of a ravenous public who can’t help themselves but steal what doesn’t belong to them. Delirium Tremens, a live recording from 2011, has four tracks that all build atop a thick layer of ambient ooze that opens a portal between dimensions. Murmured vocal sounds appear beneath the murk, like the echoes of lost souls from a world that we can’t comprehend. Seldom in noise is there such a perplexing balance of the sublime and of the abject, but Olsson’s art always manifests these contradictions. And one must also note, the graphics that Olsson creates to adorn his music are unusually beautiful and formally striking. His work is proof that beneath the hollow spectacle, there still exists a world of lascivious art left untapped. To find it is, is to end one’s hero’s journey. Behold, the holy grail.
Hollow Men Burial of the Unheard (Styggelse)
Another release from Olsson’s Styggelse, Hollow Men was the 1980s moniker Petter Marklund, who would go onto release two post-industrial records as Memorandum for Cold Meat Industry. Memorandum became known for its combination of mixed-metal percussion, ambient sound, religious chants, and demonic vocals. Hollow Men feels something like Memorandum’s blueprint with its temporal collapsing, wobbly dark ambience, sputters of synthetic bile spewing across the dense landscape, and interjections of incomprehensible vocal sounds. There are even samples of Strauss’ Thus sprach Zarathursta, evoking Nietzsche and A Space Odyssey, but contrasting the splendor and majesty that the composition evokes with the bleak reality of the pitch black of open time and space. “Horror (Batogen)” reminds me of some of Pavel Tchelitchew’s illustrations. The ones that force us to consider how utterly alone we are in the infinitudes of the cosmos. The ones that remind us we’re all dust.
Kenoun The Root of Severity (Prose Nagge)
Kenoun, while shrouded in obscurity, is made by a musician connected to black metal, and many of its charms derive of this specific character. It sounds a bit like a guitar player of the extreme trying to find a way to wed his style with field recordings maxxed out on tape loops, gnarled synths, and chanted vocals. Everything about its music feels destabilized. It never congeals, like fluid streaming downwards, leaving ectoplasmic remnants in its path. That said, the beautiful guitar strumming keeps it grounded, and seems to vacillate between the menace of black metal arpeggio interludes and something more resembling the transcendent psychedelia of the Sun City Girl, Sir Richard Bishop. Lovely stuff. Its arresting cover image is made by artist (and personal friend) Darja Bajagic, and looks a bit like something Ad Reindhardt might paint on commission by an Acephalic or Satanic secret society.
Moist ‘96 s/t (L.I.E.S.)
I’m always trying to find ways to fit dance music into the GiS canon. It isn’t easy. Techno, even the more extreme end of it, still had pretty detectable genre signifiers. I’ve previously tried to justify it by saying that GiS is a goal, not a predetermination, and tried to find techno producers that seem to attempt a bit of genrelessness without actually achieving it. But nevertheless, I love dance music. I love techno, and I’ll be damned if I don’t keep trying to sneak some of it in here.
But Moist’ 96 is making it easy on me. On this L.I.E.S. release, Miami-based artist Rene Nunez turns to old, supreme fucked and decayed four track tapes he had made in the 1990s of Miam- based freestyle and bass parties. The music flits back and forth between crackled but still utterly groovy beats and dance production, with interjections of pure deformed noise. The conceit really works here. It’s based on Miami bass and house music, but utterly fails to be those things, merely due to the result of age and malfunctioning equipment. Thus, the release truly does have the aura of memories of one’s wild days. You know how you look back on the druggiest aspects of your youth, and you’re overcome with the contradictory emotions of nostalgia, sadness, haziness, and the sickly feeling of waking up after mixing coke, MDMA, and vile watered down vodka drinks? That’s what Moist ‘96 is. Remembering what you lost, and not even sure if it’s something you’d ever want back.
Salac Illicit Rituals (Avon Terror Corps)
Because of a book project that I’m in the process of researching and writing, I’ve been thinking a lot about seances. What would be the most appropriate atmosphere for calling forth the dead? Candles? Incense? Would it be optimal to ingest psychedelics, like psilocybin or DMT? Or would that be too intense? Perhaps the correct drug to inject would be morphine, a high dose of, to dutifully dull the inevitable anxiety that communing with the spirits would entail? The one thing I am certain of, is that music would be vital to the experience. I’d need music to suspend my disbelief, disinhibit my biases, and lock into the grooves of intuition. I suppose there is plenty of music out there that could aid me in my communications with ghosts. Anything from John Frusciante’s 1994 solo masterpiece Niandra LaDes and Usually just a T-shirt, performed by Frusciante in the midst of a years long heroin and cocaine binge that almost killed him (not only is the album’s fractured melodies, gorgeous guitar playing and anguished effete vocals suitably eerie, what better to conjure phantoms than music performed by an artist on the edge of life and death?), to the 1954 ballad “Pledging my Love” by Johnny Ace which achieves an uncanny effect in its haunting and unnerving organ lines beneath Ace’s romantic declarations.
And yet, I can’t help but think that I’ve found the perfect music for seances in this September release by Gaellic duo Salac, Illicit Rituals. Salac is Max Kelan, also one half of the psychotic electro noise duo Bad Tracking, and Cliona Ni Laoi. Both artists are connected to the Bristol-based music collective Avon Terror Corps, which I believe is responsible for some of the most fascinating experimental music to come out in recent years. But Salac is on another level of idiosyncrasy. Though the senses of witchery and ritualism that course through its music and aesthetic is by design, it’s incredibly rare that artists can lean into this style and so deftly evade the limitations that such a predetermined form can entail.
Illicit Rituals – drawing on dark ambient, death industrial, warped spoken word passages, and traditional paganist sounds – has an auditory impact that is similar to what filmmaker Guy Maddin achieves with the moving image. Though the music has a malformed and decayed ethereal essence, it always employs such ghastly aesthetics with a postmodern sense of self-awareness, like Maddin does . The wink and the nod is subtle; I never felt it distract me from getting lost in the lysergic miasma of their sound. But, cleverly, it’s there.
“The Storm that Does Not Forgive” opens with these unnerving whispered, indecipherable chants that made me think of the audio used in the mesmerizing 2018 video game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice that was used to emphasize its protagonist’s schizophrenic psychology as it merged with and became indistinguishable from an environment influenced by Nordic and Gaellic mystic folklore. Right after, Salac demonstrates its ferocity on “Drowned,” which is bound together by a taut, pulsating techno bass drop that plays back about every five seconds. Around it, a whirlwind of feedback and eerie samples create a sound vortex that threatens to drag you into null. “Pythoness” has a kind of witch house beat that then weaves in and around distorted female vocals, like Goya’s The Witches repainted over a post-apocalyptic cyberspace landscape. This is music for a hyperactive imagination.
Shit and Shine Goat Yelling like a Man (Riot Season)/Malibu Liquor Store (Rocket Recordings)
Since interviewing Tom Smith of To Live and Shave in LA last year, I’ve been attempting to further my understanding of this concept of “genre is obsolete” as it pertains to contemporary avant-garde and experimental music. Brassier’s essay would lead me to believe that “genrelessness” best applies to the liquidity of noise; noise is not music, and thus, isn’t actually a genre. It’s just noise, recognized solely by its inability to be recognized as cogent genre. But I think there’s another way to look at it. Craig Clouser and his long-running, stylistically incoherent project Shit and Shine would be most exemplary of this other tendency. Clouse formed Shit and Shine in 2004, and at its beginning Shit and Shine felt connected to a storied trajectory of Texas bands that perverted rock n’ roll form into something radically unsettling: The Butthole Surfers, Cherubs, Rusted Shut, and otherwise. Shit and Shine started by connecting the dots between the tribal percussion-heavy industrial of Test Dept. to good ol’ boy acid fried Texan noise punk, but Clouse’s creative vision has proven frenetic. Since then, Shit and Shine has moved from abstract techno to kaleidoscopic motorik krautrock and back again. As Grayson Haver Currin and Marc Masters opined [https://pitchfork.com/features/the-out-door/9665-coffee-weed-and-prison-six-recent-experimental-records-worth-hearing/] that while it’s tempting to call Shit and Shine “genre hoppers,” it’s more that “each album is a genre unto itself.” This is the other side of “genrelessness”: Shit and Shine doesn’t liquidate the signifiers of genre so much as it positions itself as an entity that can maintain a stable aesthetic across dizzying multitudes of different genre forms. Led Zeppelin could not have made a disco album and still have been Led Zeppelin. Shit and Shine can make any kind of record and still be Shit and Shine. For this reason alone, I regard Clouse alongside the most important musical geniuses of our era. For me, he is in the league of the likes of Leyland Kirby, Daniel Lopatin, and Kanye West: purveyors of innovation and enemies of cultural stagnation,
And lucky for me, I have two Shit and Shine records to wax lyrical on. I will say, it’s always a bit difficult to write about any one Shit and Shine record, because the project’s genius is found in the totality of its vast discography. Clouse hasn’t made his White Light/White Heat or his Loveless and I don’t think he’d even want to. What’s the point of having a defining piece of work when the point of your project is to skirt definitions? Nevertheless, there are Shit and Shine albums that I’m more interested in than others.
Goat Yelling Like a Man was released in August by Riot Season. It’s appropriate that Clouse put out this music on the label that first took an interest in his band, when it was still a dirgey noise rock behemoth, because this is the heaviest and most “rock” record that Shit and Shine has released in some time. It’s possible that Clouse got back in caveman mode after recording last year’s Matamoros with his noise rock band USA/Mexico (also featuring the Butthole Surfers’ drummer King Coffey) because this record is as sludgy and cacophonic as any in the band’s canon. The guitar riffs are downtuned, distorted and heavy enough to rival Joe Preston’s albums as Thrones, and swirled into libidinally rhythmic catharsis by the repetitive drum lines. Album closer “Thank Goodness,” is a stand out, with Clouse’s incoherently distorted vocals buried beneath layers of chug and hiss. If you were ever curious what Eyehategod might sound like without its connections to NOLA blues and instead played up the avant-spazz aspects of its sound, this could be it.
Malibu Liquor Store finds Shit and Shine at its most playful and surreal. Its opening title track sounds like Dick Dale playing a set at the Roadhouse in the background of a scene in Twin Peaks: The Return. A heady, psychedelic groove and surfed out guitar licks are interrupted by random electronic cuts, signaling more of what’s to come. This is a phantasmagoric subversion of cocktail lounge tropicalia. A disconcertingly uncanny blend of the strange and familiar; just marvel at the way conventional form is perverted by flourishes of electronica bizarre on a track like “Rat Snake,” while “Hilbilly Moonshine” speeds the formula up into something resembling dance music or techno (after all, Clouse has said his only real desire is to create dance music). While I enjoy both of these records, I can’t help but be more attached to Malibu Liquor Store for its conceptual intrigue and its modernist intent. Clouse is an artist of peculiar genius.
Carnivorous Plants Blackberries (Aphelion Editions)
Under the Carnivorous Plants name, Liquid Library proprietor Owen Chambers approaches something resembling rock n’ roll form. On new release for Aphelion Editions, for example, Chambers uses loops, clarinet, vocals and huge, feedback drenched guitar to abstract something that we’d commonly understand as noise rock or even psych rock. One could draw parallels here with more recent Ramleh material, the more transcendent and lysergic projects by Matthew Bower (I will from here forward repeatedly mention Bower’s artistic brilliance as a way of making amends for not speaking up when my former employer cancelled him), and it even reminded me of the Grateful Dead meets Amphetamine Reptile free rock of the basement dwelling Northampton, MA-based collective Burnt Hills. While that band tends to start with tight motorik rhythms that slowly build and lose control after 20 minutes of OCD repetition, Carnivorous Plants starts from a place of chaos and formlessness while Chambers slowly tries to reign in his own cacophony to locate a groove. But the irony, on Blackberries, is that he never really finds it. There’s a real joy in malfunction here, an interesting disconnect between intentionality and capability. On the 15-minute “Ruby,” it sounds like a riff is trying to exit the womb of the feedback maelstrom, birthing something new. But the riff is trapped, a stillborn guitar noise. This is the peculiarity of this kind of free rock noise. Carnivorous Plants is reminiscent of something like the free noise psych rock project Heathen Harvest, and like that band it often threatens to create something truly musical, and yet the noise overwhelms any sense of melody that could possibly be achieved. So, what makes the music genreless is also its greatest handicap and limitation. I believe Chambers’ music would benefit from (I can’t believe I’m about to write this) a bit less abstraction and a bit more structure.
Black Pus Def Vesper
Brian Chippendale is one of those Gen X artists whose online personas became a progressively insufferable barrage of Trump Derangement Syndrome following the election in 2016. Whether waxing lyrically stupid on phantom fascism, supporting Bernie Sanders and Elizbeth Warren as functionally indistinguishable candidates in the 2020 primary, posting pictures of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to his Instagram, and culminating with a series of elaborate kitsch art works emblazoned with the slogan “Go Joe” to commemorate the ascendency of the functionally brain dead war lord about to take the presidency, Chippendale is an artist who clearly never thought much about politics until four years ago. I know, I know. We have to separate the art from the artist, the artist from their politics, but this kind of shit is just intolerable. I don’t care what an artist’s politics are, if someone told me they were a straight up reactionary and I’d be like, “Cool, that’s an interesting position to make art from.” But all of these artists capitulating to social pressure and regurgitating the reductive narratives of woke capital make me want to puke. Chippendale is just trying to look moral and good, protecting his position in his own niche marketplace. Bourgeois morality is grotesque in whatever form it comes in. Do you think Van Jones or Anderson Cooper would make good artists? Hell no, they are the shock troopers of neoliberalism decadence. And sadly, Chippendale has aligned himself politically with the most toxic ruling class in world history.
Nevertheless, Chippendale is still a good guy. A family man, and a gentleman. I’ve loved Lightning Bolt since I was a kid. They were one of the first avant-garde leaning bands that I ever discovered and to this day remain one of the most exciting live bands on the planet. So Chippendale gets a long leash. Chippendale just released a new set of tracks under his Black Pus solo moniker, Def Moniker, again composed of augmented vocals, deranged oscillators, and Chippendale’s ferociously precise caveman drumming. I used to really love this project because I loved the manic joy expressed in Chippendale’s disinhibited racket making. But the project has run out of steam, and there is really no use for any more of this. Whereas Lightning Bolt has evolved into something more resembling an actual rock group, the logical progression of 1980s loud indie rock bands from Butthole Surfers to even early Husker Du, Black Pus is stagnant simply because it’s just an outlet for Chippendale’s schizoid music tendencies. It probably works for him as a palette cleanser; a bit of genreless chaos before going back to the more careful compositions of Lightning Bolt. Chippendale is coasting on the Black Pus formula: technically amazing drumming, electronic squiggles, and howling goofy noises into a contact mic. I didn’t need to hear this project. I know creative stagnation when I see it.
RRS Tonight (Cardboard Club)
Robert Ridley Shackleton, label head of the Bristol-based Cardboard Club, recently told The Wire that his two musical loves were Prince and Suicide. He claims he’s the “cardboard Simulacrum” of the late Elvish Minnesotan god of funk, but really RRS is an ode to artistic inspiration itself. While his music does have some of the erotic joy of Prince and the streetwise synth stylings of Suicide, it’s more about what happens when an artist wants to recreate the art he loves so much but lacks the capacity to do so: he creates something new. This kind of artistic failure as aesthetic is an important mechanism of artistic progression. On this release, Tonight, Shackleton shouts out the “No Audience Underground” theory of UK-based musician and writer Rob Hayler, who used the label to describe a shattering of the walls between artists and contributors as they relate to the polymorphous scene of musicians he was involved with in the UK: Ashtray Navigations, Vampyres, and Culver are all bizarro artists that have fallen under Hayler’s theories.
“No audience underground, ain’t nobody fuck with us,” sings Shackleton on the aptly titled “No Audience Underground,” positioning his own music within Hayler’s theory and by extension broadening its meaning . Unlike his hero Prince, Shackleton lacks the musical ability to connect to a broader audience, but he extrapolates a Prince ethos of music as connection, love, and passion and filters it through dank instrumentation, murky tape hiss, and decayed electronics. Xylon, the founder of this here publication, put me on to an artist from the late seventies. Wicked Witch, otherwise known as Robert Simms, was also from Minnesota. It’d be easy to place him alongside the likes of George Clinton, Madlib, and Sun Ra within the “brother from another planet” archetype; but while those artists were unparalleled sonic innovators, the idiosyncrasy of Simms’ music is rooted in his lack of musical ability. He was very much the Yin to Prince’s yang, making murky funk sleaze while toiling in obscurity. Shackleton is the evolution of failed Prince aspirations, dragging the transcendent soul of Prince down to the level of base matter. Shackleton’s lack of ability places him outside traditional music structures, but his appeals to the gods of funk also places him outside the No Audience Underground that he’s more or less a part of. Shackleton is the consummate outsider artist, and when you are able to pervert so many styles of music and subvert so many labels, you position yourself in a dimension of unbridled creative id.
Disfigured Robot Child Absolute Horror, Insomnia Sessions
Disfigured Robot Child, formerly the leader of the now defunct New Jersey-based noise collective Goruo and operator of the label of the same name, demonstrates noise music’s fascinating function as a peculiar expression of a simple albeit abstract thought. Citing noise-adjacent artists like Incapacitants and MSBR alongside unconventional electronic artists, from the controversial glitch producer Pogo to the dark ambient meets trip hop weirdos of Dissociative Children, as influences, Disfigured Robot Child uses sound to shatter the generic walls that separate genre from noise and order from chaos. Also known as Moch Trash, this is an artist who would appear to be making the case for genrelessness with their music better than I ever could in this column, because they seem to just use sound to unburden themselves of those pesky moments of sudden inspiration. In The Logic of Sensation, Deleuze wrote that what made Francis Bacon’s figures such mesmerizing images was partly that Bacon’s technique facilitated the depiction of a “body escaping from itself”: the screams, the body fluids and otherwise were emphases of bodies attempting to exit their own corporeality. What I’m drawn to in Disfigured Robot Child is this expression of an idea trying to escape itself. These records are the fragments of what seem to be larger ideas, something like a poet’s twitter feed expelled as noise.
With its three longish tracks, Absolute Horror, for example, is simply described by Moch as the result of “listening to a lot of the Cherry Point and watching a lot of horror movies.” The Cherry Point, otherwise known as Los Angeles-based noise musician Phil Blankenship, is also a programmer of hyper obscure B-horror movies at Cinefamily in LA. So, clearly Disfigured Robot Child here is approximating their attempt at vicious, horror-soaked wall noise. What I love about Disfigured Robot’s conceptual looseness is that there’s a very subtle wink and a nod to the audience. It’s horror noise taken to such an extreme end – 45 minutes of constant shrieking and unyielding, horrendous noise – that it becomes humorous. It works like the best B-horror movies do: so disgusting and putrid and wrong that its joy becomes rooted in cathartic laughs more than it does in terror. Insomnia Sessions, with track titles like “sleep deprivation” and “Quetiapine,” is Disfigured Robot Child’s art inspired by the peculiar and uncanny glow that reality acquires under the condition of sleeplessness. But Disfigured Robot Child’s music seems to always allude to the fractured and disjointed memories and thoughts that an insomniac is stricken with during those wakeful nights. Insomnia produces an incredibly heightened state of creative clarity, from which the artist expels his sleep-deprived moments of inspiration through half realized, fully conceptualized works of frenetic, experimental sound.
Rubber () Cement Thykaloid Hubcaps N Chloroblast !! and Kaiser LangerhanS Hysterical Cytosine
As an addendum to this review, I’d like to make it known that I have no clue when these sounds were recorded or if this is a new release, only that these releases were made available on Bandcamp in September. This absence of clarity is a feature not a bug, because few projects in the noise sub-underground – a subculture already shrouded in enigma and reveling in obscurity – are as gleefully, confusingly enigmatic as the artists behind Ruber ( ) Cement (sometimes better known as Rubber O Cement). And this is also exactly what makes the project enduringly fascinating as an abstract work of art.
I’ve written previously that my appreciation for the noise subculture largely stems from its in-built resistance towards what Antonio Negri called “real subsumption,” or the liquidation of all social life into the markets. In this process, literally everything we do becomes a kind of labor that feeds the bourgeois ideological machinery. Noise, due to its intrinsic genrelessness I argue, makes it harder for it to be so easily infused into a recognizable market. But, this isn’t always true. And certainly during the era of the Red Bull Music Academy and the corporate sponsored avant-garde event, it became less true than ever.
But what the markets feed off of in the entertainment industrial complex – infinitely more so than creative expression – is an identity. Thus, the “noise” adjacent artists that have garnered the most popularity are those that have their work associated with their marketized identities. The best noise, or at least the most genreless and market-averse noise, is anonymous to the point where you know next to nothing about its creator. This is the appeal of Rubber O Cement. The most we can know about the group is that it was an off-shoot of sorts to the Bay Area-based avant-garde music and performance troupe Caroliner. Caroliner played a genre dissipating blend of industrial, psychedelia, and bluegrass against an explosively neon and manic depressive performance aesthetic. But Rubber O Cement has no genre. It is sound pulsating upwards and downwards, building and eroding, collapsing and folding in on itself. The project follows a loose theme of a techno future that is hard to define as either utopian or dystopian, and presents itself beneath costumes and props that offer a Bataillean formless approximation of the group’s conceptual impetus. Both these releases are incredibly difficult to write about, veering from harsh noise to barely present microtonal glitches, and that is the beauty of this group. This is noise in its purest intentionality: a cultural product impossible to co-opt, subsume, or neutralize. Gaseous, and genreless.
Control Point Dreamers Disease (Hot Releases)
Control Point, otherwise known as Philadelphia-based musician Lindsay Gambone, doesn’t make noise, necessarily. On the contrary, Control Point most resembles something akin to music that we’d normally tag with a label like “darkwave” or “cold wave” or what have you. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel compelled to write something about her July release, Dreamers Disease, for this column. Gambone uses a drum machine, guitar, synths, and manipulated vocals – the same setup you’d find on something more recognizably synth-pop, like the Belarus-based Sacred Bones signees Molchat Doma – but slows all of her melodies, hooks and beats down until it starts to resemble uncanny, hypnotic, and eerie downer pop. It’s like a synth pop crew that drank four liters of codeine-promethazine cough syrup while under the effects of a large dose of mescaline, listened to early Death in June for hours on end, closed their eyes, and attempted to play their own style of music through this particular head space. As atypical as this release might be for GiO, I found myself mesmerized by the dense bass throbs and distorted synth lines oozing along tracks like “Plastic Magic,” her music appears to aspire to the sublime but can never seem to escape the corporeal prison of human sickness. The record reminded me of Pink Reason’s 2007 masterpiece Cleaning the Mirror. That record sounded like the Joy Division and Bauhaus worship of a meth and Dilaudid addicted American white trash trailer kid (which, more or less, was exactly what it was). Similarly, Dreamers Disease reminds one of early coldwave acts like KaS Product made viscous slime, and harkens back to Pieter Scholwerth’s Weird Records label that deftly explored the darkwave to noise pipeline.