This week Mark offers up a very special HHH with a look at 3 rather different releases from Load Records.
Metalux & John Wiese - Exoteric
Exoteric is yet another strange little demo from the wonderful yet obscure LOAD Records of Rhode Island. On it, the harsh electronica outfit have drafted noise manipulator John Wiese for some collaboration, and the result is almost thirty minutes of choppy, eerie, and spastic noise music. It's odd stuff, and to keep things simple I'll break it down into good and bad portions.
First, the bad (as they say, save the best for last). Like most noise, this is hard to like. The vocals are almost entirely indecipherable, and the actual tracks themselves tend towards the garbled, fuzzy, and choppy emissions that most people (at times not limited to myself) find hard to get into and enjoy properly. Secondly, the fact remains that no matter how good or great this CD is, it isn't going to blow any popular subculture (even one as underground and shadowy as noise) apart, as it really doesn't invent the wheel.
Despite these minor detriments, once you get into things it really isn't all that bad. First and foremost, the atmosphere on this CD is pretty strong. All seven songs on offer (all of which feature no title at all) generate their own unique spheres of influence, yet the general theme of barely-controlled, numbing chaos is ever present in every single second of this disc. These songs will by no mean get stuck in your head, but even while being untitled, they have clearly defined starts, stops, and middles, something I feel is sorely lacking in most noise. This fact means that a few of the parts emerge as more interesting or entertaining parts than others, and none of them sounds bland or repetitive to the point where it won't stick out to you later should you venture to listen to it again. The fact this CD is also very short means it doesn't overstay its welcome at all. In fact, in a rare first for me, I actually find myself surprised at how quickly it is over, a major breakthrough for me in my coverage f noise music. That aforementioned atmosphere of chilly indifference allows one to sink into things without getting mental
frostbite so to speak; listening to this disc is a bit like dipping your head in ice water, holding your breath, coming out shortly after, and drying your hair by a nice warm fire. I also suppose that noise fans are familiar with both Metalux & Wiese, and as such, the merit of a pairing of two artists like this probably means I should mention it for all the noise-mongers out there.
At the end of the day, this isn't amazing but I don't despise it either. Just by reading this, it should be apparent it wasn't my favorite album in the whole world but that the things I got from it were (by and large) more positive than negative. If I had to sum it up in one phrase, try this; "Exoteric is a short, frosty, and relatively unremarkable split album of sorts. Buy it if you're really curious, rich, or a noise completist only." The End.
Ovo - Misatenia
LOAD Records always has a sneaky surprise or two up their sleeves for writers like myself. Milan, Italy's Ovo are one such hidden gem, a complete brain-buster the likes of which is difficult to describe. For starters, this deranged duo dare compare themselves to the mighty bands known as Boris and the The Melvins, and in my book that is a pretty tall order. At the end of the day, Ovo surprisingly hold their own, especially in comparison to Boris, with whom they seemingly have more in common. After that, you've got Ovo's actual sound; I'd dub it "noisy, acidic sludge-doom" and then throw out a couple tid-bits of info that range from the band's penchant for multiple instruments (harmonicas, cellos, and violins all rear their aural attacks here) and so on. The biggest point of reference for Ovo noobs is the voice of Stephania Pedretti, who sounds like no creature in cosmic existence, human or not. Giving literary description to the Italian femme fatale's voice is frustrating and daunting, but here goes. In one sentence, Stephania Pedretti sounds like a raspy, yowling coyote with its throat slit by a drug-dealer it quarreled with in the middle of the world's largest coke binge. Yep, pretty psychotic right folks?
"Anime Morte" kicks things off with a shockingly worthy headbanger full of demented grooves and Meshuggah-esque guitar tones. For a two-person freakshow, even by this song it's easy to see Ovo are amazingly dense, heavy, and crushing sonically. "Fobs Unite" is a brief feed-back drenched rocker played at grind speeds, a brutal hiccup to separate things a bit. "CoCo" is a quiet, sinister, quasi-jazz ballad with lots of sizzle and spice, and just so you know this one may catch you off guard. "Mammut" has such a slow, grinding pulse to it it's almost insane how noisy and grating the riffs are....thick as molasses and about six times more bitter. By no means is this a bad thing though, so cheers to this song at least. "VooDoo" is more laid-back and features muffled, tribal percussion and even the odds and ends of a hellish string instrument or three. Oddly relaxed, this song really sticks out for the exceedingly bipolar nature of the band. My Italian is a little rusty, but I'm pretty sure "Due Paia di Cuori" means "that which grooves your face off like a cheese grater." All kidding aside, this is cough medicine sludge of the highest order, and utterly freaked out to boot. "Rio Barbaira" adds folk harmonic to the equation, for a track that manages an almost absurd sense of raw, intense whimsy. Finishing the mind-melt is the twenty minute title track "Misatenia," which inhabits a psychedelic, drab netherworld between Boris and Throbbing Gristle (ok, so that's a big stretch, but this stuff is blowing my neurons out here!). All you really need to know is that nothing is really like it in the entire world, and it will make your skull, eyeballs, and soul throb all at once.
The best thing about this CD besides its easy to digest length is the amount of eclectic, left-field curve-balls it throws at listeners like ourselves. Chock full of scares, dares, and spooky fun, Misatenia is one of this cult-popular bands that anyone with half a mind for the hip should check out. Rambling aside, this is one of the stranger things I've heard thus far in good old 2006, and beyond that it is actually fun to listen to as well. It is all avant-garde, but never to the point of outright alienation. If you are looking for something truly unique, spin this puppy and see how your head feels.
Paper Rad in "Trash Talking"
A LOAD Records DVD Release
To be frank, my last foray into the seedy world of LOAD Records and their DVD output was not a pleasant one. The Barkley DVD I was subjected to was pretty god awful, and so when another oddly drawn case arrived in my mail, I had pretty low expectations. Thankfully for me, the DVD in question this time around (titled "Trash Talking") was created, produced, and birthed by a group known as Paper Rad, a multi-art subculture which doodles, draws, paints, and animates virtually anything you can think of and several things you can't. With a long history behind them, and perhaps a little more animation education, I nervously popped the disk into my DVD player and hoped for something passable. And passable "Trash Talking" really is, perhaps better than that. First off, the animation itself is neon-bright, smooth, and very well done. Nothing looks messy, recycled, or contrived. The opening segments feature a tongue-in-cheek monologue courtesy of a weird abstract turd sort of this, who proceeds to mock CD-Roms, DVDs, and technological components in general. This tech geek riffing will fly over most people's heads, and therein lies the joke. The gag is pretty funny, especially when the speaker loses his temper and begins peppering his techno babble with random curse words...always a plus. Following this, a "music video" is given for a recent Wizardzz song. As always, the band itself is nothing short of spectacular, and the abstract, tripped out backgrounds perfectly complement the whimsical music in question. It is quite the visual flood for us viewers, and despite making no sense in terms of plot development or even concepts behind the song itself, things remain fairly interesting.
Waves of nostalgia soon ensue as the old Garfield cartoon is used to kick off a cat spoof and a feline beat box or two made entirely of meows. Weird as f*** and just as ugly, somehow the whole thing had me cracking up by the end. Garish spectacle after spectacle ensues, as we are doused again and again in the neon vomit spewed forth. Be it pop culture exploitation, hypergrind subliminal messages, or dogs pooping, there's plenty of odd events to entertain you. The so called main attraction is a cartoon starring a classic Paper Rad character known as "Alfe." Alfe is a bogus, zonked-out alien/monster/beast who basically crashes with a robot and a sarcastic bum in an apartment right as nuclear war goes down. A classical piano/hyperpop fusion courtesy of the band Vanity Fair gives a subtle, slick soundtrack, and the dialogue itself isn't half bad. Alfe is hit or miss, some of the jokes being random or off-topic enough to elicit chuckles but some are also pretty bland. Riffs go out on Nukes, the War on Terrorism, Seinfeld, cabin fever, food, and arguments about trivial topics. The voice acting is always confident, strong, and mature, and there are few if any miscues or vocal stumbles.
All these factors come together to make a video that will shock, surprise, confuse, and amuse you. It isn't the best cartoon ever, but it is at least decent enough to warrant a viewing. Check it out, or better yet, buy the Wizardzz CD. Because Wizardzz rule. The end.