Load Records Triple-Shot - Three Birds, One Review Review
by Mark Hensch
LOAD Records might possibly in possession of the world's most challenging record roster. Rounded out by some of the most uncompromising noise/avant-garde/experimental artists in all of music's sordid underbelly, LOAD has always prided itself on remaining outside of common taste and maybe even common sense. As I sit up late digesting the remains of Thanksgiving in my belly, I find myself hankering for something outside of the general conformity of the day; while most people are doing the same thing everywhere on a night like this, I can chat with my folks and listen to what I'll politely refer to as "The World's End" on my labtop. Due to my hectic schedule, I'm focusing less on individual releases as is my norm and more on the overall holiday output of the label as a whole. Read on consumers, here is this year's potential stocking stuffers or musical lumps of coal, all at once, and all for you. Enjoy!
Kicking things off is the new album by Los Angeles based noise-rawkers Gang Wizard. Cryptically titled Byzantine Headache, I'm sorry to say this one is quite the aural migraine. Clocking in at an obtuse 58 minutes or so of random, bearly coherent noise, Byzantine Headache isn't much to listen to. All of it is simple smoke and mirrors; the band plays off-key notes, buzzing chords, and all manner of retarded noise as if they were killing themselves for their craft. Strip it all away and what do you have? The answer dear readers is thus: one has a bunch of sloppy, meandering roadtrips to nowhere, not unlike the so-called "amusement spots" of yesteryear. To be metaphorical, it is not unlike driving to a place called "Gravity Mystery Mountain" and finding out the mystery is nothing but the fact gravity holds you on top of the mountain. Long story short, the band tries their best to fool people into thinking their "music" has some sort of higher meaning amidst the spastic chaos and non-linear arrangements, but all of it is fiction. This stuff has about as much point as the new Rocky movie, though at least that will be perversely entertaining. Avoid at all costs!
The new Prurient (AKA Dominik Fernow) album fares slightly better under my scrutiny, though I will admit to being biased. I reviewed the man's 2005 album, Black Vase, and found it to oddly enthralling. Much like that album, this year's Pleasure Ground carries along in a similar vein. The irony in Mr. Fernow's frequently gentle sounding titles is the fact that this is perhaps the most misanthropic music I have ever heard. Consisting of nothing save mutilated static bursts, shockingly muffled percussion, and some of the most unholy crypt howls, Prurient is quiet simply the auditory counterpart to death by eletric buzzsaw. It is never pleasant, always messy, and very VERY dark. Overall, I'd have to say that that is basically the appeal of something like this and I'd be lying through bloodied teeth if I said this is for everyone. If you want to hear an album that surprises you with some of the scariest sounds you'll ever hear and subtle chunks of chilled melody amidst the distortion than check this out. I could never give something this brutal full marks as it isn't so much music as it is sonic torture, but at least this has purpose and point, i.e. that of injecting your ears with overwhelming disgust and hatred for mankind.
Quite possibly the strongest overall release in the LOAD catalog history, Live At The No Fun Festival 2006 captures what is pretty much the world's only battery-acid drinking festival. Morbid quips aside, this DVD was filmed on location in Brooklyn, New York and features two discs of frightening noise/experimentalism from bigger acts like Wolf Eyes and Dead Machines but never once skimps for anything less than the most grating, abrasive music around. In keeping with the overall tone of the music it featured, the festival is filmed in all manner of grainy, scratchy hues and drifts in and out of observing the actual bands in action. It feels very voyeuristic and definitely the work of a sick cookie indeed. Some of the bands are oodles more interesting than the others, though that perhaps accounts to personal taste on my part. Seeing as I was familiar with Wolfe Eyes prior to this, their set was interesting and it definitely looks like the rabid crowd agrees with me. Equally interesting is how many of these techno-reavers spread their aural filth; Prurient, Nihilist Assault Group, and several others definitely are fun to watch not so much for their performances but more for the ways in which they tweak various objects to sound like Satan scratching a chalk board in the lowest pits of Hell. The DVD is chock full of bonus footage and I-POD extras as well, which is always a plus for fans of the genre. I'd recommend this to the arty little bastard in any family.
CD Info and Links
Load Records Triple-Shot - Three Birds, One Review
Rating:Gang Wars' Byzantine Headache: 2 out of 10.
Prurient's Pleasure Ground: 5 out of 10.
Live at the No Fun Fest 2006 DVD: 6 out of 10.
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