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[Ed. Note: In Please Enjoy Responsibly, columnist Raymond Cummings doggedly tracks down the best noise music of the past month, and sometimes the month prior to that.]
When caught in a cold snap that refuses to let up, the tough don’t don a Snuggie, curl up in a warm corner, and cry frozen tears. They turn their attention to hot, humid noise that gooses the pulse and rouses the imagination. So: Are you content to let winter get the better of you? Or are you tougher than winter? Here’s where we find out.
WHEN YOU SLASHED THOSE TIRES, THE UNKNOWN UNIVERSE CAME WHOOSHING FREE: Flashing Astraptes
Perspective is an interesting thing. If the core melodies of Espionage Rut were somehow boiled down into sheet music and handed to a concert pianist onstage in a conservatory, the outcome would be, contextually speaking, an avant-garde classical suite. As performed by Liverpool’s Flashing Astraptes, this is unsettling music capable of binding one’s emotions in all sorts of knots. Strings, synthesizers, guitars, and other traditional instruments are swamped in keening scree, tripled voices, and unsettling waves of samples when they aren’t being hiccuped, threshed via tape manipulation, or left out to bake in the sun. To dip a toe in is to experience a sense of infinity, as if one could tumble and fall forever through rustles, creaks, melting haunted-house chords, chimes, or the incantations of angels and demons. What distinguishes Espionage Rut from less memorable releases by other artists is the care this band took in knitting concise, spellbinding hooks prior to submerging them in aural dreck. Scrape the muck off of “Blue Illusions,” say, and you’ve got an A+ desert trance jam worthy of a lost Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice LP.
ALL SUBCONSCIOUS IN THE MIDST OF AN UNRAVELING: Macchinamorbida
And now, from Verona, Italy, two snarled blasts of go-go noise: Macchinamorbida’s Mind the Gap Between the Platform and the Train (A Place Called Annexia) (Ton Doigt Dans Mon Cul). The name of the game here is skewered rhythm and haunted knockabout thumps that seem perpetually about to vanish into an encroaching ether. This is the wrong release to throw on for a flashlight-free midnight hike through an unfamiliar taiga. “Barbie Turics and Dark Cabbages” plays like a test LP for beat freaks or meth-head house, with drum-kit workouts crystal clear and no-fi alike strafed by micro-percussion pre-programmed and, sometimes, curdled beyond inanity. The echo-y “Lovely Capelloni” deals in incidental close-mic mumbles and leans much heavier on the degenerative power of looping. These loops cinch tightly enough that eventually — by the time slide whistles, shakers, and ping-pong ball syncopations are introduced — the drums offer less soundstage bomb pound, or more odd, tremulous murmur. It’s a fascinating evolution.
A NIGHTMARE STRUNG WITH VINES OF DISSONANCE: How I Quit Crack
Word is that How I Quit Crack may tour the U.S. this summer. For anyone who’s spent time lost in the project’s mesmerizing YouTube clips — an admixture of kabuki theater, performance art, neon eye-fuck, and sometimes-hummable dissonance — this is major, major news. In the meantime, the group’s SoundCloud continues to hemorrhage bleary 3 a.m. jams. “Understnad” (no, that’s not a typo) makes for a worthy addition to this Austin, Texas–based outfit’s canon that’s heavier than usual on inside-out guitars. As a stout, distorted buzzzz slashes through these six minutes, Tina Forbis and Chris Cones conspire to capsize the operatic slow-grind industrial mood established at the outset: with torturous feedback eruptions, with electronic effects that explode vocal streams into buckshot splatters, with gallons of harsh reverb flooding through. By the time this married duo’s done, agony and ecstasy are indistinguishable. You might need to set aside six minutes afterwards to get your bearings back. Bonus: Given how rare it is that HIQC product is even in print, I should note that the band just released a cassette entitled Transitional Herbs, via Pecan Crazy. Grip it here.
Also: For those among you who like to plan ahead, Ende Tymes V runs from Wednesday, May 13, through Sunday, May 17. Check out the lineup here.