April’s Best Noise Music: Vinnie Paternostro & Michel Kristof, Power Monster, and More


Bees dive-bombing you for no apparent reason? Allergies going ham? Facebook friends suddenly, post–Baltimore unrest, outing themselves as near-racists? It’s spring, suckers. Put the cat out and crank up the noise.

BURIAL PYRE: Vinnie Paternostro & Michel Kristof

If you tallied the variegated discographies of Hopatcong, New Jersey’s Vinnie Paternostro and Paris, France’s Michel Kristof have been part of over the years, you’d wind up with a list as long as my arm. In tandem on Xibalba (Mute Ant Sounds), their second album as a duo, they achieve a spectacular alchemy. Huffing, puffing, and booming, the overall result is a sort of simmering noise-funk slathered with doom jazz: a humid underworld of saxophone squall, electric esraj boil, bubbling Moog, and pounding drums. It’s not so much a musical experience as it is an ecosystem in full, smothering flower. Every millimeter of available breathing space is occupied by crepuscular drones, blatted motifs, and trippy little flourishes of who-knows-what, and there’s often the sense that these dudes cut a boxed set’s worth of gnomic jams, then layer-caked them into a dense tiramisu. This might wind up being the year’s hookiest extravaganza, provided that Starving Weirdos, Scarcity of Tanks, and Natural Snow Buildings constitute your notion of “pop.” Each of Xibalba‘s five tracks clock in at over eight minutes in length. They transport you somewhere different and threaten to leave you there, battling wily wraiths and smacked-out parademons for psychic survival. On that, you have my personal guarantee.

Pro tip: if you can’t get enough, these two are making other moves right now. Paternostro features on new/recent UMBI, DI KANG, and Love 666 albums, while Kristof himself is endlessly prolix.

TOTAL FACIAL: quttinirpaaq

Austin’s quttinirpaaq sound like a pint of lye to the face probably feels: vicious, unrelenting, indecipherable. The vibe on Dead September (Rural Isolation Project) is extremist punk, a five-ton monster train bearing down on you as you scramble to clear the tracks. Someone is shouting, someone is moaning, somebody else is keeping a beat, and there are a shit-ton of angry guitars up front or offering a lacerating texture. These songs are emanating from your consciousness after a three-day bender, so all the levels are off, and the studio’s crumbling to the ground around the band. Happily, quttinirpaaq — don’t ask me to pronounce it — are loath to commit to a single genre or feel, so listening through this album is like handing them the remote and letting them flip through various anarchist cable-access stations. Sometimes you get all-out shredded noise warfare; sometimes you get Suicide doused in jalapeño sauce; sometimes you get reanimated Decepticon whirrs, buzzes, and tape-deck trolling. If it’s possible to experience this band live and you can’t be bothered to bear witness, I straight up refuse to take you seriously as a human being.


Loads of awesome people, concepts, and institutions come from Rhode Island. Now we can add Power Monster — a/k/a Providence’s Alexandra Pharmakidis — to its proud lineage that includes A.O. Scott, Cormac McCarthy, Steven, and Lightning Bolt. Hours of wary, ripping blare can be found on her SoundCloud page, but “Slag,” the latest missive, cuts the characteristic violence of this sound — “sonic rape,” she terms it, a pared-down strain of power electronics — with a spastic, volcanic twitchiness that suggests an internal struggle for cosmic supremacy or several species of alien shoving their way out of some poor sucker’s stomach. Three minutes and thirty second of the hardest, least compromising noise I’ve come across lately.