The Best Noise Music in May: Adeptus Mechanicus, Bryce Elman, Sunatirene


Whether you’re sweating buckets, getting eaten alive by horseflies, or hyperventilating over the pitiful quality of candidates running for national office, there’s only one surefire cure for the pre-summertime blues: Turn up the distortion.

Up In Flames: Adeptus Mechanicus

The Netherlands’ Adeptus Mechanicus strikes like a pair of supercharged defibrillation paddles to the chest: a deep, threshing rumble of hoarse incantations and synthesizer gristle distorted way beyond recognition. Indeed, Volcano is liable to make you wonder whether you were even actually alive before you first experienced it. Maggot-y effects? Wormy, bowel-massaging bass? Storm-trooper ambiance? Yes, yes, and fuck yes. If I had to subgenre this, I’d label it noise-doom metal EDM; it isn’t impossible to imagine an NFL stadium full of Mad Max: Fury Road War Boys losing their minds to rumbles sometimes shot through with what sounds like planet-annihilating weaponry. Cue this one up at the Fourth of July barbecue — or the next time you’re tasked with torturing an enemy combatant.

Full Broil: Bryce Elman

Amazing results can emerge from the humblest of parameters. Take “Freda La Dienst,” a recent piece by Baldwin, North Carolina’s Bryce Elman. A foghorn sample serves as the source material. Looped and augmented with effects, Elman explodes a maritime honk into a roiling dirge that expands and contracts like a hyperactive lung. The tone, transformed into something brawny and raw, drifts lazily through the sonic no-man’s-land between headphones: a confused comet on an insular course, gathering and molting space dust in equal measure, eventually suggesting less an object than an elongated vapor trail. The effect for the listener is that time becomes a sort of non-factor, lost to steam-hiss and growling heat coils and Disintegration Loops–level immersion therapy. These fifteen pregnant minutes feel like fifteen hours, in the most rewarding possible sense.

Spiraled Purée: Sunatirene

Trepanning (Ehse) is hardly Sunatirene’s first rodeo. Baltimore musician Sydney Spann has issued a few other LPs under that name, but this is arguably her most interesting, inviting offering yet. In a sense, it’s an heir apparent to the work of the late, lamented Teeth Mountain. Like a giddy mixtape of extremes and tangents, Trepanning bursts with conflicting flavors. Spider-webbed folk is razor-chopped and thrillingly reassembled; field recordings are compellingly layered; wonder is wrought from oddly tuned stringed instruments. By the time a reversed solo vocal turns off the lights and locks the door, you’re full invested in the variety and off-kilter intimacy of Spann’s world, eager to hear where she’ll go next.