We now find ourselves lost in autumn’s desolation zone, a time when lawns and sidewalks are carpeted with dead leaves. If you’re going to venture out sans some sort of jacket, you’re taking a gamble. The pitch falls somewhere between a grumble and a sort of pre-winter defiance represented by holiday-associated finery. Discouragement comes too easily at moments like these; nightfall arrives with a disarming suddenness, and it requires a genuine effort to emerge from hibernation on frosted-over mornings. This is the point where you want a promise that this month’s picks are reaffirmations of the human capacity for resilience and uplift, but that isn’t so — they’re more accurately read as reflections of that pre-Thanksgiving malaise intimately familiar to anyone who has braved more than a few sour Octobers. Let’s get glum, chums.
FREE-FORM GANG DEBS: Ladyz in Noyz 3.5
On Ladyz in Noyz 3.5 (Corpus Callosum Distro), four fierce female noise artists — Albuquerque’s TAHNZZ, Oakland’s Sharkiface, the U.K.’s phantomChips (from Bristol), and Marlo Eggplant (Leeds) — compete for the cracked crown of “least compromising.” The experience is comparable to mining for minerals, only to discover a series of strange, wonderful worlds hidden below ground. Sharkiface’s “Blood Transfusion” is more like a turbo-charged brain hemorrhage, all psychedelic, concussive clatter with no ceiling to contain it; on “Down the Mountain” she draws a blissful bass bath that’s revealed to be a witch’s cauldron. phantomChips favors a more colorful assault, from tonal fake-out “Cardboard” to the starkly punishing “Buzzoidscircling” to “Bellyork,” where music box miscellany, IDM, and audience terrorism intersect nicely. “Shrush” finds Marlo Eggplant looping and distending shadowy, distant thumps-in-the-night into indisputable nightmares; with “Sous,” meanwhile, she puts vocal echoes to sinister, seismic use, warping them into an irregular rhythm. On her lone cut, “La Placa,” TAHNZZ characteristically lays on thick, brutal dollops of magma so intense that evacuating the cul-de-sac is the only sensible option. The overall effect of this entry in an ongoing series of compilations is to suggest the confluence of various tectonic plates. The resulting pressure undeniably, in aggregate, makes for one of the most enjoyable noise excursions of the year.
Order Ladyz in Noyz 3.5, if you dare.
CARNIVOROUS SHADOWPLAY: ZYXOMIN
If the TrangSao Records Bandcamp page is to be believed, ZYXOMIN hail(s) from Kansas City, Kansas; that’s all that could be gleaned about this project via Google, but that’s probably all or more than anybody needs to know, because the brand of slurred gloom Departure promotes is legible almost anyplace where audiences can shut themselves up in dark rooms and insert headphone jacks into glowing laptops. The sound is a vibrating mist, a suggestive void doubling as a presence; if you traveled to Easter Island, dropped acid, and spent the night gazing at one of those gigantic stone heads, Departure is probably what would be imparted to you. The hum emanating from this soup is both machine-esque and supernatural, swarming and receding in intensity, and somewhere within someone is crafting steel installation sculptures by hand, or trying to. There’s a barely detectable harmonic lilt to the goings-on that’s negated by a very real sense of dread, the implication that ZYXOMIN’s mist isn’t much different than this mist. A lot of folks are bumming because Halloween came and went, but if those powerful outdoor speakers are still up, there’s no reason not to play Departure on a never-ending loop until your neighborhood resembles something out of the “Thriller” video or even the local hipsters start calling the cops.
A GIDDY-UP RUSH: Leslie Keffer
What “Foraged” aims to accomplish is tough to discern, but there is certainly an urgency about it, an insistence that won’t be denied. Pebbles tumble onto bongos, then off; a weathered moan is stretched on the rack, then looped; a flurry of synth pads mocks a hard, dynamic drum burst. Those are the blocks Nashville’s Keffer uses to build a baffling sonic edifice. Several minutes in, the pace accelerates and the needlework turns more intricate and specific, the raw materials she displayed cunningly reintroduced as the snorts, whinnies, and jangling spurs of a cybernetic black stallion, galloping purposefully into a chemical sunset. This is what industrial should sound like.