November’s Best Noise Music: Bambi Kino Duo, M.NOMIZED, Ox Hunger


Typically I’ve used this space to connect the picks for a column to the present season in a general way, but this month, it feels more important to veer in a somewhat different direction. What I am about to say is not especially new or original; it’s entirely possible that someone said this to you today, or last night, or two months ago, but it bears repeating in ALL-CAPS, in rainbow colors, with an underline beneath it:

Support your scene.

I’ll say it again:

Support your scene.

This doesn’t have to be limited to “your neighborhood” or “your city”; we’re all interconnected enough now that someone in Ohio can have their mind blown by a drone artist residing in Mumbai and buy that artist’s album on Bandcamp. “Scene” can cast as wide a net as you need it to cast, geographically speaking or genre-wise. But:


If you are earnestly moved, transformed, or inspired by the music your friends recommend, the artists you see in concert, the releases you come across in this column or via other sites or publications, buy that music — for yourself, or for someone else. Evangelize the sounds that blow your mind. If you’re able, attend, host, or play shows. Real people with real drive, real passion, and real lives pay real money for real gear and spend real time to write, record, and release these assemblages of notes, words, and unruly sonic accidents that help make existing in this confusing, complicated world of ours slightly more tolerable, most of the time. They aren’t phantasms or A.I.s (not yet, anyway). Some of them are coming to your town and would bump fists with you, if that were possible. So:

Support your scene.


Justin Walter is an Ann Arbor–based composer and longtime member of NOMO. Chicago’s Brian Case has had a hand in a variety of underappreciated rock bands, among them Disappears and the 90-Day Men. Together, as the Bambi Kino Duo, Walter and Case have actualized See Heat (International Anthem), one of those albums that reminds me — as I am reminded every fucking year — that the music critic part of me absolutely loathes the November/December timeframe, when the compiling and submitting of best-of lists suddenly becomes frighteningly urgent, and key. Why? Because I’ve already turned in most of my lists, it’s too late to change them, and See Heat is a true contender, a wonder of sunburst simplicity. This album sounds the way dawn looks to a farsighted person with broken glasses. Walter (on EVI) and Case (on keyboards and guitar) complement each other so well that their contributions congeal into something inseparably awestruck and feral — a driftwood, less strident Boards of Canada, if you like. “Second Thought” piles on mid-level and high tones that, taken separately, should soothe, but their arrangement — streams crossing, near misses — induces a contented anxiety. Elsewhere, though, the duo draws luxurious baths: the speaker-panning ambiance of “Seek Heat,” the tense, lupine duality of “OKO,” how “Maximum Number” very gradually builds its variegated head of steam until it owns the room where you’re listening in.


There is a scene in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands where Roland, Susanna, and Eddie stumble upon an ancient monster’s lair. (OK, OK, not a monster per se — a Guardian of the Beam. Long story.) Before they confront the monster, the trio encounter a menagerie of small, robotic animals well past their prime; our heroes are able to dispatch them with ease, but first King spends a tragicomic page or three describing their machinations and underscoring the point that once upon a time, these guys were really, really dangerous. Similarly, Textures and Parasites — the latest from France’s M.NOMIZED — revels in the micro-industrial, marrying woozy, airy keyboard to very tactile beat clusters; each of the six songs here charms and clanks along in a seductive, cyclical way that verges on the sinister. See “Parasite N°1,” where intersecting loops of mechanized hiss and clatter are fed a denatured vocal sample, achieving a totemic horror; the brutal, ungreased rigor of “Parasite N°3”; or the panic-attack automation binge “Texture N°3,” where depth charges of cascading keyboard and an illegible vocal sample are deployed to stave off The Fear. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t quite work, though maybe it wasn’t supposed to.) Our recommendation? Cue Textures and Parasites on repeat for silent viewings of Short Circuit 2 this holiday season; let us know if you get any sleep between now and New Year’s Day.


Released in early September, the New Mexico–centric Gatas y Vatas 2015 compilation collects experimental material from established and emerging female artists. And while it’s definitely worth hearing in its entirety, I found myself most drawn to “Blood in the Red,” from Seattle’s Ox Hunger. The cut is a shaking, quaking vision of hell, with crashed cymbals, buried drums, and phased-to-shit vocals detonating under coldly concussive waves of reverberating echo and early-onset-Parkinson’s synthesizers — an encapsulation of isolation and dread so dead-on that no one could be blamed for slipping it into a playlist for the office holiday bash. If the Ox Hunger SoundCloud is any evidence, this project is in its infancy; I’ll be intrigued to see where it leads.

Next Month: Please Enjoy Responsibly rolls out its Best 36 Noise Cuts of 2015. Stay safe and warm; we’ll see you in thirty days!