Saturday, March 1, 2008

GRIZ+ZLOR "Nocturnal Beasts" (Earth.Space Noise Research Laboratories)

The first promo addressed to Cassette Gods with the specific request that it be reviewed by me! How cool is that? I was clearly picked out of the critic roster by Griz+zlor because of my column on the Wall Noise subgenre, which this tape happily belongs to. Unfortunately, even as I wrote that column six months ago, I felt the WN phenomenon slipping out of popularity in the noise world. Culture moves so fast these days that we can feel nostalgic about things that happened last month; nothing sticks around for long before it gets mulched behind Benjamin's angel of history, and snarked at by VH1's "Best Week Ever." WN hasn't quite gone the way of Lil Jon beats and bullet-time FX shots yet, but the outlook isn't good. For this reason, this tape (unfairly) sounds a bit like a relic. "Nocturnal Beasts" is a slow c97 (dude!) whose two sides stay within a mid-heavy frequency range. Even at super loud volumes, the pieces aren't exactly harsh, they're lulling. I would sooner compare them to a bedside noise generator designed to aid sleep than to a nuclear holocaust, or some equally violent metaphor. In this respect, I would say that Griz+lor's WN material has more in common with Richard Ramirez's more subtle projects (Werewolf Jerusalem and recent Man Plug come to mind) whose static drone style is less concerned with brutality than it is with texture and atmosphere. However, Griz+zlor's sound pallet is less sophisticated than Ramirez's, less detailed; close listening reveals a shallow dynamic depth with fewer layers of individual crunch than one would hope to find. Rather than seduce a person to listen further, it encourages him/her into a trance like state; noise to be ignored, or received subconsciously while other mental tasks are performed. In this sense, it is merely a good tape, and unfortunately, considering the current uncoolness of WN, only great tapes will impress. (The excellent B-side of Forbidden Fuck's "Borderline" cassette on Callow God gets a pass simply because it is so detailed and skillfully produced that the listener cannot help but be sucked into its world.) "Nocturnal Beasts" is the type of tape that I will listen to often, but probably while reading a book, not while staring at my speakers, unable to tear myself from the sound.