Friday, September 26, 2008

JASON CRUMER "Ruth" (Nazot)

(Let's just pretend we all took August off on purpose, okay?)

Jason Crumer has been getting some hype these days, based on the noise community's positive reaction to his latest full-length CD, "Ottoman Black," on Hospital Productions. His previous album, "Future With No Chance" on RRR was on my year end list in 2007. Any attention this guys gets is a good sign for the scene. It means that no matter what trends are dominating in the underground community, no matter which way the harsh noise wind is a-blowin', enough people still care about quality over hipness. Crumer's ultra precise cut-up style does not really fit into the current cultural moment, dominated by hippy drone converts, and a few lingering wall noise devotees. While most of the harsh noise artists right now are looking backward at the mid 1990's American scene, Crumer has taken up the direction abandoned by people like Viodre and Pedestrian Deposit, and kept moving forward. "Ruth" is Crumer's forgotten 2004-2005 masterpiece of junk metal/pedal noise. Intended for a CD release more than three years ago, these recordings got put on the back burner by the label. After a while, it got passed on to a second label where it also sat, unreleased, for some time. Crumer, in apparent desperation, finally released the album himself on cassette a few months ago. Unfortunately, the cassette medium does not do this incredible recording justice. "Ruth" was professionally mastered and in its digital incarnation sounds impeccable. This cassette dub, however, sounds blurry and distant. I've heard rumors of a CD reissue in the works, but this album might just be one of those projects, inexplicably doomed by misfortune. (I probably shouldn't lament the sound quality of this release on site devoted to the cassette medium, but this really is a terrible injustice.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

DJ THUMPER! / VANKMEN (Hate State)

So these are two people I've played and toured with a lot in Realicide, but you know there aren't that many tapes I like listening to so I'm gonna write about this one. It's a split c39 tape recorded live from Ravesploitation Fest, November 2007 at The Smell in LA, by Jonathan Snipes (so you know it's alright). It was Thumper's first actual live show, and still the best to date (he doesn't play live very often), featuring gabber and breakcore mixes of the Mortal Kombat theme, Andrew WK, Bush (the band actually) pitted against dialogue from the infamous Virina Tech shooter of 2006, Slipknot and a bunch of other nu metal bands I'm not going to bother trying to name. Basically DJ THUMPER! (aka Mavis Concave, btw) is really fun and well-produced gabber and breakcore fueled by pop culture samples, adding the somewhat subtle mechanics of a rather dark commentary on the entertainment world and how we relate to it as a society. VANKMEN, of Oakland, upholds the title of "best speedcore gabber in North America"... yeah I stand by that statement, and haven't run into much to challenge it so far. Vankmen is fucking brutally hardcore and equally fun, satirizing spaced out kandy ravers to a backdrop of ectoplasm-spattered ghost-busting, in his live set combining hardware drum machines and bent noise gear with segments of Ableton software tracks! This was an incredible festival and this tape documents quite accurately two of the acts that contributed, representing US gabber when so few ever do! Man, breakcore is alright, aside from the gimmicky fart-joke trends, but man, GABBER is what will always keep me going when the going gets rough, and you know it frequently does! Lastly, as this is a Hate State release, it's packaging is hand-knitted, plus the sleeve with Thumper's "lyrics" and Vankmen's shout-outs. When was the last time you came across hardcore techno and hand-knitted tape cases in the same object?! Fucking hell, what a weird thing to exist... DJ THUMPER! www.myspace.com/thumpallnight VANKMEN www.vankmen.com HATE STATE (check out other releases too!) www.hatestate.info ~ Robert Inhuman 09/23/08

Saturday, September 20, 2008

RIVAL FACTIONS "Our Voice" (Flish Records)

Leo gave me this when we were in Richmond last month. Among all the comedic burn-out psycho-dayglo paper-rad-clad noise of their Church Of Crystal Light scene, I never expected to get a really solid HARDCORE tape, among a serious bounty of work Flish has released the past year (most is much more alligned with noise / experimental / just plain WEIRD). Rival Factions' tape is on one hand painfully stereotypical: images of bullet belts, riot gear cops, ugg.... gasmasks, AK rifles, and old english fonts combined with stenciled fonts. The music is just as predictable as the imagery, and the lyrics are the expected vague pseudo-revolutionary teen angst grab bag. But fuck it man, I really like this music! I prefer to listen to bands like Drop Dead or fucking Crass (duh), as more popular examples that is, for an affirmation of the attitude I want to live with and stand behind, because they are slightly more articulate and focused in their purpose, but AT LEAST bands like Rival Factions carry the same youthful spirit and fun aggression without malice (I'd hope in many cases at least) that brought me to punk and hardcore initially in my teens... They might not be challenging me as an artist or as a radical, but maybe they are at least challenging me to not forget the naive yet seed-planting attitude that set my life on the course its on. I am not in a band that sounds, or is, much like Rival Factions, but that kind of band was the starting point for me as a person who'd want to be in bands at all. In there defense, at the risk of being blatantly combative, AT LEAST a hxc band like this attempts to speak out against violence and injustice, in their own way with their own simple perspective on these subjects. I prefer it greatly over the growing popularity of bands that base their material on flirting with sexism, homopobia, fascism, etc. You can call me a "PC faggot" all you want, but I know the truth of these joking campaigns: Historically they weaken our immunity to ideas of hatred and fascism, before you know it the ideas have gone from JOKE to REALITY. So be fucking careful with your satire; make sure it reads accurately AS satire; or there's a price we all pay. And lastly, again in defense of more generic hxc bands like Rival Factions, AT LEAST it does not bore me to tears. People cling to the notion that noise music is inherently challenging and "experimental", when in fucking reality it has become just as pigeon-holed and predictable as classic hxc punk and other cookie-cutter sorts of music. And comparing a generic hxc band next to an equally generic noise band, at least hardcore still gets my blood pumping, so on a primal level it has that in its favor and that's kinda why I'm writing this. I'm not gonna live or think exactly how this tape implies I ought to, but I am gonna feel a little uplifted when I hear it. So thanks, Leo!!! And of course in the true sense of anarchy and alternative choices, their myspace link, www.myspace.com/rivalfactions ~ Robert Inhuman 09/20/08

DIANOGA "Uprising" (Phonophobia)

This is a pretty sick grindcore tape I got up in Minneapolis. There seem to be some really awesome bands like this up there right now; we played with another called Sloven that ruled too. This stuff isn't exactly progressive in any particular way, but at least it's keeping grindcore and thrash really fun, high energy, nothing too technical or self-righteous. Our Minneapolis show was in a filthy basement called the Cockpit, and this tape is a great souvenir of that experience. Dirty water dripping outta the ceiling; low ceiling and big support beams in the way so you can't even see who's singing or drumming half the time; lights out and horribly overblown yet coherent ENOUGH. The lyrics are... brief. If you like grindcore like that this is a tape / band to check out. Oh yeah, the sleeve is a xerox of some sick deep-sea-monster artwork, which actually reminded me of another band up in MPLS, the late Ganglion who seemed to have a theme of dark sea horror or something... Anyway, www.myspace.com/dianoga420 ~ Robert Inhuman 09/20/08

HEGEMONICIDE / VICTORY! "Home Is Raped" (self-released)

This tape is utterly unlistenable. But in the spirit of noisecore, in its eternal mission to smash all music into obilivion, I guess this makes sense. We played with Victory! at 2 of our Michigan shows this past summer, in Lansing and in their home Grand Rapids at a great non-profit venue called the DAAC (look it up!). Victory! is a really promising duo of Sam Snedeker and Brandon Hill, who've formerly worked together in various incarnations of noise and free-jazz-inspired improv. But yeah mane now they play completely off the hook noisecore, in all its classic confusion and obscurity. This tape is terribly unlistenable, but I really enjoyed their shows and would definitely listen to something recorded in a slightly different way; any way that allows me to hear what is going on musically even in the absence of "music", haha... Hegemonicide is Brandon solo playing great hardcore with his guitar and a drum machine. I couldn't hear this on the tape either, but you know maybe my tape is just fucked up cos Sam dubbed it for me late the night of the DAAC show and maybe something happened...?! Anyway, we saw Hegemonicide that night as well and it was really great. I'd definitely want to hear some decent recordings of those songs. There were samples playing between songs too; really great stuff that goes beyond the stereotype of "animal rights" into a more mature attitude that it is LIFE overall we need to keep sacred and in respect with all our thoughts and actions... very challenging ideas being offered by a couple of guys just outta high school. Leading me to the ZINE that comes with their tape! I know I've said that the tape is really rugged in sound quality, but this book of images and LYRICS quickly sparks an interest to learn, moreso than what the fuck is up with these bands, who are these people, I'd like to talk to them about these subjects and hear an elaboration on their perspective. I was blown away to see a range of topics such as dietary disciplines, things that seem to reference green anarchism, feminism, spirituality, speciesism, "...Then fuck punk and fuck you. You are no different than the things you claim to hate." I dunno, it was an array of topics and ideas that really made me want to get to know these guys better... and a little wanting to hear a better recording or at least find out if my copy of the tape was messed up! The end of one side is filled with something like reference materials(?!) - found / used (on the tape, however you wanna say it) interviews with Utah Phillips, Cornel West, and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Go to Grand Rapids and meet these kids, or here's their contact... Sam, snedekersam@gmail.com and Brandon, grbah@comcast.net ~ Robert Inhuman 09/20/08