NOISE NOMADS "Menacing Bells" c30
LAURA WARHOLIC "What Comes Before The Word?" c26 (Faux Pas Recordings)

Like the snarling wolfdog on the cover, Noise Nomads means business. The music of Western MA mainstay Jeff Hartford is kind of like a line in the sand, with the man standing on the opposite side not giving a fuck whether or not you cross it. As a live performer, Hartford explores the extreme reaches of volume, often with the most minimal equipment (contact mic, metal zone, digital delay), though my favorite shows are the ones where he dresses up like a pinecone, covers a bunch of junk with saran wrap or scares small children while dressed as a horrifying birdman. Due to the nearly unlistenable volume and wacky performative nature of his live gigs, it can be easy to forget that Noise Nomads makes, first and foremost, really great music. In the comfort of your home, where you can choose to listen to his tapes or records without earplugs, Hartford comes across as an expert creator of visceral yet dynamic soundscapes. Half an hour of piercing feedback shrieks and mangled clanging that'll surely help the relatives evacuate your home during the holidays.
Laura Warholic is the first (?) solo release from Mark, keyboardist for the "it girl" group Angels in America. Damned if I don't like this tape even more than the duo's work! This is some sort of poetry tape with very minimal musical backing, plus a few songs thrown in for good measure. Mark reads work that is similar in tone to Burroughs, but manages to find its own distinct voice. The songs sections are sad and murky little swamp pop children that end each side nicely. On the whole, really hep stuff that totally eschews the histrionics of the Angels material.

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