SERRATER / BUTOH SONICS “Split” C80 (Orb Tapes)


Hearing Michael Potter do the next obvious thing in his repertoire – a noise/no wave sludge-coction under his “Serrater” guise – is music to my ears. No wait, actually, it’s more like damaging waves of tone and feedback to my ears, which causes the eardrums within them to vibrate uncontrollably and cause blood to leak and seep out and get everywhere. Two tracks he does on this split, TWO! “America the Grave” and “Shed Dead Flesh” are noise in intent and execution, but this isn’t a dude who’s just creating hellish feedback loops. He’s obviously got guitars and even drums in here, but sure, I guess he is also feeding everything back like crazy. He’s awesome at somehow corralling this craziness, sculpting these vicious frequencies, whether low or high, into sonic weapons. No, not music to my ears – more like missiles to them. I’m probably hearing the aftermath of that inside my head.
The Butoh Sonics collective recorded “Spinning Fiend Who Feeds Off Vertigo” live two years ago at Operation Noise Toaster 17 in Phoenix. It’s an electroacoustic/electronic nightmare, layered with traditional instruments and nontraditional, like guitar, but also propane tanks. Also someone is doing Butoh, the form of Japanese dance theater from which the quartet takes its name. “Spinning Fiend” sounds like antigravity crinkling space-time, causing tension in the proto-building blocks of existence. They do this for forty mesmerizing minutes, every one of them filled with feedback and icky loops, plucks and synth pings, desperate for equilibrium but never quite managing it. It’s dense and off kilter, and riveting when it gets itself under your skin. Which it does quickly.