Monday, May 2, 2011

Disintegrating Minds, Hal Hutchinson, Steve Kenney

HAL HUTCHINSON (Freak Animal Records, no cat.#) Taste Of Iron (2010) C20

Hal Hutchinson is one of my favorites of the younger noise musicians, his work first came to surface around 2009, but since then he has become extremely prolific, releasing many works under his own name, but also creating different personas. Such projects as Controlled Property, Execution Support Act, Extreme Penetrations, Killer Department, Meatgrinder, Pollutive Static, etc. link his preoccupations with many of the concerns of the first generation of industrial artists. It's not possible to encapsulate the sound of his noise music in a sentence, he varies his approach from release to release, but what I can say is Hutchinson creates some of the most powerful sounds I've heard coming out of the new noise generation!

This tape release is titled "Taste Of Iron", consists of two tracks, two parts not unlike one another, and represents a new method for Hutchinson to create his soundscapes, this time using scrap metals: sheet metal, perhaps chains and hooks, hammers and so on. In utilizing the junk heap this comes the closest I've heard yet where Hutchinson's work has now become "electroacoustic". It's still noise, or compounded of "noises", and there appears to be looping, overlapping, some type of multi-track manipulation of the original sound sources, but not so much as to distort the actual scrap metal sonics beyond the realm of their origins. So here we have maybe a throwback to SPK? The nephew of F.M. Einheit? A younger cousin of Knurl? No way! Because what Hutchinson does with this composition is quite unique, he suspends it outside of time by creating a minimalist/maximalist sonic painting that just hovers there. Though many of the sources were created by hammering on, or banging together pieces of metal, the sounds are not percussive in this context, they are textural. Many of the scraping sounds have an almost melodic content and create minimalist brush-strokes that colorize throughout. The movement in the piece is lateral, not forward, seems to stay in the same place, yet always, paradoxically, moving. After listening for 10 minutes you no longer know where you began, or where you are at within it, this constant hovering movement swallows up logic and what remains is ephemeral impressions of ancient and mysterious beginnings. Very well recorded close-up sound with great acoustic space and natural overload distortion, impressive in the headphones.

Beautiful cover, great sounds! Get it HERE.

STEVE KENNEY (905 Tapes #99) Outside The Circles Of Time (2010) C20

color insert for "Outside The Circles Of Time"

Sometime late in 2010, Steve Kenney sent me his solo tape called "Outside The Circles Of Time", a release on the 905 Tapes label. 905 is a very prolific noise/experimental label run by Mike Haley, etc., their tape releases number in the hundreds. Steve Kenney, a Detroit native, has collaborated with such Michigan extremists as Andrew Coltrane, Aaron Dilloway, Pete Larson, and also with Nate Young and Alivia Zivich in the Demons project. For those listeners who dig synth-noise this tape will be for you. Side one starts with a droning synthesizer slowly phasing, very minimal at first but with other frequencies emerging. Sounds piling up, any touch of a knob on the synth, or the pitch wheel, begins a repeating pattern that is soon swallowed by the densely layered drone changing it at every instant. Suddenly I'm listening to 70's space rock, Cluster, or Tangerine Dream and then an ending. A beautiful study in sound frequencies.

The flip side takes a more noisy approach. Still very minimal, but more psychologically engrossing, this is a study in tension released only by the falling tones. The ear searches for subtle changes, the small effects and smears of sound, ten minutes later, it ends as it began, as a sort of unanswered question. Both sides of this tape made me think of Roscoe Mitchell's "S II Examples" in their austerity, or maybe some of Sun Ra's less bombastic solo Moog performances. Oddly enough, on both tracks, some very interesting new sounds begin entering just before each piece ends, making it feel like the pieces were culled from longer improv sessions.

To contact 905 Tapes go HERE.

DISINTEGRATING MINDS (Hermitage Tapes) Crisis Center (2010) C60

Disintegrating Minds is an Andrew Coltrane one-off(?) project and this cassette, "Crisis Center", was released in 2010 on his Hermitage Tapes label. Hermitage is one of the best noise labels in the U.S. and Coltrane is more than just an affable and involved face on the Detroit noise scene, he has also created a formidable discography of exceptional releases in many different sound approaches.

This tape is a weird one, another minimalist/maximalist epic, beginning with a very long and slow-building drone, a tribal rhythm down low in the mix, synth on top, one frequency rising with a bubbling/stuttering loop repeating over and over. The compositional structures here seem static, unchanging, but the changes are not overt, they are in the timbres. When listened to carefully the movements in the compositions do reveal themselves. Under headphones, or with volume, the sounds are impressive and easy to get lost in. This strange tape is the perfect metaphor for a mind that is breaking down and unable to process information in a typical way. Inside the obsessive thoughts of a disintegrating mind, these compositions become the agonizing equivalent of a lunatic mantra that over-and-over addresses, very potently, the alienating forces in life.

A great release! I also really like the cassette cover which reminds me of 80's United Dairies releases, get at Andrew and Hermitage Tapes HERE.

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