The Best Noise Music in May: Diaphragmatic and Josh Millrod/Shingles
Limax Maximus, s/t (Arealon Musique, 2014)
This self-titled long player (Arealon Musique) differs from the duo's Ende Tymes 2014 set in that a multitude and depth of sound sources seem to be the goal on aluminum; live, Thermos Unigarde and Robert L. Pepper seemed to concentrate more on volume and sometimes violent dynamic segue, though they were generous scene-setters. Weighing the two, I prefer the LP, which definitely rewards headphone listening.
Because it involves a few kitchen sinks full of samples and ideas, pigeonholing this sound is foolhardy - the moods shift as mercurially as the weather even as textures bleed from one movement to another. For instance, take "Driving Cognate." It starts with a threshing effect at alternating speeds before dealing in some very odd, very disorienting synthesizers that lead the listener into a dark, trippy maze; throughout, the disembodied, almost spectrally distended chuckle of the brunette half of Beavis & Butthead is piped in, diced, and echoed. "Web Condensation" feels more inherently spiritual, but equally busy and ultimately as nightmarish; its like a New Age interpretation of early Noxagt.
"Kurzy Mien," the last and longest track, is the one I'm most partial to, maybe because it seems to find Unigarde and Pepper at their most playful. It's a galloping, herky-jerky romp of DJ swipe and stretched-time vocals that lets some welcome sunlight into the mix near the end, then exits with a coda verging on the meditative. All of which reminds me: it's time to unearth my WZT Hearts and My Cat Is An Alien records.
Josh Millrod/Shingles, Mugen (Hausu Mountain, 2013)
I've made no secret, here and elsewhere, of my affection for Brooklyn's Grasshopper, and watching EVI player Jesse DeRosa and trumpeter Josh Millrod lay down an annihilating floor set was one of Ende Tymes 2014's great pleasures. Nonetheless, I'm almost more intrigued by what these two get up on a split cassette release on Hausu Mountain, which Millrod handling one side under his birth name and DeRosa filling the flip as Shingles.
On his side, Millrod offers a less bombastic take on the signature Grasshopper sound, feeding an increasing array of repeated trumpet figures - some frisky, some somber - through a gradually deepening thicket of effects over the course of 15 minutes. The frequencies bleed and bristle, and the versions of himself Millrod introduced previously swarm, in concert with the resulting distortion, into something lumbering, belligerent, buzzsaw. Only when a new, searing melody emerges from the flames do you realize you've been played.
Wrought via Steiner EVI and a Boss looper, the Shingles side boasts a cascading, fountain-of-youth warmth. A friend recently introduced me to Roy Masters' meditation recordings, and this music seems to fit right into that particular mold: bright, radiant waves of tone that overlap and expand in apparent perpetuity. I'm reminded a bit of Laurie Spiegel and very early Boards of Canada. There's something to be said, certainly, for an outlay of positivity with an insidious undercurrent of dread, but this - happily, to my ears, anyway - sidesteps that dread, instead extending an open palm and smiling beatifically.
Diaphragmatic, Fear Biters (Alien Passengers, 2013)
Diaphragmatic is a project featuring Dayton, Ohio-based Nate Tandy - also of Orgasmic Response Unit and Half Glass - performing "film projector fan and reel-to-reel." If the veracity of the tools used to ply his trade is questionable, the results are anything but. Over the course of 20 burst-knuckle minutes, Fear Biters (Alien Passengers) elbows its way through the maddening crowd and down your gullet with the sort of nonsensical, flayed-septum fury that characterizes early Sightings recordings, where it's impossible for the layman to say where machine and man end and madness begins.
If I were inclined to be reductive, I would say that it sounds like a howling Bane keying an interstellar spaceship with a drill bit with too much enthusiasm - but this tape is more complicated and convoluted than that, a squalid, squalling undertow that loiters in a no-wave alleyway for a few minutes before submitting to a whip-lashing torrent of scrapes, heaves, and wreckage - borne, possibly, of a godforsaken guitar, then misshapen via electronics - with inhuman utterances stewing along in volcanic anti-harmony. The only fault to be found: Side B of this thing is blank, as though Tandy were daring the listener to dare, just to dare, motherfuckers, to step to his world-ending Side A game.