Various Artists - Tension State Of Collapsing Vol.I + II [Industrial Recollections/Freak Animal Records - 2009]This double disc set brings together the two volumes of the Houston Noise compilations which were complied by one of scenes originators: Richard Ramirez (Werewolf Jerusalem, An Innocent Young Throat-Cutter, Vice Wears Black Hose & many other projects)back in the mid 90’s. It’s a fiery, quite varied & grim collection through-out that offer up a great snapshot of what was sonically going on in one of America's most prolific & searing noise scenes in the mid 90's
The two original 90 minute tape compilations appeared on Richmond, VA based tape label Chaotic Noise Productions with an edition of 50 copies each; Vol one appeared in 1995, then vol two appeared in 1996(through the tapes were only filled up with 30 minutes of noise on each side, so in reality they were really c60s- each cd here is 60 minutes each or just over).
The sound on both discs is quite different from the often HNW, thick & crunching sound of a lot of today’s Houston extreme noise scene. Sure this is still harsh & very grim, but it’s less thick & punishing in it’s make-up & intent. There’s a more of junk metal & grainy industrial noise feel, along grating noise improv & overloaded synth texturing about both discs material. With each track attacking you with a mixture sleazy lo-fi electronics, fiery feedback, pedal abuse, crashing junk attack & haphazard media / film sample sound collage making. Though you can certainly hear the origins of the harsh noise wall scene when the tracks become thicker & more grimly drone like in their tone & texture.
The only really recognizable names to me that are still present in the scene today are Ramirez’s solo work & of course early Black Leather Jesus; with on offer two Ramirez solo works & one very barbaric & nasty sounding BLJ track. The second disc finds the intensity & thickness of the sound becoming more pronounced; though it’s still nowhere as thick & wall like as much of Ramirez’s various projects today. I think if I’d have to say the second disc is my favourite of the two; as the layers & levels of noise are turned-up, the tracks are longer & there are less of the quirky & sample collages present on this secound compared with the first disc. But the first disc still has it’s rewarding moments & nicely shows the early more crusty & grey industrial noise sound of the scene.
Both discs give a wonderful taster & submersion in the mid 90’s barbaric, sleazy & violent sounds of one of America's most extreme & respected noise scene. It’s a must have item for any self respecting American noise fan, noise historians or anyone who’s interested in tracing the origins of the current growing HNW scene.Roger Batty