ScumEarth - Deranged Prototype [R.O.N.F. Records - 2009]By day, Spain’s Alonso Urbanos is a graphic designer creating complex, photoshopped sleeves and flyers for metal and post-industrial scenes, but by night he has been translating the dystopian visions he’s shared with many of his clients into harsh electronics. His latest release, Deranged Prototype, neatly presents two such tracks of just over ten minutes each.
The title track is based around an engine whose cycle pounds away creating scattershot kicks that would resemble a rhythm were it not for the machine’s unreliability. Pressing firmly onto this latent lathe are the squeals, scratches and scrapes common to the harsh noise label. Clouds of sparks and oil are spat out smelling like hot metal as the low end boils, fighting for prominence. Occasionally the combined roar ceases only for the engine to come to life again, where fine adjustments briefly and randomly break the monotony.
For anyone who has attempted to record the power of a waterfall, the second track, Acid Storm Degradation, could be familiar. The roaring presence of the sheer force of nature can be humbling, but divorced of its physical impact it sounds the same as radio static when reproduced at home. This randomised channel of white noise persists throughout while screeching attempts to break its flow. Midway, the sound like an engine returns, this time it’s a chainsaw piling destructively and indiscriminately into various materials, each ringing out high frequencies amidst the sputtering wall. Finally all coalesces into the static, slipping and sliding through abandoned wavelengths.
While it’s no surprise to read that this was played and “recorded live with no overdubs or computers”, firing harsh noise at a wall and recording the chaotic results (both what sticks and what falls) is rarely premeditated. Despite a severely limited spectrum of emotions, noise’s antithesis to composition can astound and overwhelm, but all too frequently reverts to type as generic sounding releases fall thick and fast, like this ‘deranged prototype’.Russell Cuzner