Where Is This - Karaoke Cemetery [Bored Bear Recordings - 2010]What is the aesthetic quality of noise? It’s a good guess that noise as a musical category will always be an underground staple. Just the name alone conjures images of nails on chalkboard, static and general unpleasant sounds. Yet as of the last few years it seems noise projects are popping up faster than ever. Why? Maybe it can be accounted to the relative ease to produce noise? Honestly, add a few grating sounds plus a bit of distorted vocals or feedback and you’re pretty much there. So what is it that makes artists like Merzbow, Sutcliffe Jugend and Churner stand out from every other project?
Let’s transition to Karaoke Cemetery by Where Is This (assembled and created by Mark Ward). Released in 2010 on Ward’s own label Bored Bear Recordings, Karaoke Cemetery is 20 minutes of just about every pitch, frequency and tone you can think of.
Starting with the distorted vocals and rough static of “Empty Orchestra” all the way to the sheer noise and high pitched pure cacophony of “A Coat of Blood” every high and low is featured. The sounds aren’t just full on excruciating, they are at times bits of sputtering vibrations dissipating into calm, as in “Dead Eyes and Steady Hands”, or anxious and tumultuous sound sliding drunkenly into earsplitting pitches as on “Frequency (Microphone Ballad)”. Each snippet of random static, hum, reverb and angry volume is a burst of energy.
To answer the question we started with, maybe there is no artistic quality to noise; that opinion is left in the hands (and ears) of the listener. To the credit of Where Is This, what is produced is a conscious and cerebral creation. Ward has knitted together a delicate mass of sounds (raucous as they may be) with a clever touch and in the end he weaves a work that is above average.Viktorya Kaufholz