Ghoul / Vasco Alves - Chant / Female Prophet [Foredoom Productions - 2010]Foredoom Productions second release brings together two London-based noise artists seeking new approaches to experimental noise generation and harsh noise combination.
Side one sees the debut of London-based noise artist Robert Meldrum’s new moniker, Ghoul, continuing his trend for horror-inspired nomenclature having previously gained notoriety for harsh noise & wall-making under the names Corpse Candle and Unearthed. The key difference here to his previous outings is that this extended blast is made from hand-spun vinyl manipulations, where the wholesomely natural distortion is apparently achieved through “stylus & groove wear”.
The choice of vinyl for destruction is an unspecified Gregorian chant LP whose earnest plainsong is just about recognisable for the first minute, as if heard from the other end of a long tunnel, before molten rumbles and grinding gears bury their worship through unnaturally hi-speed turntable violence. For the most part the effect achieved is very close to the sound of engines revving on a race track or spitfires diving, occasionally devolving into the more crusty distortion that evokes the demolition of buildings. Meanwhile a pulsating effect is tampered with for the duration taking us from a cult sci-fi feel to a hammering alarm. The combined result seems to describe a sneering dissolution of the virtuous and learned chant, as atheistic as it is unmusical.
Over on the other side Vasco Alves showcases his new hand-built instrument, the AM/FM Keyboard 6, which enables him to trigger and manipulate six separate radios tuned to different frequencies. He uses it to send us on a subterranean journey where jump cuts of static and crunching from empty bandwidths place us on a vehicle burrowing through the earth, while an occasional bleep rounds out the dystopia suggesting a scanning for life. But on the rare occasion where a slim trace of an actual broadcast is just about detectable the signal rapidly vanishes into the rumble, like having a saboteur at the controls, perhaps, deliberately diverting channels.
While they both clearly present interesting takes experimental noise generation and noise making with particular potential for live performance, at around the eleven minute mark both ‘Female Prophet’ with its randomised grey collage of dead airwaves and ‘Chant’s varispeed violence of chance felt a bit too long for their singular tricks (or maybe too short to fully ferment a more potent proposition). Without further ingredients or dramatic developments these exercises in anti-music each became background noise before they concluded.Russell Cuzner