Various Noise Artists - Untitled 5-Way Split 10" [Vlas Vegas - 2011]I must admit I do like compilations; they’re inherently interesting. They often gather together sometimes disparate artists and groups under some theme or idea, and its that theme, idea or curation that’s interesting. Sometimes its tracks responding to a given theme, sometimes its a snapshot of a local scene, sometimes its tracks created under certain conditions; and for me, that's the added ingredient that makes it so much more than, “here’s some tracks by some bands”. I must also admit that compilations have often been one of the best ways for my ears to appreciate noise, too; with shorter, digestible chunks of each project playing off each other. I’ve probably listened to the “A Tick For Every Dog” cassette (Bandaged Hand Produce, 1996), way more than any noise release by a single project. Since its a “genre” that puts precedence on sounds, placing different approaches to noise side by side, can sometimes illuminate the individual acts better than listening to a complete release by them.
After saying all those fine words, it has to be said that there’s no discernible theme or curation for this compilation; though all the projects hail from Belgium. The cover has a figure wearing a white mask, which has been painted in a black metal style - possibly implying some kind of noise/black metal crossover, and the appropriation of black metal’s robes by noise. Certainly some of the project names and track titles suggest this, but across the compilation as a whole, there’s little to either confirm this or to consolidate what exactly black metal noise might be.
So, first up, a track by Anus Nocturnum. This starts with some rhythmic noise, an evolving loop sounding like some kind of machine malfunctioning. Its actually quite a nice, labyrinthian, hall of mirrors sound. A background drone rises up out of this, is gradually joined by a whine, and then its over. All of the first side has this somewhat “small” feel. Unholy Analog Noisemachine, who compete here with Anus Nocturnum for the worst name on the record, start their track with flapping noise - akin to bending feedback tones. This smothers tiny rockfalls, which rain down throughout the track, until they finally swell into the grainy foreground of the piece and bring it to an end. Lastly on side I, we have Kindvriendelijk, who slam straight into fizzing, fast-moving and panning noise crunch. It sounds like a chaotic mix of electronics and tapes. The track continues this manic pace and intensity until its end: a satisfyingly abrasive little piece.
After the somewhat scuzzy and lo-fi feel of side I, side II has a cleaner, more layered sound to it. The first of the two tracks is by True Deep - which vomits out of the speakers with some nice retching electronics. Most of the sounds screeching here are synth-like, if not digital; layered together frenetically, until the strands finally untwine and leave the listener with synth babble. The fifth and final track of the compilation is by All Shadows And Deliverance: Vlas Vegas left the best until last. It’s built around a nice ominous drone, which opens the piece and is later joined by another, shriller tone. It sounds like a thousand knives being sharpened - its almost an alarm tone. Breaking the still of this, banks of noise arise and slowly surround the taut drone; until they smother it and then disappear, leaving the two tones still standing. After they fade out, there is a tiny pause and then a one second burst of noise which announces the end. Its a good track. Whilst admittedly longer than the other pieces, it nevertheless creates a size and presence that makes them seem decidedly insubstantial and slight.
This isn’t “A Tick For Every Dog”, its not even “Kiling Ha Muerto...Cuantas Veces?”; but the track by All Shadows And Deliverance is certainly worth hearing.Martin P