Negru Voda - Våld De Luxe [Malignant Records - 2011]This sprawling set collects over three hours of Peter Nyström’s solo explorations in electronics and noise under the guise of Negru Voda, presumably named after the thirteenth Century ruler of Wallachia whose moniker conveniently translates as ‘black joy’. Though there’s not much joy to be found in Nyström’s sound world, which falls into line behind other so-called ‘death industrial’ bands that formed largely in Scandinavia at the stylistic crossroads of the industrial and power electronics pathways. Nyström, however, cites the bands at the very roots of these genres as his key influences from Cabaret Voltaire and SPK to Controlled Bleeding and, most incongruously, Howard Jones! But, as evidenced on these three discs, perhaps the biggest influence was his 13 years spent working amidst the noise pollution of the local steelworks in his home town of Oxelösud, Sweden.
His musical life was first witnessed playing as part of Megaptera between 1991 and 1998, apparently starting out with just a video recorder and an analogue delay as their only sound generators. Negru Voda’s sound seems just as resourceful and efficient where most tracks still involve much echoing film dialogue reliably submerged in layers of static underscored by gritty saw waves impersonating idling engines of varying sizes. Våld De Luxe showcases an uneven cross section of such fare hopping a-chronologically from his second LP, 1998’s Dark Territory, through a couple of singles from 2001/2, to a handful of remixes from a few years’ ago.
Dark Territory has been remastered for this re-release and consequently bears a very vivid and balanced sound for a noise record. But the sound quality is the most notable aspect of the release as the majority of tracks feel interchangeable and generic. Each explores the effect of changing densities in static noise as filters are modulated on the fly, combined with grumbling buzz tones, shrieks, and squeals to create the now familiar roiling red mist found at the harsher end of noise for decades now. Often added to this are heavily reverbed drum hits to form simple, slow marches giving the rage a ritualistic quality. Unfortunately, on Dark Territory these elements sound wholly predictable and for the most part combine to form a grey soup of bleak sound, impoverished of any dramatic potency. That said, its last three tracks would perhaps have made a more rewarding listen as an EP, serving up Negru Voda’s early sound in a much more digestible portion: starting with the amusingly-named ‘The Institute (Lobotmy Drive-Thru)’ whose abrasive scree, like a train hitting its brakes very hard for a long time, stealthily transforms into spiky layers of industrial percussion. This is followed by ‘Please Don’t Steal My Head’, whose polluted air leaks rapidly over a moody low end hum before elephantine wailing suggests a disturbed spirit trapped in a transistor radio. And Dark Territory’s concluding track exploits the contrasts achievable with noise intensities formed as it is from a single, warm, lo-end sine. It acts as a welcome salve for the head as it elegantly undulates, splitting into two channels then back to one before a hint of malevolence enters once more, setting off a series of rapidly beating overtones and finishing with a light sprinkling of seeping static.
Listened to chronologically Våld De Luxe doesn’t suggest any great changes in Nyström’s intentions since this second album. It opens and closes with two live sets, the first from 2005 the last from 2003, that both exhibit the same extended grey noise that made Dark Territory such a fatiguing listen. However, the third disk kicks off with two tracks that are remarkably different to most everything else found throughout the compilation, recorded with Des Esseintes’ Magnus Sundström. Dating from 2001 they focus more on the pomp of the rhythms than the violence of the noises to plant martial beats in the ubiquitous reverb this time made so fertile as to spawn more complex rhythms in its wake. Perhaps they shine through thanks to the relentlessly bleak bombinations that fill up much of the rest of the release that would be served better in smaller doses of more considered cuts.Russell Cuzner