Nihilist Assault Group & Blue Sabbath Bl - Planned Obsolescence [Gnarled Forest Recordings - 2009]This collaboration between Nihilist Assault Group and Blue Sabbath Black Cheer is very smartly packaged; with nice, detailed drawings on either side of the album sleeve, and a card insert. One side depicts NAG as gentlemen of noise, listening to a fiery gramophone; resplendent in an archaic library room which is also aflame. The other shows BSBC as charred bodies in display cases, in the same room; with the gramophone and record now smashed on the floor. (Though, saying this, there are only two charred figures and yet BSBC are listed as a trio on the insert, so…?)
There is just one track, “Planned Obsolescence”, split across both sides; and its as monstrous as that sounds. There’s no indication of how this track was performed or constructed, but my ears suggest its some kind of remote collaboration, rather than a live recording. The piece starts with about one minute of silent vinyl, before some rattling noise textures creep in and gradually build, till the track erupts into a furious skree; “Planned Obsolescence” then stays at this pitch of intensity until its final seconds. In a nutshell, the track can be very simply summed up as a wall of noise, from which little details emerge. It manages to combine a monolithic, over-powering, static feel, with frenetic and chaotic elements that flit in and out of the speakers. Its harsh and brutal, but with Mark Durgan involved in the recording, as part of NAG, you know that there will be a exemplary level of attention to sound and timbre.
Unfortunately, its difficult for me to say much beyond that (indeed, I can’t really even confirm that there is “an exemplary level of attention…”), because the vinyl pressing - or at least my copy - is really very quiet. I’ve had to double my usual playing volume, and the end result hasn’t exactly been a pristine sound-field. So it feels difficult to give a satisfying response to the album, even though it does sound like there is a great piece of noise-making in there. Its entirely possible that this is a deliberate, conceptual ploy on the part of the artists; but…Martin P